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2008 Around the U.S.

 

 

 

 

December, 2008

Milliken, Colorado loses water supply to mystery outage

Milliken officials are still working to identify the source of a water outage that left 6,000 people without water for much of Sunday. Mike Woodruff, public works director for the town, said town public works employees have isolated the outage that caused the loss of 750,000 to 1 million gallons of water Saturday and Sunday to an industrial area in the eastern part of town. Water service was restored to all residential customers by 5:30 p.m. Sunday, he said. The city’s own public works facility is without water in the meantime, as are two adjacent businesses, including an automotive dealer. People there are being offered bottled water Milliken is providing. Woodruff said Sunday that Milliken’s water is completely safe to drink. Greeley Tribune_ 12/30/08

Some well water near Tennessee coal ash spill may be unsafe

Some water samples near a massive spill of coal ash in eastern Tennessee are showing high levels of arsenic, and state and federal officials on Monday cautioned residents who use private wells or springs to stop drinking the water. Samples taken near the spill slightly exceed drinking water standards for toxic substances, and arsenic in one sample was higher than the maximum level allowed for drinking water, according to a news release from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the power plant where the spill occurred, the Environmental Protection Agency and other officials. Authorities have said the municipal water supply is safe to drink. AP_ 12/29/08

Ice blocking water supply from Navajo village in Utah

An icy road has prevented water trucks since Thursday from reaching a Navajo community whose only water source has been severed. If tractor-trailers can't reach Navajo Mountain in southeast Utah by Saturday, evacuations may be necessary, said Bruce Adams, San Juan County Commission chairman. Census data says about 380 people live in Navajo Mountain. But Adams said community leaders have told him as many as 1,200 people may live there. Navajo Mountain receives its water from one mountain side spring, but wildfires have damaged the watershed, creating mud slides. Adams said the officials believe one of those slides disabled the water line recently and severed the community's water. Salt Lake Tribune_ 12/27/08

Twice as much ash as originally estimated spilled in Tennessee

A burst dike at a coal-fired power plant in eastern Tennessee spilled twice as much ash as originally estimated, and at least one resident fears the muck coating his neighborhood is endangering the area's drinking water. About 5.4 million cubic yards of coal fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal, broke out of a retention pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a Tennessee Valley Authority spokesman said Friday. The TVA, the nation's largest utility company, first estimated the amount at about 2.6 million cubic yards after Monday's breach in eastern Tennessee. Despite the increase, TVA's first tests showed no threat to the area's drinking water supply, an official said. Results of water sampling downstream of the plant, including at Kingston Water District intake, indicate that the concentrations of toxic contaminants were below state standards to protect fish and aquatic life, according to a TVA news release Thursday. The plant is along the Emory River, which joins the Clinch River and flows into the main Tennessee River. AP_ 12/26/08

Tennessee coal ash spill revives issue of its hazards

What may be the nation’s largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways Wednesday after a dam broke this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity. Federal studies have long shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. But with no official word on the dangers of the sludge in near the T.V.A. power plant in Kingston, Tennessee, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property, and wondering what to do. Even as the Tennessee Valley Authority played down the risks, the spill reignited a debate over whether the federal government should regulate coal ash as a hazardous material. Similar ponds and mounds of ash exist at hundreds of coal plants around the nation. New York Times_ 12/24/08

Aging water pipe rupture near Washington, D.C. endangered drivers

A mile-long section of a major commuter road between Montgomery County and the District of Columbia could remain closed through the weekend, as engineers attempt to repair damage from a water main rupture yesterday that endangered drivers and renewed fears about the region's crumbling water pipe network. The break of a 66-inch pipeline in Bethesda caused widespread water disruptions across a large part of southern Montgomery. WSSC is taking the lead on repairs on the 44-yerar-old pipeline and has agreed to a $510,000 emergency contract for the work, which officials hope will be completed by Monday. Yesterday's break was the third major disruption to a WSSC pipeline in the past six months and sparked new questions about the aging infrastructure of the utility that serves Montgomery and Prince George's County. Washington Post_ 12/24/08

TVA tests water supplies in Eastern Tennessee after toxic coal sludge spill

A day after a spill sent a vast amount of toxic coal sludge over a wide area in Eastern Tennessee, state environmental officials struggled Tuesday trying to assess the damage in hopes that water supplies were not harmed by heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic. The Tennessee Valley Authority estimated that 1.7 million cubic yards of fly ash, a byproduct of coal incineration that contains the heavy metals, broke through an earthen retention wall at a T.V.A. power plant early Monday morning near Kingston, about 40 miles west of Knoxville. It flowed into the Emory River, a tributary of the Tennessee River, which provides drinking water to millions of people downstream. Video news reports showed dead fish lining the banks of a nearby waterway. Environmentalists said the spill, more than 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill, belied the notion of the “clean coal” technology that the industry has spent millions to promote. New York Times_ 12/23/08

To protect Florida water supplies, conserve

Experts say personal conservation methods remain the best way to protect precious underground water resources and delay the need for expensive alternate sources, such as desalination. "The cheapest gallon of water you can get is through conservation," said Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon of Florida. Huge savings could be accomplished if governments across Florida would get more serious about conserving, experts say. People don't understand how effective conservation and efficiency can be, said Bruce Adams, water efficiency chairman for the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association. News-Journal_ 12/22/08

   

New water plant will aid growth in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Back in the early 1990s, when Tuscaloosa finished a major expansion of the Ed Love Water Treatment Plant, city officials thought the 41 million gallons a day the plant could produce would provide an ample drinking water supply for the next 15 years. “The drought of 2000 strained the Ed Love plant to the maximum,” said Perry Acklin, Tuscaloosa’s water treatment manager. The solution proved to be the $27 million Jerry Plott Water Treatment Plant, a state-of-the-art facility that went on line in September. The Ed Love plant uses sand filters, a proven, cost-effective and reliable technology. But Acklin said the wave of the future is plastic fiber membrane filters, which can filter out smaller particles from the water. That means it can filter out two deadly viruses, giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium, that can get into water supplies. A “crypto” outbreak in Milwaukee killed 100 people and made 400,000 ill a few years ago, Acklin said. Tuscaloosa News_ 12/15/08

Arkansas water pollution program gets $950,000 EPA grant

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $950,000 to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to plan and implement a comprehensive water pollution program. The ADEQ program will monitor surface and ground water and issue and enforce discharge permits. KARK4News/ArkansasMatters.com_ 12/18/08

Detroit, suburban leaders reach tentative deal over water system
Deal signals an end to lawsuits

City and suburban leaders have reached a tentative agreement to end more than three decades of legal squabbling over the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, sources close to the negotiations said Wednesday. They said the agreement, to be presented Thursday to U.S. District Judge John Feikens, calls for Detroit to sell a troubled sewer interceptor serving Macomb and Oakland counties to the suburbs for some $200 million to $300 million. The counties would set up an authority to sell bonds to repay Detroit.  The deal also would require Detroit to repay $27 million it charged the water and sewer system for a $131-million post-9/11 emergency radio system.  The agreement also calls for the creation of a five-member directors' council, made up of city and suburban leaders, to meet quarterly to resolve problems without resorting to lawsuit. Detroit Free Press_12/17/08

Idaho's Southwest Irrigation District unites water users

Southwest Irrigation District is an example of how a ground-water district has partnered with its neighboring surface-water users to stem declining aquifer levels in critical areas. These partnerships began in the mid-1990s after a pilot project showed a targeted recharge project could help. “We have kept water levels at the same level as in the nineteen-eighties,” said Randy Brown, secretary for the district’s board. “We have stabilized water levels in the area of recharge." The district spends over $1 million dollars annually to wheel irrigation water through three irrigation entities to supply ground-water pumpers within the district. The intent is to use the approximately 10,000 acre-feet of rented water to replace ground water in several critical ground-water areas throughout the 90,000-acre district. Southwest has worked with Burley Irrigation District since the mid-1990s. AG Weekly_ 11/20/08

October, 2008

California water shortages could lead to rationing
California Department of Water Resources officials Thursday said water agencies could get as little as 15% of their State Water Project allocations, although that figure could go up if Sierra Nevada rain and snowfall return to normal in the coming months.  Officials at Southern California's major water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, say its board soon will discuss whether to initiate cutbacks.  Last spring was the driest since 1921 in the northern Sierra, depleting reservoirs in the State Water Project, which provides about a third of urban Southern California's water.  Los Angeles Times_10/31/08

San Francisco officials approve upgrade to water system

San Francisco's planning and public utilities commissions approved a $4.4 billion plan to upgrade the Bay Area's largest drinking water system, which draws water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.  The plan calls for numerous projects, including replacing a dam at the Calaveras Reservoir that is not seismically safe, and laying more pipeline.  It also calls for drawing more water from the Tuolumne River during droughts, a proposal that environmentalists do not support.  San Jose Mercury News_10/31/08

Army Corps of Engineers biologist Heather Wylie, who took part in a kayak trip to show the Los Angeles River is navigable, may face discipline for her actions

I am a civilian biologist working for the Army Corps of Engineers. On my personal time, I joined a trip down the Los Angeles River to protest actions by my own agency to undermine the Clean Water Act. My superiors scoured the Internet for proof and found two photos of me on a blog. Claiming that my "participation undermined [its] authority," the corps has proposed suspending me for 30 days, a punishment one step below termination. More than two months after advocating this penalty, it has yet to make a decision. In July, a dozen kayakers took a three-day journey down the 52-mile L.A. River; I joined them for 20 miles. The purpose of our regatta was to show that the entire river is "navigable-in-fact" -- a classification that is crucial to preventing the rollback of Clean Water Act protections throughout the watershed -- and to highlight similar threats facing waterways across the nation. Los Angeles Times_ 10/30/08

Idaho water seminar set for Nov. 6-7
The fall IWUA Water Law and Resources Issues seminar set for Nov. 6  and 7 in Boise will examine in detail critical and controversial natural-resource issues such as legislation seeking wild and scenic designation for Idaho rivers; water-right takings litigation, reining in the domestic water-right exemption; dam breaching versus science; sustainable development, and ethical considerations applicable to the water lawyer.  More information is is available on line at www.iwua.org.  The Prairie Star_10/29/08

Water groups decry Colorado's proposed Amendment 52

Amendment 52 — which would redirect some oil-and-gas severance-tax revenues from water to highway projects — is drawing fire from water officials and conservation groups across the state. At risk, said Harris Sherman, executive director of the state Department of Natural Resources, are more than $50 million in funds to do water supply planning, offer low-interest loans for local water projects and for programs to control invasive species, manage forest health and help endangered species. Amendment 52, which would become part of the state constitution, would cap tax revenues for water projects and could provide $90 million next year for highway projects and $1 billion over the next decade, supporters say. Groups including Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, the Northern Colorado Conservancy District, the Greeley Water Board and water conservation board say redirecting dollars slated for water will hurt the state. Denver Post_ 10/28/08

