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Around the U.S.

Governor declares end to California’s five-year drought
Gov. Jerry Brown Friday declared an official end to California’s five-year drought thanks to near record rains last fall and this winter. Brown lifted drought emergency orders statewide except for a few San Joaquin Valley counties where dried-up wells still plague some communities. “This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” During the drought, Californians were ordered to cut water use by 25 percent and learned to take short showers, flush less, stop expecting a free glass of water at restaurants and replace front lawns with cactus and other drought tolerant plants. Los Angeles Times 04/08/17

Tentative Plans to Truck 200,000 gallons of low-level radioactive waste from Vermont to Idaho
About 200,000 gallons of low-level radioactive waste water could be trucked from Vermont to Idaho under plans being considered by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The waste water comes from the Entergy Nuclear Operations’ Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, which closed in 2014. The water would be trucked to US Ecology Idaho’s site near Grand View, Idaho, about 40 miles south of Boise. The NRC didn’t say when it will make a final decision. AP/KTVB_4/07/17


West Virginia Boil Water Alert Lifted
A boil water warning has been lifted for more than 320 residents of Boone County, West Virginia after West Virginia American Water determined a contamination threat had been fixed. Backflow from a church bathroom Friday went into the Camp Creek and Julian-area water systems, triggering a “Do Not Use” notice that stayed in effect until Saturday. Water quality tests confirmed residents no longer need to boil their water, the company reported. WSAZ-TV_2/19/17

New York to Fix Water Contamination Plume on Long Island

The state of New York has begun a new study to determine how to eliminate a contamination plume affecting 250,000 people in the town of Bethpage on Long Island. The plume was created decades ago by chemicals discharge from a Gruman plant that manufactured planes and weapons for the U.S. Navy. Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, said Feb. 17 the state during the next few months will determine the extent of the plume and how to eliminate it. WABC-TV 2/17/17

Nevada Looks to the Future of its Water
The driest state in the U.S. is trying to plan ahead to avoid serious shortages. State Engineer Jason King denied his office wants to take away domestic well rights. The state has a more than century-old “first in time, first in right” water law that puts those with the oldest water rights at the head of the line to receive allotments in times of drought. About 20 percent of Nevada’s 256 groundwater basis are considered “severely over appropriated,” meaning less water is available than has been allocated. Las Vegas Review-Journal 2/14/17

Florida Loses to Georgia in Water Wars Ruling

In a major setback to Florida, a special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court sided Tuesday with Georgia in a decades-old legal fight over water flow from the Chattahoochee-Flint river system into the Apalachicola River.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a decades-old “water war” between the two states, which has led to $72 million in legal costs for Florida, from 2001 to this year, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

Ralph Lancaster, a Maine lawyer appointed by the nation’s highest court to oversee the case, said Florida has not proven “by clear and convincing evidence” that imposing a cap on Georgia’s water use “would provide a material benefit to Florida.”  “Because Florida has not met its burden, I recommend that the court deny Florida’s request for relief,” Lancaster wrote in a 137-page report.

The recommendation, which heads to the U.S. Supreme Court, is the result of a 2013 lawsuit filed by Florida alleging that Georgia diverts too much water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee- Flint river system and that the diversions have damaged Apalachicola Bay and Franklin County’s seafood industry.  Georgia countered that any limits on its water use will undermine its economy, including the growth of the Atlanta area and the state’s agriculture industry in southeastern Georgia.  A key finding in Lancaster’s report was that, since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — which controls water flow through the region in a series of dams and reservoirs — was not a party to the lawsuit, he could not devise a settlement between Florida and Georgia without the Corps’ participation.  “Because the Corps is not a party, no decree entered by this court can mandate any change in the Corps’ operations in the basin,” Lancaster wrote. “Without the ability to bind the Corps, I am not persuaded that the court can assure Florida the relief it seeks.”  Miami Herald_2-14-17


Nevada Looks to the Future of its Water
The driest state in the U.S. is trying to plan ahead to avoid serious shortages. State Engineer Jason King denied his office wants to take away domestic well rights. The state has a more than century-old “first in time, first in right” water law that puts those with the oldest water rights at the head of the line to receive allotments in times of drought. About 20 percent of Nevada’s 256 groundwater basis are considered “severely over appropriated,” meaning less water is available than has been allocated. Las Vegas Review-Journal 2/14/17