Documentary examines the looming water, sewer crisis

Operating, maintaining and updating the nation's water systems is the subject of a new documentary, "Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure." Nationally, about 2 million miles of pipe form an invisible circulatory system that is vital to our health, safety and economy, says Steve Allbee, an expert on the cash flow of American water-management systems. And they will require an investment of about $540 billion over the next 20 years if we hope to maintain our standard of living. Currently, a gallon of clean water costs about a third of a penny, he added. A key to controlling costs will be conservation and smart management of existing resources. Salt Lake Tribune_ 10/13/08

Nearly one month after Hurricane Ike, boil water notices lifted for parts of Galveston Island

The City of Galveston has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore adequate pressure, disinfectant levels, and/or bacteriological quality to the water system and has provided TCEQ with testing results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling, officials said. Galveston officials are working to restore service and rescind the boil water notice to the remainder of its island customers. Due to significant damage these areas sustained during Hurricane Ike the city has not established a timetable for service restoration. KPRC_ 10/12/08

Kayak trip gets government biologist in trouble

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers threatens suspension
A federal biologist was threatened with a 30-day job suspension over a kayaking trip she took to protest perceived government threats to the Los Angeles River and other waterways, according to documents released Wednesday.  Heather Wylie, a project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles, went kayaking on the river one Saturday in July to draw attention to a proposal by the Corps that could have exempted parts of the Los Angeles River from federal clean water protections.  Shortly thereafter, her supervisors told her they were proposing to suspend her for 30 days without pay because of the "unsafe and unauthorized boating expedition" and also because of an "unauthorized and inappropriate e-mail message" she had sent to co-workers about the clean water issue.  The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility announced plans Wednesday to file a whistleblower complaint on Wylie's behalf. Examiner_10/08/08

$60 million returns to Mississippi water projects

The state's Gulf Regional Water and Wastewater plan will regain $60 million that had been redirected to a housing program, a state official said. The funding will flow to water projects needed on the coast following Hurricane Katrina. The total water and wastewater infrastructure funding amount is $641.8 million to pay for projects , is paying for projects in five counties. The funds are being supplied through a disaster recovery initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tommy Fairfield, director of the Jackson County Utility Authority, said $103 million will finance two water-delivery projects and six wastewater projects. Some citizen groups, however, have declared that they do not want the plants. Communities Against Forced Utilities and Citizens Against Sewer in Hurley have held rallies to protest the work. Mississippi Press_ 10/5/08

Georgia offers tax-free purchase of water-saving appliances

Starting Thursday, toilets that carry the WaterSense label — and use only 1.28 gallons per flush — are can be purchased tax-free in Georgia through Sunday. Metro Atlanta homeowners can also take advantage of a $100 rebate.  For the cheapest toilets, that brings the cost down to around $50, not including delivery and installation.  This is the state’s first sales tax holiday for water-efficient products. It’s an environmentally friendly sweetener added earlier this year to state legislation that’s designed to fast-track new water supply reservoirs. In addition to toilets, WaterSense showerheads and bathroom faucets also qualify for the tax exemption.  AJC_10/1/08

September, 2008

Rain Bird names finalists for 2008 Intelligent Use of Water film Competition

Rain Bird, the leading manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services, today named the six finalists for the second annual Intelligent Use of Water(TM) Film Competition, an environmentally focused film competition that gives both amateur and experienced filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their talents and use the power of film to bring about a greater awareness of the need for effective, efficient and responsible water use. The 2008 finalists are: Water Thicker Than Oil, filmmaker Michael McGuire, Los Angeles, CA; Gold For Gold, filmmaker Mark E. Petersen, Boulder, CO; Rainwater Harvesting, filmmaker Amit Shanker, Centre for Science and the Environment, New Delhi, India; Wah Wah, filmmaker Ronald San Agustin, North Hollywood, CA; Against The Current, filmmaker: Trout Unlimited, Livingston, MT; Glass Half Full, filmmaker David Sutera, Salt Lake City, UT. The six finalists will be featured guests during a special screening event on October 11, 2008 at The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Two winners will be announced and awarded cash prizes of $6,000 for judges' selection and $3,000 for the audience favorite. News Release/MarketWatch_ 9/30/08

Boil-water order lifted for most of Downey, California

A state-mandated warning urging Downey residents to boil their tap water is over for most of the city, three days after public health officials announced coliform bacteria had been detected in the water supply. The action prompted the closure of many of Downey's 200 restaurants and triggered a consumer rush on bottled water, which public health officials said was safer and easier to drink than boiled water. The order for most of the city was lifted late Sunday after several consecutive tests for the bacteria came back negative, said Scott Pomrehn, a spokesman for the city. The source of the bacteria in the water has not been determined, and health officials said that sometimes tests can show a false reading, said Downey Mayor Pro Tem Mario Guerra. Los Angeles Times_ 9/29/08

Bacteria found in Downey, California water supply

Public health officials have urged Downey residents to boil their tap water through Sunday after coliform bacteria were found in the city's water supply. City, county and state public health officials issued a boil-water order about 6 p.m. Thursday after the city's water tested positive for the bacteria earlier that day, Deputy City Manager Desi Alvarez said Friday. The action prompted the closure of about 200 restaurants and trigged a consumer rush on bottled water. On Thursday, the city received the results from water quality tests conducted Tuesday, showing a positive reading for the coliform bacteria at three of the city's 25 sampling locations, Alvarez said. The three sites were spread throughout the 12.5-square-mile city of 110,600 residents. Downey draws its water from 21 wells and three connections to the Southern California Metropolitan Water District. The source of the bacteria in the water has not been determined, and health officials said that sometimes tests can show a false reading, said Mayor David R. Gafin. Los Angeles Times_ 9/27/08 (logon required)

Water rationing in San Diego, Calif. likely

For the first time since 1992, San Diego is facing the possibility of water rationing, a step that could happen as soon as January. The threat is expected to loom for years as Southern California readjusts to the tightest drinking water supplies it has experienced in almost two decades.  The Metropolitan Water District, the Los Angeles-based wholesaler that provides about 75 percent of San Diego County's supply, will consider as soon as January whether to cut deliveries to the 13 million people it serves -- including the San Diego County Water Authority, which provides water to the city of San Diego and 23 other local agencies.  "We're going to run out of water next year, and people don't have a clue," said Mark Weston, general manager of the Helix Water District in La Mesa. But water districts don't want to make water-use restrictions mandatory, he said, until Metropolitan formally declares that it's cutting back. Voice of San Diego_9/26/08

Chicago discharges 99 Billion gallons of wastewater into Lake Michigan

Record rainfall overwhelms  storm water system

Chicago's deep tunnels, surface reservoirs and waterways filled to the brim in last weekend's record rainfall, prompting the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District there to open emergency floodgates and discharge up to 99 billion gallons of storm water and diluted sewage to Lake Michigan to avoid urban flooding.  It is the largest volume of waste water to flow into the lake since the first section of the deep tunnel opened there in 1985, district records show. About 6.6 inches of rain -- a one day record for Chicago -- fell Saturday at O'Hare International Airport. RedOrbit_9/17/08

Water pours over Rio Grande levee, plane carrying water officials is found
The swelling Rio Grande flowed over a levee Wednesday in Presidio, Texas, sending water cascading onto the golf course and some ranch land in this dusty-turned-muddy West Texas border town. The levee had not failed, said Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton, but an area on the eastern end of Presidio was turned into a chocolate-brown reservoir marked by partially submerged trees, bushes and power lines. By Wednesday afternoon, the water had crept into the backyards of several homes on a small bluff between the golf course and the city of Presidio, but no homes appeared under threat.

Flooding in Mexico
A levee broke across the Rio Grande in neighboring Ojinaga, Mexico, where Presidio Mayor Lorenzo Hernandez said homes and other buildings received up to 10 feet of water.  Muddy water covered roads and structures within eyesight of the shuttered border crossing in Ojinaga. Two large chunks of earth were ripped from the narrow levee that once held back the river. Mexican officials in boats were seen Wednesday patrolling the flooded area that extended at least a half mile from the border crossing. The recent rains and flooding aren't related to Hurricane Ike, which hit hundreds of miles to the east.

Plane wreckage found
The U.S. Border Patrol said Wednesday that it had located a plane that had been carrying the U.S. and Mexican heads of the International Boundary and Water Commission sent to survey the situation. It had disappeared Monday with four people on board. The agency, which maintains the border levees on the Rio Grande that separates the two countries, confirmed the deaths of U.S. commissioner Carlos Marin and his Mexican counterpart, Arturo Herrera. Jake Brisbin Jr., executive director of the Rio Grande Council of Governments, and pilot Matthew Peter Juneau were also killed.
The Border Patrol said it found the plane's wreckage in a rugged section of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, about 20 miles northwest of Presidio.  AP_9/18/08

Plane carrying U.S. and Mexican International Boundary and Water Commissioners missing

Presidio County, Texas, officials are denying unconfirmed media reports that the wreckage of a plane carrying the U.S. and Mexican commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission has been found in Mexico. Marge Hughes, who works with Presidio County Judge Jerry Agan, said that the plane's emergency locator transmitter was heard for about 20 minutes overnight, then went dead. "Nothing has been found," Hughes said. Commissioners Carlos Marin, of the U.S. section, and Arturo Herrera, from Mexico, were flying to Presidio from El Paso Monday to check out flooding along the Rio Grande but the plane did not land as scheduled, Presidio County Judge Jerry Agen said. Agen said Jake Brisbin Jr., executive director of the Rio Grande Council of Governments, was also on the plane along with a pilot. El Paso Times_ 9/16/08

Arizona tribe says water drops for migrants must end

A member of the Tohono O'odham Nation who has been putting out water for suspected illegal immigrants crossing the desert has been told to stop. Mike Wilson says he has been told before that the tribe doesn't want him placing water on the southern Arizona reservation to help migrants. Wilson says the tribe has been adamant about not cooperating with his efforts trying to mitigate migrant deaths on its lands. But Wilson says he's not going to stop. AP_ 9/5/08

California water bank created to relieve future shortages

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today praised creation of a 2009 Drought Water Bank to help alleviate water shortages and assist with meeting local water needs in a potential third year of drought.  The California Department of Water Resources announced creation of the water bank at a statewide Drought Summit today. The summit included state and local water officials as well as ACWA and other water organizations. Participants heard the latest on drought conditions and forecasts for 2009 and discussed ways the state can best support local water agencies as they grapple with the most severe water supply challenges in decades.  Establishing a water bank was a key action recommended by ACWA in a letter delivered today to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The letter called for implementation of a water bank as soon as possible and urged DWR to commit the same level of resources and sense of urgency that characterized a similar bank established in the early 1990s. MarketWatch_9/4/08

Public input invited for Pennsylvania state water plan

Pennsylvanians will have a chance to provide input on how the commonwealth manages its water resources during a series of public meetings to be held across the state this month.  The Department of Environmental Protection, along with members of six regional water resources committees, will accept testimony on the draft state water plan that is being developed in accordance with the Water Resources Planning Act.  Developing the plan is the first step in analyzing problems and needs associated with specific water-related activities, such as stormwater management, flood control and navigation, state water officials say.  By the end of 2008, the Water Resources Planning Act requires the DEP to develop a new state water plan that includes inventories of water availability, an assessment of current and future water demands, an evaluation of resource management alternatives, and proposed methods of implementing recommended actions.  The draft state water plan and agendas for each meeting are available through the Public Participation link at www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Participate. Environment News Service_9/3/08

 

EPA kills Army Corps of Engineers  water project
The Environmental Protection Agency killed a federal plan to build the world’s largest water pump in the Mississippi River Delta. It is the first time since 1990 that the E.P.A. has vetoed a project proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The $220 million proposal would have moved six million gallons of water a minute from 67,000 acres of wetlands along the Yazoo River. The agency said the project would cause unacceptable damage to fish, wildlife and waterfowl.  Washington Post_9/2/08

Senator Obama answers questions about water
Senator Barack Obama has answered the top 14 science questions facing America put to him by the Science Debate 2008 people. Here's what he has to say about water issues:.... First, prices and policies must be set in a ways that give everyone a clear incentive to use water efficiently and avoid waste. .... I will establish a national plan to help high-growth regions with the challenges of managing their water supplies. In addition, it is also critical that we undertake a concerted program of research, development, and testing of new technologies that can reduce water use. Colorado Water Examiner_ 9/2/08

August, 2008

Miami water supply at greater risk than expected: USGS:
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have published reports stating that Miam's public water supply is at risk of contamination due to the proximity of existing lakes created from limestone rock mining activities.  The report and a press release issued Wednesday comes amid ongoing litigation over U.S. Army Corps mining permits in the area filed in 2002 by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.  The Miami-Dade Limestone Products Association immediately denounced the USGS report in a responding press release as "flawed and irresponsible."  According to the USGS press release, scientists conducted experiments in 2004 to determine how chemical contaminants and pathogens would move through the Biscayne aquifer.  Tests were conducted by injecting a tracer solution into the aquifer for a period of one hour. The solution was still detected about a week later in the public water supply wells.  "This indicates that if a contamination event occurs in the Biscayne aquifer that continues for days, weeks, or months it has the potential to degrade water quality and could persist from years to decades," Dr. Allen Shapiro, USGS research hydrologist involved in the study, said in the press release.  BizJournal.com_8/28/08

Funds dry up for state reservoirs

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and legislative leaders on Thursday suspended $40 million promised to build new reservoirs. Drought-proofing the state had been one of the governor’s top priorities for 2008.  Low-interest loans will still be available to local governments to build or expand reservoirs.  Perdue and other top elected leaders are looking to cut $1.6 billion from the state budget. Earlier this year, before the worst economic news hit, the budget was approved at more than $21 billion.  Shane Hix, a spokesman for the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, which is administering the new reservoir-building program, said 13 local governments had already applied for grants. They will not be getting any cash from the state, but they can still apply for low-interest loans, Hix said.  Todd Edwards, a lobbyist for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, said this is the third time in two decades that the state has faced a bad drought, planned to build additional reservoirs, and then pulled back. In the past, rain dampened the enthusiasm; this time it is budget cuts. “The longer we postpone the reservoirs, the more expensive they’re going to get,” Edwards said. AJC_8/21/08

Judge refuses to force restart of Everglades reservoir

A federal judge has rejected an effort by the Miccosukee Indian tribe to force water managers to restart a $700 million reservoir construction project south of Lake Okeechobee while expressing sympathy for the tribe's position. U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno wrote that he "has reservations about again choosing the easy path of inactivity in this case. If the prime movers and shakers responsible for environmental remediation could simply suspend or cancel projects that they have committed to construct every time they were offered a 'better deal' with more potential for long-term improvement, the environment would likely be doomed." But the judge ruled against the Miccosukee, noting that seven environmental groups "stand at odds with the tribe." He added, "The most successful long-term solution to Everglades pollution may be to buy out the polluters, and currently that option appears viable." That was a reference to the state's proposed $1.75 billion purchase of U.S. Sugar Corp. and its land, announced in June. An attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice said Thursday that the proposed reservoir may have no value if the purchase is completed because that would provide the marshland needed to aid the Everglades. Palm Beach Post_8/14/08

Used quarry water soon will become Minnesota drinking water

The cities of Burnsville and Savage have joined Kraemer Mining in an innovative, $13 million project that could help bring more water to Twin Cities' southern region.

Ten million gallons of surface water is discharged each day from a quarry in Burnsville into the Minnesota River. But beginning next summer, a project led by Burnsville, Savage and a private firm will convert 4 million gallons of that daily into drinking water for the communities. The project calls for drilling a pumping facility and building a transmission line for a water treatment plant.   Star Tribune_8/14/08

Adult zebra mussels found in Wichita, Kansas, reservoir intake line

Adult zebra mussels have been found in Cheney Reservoir around the intake structure that feeds Wichita's water supply, but the water flow has not been affected, Wichita officials announced today. Wichita officials say the city has been preparing for such a discovery the past few years and is ready to take steps to ensure the water system stays clean. Zebra mussels were first identified in Cheney Reservoir last year but this is the first report of adult mussels at the water intake. The mussels can quickly multiply and can grow so densely that they block pipelines, clog water intakes and damage marine vehicles. Wichita Business Journal_ 8/9/08

Two Utah counties appeal ruling in Nevada water case; Las Vegas pipeline project could cause air pollution

Salt Lake and Utah counties have appealed a Nevada water official's decision to keep them out of a project that would tap groundwater under Snake Valley and the west desert to feed growth in Las Vegas.   Last month, Nevada State Engineer Tracy Taylor denied the two counties' request for "interested party" status, saying the counties should have filed a formal objection in 1989 to the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plans to build a $3.5 billion, 285-mile pipeline.  In a lawsuit filed this week in Nevada state court, the Utah counties allege siphoning water from an aquifer that lies under the two states to feed Las Vegas would cause vegetation to die. If that happens, winds could pick up the destabilized soils and send them in dust-storm clouds to a Wasatch Front already struggling with particulate pollution. Salt Lake Tribune_8/8/08

Long Beach Calif. posts record low water use

The Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners has announced that Long Beach water demand for July 2008 has set a new 10-year record low. It is the 7th record setting month for low water use since the Board of Water Commissioners' declaration of an imminent water supply shortage in September 2007. July 2008 water demand was 16.1 percent below the 10-year average water demand; it was 13 percent below July 2007. Fiscal Year 2008 is tracking 7.7 percent below the 10-year average water use.
"This is good news, coming at a very good time," said Bill Townsend, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. "Our state's most critical water supply reserves . . .will be at their lowest combined level since 1977 in a matter of weeks. Communities throughout southern California must implement mandatory restrictions on the most wasteful outdoor uses of water, and those restrictions need to be made permanent." MarketWatch_8/8/08

But in other areas of the state . . .

Water demand rises despite pleas to conserve
Demand for water in May and June this year was 5 percent higher than during the same period last year, dropping key reservoirs throughout California to their lowest levels since 1994, officials said. Mandatory restrictions are likely to be enforced next year if the demand doesn't slow, said Eric Bergh, manager of resources for Calleguas Municipal Water District, which serves most of Ventura County.  Outside of agricultural use, 70 percent of the water supplied to urban areas throughout the region is used on outdoor landscaping.  "We want to send a strong message that we need to redouble our efforts to conserve," Bergh said. "People need to stress their landscaping. If we all cut back, reserves can be extended." Camarillo Acorn_8/8/08

Riverside County, California, health officials warn of rare water-borne illness

A child died of the brain infection Saturday and health officials warned those who swim in fresh water to take precautions. Naegleria is an ameba commonly found in warm freshwater and soil, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Only one species of Naegleria infects people, Naegleria Fowleri. It causes a very rare but severe brain infection. Most infections are fatal," according to the CDC's Web site. Naegleria Fowleri infects people by entering the body through the nose, generally, after swimming in freshwater. Health officials said the boy swam this summer several times in Lake Elsinore. Family also visited other freshwater areas, making it impossible to determine exactly where the child acquired the organism. Between 1998 and 2007, 33 infections were reported in the U.S. KNBC_ 8/5/08

July, 2008

San Diego, California, Mayor Jerry Sanders declares stage one water emergency

The declaration calls for voluntary water conservation by city residents. Sanders also proposed another increase in city water rates. The 6.26-percent rate increase, the result of rising wholesale water costs, will likely be approved by San Diego City Council after it returns from recess in September and take effect in January. Sanders also acknowledged that his "water conservation challenge" has failed. Through a series of press conferences and other events over the past year, Sanders has tried to get San Diego residents and businesses to cut their water usage by 10 percent. Today he said the city is only using 3 percent less this year than in a typical year. "In fact, new trends suggest that we may be on our way to using more water this year," Sanders said today at a news conference. City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who held his own water emergency press conference Sunday, said Sanders continues to act too slowly and incrementally when it comes to the water crisis. VoiceOfSanDiego.org_ 7/28/08

Venerable Hudson River- swimmable?

Yes, much of the time, though dirty rainwater and raw sewage still contaminate parts of New York state's iconic waterway after decades of cleanup efforts, an environmental group said Thursday.  "The river is still safe to swim in most times in most places, but when it's not safe, it's very unsafe," said Alex Matthiessen, president of the Hudson preservation organization Riverkeeper.  The group is taking water-quality samples along the river and ultimately hopes to provide up-to-the-minute guidance on where and when it's safe to swim and kayak. Newsday_7/24/08

Georgia suggests states combine forces for water study
Georgia's top environmental official said Thursday the three states that have battled nearly three decades over water shouldn't wait for Congress to approve an independent study on the issue, but should instead pay for it themselves.  Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez and Rep. Allen Boyd want the National Academy of Sciences to study the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.  But with a severe drought increasing tensions over the water Georgia, Florida and Alabama share, Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Carol Couch said the states could save time by commissioning the study themselves and splitting the cost.  "The clock is ticking, and we might try to approach commissioning that study through a three-way agreement between the states and move down the road on it quicker," Couch said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.  She praised the idea of having a scientific, unbiased study of the water system and how it's used. She estimated the cost at about $1 million and it could take 2 1/2 years. She said the three states should agree on the study's objectives.  "If there is a faster way to get this study started, such as the three states joining us in our effort, then I am all for it," said Boyd, a Democrat whose district includes the Apalachicola River. "The three states must start working together, and if Florida, Georgia, and Alabama joined forces on an independent study of the ACF, that would be a good start." Ledger-Enquirer_7/24/08

Mississippi River oil spill shuts down 80 miles of river, curtails drinking water supplies