Dam crisis is wake-up call for aging California water system

In the mountainous folds of California lie hundreds of dams that played a vital role in making it America's wealthiest and most populous state. The Oroville Dam crisis this week, in which nearly 190,000 residents were abruptly evacuated from a valley below the tallest U.S. dam, illustrates the safety risks of the Golden State's aging infrastructure in increasingly populated areas. Sixty-four California reservoirs, or around 5 percent of the state's total, are restricted to holding less than their rated capacity due to earthquake risks and other concerns, a state dam safety official said.  California Department of Water Resources engineer Eric Holland, in the Division of Safety of Dams, said restrictions on capacity affected 64 reservoirs out of the 1,250 dams overseen by the agency. He said he was not allowed to identify specific dams, but that Oroville was not on the list. He did not describe what the state was doing to improve its dams, which are owned by private companies, local governments, the federal government, public utilities and the state. Reuters_2-14-17

California Still on Drought Restrictions In Spite of Downpours
California is recovering from a six-year drought but the State Water Resources Control Board Feb. 8 rejected proposals to declare the drought over, saying it will revisit the issue in May. One of the wettest seasons on record has pulled much of Northern California out of the drought but aquifers remain low in other parts of the state and lower rainfall in Southern California continues the official drought status. Even so, the state’s snowpack is at 184% of average for this time of year and parts of both Northern and Southern California have recorded record rainfall. Los Angeles Times_2/8/2017

Around the U.S. Archives


New Jersey legislature revives controversial bill to delay water quality rules

The Legislature has revived a bill vetoed by former Gov. Jon Corzine to delay an anti-sprawl, water quality management rule that gives state environmental officials more control over extending sewer and septic service. The measure would prevent the already delayed water management regulation, adopted in 2008 by the Department of Environmental Protection, from taking effect until April 2011. That rule would allow the DEP to restrict the extension of septic systems and sewer lines, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas, wetlands and rare species habitats. The New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club said the delay is designed to let developers introduce sprawl projects, win approvals and become exempt from environmental protection rules. The Smart Growth Economic Development Coalition said the rule will stop development even in areas designated in the state master plan for commercial and residential expansion. Newark Star-Ledger_ 2/8/10

Water main break means it could be days before South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, drinking water is safe

South Milwaukee officials say it might be days before residents can safely drink tap water after a water main break Friday morning caused a citywide pressure drop. Officials warned residents that they shouldn't use tap water because it could be contaminated. Boiling the water won't make it safe, officials said in a news release. The problem occurred when the main feeder pipe from South Milwaukee's water plant broke about 8:30 a.m., city officials said during a news conference. Water pressure throughout the city dropped almost immediately. South Milwaukee officials are concerned that E. coli bacteria could get into the city's water supply. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel_ 2/5/10

December, 2009

39 Missouri drinking water systems fail to conduct bacteria tests

Thirty nine drinking water systems are in trouble with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for repeatedly failing to conduct the necessary testing for bacteria as required by law. The DNR says the lack of testing does not mean the public's health is in danger, but the tests are important to ensure water supplies are safe. KOAM-TV_ 12/29/09

Wet 2009 raises spring flood threat for Midwest
St. Louis, Missouri got more than a foot more rain than usual this year, making 2009 its fifth wettest on record and raising the risk of spring floods, forecasters said Monday. St. Louis has had 50.84 inches of rain this year — 12.4 inches more than usual. A record 12.38 inches of rain fell in October, a month when the city usually gets less than 3 inches. Last year was St. Louis' wettest on record with 57.96 inches. The National Weather Service is watching precipitation and river levels closely since there's usually more rain in the spring, and that, combined with melting snow, could cause flooding. In the months leading up to the Midwest's Great Flood of 1993, melting snow and thunderstorms that dumped heavy rain into the Mississippi River Basin raised river levels, said weather service meteorologist Julie Phillipson. AP/USA Today_ 12/28/09

Report: Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water
An analysis of federal data shows that since 2004 violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which requires communities to provide safe tap water, have been found at 20 percent of U.S. water treatment systems, but only six percent of those systems were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials.  The New York Times' reports that the violations - which include dangerous bacteria or illegal concentrations of toxic or radioactive substances - affected water delivered to more than 49 million people. CBS News_12/09/09