Crews continued to work overnight Wednesday to corral more than 400,000 gallons of thick industrial fuel oil on the Mississippi River, a spill that now stretches more than 80 miles below New Orleans and threatens the fragile delta ecosystem. Government officials, meanwhile, are scrambling to bolster water supplies downriver from the spill and some anticipate possibly having to truck in water. Wednesday's oil spill, the largest on the Mississippi River in the New Orleans area in nearly a decade, halted shipping traffic on one of the nation's busiest waterways. Downriver from the collision, cities and parishes that pull drinking water from the river -- Gretna, Algiers, St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish -- shut their intakes and began drawing on reserve supplies. By late Wednesday, Gretna and the west bank of Plaquemines Parish said they could tap into the Jefferson Parish supply, which is untainted because its intakes are upriver from the spill. Algiers resumed taking water from the river after testing found no contaminants, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said. Nonetheless, he issued a water advisory for Algiers, urging residents to use the water in moderation until independent testing comes back and the barge is moved. The spill did not affect the east bank of New Orleans' water system, which, like Jefferson Parish, has intakes upriver from the accident. In St. Bernard Parish, officials expected their reserves to last until later today and were preparing to truck in water from outside contractors if necessary. The same was true for the east bank of Plaquemines Parish. In the event of major water disruptions, parishes can request assistance from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, which would activate standby contracts to deliver water to the affected areas, the Department of Health and Hospitals said. Times-Picayune_ 7/24/08

Canal plan may solve California water distribution issues
A public policy group suggested California should no longer rely on the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to supply water to most of the state, and should instead build a canal around the delta.  A study by the Public Policy Institute of California recommends that cities in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area stop drawing water from the delta, saying it's an increasingly unstable source.  Instead, institute officials believe a canal that would draw fresh water from the Sacramento River would deliver better quality water to more than 25 million Californians and farmers in the Central Valley because it would bypass the salty mixture found in the delta.  A canal also could help native fish that are now being killed when they are sucked into the delta's massive water pumps.  AP_7/17/08

Fresno Irrigation District to stop water deliveries

The Fresno (Calif.) Irrigation District will cease water deliveries July 31 after a five-month season because of dry spring conditions.  The district covers about 245,000 acres and operates about 800 miles of canals and pipelines. In a normal year, Fresno Irrigation District handles about 500,000 acre-feet of water and delivers most of it to agricultural users.  By season's end, the district will have delivered about 432,000 acre-feet of water. Deliveries started March 1.  Growers will need to rely upon groundwater for any late summer or fall irrigations. The district will offer hardship water deliveries to the east side of the district beginning Aug. 1 and continuing through September. In addition, reclaimed water will continue to be delivered on the Houghton and Dry Creek systems.  Fresno Bee_7/17/08

Racism denied public water to mostly black neighborhood near Zanesville, Ohio; Jury awards victims $10.9 million

After a seven-week trial in U.S. District Court in Columbus, jurors found today that 68 residents of Muskingum County were denied public water service because of the color of their skin. The racial-discrimination damages awarded to current and former residents of the Coal Run area outside Zanesville were hefty: $10.9 million. The city of Zanesville, Muskingum County and the Eastern Muskingum Water Authority, which now is operated by the county, are jointly liable for the payout. Attorney fees that might be awarded later would add to the penalty. The jury found that city and county officials violated federal and state fair-housing and civil-rights laws by not extending waterlines to Coal Run until 2004. Surrounding white residents had public water, but not Coal Run residents. Attorneys for Zanesville and Muskingum County said the case would be appealed. Columbus Dispatch_ 7/10/08

Pure New York City tap water may be muddied by climate change

Warmer temperatures threaten to spoil the mountain reservoirs supplying 9 million people in New York City. Water from the largest unfiltered delivery system in the U.S. may become dirtier as weather patterns shift, bringing stronger storms to the region, the city's Department of Environmental Protection said in a May report. Heavy rains muddy reservoirs and wash in bacteria and parasites. That may force New York to spend $10 billion on filtration, the DEP said. Last year, the Washington-based EPA said water from New York's Catskill and Delaware watersheds, about 90 percent of the city's supply, was still clear enough to avoid filtration. About 10 percent of the system will be filtered by 2012. Bloomberg_ 7/7/08 download the EPA report pdf

Alaska ballot contains clean-water initiative
The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that an initiative to regulate or restrict pollution from mining can be placed on the ballot in August for voters to consider.  The initiative is aimed at stemming the discharge of toxic materials from large metallic mineral mines in Alaska, that may compromise water sources according to court documents.  Mining advocates oppose the measure, saying it would put a damper on industry. Late last year, they asked a superior court judge to declare the initiative unconstitutional.  In February, Superior Court Judge Douglas Blankenship issued a decision saying the initiative could appear on the ballot. It's known as "Ballot Measure 4."  The Council of Alaska Producers and other mining supporters then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which upheld Blankenship's ruling.  Forbes_7/3/08

 

San Francisco Bay Area starts $1 million water-conservation campaign
Elected officials from around the Bay Area hope a new public awareness campaign called "Water Saving Hero" spurs people to voluntarily cut their water use by 10 percent - enough perhaps to avoid the mandatory water rationing already imposed on some East Bay cities.  The $1 million campaign - a partnership among 11 Bay Area water agencies and funded by a grant from the California Department of Water Resources - comes as the state grapples with its first drought in 16 years.  SF Gate_7/3/08

Sacramento couple who let lawn die to save water face $746 fine

When California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought June 4, Anne Hartridge decided it was only right to let her Sacramento front lawn die to save water.  "The whole water conservation ethic is very important to me," said Hartridge, a state employee who bikes or rides the bus to work.  But that ethic didn't agree with her neighbors, or with the city.  Before Hartridge could plan new landscaping, a neighbor complained to the city about her brown lawn, and the Code Enforcement Department slapped the family with a citation.  A $746 fine will be next unless they correct the violation.  "In order to make the lawn go, I would have had to keep watering it intensely, and since the drought was declared, I decided that wasn't a good idea," said Hartridge. "Honestly, I think there's a disconnect within the city about priorities." Sacramento Bee_7/2/08

Update:  Fine dropped for Sacramento water savers

Sacramento city officials on Wednesday admitted their code enforcement policies may not be drought-friendly, and said they won't fine the couple who let their front lawn die to save water.  The story in the Sacramento Bee prompted a torrent of outrage from the public, who overwhelmingly supported Anne Hartridge and Matt George, the east Sacramento couple cited by city code enforcers after they stopped watering their lawn.  Sacramento Bee_7/3/08

June, 2008

Wisconsin's Holmen Rotary Club aide water clean up in Peru

The efforts of the Holmen Rotary Club will mean clean, safe drinking water for hundreds — maybe even thousands — of people in a poor section of Lima, Peru. Last winter, the club, which is only about a year old, decided to take on its first international project. Dean McHugh, chairman of the club’s international committee, went online looking for causes that would work and came across a proposed project from a Rotary Club in Lima that sought help getting water filters to an extremely poor section of the city of 10 million. The project entailed created and distributing 250 biosand water filters, which can filter almost 10 gallons of water per hour. In Lima, 10 percent of the residents (a million people) don’t have safe drinking water. Almost half of the children in Lima younger than 5 suffer from chronic diarrhea contracted from contaminated drinking water, and a third of Lima’s children have intestinal parasites from bad water. Holmen Courier_ 6/30/08

Illinois and Iowa say drinking water treatment plants OK after floods

Drining water treatment plants are back to normal after flooding rivers and streams this month knocked out several in Illinois and Iowa, officials said. "Water at this point is not an issue," said Tom Green, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Bret Voorhees, of Iowa Emergency Management, said access to clean water in the state has not been much of an issue so far. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as local and state governments, have stockpiled bottled water for those displaced by the floods. Reuters_ 6/21/08

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power official disputes bias accusations

Seven years ago, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spent $3.3 million settling employee accusations that the utility had condoned racial discrimination -- and interfered in efforts to investigate those complaints. DWP hired the Texas law firm of Kemp Smith, which recommended then-Assistant General Manager Raman Raj should leave for the good of the agency. But with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently installing new leadership at the DWP, Raj, 58, returned in December as the utility's No. 2 official, running the department while General Manager H. David Nahai travels to Israel with the mayor. The confidential report on Raj, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, concluded that Raj moved the utility's anti-discrimination office from a satellite building -- valued for providing a level of anonymity -- into DWP headquarters to discourage complaints, since anyone who entered would have to do so in public view. The report also said Raj manipulated severance packages to remove managers who disagreed with him. And it warned that Raj had given "too much influence in management of the organization" to Brian D'Arcy, head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 -- which represents DWP workers. Los Angeles Times_ 6/16/08

Precautions urged for well owners in Midwest U.S. flood areas

WaterWebster Staff Report

June 11, 2008

(Editors: To reprint this story at no cost, click here)

Homeowners whose drinking water wells are flooded need to be careful both during the flood and afterward, groundwater safety experts warned Wednesday. Flooding from Nebraska to Indiana has potentially contaminated wells used for drinking water, said Cliff Treyens, public awareness director for the National Ground Water Assn. (NGAWA). (full story)

American Water Works Association kicks off annual conference and exposition (ACE08) in Atlanta

Thousands of water industry professionals gathered to explore the future of safe water, gain insight into cutting-edge research and best practices, and experience the latest products and services available to the water community. AWWA President Nilaksh Kothari highlighted the current challenges facing the water community, including new and complex drinking water regulations, water resources and shortages, and aging infrastructure in need of significant repair or replacement and a major joint announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the event, the CDC became the first federal partner of EPA's WaterSense Program, an initiative to stimulate more efficient use of water in homes and, now, federal facilities. Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC Director, and Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, were on hand to sign the historic agreement. Grumbles also announced a rule to clarify that permits are not required for water transfers from one body of water to another. Such transfers include routing water through tunnels, channels, or natural stream courses for public water supplies, irrigation, power generation, flood control and environmental restoration. News Release_ 6/9/08

Many eyes on Lubbock, Texas' water

Past misdeeds and neighborly obligations have committed as much as 10 percent of Lubbock's annual water use to customers outside the city's borders, and records show that volume could grow. The Lubbock City Council soon could offer contracts to two new out-of-city customers, bumping the obligations to as much as 13 percent of the current water use. Another 17 communities within 50 miles of the city may face groundwater quality or quantity issues within 50 years - all will depend on new, federally acceptable groundwater supplies nearby or a well-established patron to fill their needs. State environmental regulators have encouraged those that struggle to talk to Lubbock. Partnerships with surrounding communities could help the city attract grant money for expensive water projects but also trade away the precious commodity leaders have tried to secure. That puts Lubbock in a difficult position, regulators and local water officials admit: Why should a city spending hundreds of millions of citizen dollars securing the limited water available graciously supply anyone else? Lubbock Avalanche-Journal_ 6/8/08

Stinky water affecting some Atlanta customers

First there was drought, now there's stench. Some of the city of Atlanta's 1.2 million water customers are having to hold their noses and gulp down the stinky H2O flowing from their faucets the last couple of days. Reports of smelly, funny tasting drinking water began pouring into the city's Department of Watershed Management on Friday. Department officials blame the problem on "reservoir turnover," and say the water is safe to drink. Resevoir turnover occurs when colder water heats up and rises, bring with it a lot of sediment and alge, spokeswoman Janet Ward said on Sunday. Carbon filtration, an extra purification step, is being used but officials can't say for sure when the water will be odor free. Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ 6/1/08

May, 2008

Orange County, California Grand Jury recommends water conservation

The Orange County Grand Jury Thursday released a report recommending that California's third largest county adopt a comprehensive water conservation program. Orange County, which ranks behind Los Angeles and San Diego in population, according to 2007 estimates by the California Finance Department, has an estimated 3.1 million residents. WaterWebster staff_ 5/22/08   Download the Grand Jury report .pdf

Santa Clara Valley Water District raises salaries for two top staffers to highest in California

Board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, a government agency buffeted by charges of excessive spending, on Tuesday approved salary increases for two of their top staff members, making them the most highly paid such employees of any water district in the state. The unanimous vote came only moments after the board voiced opposition to placing a measure on the November ballot subjecting its members to term limits. Board chairwoman Rosemary Kamei defended the pay increases during a week in which the board is also considering raising fees to customers. Kamei noted that unlike most water districts, Santa Clara oversees both drinking water and flood protection. Water district counsel Debra Cauble's salary will increase 8 percent to $221,720 a year. The board also gave Cauble a $12,000 bonus, and increased her monthly car allowance to $750. By comparison, Karen Tachiki, general counsel of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, will make $221,832 this year, but with no bonus and a $700 car allowance. Los Angeles-based Metropolitan has 18 million customers - 10 times more than Santa Clara - and a yearly budget of $1.8 billion - five times larger. Board members also approved a 5 percent raise for board clerk Lauren Keller, to $135,574 a year. At the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Bay Area's largest water district, the clerk earns $103,716, and the clerk at Metropolitan makes $99,816. Based in San Jose, the district provides drinking water and flood protection to 1.8 million Santa Clara County residents. Its $364 million annual budget comes from water bills and property taxes. San Jose Mercury News_ 5/21/08

Sewer to spigot: Recycled water

A growing number of cities and counties grappling with water shortages are turning to a solution that may be tough for some homeowners to stomach: purifying wastewater so that residents can drink it. In an effort to replenish its groundwater supply, Los Angeles is slated to announce Thursday a plan that will recycle 4.9 billion gallons of treated wastewater to drinking standards by 2019. In San Diego, the city council voted in favor of a pilot project that would pump recycled sewage water into a drinking-water reservoir, despite a veto from the mayor over the system's cost. Miami-Dade County, Fla., is planning a system that would pump 23 million gallons a day of purified wastewater into the ground; the water will eventually travel to a supply well and be reclaimed for drinking use. Some communities, such as the Tampa Bay area of Florida, desalinate seawater, which is generally more expensive than recycling. Many cities are also pushing water-conservation initiatives such as implementing restrictions on when residents can water lawns or offering rebates for high-efficiency washers and toilets. But cities considering large-scale systems that recycle wastewater to drinking standards may face an uphill battle. Such initiatives -- dubbed "toilet to tap" proposals by critics -- have encountered resistance in the past as a result of cost and the overall yuck factor. In 2001, Los Angeles scrapped a $55 million wastewater-recycling project that would have provided the equivalent of the annual water needs of 200,000 city residents. A similar proposal in San Diego was derailed in the late 1990s amid an outcry that poor neighborhoods would be forced to use the wastewater from rich neighborhoods. Wall Street Journal_ 5/15/08

Los Angeles prepares massive water-conservation plan

With vital and often-distant water sources shrinking, Los Angeles officials today will revive a controversial proposal to recycle wastewater as part of a plan to curb usage and move the city toward greater water independence. The aggressive, multiyear proposal could do much to catch the city up to other Southern California communities that have launched advanced recycling programs. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's effort could cost up to $2 billion and affect a wide range of daily activities. Cities facing the same challenges, including Long Beach, have already moved to curtail residential and commercial water usage and punish waste. Orange County and other Southern California agencies are also recycling treated sewage water back into the drinking supply. Los Angeles' plan -- a copy of which was made available to The Times -- would invest in projects to capture and store rainfall and clean up a sprawling, contaminated water supply beneath the San Fernando Valley. About $1 billion would be allocated for reclamation, including a politically sensitive plan to use treated wastewater to recharge underground drinking supplies serving the Valley, Los Feliz and the Eastside. A similar system was approved and built in the 1990s, then abandoned after critics labeled it a "toilet-to-tap" scheme. Los Angeles Times_ 5/15/08 (logon required)

New Jersey weighs water tax for open space preservation
New Jerseyans may decide this year whether to tax their water use.  A Senate committee on Thursday debated a proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate $150 million annually be raised from a proposed new water tax to farmland and open space preservation in the nation's most densely populated state.  Sen. Bob Smith said the tax would charge 40 cents per 1,000 gallons of water, equating to $32 per year for the average household.  Voters in November approved borrowing $200 million for land preservation, but that money is set to run out in two years.  Smith said the water tax would make the program permanent and mean an end to borrowing for preservation, while providing $150 million in annual pay-as-you-go funding.  Forbes_5/8/08

Hawaii first state to require solar water heaters in new homes

All new homes in Hawaii will be required to have solar water heaters installed starting in 2010 under a law approved by the Legislature. Solar water heaters typically cost home buyers about $5,000 extra on their mortgage, but island residents will save thousands of dollars over the years on their electricity bills, supporters said. AP/MSNBC_ 5/6/08

Duke Energy nuclear plant causes Carolina water concerns

Water will be a likely font of controversy as Duke Energy moves toward building a new nuclear plant, its first in two decades, 40 miles southwest of Charlotte. The William States Lee III plant near Gaffney would be Duke's first nuclear plant not built on a large reservoir, as McGuire is on Lake Norman and Catawba is on Lake Wylie. It would instead draw 50 million gallons a day from the Broad River, which also supplies Duke's Cliffside coal-fired plant just above the N.C. line. About 35 million gallons a day will evaporate from the plant's cooling towers, with the rest returned to the river. Anti-nuclear groups that will try to stop the plant's construction say the Broad can't afford to give up that much water. S.C. officials and Duke say the Broad should be able to supply the nuclear plant -- except during severe drought. About once every 12 years, a Duke report says, the plant might have to shut down because the Broad and small on-site ponds can't cool it. The utility says it needs the plant to help supply electricity to 40,000 to 60,000 new Carolinas customers a year. State legislation that would require permits for South Carolina's largest water users, including utilities, went nowhere this year. Duke and business groups fought for versions that conservationists said would allow rivers to be drawn down to unhealthy levels for fish and wildlife. Charlotte Observer_ 5/4/08

Belle Glade, Florida boil-water order drags into third week

Residents of the City of Belle Glade must continue to boil their water while officials await results from bacteria tests taken in city tanks. The boil water order has been in effect since April 19 when workers at the water plant stirred up sediment in the tanks. Kenneth Kelly, Belle Glade water plant operator, said he's not sure when the boil water order will be lifted. Palm Beach Post_ 5/3/08

Idaho water board buys fish farm to aid water supplies

During the month of April, the Idaho Water Resource Board in a partnership with the city of Twin Falls, North Snake and Magic Valley ground water districts, completed a series of transactions resulting in the purchase of Pristine Springs fish farm operation. The transactions are designed to address conflicts between spring water users and ground water users in Magic Valley as well as provide the city of Twin Falls with a fresh water source to improve the quality of its water supply and provide for future growth of the city. The water districts will pay $11 million in total, $1 million initially plus $10 million and interest for 10 years as part of a loan from the IWRB. The IWRB will eventually have the $10 million plus interest returned to its revolving loan program which will be used to finance other water projects across the state. Ag Weekly_ 5/3/08

California water officials: March, April driest on record

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a key source of California's water supply, has fallen well below normal levels after California experienced its driest two-month period on record, state water officials said today.  Department of Water Resources scientists found snowpack water content averaging only 67 percent of normal throughout the 400-mile-long mountain range. Levels were 88 percent of normal in the northern Sierra and about 60 percent of normal in the central and southern regions.  The amount of water running into streams and reservoirs is only 55 to 65 percent of normal, according to the figures collected by the Department of Water Resources.  That's one of the reasons federal and state water managers have reduced water exports so far this year.  Water deliveries also have been cut to comply with a federal judge's order that limits pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by as much as 30 percent to protect the delta smelt, a threatened fish species.  San Jose Mercury News_5/1/08

April, 2008

EPA to honor Birmingham, Alabama Water Works

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will give the board of the Birmingham Water Works its 2007 Safe Drinking Water Act Excellence Award for Region 4 at a ceremony tonight. EPA's Region 4 includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. According to a news release, this is the EPA's highest honor for a water system and the award will be presented by representatives from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The award recognizes water systems that are consistently committed to compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Birmingham Business Journal_ 4/28/08

New York City will serve as model for water surveillance

Mayor Bloomberg announced Thursday that the city will receive a $12-million dollar grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for water surveillance.  The funds will be used to help develop a high-tech online system to monitor the city's 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes.  The grant will allow the City's Department of Environmental Protection to do more testing and analysis of water supplies across the five boroughs.  The city's water security program is expected to serve as a model for water utilities throughout the country. NY1_4/25/08

Spiraling costs alleged for water plant built 10 stories down
In a city of big projects, it ranks among the biggest. New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection is building one of the largest water filtration plants in the world in a 10-story-deep hole it blasted out of bedrock in the Bronx. When completed in 2012, the plant, capable of purifying 300 million gallons of water a day, will be buried there.  Even as construction moves forward, questions about soaring costs and delays continue to plague the project.  The cost is now estimated at nearly $3 billion, a huge jump from the $660 million city officials estimated when they announced an audacious plan in 1998 to build the plant below the surface of Van Cortlandt Park.  Some officials and others fear the final tab could climb even higher, and in the process push up water rates. On April 1, the city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., announced that he was starting an independent audit to determine whether city officials understated the original price,Besides scrutinizing the complicated accounting, Mr. Thompson will have to sort through accusations by some residents and officials of deliberate distortions of costs, and intimations that the project has been tainted by mob influence, though nothing has been proved.  New York Times_4/24/08

New Mexico governor calls for surface water protection
More than 5,300 miles of New Mexico's rivers and streams would gain special protection under the federal Clean Water Act as "outstanding waters" as part of a precedent-setting proposal being pushed by Gov. Bill Richardson.  The plan marks the first time New Mexico has embarked on a such a broad effort to protect headwaters on national forest land and in roadless areas from degradation under the state's water quality standards and the Clean Water Act, officials said.  Rivers and streams eligible for designation as Outstanding National Resource Waters include those that are part of a national or state park, wildlife refuge or wilderness area, or those that are of high quality and haven't been significantly modified by human activities. Forbes_4/23/08

Local official says earthquake may affect Iowa well water

The 5.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Illinois on Friday could affect the quality of drinking water for Muscatine County, Iowa, residents who live in unincorporated areas or who have private wells. That's according to Eric Furnas, the county's zoning administrator, who says it is common for compressions from quakes of this magnitude and larger to reach Iowa and cause some discoloration of well water ranging from black to yellow. Furnas says residents with discolored water should test their water for total coliform bacteria due to the possibility of the water quality being compromised. AP/WOI-tv_ 4/20/08

Woburn, Massachusetts faces fine for violating water laws

The state Department of Environmental Protection has found Woburn in violation of drinking-water laws and has ordered the city to immediately approve a plan to install residential water meters, among other requirements, or face potential legal action and financial penalties. The City Council has called an emergency meeting for Wednesday to discuss the situation, which multiple councilors said came as a surprise. Installing 10,000 meters could cost $5 million, according to a projection by the city's engineer, and would probably also increase water bills for residents, who currently pay a flat fee regardless of how much they use. The DEP says Woburn failed to follow through on a June 2006 consent order that Mayor Thomas L. McLaughlin signed to rectify problems that predated his administration. In that order, Woburn agreed to make a number of changes and improvements, including the installation of meters. Boston Globe_ 4/13/08

Pennsylvania's Sustainable Water Infrastructure Task Force to hold first meeting

Governor Edward G. Rendell created the task force last month through executive order to evaluate what is needed to ensure Pennsylvania maintains sustainable water and wastewater systems in light of continued cuts by the federal government. The commonwealth is facing nearly $20 billion in unmet funding needs for the state's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty will convene the task force's first meeting at 9:30 a.m., Monday, April 14, in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market St., Harrisburg. News Release_ 4/11/08

Colorado Senator warns state needs to increase storage to avoid water war

Water wars in the Southeast U.S. should serve as a warning to Colorado to store more water, Sen. Wayne Alllard, R-Colo., told Western Slope leaders on Saturday. To avert fights over the state’s water, Colorado must immediately figure out how to store the 1.2 million acre-feet the state has been allotted under the compact that divvies up the Colorado River and its tributaries, Allard told Club 20, the Western Slope lobbying and promotional organization. In the worst case, Congress would draft new laws to make water decisions, or the federal government would mediate water fights among the states, Allard said. Grand Junction Sentinel_ 4/5/08

Nevada flooding prompts federal water managers to begin review of canals in the West

The failure of an earthen embankment on a century-old irrigation canal that flooded the growing town of Fernley, Nevada, has federal water managers concerned about the safety of nearly 8,000 miles of similar aging canals across the West. The January breach of the Truckee Canal flooded nearly 600 homes, making Fernley a state and federal disaster area. The review is no small task. The Bureau of Reclamation owns 7,911 miles of canals in 17 Western states, the vast majority of them managed and operated by local irrigation and water districts. And the review is made more urgent by the change in demographics across much of the West from rural to urban. Crews started digging the Truckee Canal in 1903 with mules and steam shovels. In 1960, Fernley’s population stood at only 654; today, the town serves as a bedroom community of Reno, 30 miles to the west, and the population is about 20,000. AP/Boston Herald_ 4/5/08

Florida legislators criticize South Florida Water Management District officials for wasteful spending

After stays at luxury resorts and short flights at taxpayers' expense, the South Florida Water Management District got a warning from state legislators on Wednesday: "Change your ways." The House Committee on Audit and Performance called district officials to the capital after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that agency representatives stayed at pricey hotels and used the district's airplane and helicopters for short trips and costly solo flights. State Rep. Ed Homan, the committee chairman, said if the district's nine-member volunteer governing board didn't change its practices, the Legislature could change state law to put tighter limits on the agency's travel spending. "When they sign up for this thing, they don't sign up for any perks," said Homan, R- Tampa. "They are here because they are a public servant." District board members during the past three years flew nearly 600 times, costing more than $800,000 in fuel, insurance, hangar space, maintenance and other expenses, according to the Sun-Sentinel's examination of flight logs, budgets and other records. South Florida Sun-Sentinel_ 4/4/08

Okla. Group Objects to State Water Sale
A loose coalition of southern Oklahoma organizations sought Wednesday to bolster their case against the sale of state water to Texas interests.  The attorney general's office is appealing a federal judge's ruling that would allow a Texas group to proceed with its lawsuit against the state. The Tarrant Regional Water District  of Texas wants to obtain 150 billion gallons of water a year from Oklahoma streams. Opponents say the district wants the water to further economic development in north Texas at the expense of Oklahoma towns and cities. They expressed disappointment with the level of support they have gotten from state leaders, including the Legislature, the governor's office and the attorney general. "We want to be the wet state that grows, not the dry one that blows away," said Charlette Hearne of the Southern Oklahoma Water Association.  Forbes_4/3/08

Vermont eyes better water oversight

Lawmakers in Vermont are reviewing options for preserving groundwater.  According to author and researcher Maude Barlow, Vermont, a veritable postcard of blue lakes and streams, is vulnerable to the ill-effects of the "water mining" industry. Vermont is one of the few states in the country without a law governing groundwater extraction. Legislation pending in the Vermont House would, for the first time in this state, require commercial water bottlers to obtain a permit before drawing large volumes of water from underground aquifers.  Barlow said the legislation is crucial if Vermonters want to retain their supply of what will soon become the most sought after resource on the globe.  "Instead of using groundwater sustainably, we're mining it," Barlow said. "It's like gold mining … we take it until it's gone and then move on. As a result, the world is running out of available groundwater." Vermont, like most rural states, relies heavily on groundwater for residential use. More than two-thirds of Vermonters get their water from the ground, many via wells drilled into springs running beneath their land.  The law being debated in Montpelier right now would establish groundwater as a public trust, making companies seeking to extract it subject to the same regulatory rigors as commercial enterprises that impact rivers or large tracts of land. Rutland Herald Online_4/3/08

March, 2008

San Antonio Water System chairman to create task force to evaluate future

The cost for the San Antonio Water System to build major water-supply projects keeps rising while the utility still relies almost entirely on the Edwards Aquifer, a source that could be severely curtailed in a drought. That recently prompted SAWS board Chairman Alex Briseño to announce that he'll soon form a task force to evaluate the utility's long-term plans. Then the SAWS staff, led by President and Chief Executive Officer David Chardavoyne, revealed that the cost of the plan to expand and diversify the utility's water supply over the next 50 years has jumped 25 percent since the last tabulation three years ago — from $2.8 billion to $3.5 billion. Even before the recent rapid run-up in projected costs, Briseño, who joined the board in June 2006, was starting to show some annoyance over not getting answers to questions about costs. In a recent interview, Briseño avoided any direct criticism of Chardavoyne, who was hired in January 2005, but he clearly was frustrated. "The fact is the board members are only as good as the information we get," he said. "There are two issues here. One is not having timely information that I've been requesting on an ongoing basis, and the second is the rapid change in the escalating costs of this plan that we need to get a handle on and that we need to be aware of so we can plan for the future." San Antonio Express-News_ 3/31/08

Sierra snowpack dips to normal

The Sierra snowpack has shrunk to normal levels after a series of big winter storms in January and early February was followed by a relative dry spell.  While storms have tapered off in recent weeks, the state Department of Water Resources says the amount of snow remaining should be enough to fill the reservoirs that feed the state's water system.  The department's fourth snow survey of the season on Wednesday found the snowpack was 105 percent of normal for this time of year in the northern part of the Sierra and 103 percent of normal for the southern part of the range. It was 89 percent of average in the central Sierra. The Argus_3/27/08

Bill would make northern Idaho water adjudication voluntary

North Idaho residents leery of being forced to take part in water rights adjudication won’t face that possibility under legislation now moving forward. Three bills sponsored by lawmakers from north Idaho are nearing final approval. Combined, they make participating in the adjudication voluntary for domestic and stock water rights holders, cut fees in half and eliminate the Kootenai-Moyie River Basin from the process. At issue are water rights for a half dozen water basins and two aquifers that supply the northern third of the state. State officials say only about 50 percent of the water in north Idaho has been adjudicated. Besides Idaho, Washington state uses water that flows into the Spokane River and uses portions of the aquifers that extend into that state. State officials say adjudication is needed to sort out water rights among private, federal and tribal landowners, a problem they expect to grow as more people move into the region. But residents already there are concerned they could lose access to water through the process or that water could become more expensive. AP/Ag Weekly_ 3/22/08

Washington governor signs bill for more water for Columbia Basin

Legislation to provide the largest new influx of water to towns and farms in the Columbia Basin in three decades was signed Thursday by Gov. Chris Gregoire.  The bill will allow Lake Roosevelt, behind Grand Coulee Dam, to be drawn down an additional 82,500 acre-feet a year and as much as 132,000 acre-feet in drought years. The water will be split among municipalities, farms and for survival of endangered salmon.  The releases are a first step under a bill passed in 2006 to find new water supplies for growing communities in the region.  The bill provides additional water to irrigators of 10,000 acres east of Moses Lake, more certainty for those whose water allocations are cut in times of drought, new water to towns with pending water right applications and increased stream flow to help salmon survive in late summer.  Seattle Times_3/21/08

AWWA reports Atlanta convention center optimistic about quick recovery

Four days after a tornado struck the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), home of the American Water Works Association’s June 8-12 Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE08) in Atlanta, the facility’s general manager released a statement noting that "we are well on the road to recovery and optimistic about the future." "We expect a fantastic experience at ACE08 in Atlanta," said AWWA Executive Director Gary Zimmerman. "All indications are that the downtown area is recovering quickly from the storm." In a letter to customers, GWCC’s Mark Zimmerman notes that crews have embarked on repairs as engineers continue to assess the extent of the damage. Meanwhile, a force of between 500 and 1,000 workers has been cleaning up the center since Saturday in order to assure the facility’s safety. AWWA is communicating regularly with GWCC and will continue to pass along updated information at awwa.org . Updates from the convention center are also available at www.gwcc.com . News Release_ 3/18/08

Arizona bills push for information on rural water supplies

Two bills moving in the state House aim to remove some of the mystery involved in determining whether a home for sale in rural Arizona has an adequate water supply. Under state law, only the first buyer of a home in most of parts of rural Arizona must be informed if its water supply has been deemed inadequate. These areas are outside of active management areas, where new developments are required to have 100-year assured water supplies. House Bill 2141, sponsored by Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, would require developers to file a statement of water adequacy with the county recorder if a property is outside of an AMA. House Bill 2270, sponsored by Rep. Doug Clark, R-Anthem, would require Arizona Department of Real Estate's Web site to provide a map showing areas outside AMAs and advise buyers check water adequacy. The site would have to link to state Department of Water Resources definitions associated with water adequacy. Cronkite News Service_ 3/14/08

Cutting travel costs raises some concerns with South Florida water managers

South Florida water managers say they are willing to cut travel expenses, but taking the subway and staying in hotels for less than $200 a night every time might be too much. On Thursday, the South Florida Water Management District's governing board got a look at cost-cutting guidelines aimed at travel expenses. The board in February agreed to adopt new rules to limit expenses for their travel and off-site meetings. That vote came the same day the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the agency spent more than $219,000 in five years for its top officials, advisers and staffers to stay at resorts, billing the public for rooms and receptions from Key Largo to Walt Disney World. The proposed spending guidelines released Thursday include tougher limits on meal expenses and emphasize using public facilities instead of hotels for off-site meetings. The Sun-Sentinel, in a review of district records, reported in February that hotel stays in recent years included $342 per night for 27 rooms at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa near Fort Myers, and more than $7,000 for six rooms and food at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, about 16 miles from the district's headquarters. The newspaper in January reported that board members frequently used district aircraft to fly to meetings, including trips with only one passenger and short hops from West Palm Beach to cities as close as Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It cost more than $800,000 over three years to shuttle board members on the district's turboprop plane and helicopters, according to the newspaper's review of flight and budget records. South Florida Sun-Sentinel_ 3/14/08

Hawaii may become first U.S. state to mandate solar water heaters

Two House committees yesterday advanced a bill (Senate Bill 644) that would require the installation of solar thermal water heaters in single-family homes built after Jan. 1, 2010. It also would restrict the current state solar thermal energy system tax credit to homes built before 2010. If the legislation becomes law, Hawai'i would be the first state with such a mandate, according to the Sierra Club Hawai'i chapter. The proposal is opposed by Hawaiian Electric Co. and the building and solar industry, which say in part that the mandate would unfairly drive up costs for home buyers. Opponents also say such a mandate is unnecessary because many developers are offering solar water-heating systems as a standard feature or as an option. But supporters of the bill said most new homes in Hawai'i do not use solar and that most solar water-heating systems pay for themselves in energy savings within three to seven years. House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee Chairwoman Hermina Morita said electric water-heating tanks account for 30 percent to 35 percent of a home's electric bill. She said if the cost of installing a solar water heater is included in the mortgage for a new home, the savings from the lowered electricity costs — given the high price of oil — could surpass the added monthly cost for the system. Honolulu Advertiser_ 3/14/08

South Florida's Broward, Palm Beach counties get 20-year water permits

New 20-year water permits for Broward and Palm Beach counties approved by the South Florida Water Management District on Thursday will require alternative supplies to meet the water needs of growing populations. The Broward County approval allows up to 23 million gallons per day for unincorporated areas and portions of Coconut Creek, Parkland, Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point and Deerfield Beach. The Palm Beach County permit, covering a larger service area, allows about 130 million gallons per day. The permits follow a new standard that caps withdrawals from the shallow Biscayne aquifer and limits withdrawals from the Everglades at existing levels, said Tom Olliff, assistant executive director of the South Florida Water Management District. That requires communities to use more alternative water supplies, such as recycling more wastewater for irrigation and tapping deeper, more plentiful underground sources. Broward County plans a new water treatment plant that would draw water from the deeper, but saltier, Floridan aquifer. That water would be blended with water from shallower sources, which needs less treatment, to supplement supplies. The county could "borrow" more than 3 million gallons of water a day from existing supplies until 2013 when the plant is supposed to be completed, according to the district. South Florida Sun-Sentinel_ 3/14/08

February, 2008

Seattle boasts:  "Enough water here for at least 50 years."
Water woes may be bedeviling planners in other parts of the country, specifically in Las Vegas and Phoenix, but in Seattle, utility officials say they'll have enough water for the next 50 years at least.  That's without building any new water sources, said Seattle Public Utilities officials, who pointed to new University of Washington research developed by the school's Climate Impacts Group (CIG).  The UW researchers' results indicate that Seattle Public Utilities and Everett Public Works will have enough water, even though there's a potential for a 6 percent decline in supply in Everett and 13 percent decline for Seattle.  Options to meet demand include refilling reservoirs to a higher level, drawing them down deeper, and additional conservation efforts.  Researchers say that at least 36 U.S. states will face water shortages in the next five years because of rising temperatures, drought and population growth.Bizjournals.com_2/28/08

Major US water agencies form national climate alliance

United by the fact that climate change poses a major long-term challenge to delivering high-quality drinking water, eight of the nation's largest water agencies announced the formation of an unprecedented coalition, the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA). The alliance will work to improve research into the impacts of climate change on water utilities, develop strategies for adapting to climate change and implement tactics to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  Comprised of Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Portland Water Bureau, San Diego County Water Authority, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Seattle Public Utilities and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the WUCA members supply drinking water for more than 36 million people throughout the United States.  In its first official act, the WUCA provided comment today on the "Summary of Revised Research Plan" prepared by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).  The WUCA identified several key research needs that would improve the drinking water industry's ability to develop strategies to cope with potential impacts of climate change.   Fox Business.com_2/26/08

Ethics panel slams South Florida water managers on spending

South Florida water managers were "put on notice" Wednesday by state senators to stop staying at lavish resorts for meetings and taking flights short distances at taxpayers' expense. "You know, it looks like you're on a daylong junket," Sen. Gwen Margolis, D- Sunny Isles Beach, told two board members of the South Florida Water Management District. Concerns about the district's travel and aircraft use took center stage at a meeting in Tallahassee of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. The panel recommended approval for the governor's new appointees to the district's board, but called for the agency to follow through with promised budget belt-tightening — policies instituted after articles published by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel spotlighted the board's hotel stays at pricey resorts and use of agency aircraft as a taxi service for top officials. Sun-Sentinel_ 2/21/08

South Florida Water Management District  OKs rules on meeting costs

South Florida water managers on Thursday agreed to set new rules intended to limit spending on their traveling meetings, which in recent years included stays at waterfront, golf and spa resorts. The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board's unanimous vote came the same day the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the agency spent more than $219,000 in five years for its top officials, advisers and staffers to stay at resorts, billing the public for rooms and receptions. The new rules, to be finalized over the next 60 days, target the monthly meetings of the nine-member governing board that is appointed by the governor. The rules would also apply to the board's 45- member Water Resources Advisory Commission. Sun-Sentinel_ 2/14/08

Sun-Sentinel Investigation: South Florida Water Management District spends tax dollars at lavish resorts

South Florida's top water managers, advisers and staff have spent more than $219,000 in five years on overnight meetings at resorts from Key Largo to Walt Disney World, billing the public for rooms and receptions, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has found. Trips by board members and employees of the South Florida Water Management District include stays at the Ritz-Carlton and at other luxury hotels as close as seven miles from their homes, a review of travel invoices and expense records show. Board members are appointed by the governor and are unpaid. "We are volunteering our time," board member Nicolás J. Gutiérrez Jr. said Wednesday. "Nobody is enriching themselves. ... It's more of a sacrifice." The findings follow the Sun-Sentinel's report in January detailing how board members regularly use the district's turboprop plane and helicopters to fly to meetings. The flights include trips with only one passenger and hops over short distances, such as from West Palm Beach to Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The district covers a vast area from Orlando to the Florida Keys and is responsible for protecting against floods, restoring the Everglades and ensuring that people have enough water. In times of drought, the agency restricts how often people can water their lawns. It has a budget of nearly $1.3 billion. Sun-Sentinel_ 2/14/08

E.coli in Fort Myers, Florida water supply

Sunday night, water experts and the Department of Health are out taking samples while trying to determine how E. coli is getting into the city's drinking water. Even though the water runs clear, there may be something in it that you cannot see. Boil water notices went out Friday after a sample tested positive for E. coli in one area of the city. The notice remains in effect until further notice and officials said that they have not found the source and are working hard to find the problem and plan to have it corrected by Monday. E.coli presence in the water means the supply could be contaminated with human or animal waste. If ingested, you could experience a variety of symptoms including diarrhea, cramps and nausea. NBC 2 News_ 2/10/08

California ruling is likely to tighten water supply from delta; Consider the longfin smelt

State regulators took steps to add another delta fish to the list of endangered species Thursday and implemented emergency regulations that could further cut into state water supplies.  The president of the state Fish and Game Commission said the new rules could  exact a "monster" hit on the state economy, though exactly what the impact will be was unclear.  "We have a plumbing problem that is going to cost billions of dollars in a very short period of time. It's an absurd position to be in," said the commission president, Richard Rogers.  Meeting in San Diego on Thursday, the commission designated longfin smelt as a candidate for the list of threatened and endangered species, meaning it must decide within a year whether to add it to one of those lists.  Then the commission enacted emergency measures that give Department of Fish and Game biologists new authority to cut deliveries from massive pumps near Tracy that supply water to 25 million people, including in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa and Los Angeles counties.  The new regulations come on top of court-ordered restrictions issued in December after a federal judge determined regulators were allowing water agencies to drive delta smelt to extinction.  That ruling has already led Southern California water agencies to consider rationing and to slow at least one major commercial development out of concern there might not be enough water. San Jose Mercury News_2/8/08

Iowa lawmakers introduce surface water protection act

A new initiative to improve Iowa's water quality was outlined at the statehouse Monday by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers.  The result of a two year watershed planning task force, the Surface Water Protection Act is aimed at identifying problems and preventing pollution in Iowa's largest lakes, rivers and creeks.  Iowa's creeks, rivers and lakes have high levels of silt, sewage and fertilizer pollution. More must be done to protect the state's sources of drinking water, recreational interests such as kayaking, canoeing and birding, and wildlife habitat. "Over 20 years ago, the Legislature created the Groundwater Protection Act to improve the quality of our ground water and we've had great success stopping contamination of our groundwater. It is time for us to focus our efforts and improve the quality of our surface water," said State Representative Donovan Olson, a Democrat from Boone who chairs the House Environmental Protection Committee and also served on the watershed task force.  The measure creates a Water Resources Coordinating Council within the Governor's Office to preserve and protect Iowa's water resources and coordinate efforts to do so.  ENS newswire_2/6/08

San Diego water search yields 600-foot-thick aquifer under Balboa Park
Fueled by concerns about the region's water inventory, the U.S. Geological Survey and three public water agencies are scouting for groundwater – particularly in areas that have been overlooked. San Diego has very few sources of groundwater, which is a serious problem when water supplies are as tight as they are this year. They don't expect the Balboa Park aquifer or others in the county, to substantially reduce the region's reliance on the Colorado and Sacramento river systems. But even small sources of water have become increasingly significant as prices for imported water rise and factors such as drought make out-of-town supplies less reliable. How much water could be pumped from the Balboa Park site and that water's salinity won't be known for a few months. Groundwater accounts for about 2 percent of the county's water supply, according to the San Diego County Water Authority. The agency wants to triple the use of local groundwater by 2020. Several of its member water districts, including San Diego and the Sweetwater Authority, are contributing to that goal. San Diego Union-Tribune_ 2/2/08

January, 2008

Concerns addressed in Arizona TCE drinking water scare

Arizona American Water Co.'s president took the hot seat Friday before the Paradise Valley Town Council to address concerns over last week's TCE contamination that led to a three-day tap water ban. Paul Townsley said the company is conducting a full investigation, and a letter explaining the incident will be mailed out to customers next week. The ban affected nearly 5,000 Paradise Valley and Scottsdale customers. A malfunction in a TCE treatment plant operated by the company sent out water with higher than allowable concentrations of trichloroethylene into the water supply. Arizona Republic_ 1/26/08

Governor’s budget kills state funding of regional water center.

Misuse of funds for entertainment and travel cited

What has become an annual fight for funding for the Georgia Water Policy and Planning Center at Albany State University is under way again in Georgia's General Assembly.  The 2009 budget submitted to lawmakers last week by Gov. Sonny Perdue would eliminate all state funds for the center, representing a loss of $360,000.  While the center gets some federal funding, it probably will be forced to shut down unless the Legislature restores the state money, said Doug Wilson, the center’s executive director.  Gov. Perdue first moved against the center in the summer of 2005 when the state launched an audit against both the center and the Flint River Regional Council, a nonprofit group that conducts research on agricultural water use in Southwest Georgia.  The audit charged the two agencies with improper spending of tax money on travel and entertainment involving thousands of dollars in expenditures for lodging, food and parties. Albany Herald_1/25/08

Arizona's contaminated water probe expands
The investigation into last week's drinking water scare in parts of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley AZ has expanded to include Motorola, potentially leaving the electronics giant open to federal fines, environmental officials said Wednesday. Meanwhile, Arizona American Water Co. - the private utility with whom Motorola contracts to treat groundwater pumped from a local Superfund site - is considering what to do with up to a half-million gallons of potentially contaminated water in a reservoir underneath its treatment plant.  Jeff Stuck, the utility's director of operations for eastern Arizona, said test results of whether the water in the reservoir contains excessive amount of trichloroethylene, or TCE, are expected in the next couple of days. The water could be treated and then discharged into the Arizona Canal, he said.  Jeff Lane, spokesman for the Salt River Project, which operates the canal, said there are six municipal water treatment plants downstream from the contamination site at Miller Road and McDonald Drive - two in Phoenix and one each in Tempe, Glendale and Peoria - that treat the canal water for use in their city water supplies. Lane said Arizona American would first need to treat the water to within federal guidelines for TCE, and then get a federal permit before discharging the water. MSNBC_1/24/08

As supplies dry up, growers pass on farming and sell water
In California where water has become an increasingly scarce commodity, a growing number of farmers are betting they can make more money selling their water supplies to thirsty cities and farms to the south than by growing crops.  The shortages this season — among the most intense of the last decade — are already shooting water prices skyward in many areas, and Los Angeles-area cities are begging for water and coaxing farmers to let their fields go to dust.  "It just makes dollars and sense right now," said Bruce Rolen, a third-generation farmer in Northern California's lush Sacramento Valley. "There's more economic advantage to fallowing than raising a crop."  Instead of sowing seeds in April, Rolen plans to leave his rice stubble for the birds and sell his irrigation water on the open market, where it could fetch up to three times the normal price.  "It's been a good decade since there's been this much interest in buying and selling water on the open market," said Jack King, national public affairs manager for the California Farm Bureau Federation. "We're prepared to see significant fallowing in several key parts of the state."  San Francisco Chronicle_1/23/08

Arizona city weighs ending ties to water firm in chemical scare

Scottsdale, AZ will investigate whether it is possible to take all its residents and businesses off Arizona American Water Co. supplies in the wake of two contamination incidents in the past three months.  "I would describe Arizona American as being a poor corporate citizen with poor customer service," City Councilman Ron McCullagh said at a council meeting Tuesday.  Nearly 5,000 Paradise Valley and Scottsdale customers of Arizona American could not use their tap water for three days - last Wednesday through Saturday - because of higher-than-allowable levels of a suspected cancer-causing agent, trichloroethylene.   The council voted unanimously to begin studying how the 1,200 Scottsdale residents and other businesses could either be placed on city water or otherwise given greater security.  City Manager Jan Dolan said that her staff would prepare a preliminary report within 60 days detailing what alternatives should be considered.  The council also told city officials to stay on top of upcoming regulatory hearings that will look into securing the company's water supplies, since a permanent solution may be months away.  Arizona American's customers include a number of resorts, restaurants and other businesses.  A similar problem occurred in November, when the suspected carcinogen again leaked into the company's supplies.  The Arizona Corporation Commission will hold a special meeting on Feb. 13 to look into the matter, and U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., plans to raise the issue at a congressional hearing on Feb. 7.  AZCentral.com_Logon Required 1/23/08

Tap-water ban in Arizona's Paradise Valley in effect indefinitely

A ban on drinking tap water remains in effect indefinitely for nearly 5,000 Paradise Valley and Scottsdale customers of Arizona American Water while the company works with government health officials to test water samples for a potentially toxic solvent. The ban, which began Wednesday, urges customers not to drink tap water or use it to prepare food. Arizona American's initial warning was to expire at 5 p.m. Friday but now is indefinite. A suspected cancer-causing agent, trichloroethylene, or TCE, was found at more than four times the maximum level considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It got into the water supply after a malfunction Tuesday at the private company's Miller Road treatment plant in Scottsdale. The malfunction was not detected until Wednesday, and Arizona American's telephone warning system failed to notify many of its customers. After the problem was detected, a test of the water showed the level to be 22 parts per billion. 5 ppb is the maximum contaminant level allowed. U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., whose district includes the northeast Valley, has called for the EPA to conduct a full investigation. Mitchell, a member of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, which oversees the EPA, plans to address the situation during a congressional hearing Feb. 7. This is the second incident involving TCE at the same facility in three months, which Mitchell said is not acceptable. The Miller Road plant scrubs TCE from groundwater that was contaminated with the industrial solvent decades ago by area businesses. Todd Walker, an Arizona American spokesman, said a blower malfunctioned Tuesday afternoon and the problem was not detected until a plant operator noticed something was wrong Wednesday morning. Arizona Republic_ 1/19/08

GAO: Farmers owe feds more than $450 million for California water project

A federal watchdog agency said Thursday some of the San Joaquin Valley's largest farms owe the government hundreds of millions of dollars for the cost of building California's water infrastructure. The report issued Thursday by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says four large irrigation contractors owe the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation nearly $450 million for building pumps and canals. The Westlands Water District, a coalition of giant agribusinesses in the San Joaquin Valley, owes an additional $48 million, according to the report. The farmers are in the midst of negotiating a proposal with the bureau that would forgive some of the cost of building the Central Valley Project, a vast irrigation system that serves the state's most fertile farmland. The report makes public for the first time the official size of that debt. Westlands sued the bureau more than a decade ago, after a botched federal drainage project caused the death or deformation of thousands of migratory birds. The farmers claimed federal officials had reneged on their obligation to help them dispose of toxic agricultural runoff. A federal judge ruled in their favor, leaving the federal government on the hook for the cleanup. Last spring, the government signed off on a plan to pay $2.6 billion to treat the tainted water and resolve the lawsuit. But by summer, farmers had offered up several alternate plans in which they proposed debt forgiveness in exchange for taking on the vexing drainage problem, which has left thousands of acres of farmland too salty to grow crops. Since 1986, the water districts have repaid just $74 million of the $497 million they owe, the GAO said. A federal act specifies that the money must be repaid by 2030. AP/San Jose Mercury-News_ 1/17/08 (logon required)

download full GAO report

Sun-Sentinel Investigation: Senior South Florida Water Management District officials flying at taxpayers' expense

Aircraft used to manage water supplies from Orlando to the Keys also give rides to high-ranking public officials, flying at taxpayer expense. Trips by the South Florida Water Management District's governing board include flights with only one passenger, hops shorter than some workday commutes, and treks to such affairs as the governor's swearing-in ceremony and a district office barbecue, according to a review by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. From October 2004 to September 2007, the district's governing board members flew almost 600 times, costing more than $800,000 in fuel, insurance, hangar space, maintenance and other expenses, according to the Sun-Sentinel's examination of flight logs, budgets and other records. At times, two board members are picked up and dropped off at airports 20 miles apart in Miami-Dade County. Auditors in the past have questioned the use of the district's fleet, which includes a twin-engine turboprop plane and three helicopters. There are five full-time pilots and two mechanics. Employees jokingly refer to the department as "the Air Force." While agencies across Florida are under cost-cutting orders from Tallahassee to reduce property taxes, district board members say the expense of their flights is worth the convenience of their travel. Sun-Sentinel_ 1/13/08

Massachusetts water pipes need repair; Cost- $8 billion
The state's aging water pipes may not be as visible as potholes and crumbling bridges, but they are also in need of repair. The advocacy group Clean Water Action said yesterday that it will cost up to $8 billion over the next two decades to fix the state's drinking water infrastructure, including water mains, storage tanks, and treatment plants. The group is pushing a bill to create a special drinking water finance commission, which would be charged with recommending ways the state could come up with the money to pay for repairs. The Boston Globe_1/11/08

Advocates fault new Massachusetts water policy; Drought advisory vs. stream-flow triggers
State regulators have renewed water rights for more than 500 cities, towns, and other water suppliers, adding some new use restrictions that encourage conservation. But environmental groups, which draw members from most area towns, say the rules do not go far enough to protect local waterways.  The renewals allow suppliers to continue drawing water from rivers, lakes, and ground-water basins.  Environmentalists fault the new policy for allowing water suppliers to pump as much water as they want during dry spells, up to the time a drought is officially declared. They urged the addition of "stream-flow triggers" that would require communities to impose outdoor watering bans earlier, when stream flows drop below set levels.  The rules, issued Dec. 31, apply only to water suppliers that existed before the state Water Management Act was approved 20 years ago, and had not yet been brought under its provisions.  Those suppliers will, for the first time, be required to work toward limiting their water supply to an average per-capita consumption of 65 gallons per day.  The new policy also requires communities to impose outdoor watering restrictions when the state declares a drought advisory - as it did in October after a dry summer.  But seven area watershed associations - which together represent more than four dozen towns - say state drought advisories come too late, and don't necessarily respond to local conditions. Regional habitats are under stress in July and August when water levels fall and human water use increases, environmentalists said, but drought advisories are declared only following two months of low rainfall.  Stricter rules are needed to protect plants and animals earlier, so they don't suffer irreversible damage when watersheds are pumped dry, they say.  Boston Globe_1/10/08

Lake Erie's water level could plunge 3-6 feet as Earth's temperature rises

In a three-year study of the Detroit River-western Lake Erie corridor released earlier this month, 75 scientists from nearly 50 government, business, academic, and public-interest groups claimed Lake Erie could drop 3.28 feet to 6.56 feet of water by 2066. The lake’s western basin is the region’s shallowest. The 315-page report, “State of the Strait: Status and Trends of Key Indicators 2007” says as the lake shrinks, western Lake Erie’s shoreline could expand by more than 19,685 feet, or nearly 4 miles, potentially wreaking havoc upon the shipping industry and facilities communities need for treating water. Toledo Blade_ 1/7/08

Download the full 2007 State of the Strait pdf report

 

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