Calif. eyes $10.6 billion cost for water tunnel

State water officials said Thursday it could cost $10.6 billion to send water to Southern California through a proposed project of tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Two tunnels, about 150 feet underground, are being considered as an alternative to building a proposed canal around the fragile estuary. A third tunnel would serve as an intake tunnel, completing the 43-mile path under the delta. Cost estimates for a proposed canal range between $8.3 billion to $9.4 billion.  San Jose Mercury News_12/3/09

San Diego could see lowest allocation of water since 1967
The California Department of Water Resources has issued its lowest initial estimate on how much water will be delivered to San Diego from the State Water Project next year. The initial allocation of 5 percent is the lowest since the project began delivering water in 1967. Department of Water Resources officials say this percentage could change with winter rain and snowfall. The State Water Project is the source for about 30 percent of San Diego County's annual water supply.  San Diego News Room_12/2/09

The domestic drilling backlash
"Drill baby drill" is so 2008.  More than a year after Republicans rallied around the now-famous call, a growing number of Americans are saying not-in-my-backyard when it comes to more oil and natural gas drilling.  Most Americans still support increased oil and gas drilling. But opposition is growing, especially when that drilling nears more populated urban areas. Currently there are natural gas booms happening around New York City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Western Colorado, the Midwest, and elsewhere. Opponents fear this new drilling will ruin the drinking water for millions of people, among other concerns. CNN_12/2/09


California city reduces per capita water use by 20 Percent

The City of Long Beach, Calif. has set another 10-year record low for water consumption during the month of October. Citywide water demand for the month of October was 17.1 percent below the city's historical 10-year average, making this the third consecutive October that water use in Long Beach was at a record low level. For the past 12 months, water consumption in Long Beach is tracking at 17.4% below the historical average. October 2009 also represents the seventeenth time out of the last eighteen months that record low water demand has been accomplished in Long Beach.  Even more notable is the fact that with all the conservation the City has accomplished over the past 25 months, Long Beach is already in complete compliance a full 11 years ahead of schedulewith the State legislation that was passed earlier this morning and that will now go to the Governor for his signature. The legislation will require urban areas to reduce their per capita water use 20% by the year 2020.  Press Release_11/5/09

Santa Clara County residents miss water-savings goal

Like dieters nibbling dessert as New Year's resolutions become more distant, Santa Clara Valley residents' water conservation efforts have weakened with each passing month this year.  Countywide water use in July was 9.4 percent less than in July 2004, according to new data from the Santa Clara Valley Water District. The district uses 2004 as a baseline because it was the last relatively average water year.  July conservation fell considerably short of the district's call for a 15 percent reduction. It also represented the smallest savings since the district asked the public to start conserving in March. And it was less than residents in the Peninsula and East Bay conserved over the same period. San Jose Mercury_11/6/09


California passes major water bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger congratulated state legislators Wednesday for passing a massive overhaul plan for California's water system.  Schwarzenegger said in a written statement that the legislation, which includes an $11 billion bond measure that must be approved by the cash-strapped state's voters, addresses the "lifeblood of everything we do in California."  The project is California's latest attempt to balance the needs of Northern California's delta environment with those of Southern California's cities and the state's huge agriculture industry.  UPI_11/4/09

Water use in the United States declines; Remarkable numbers released

New numbers on total water use in the United States in 2005 have just been released by the U.S. Geological Survey, which does an assessment of water use every five years. The new numbers are the latest evidence for a remarkable change in U.S. water use toward more efficient use.  Water Number: 410 billion gallons per day in 2005 compared to 413 billion gallons per day in 2000. This is the total amount of water withdrawn in the U.S. for all purposes (residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial, and power plant cooling). Despite continuing population growth, despite continued economic growth, total water use in the United States is effectively unchanged from five years ago. Even more remarkable? Water use today is lower than it was 30 years ago, in 1975. And on a per-capita basis, the drop is dramatic: Water use per person in the U.S. is nearly 30 percent lower than in 1975.  SFGate_10/30/09

$2.5 billion in Los Angeles water, power bonds

As water main breaks continue to plague the city, a Los Angeles city panel Tuesday signed off on more than $2.5 billion in bonds to pay for the repair of aging infrastructure and deliver on promised upgrades to the power system. The Department of Water and Power plans to issue $1.5 billion in bonds for the power system and $958 million for the water system. DWP officials said the bonds will be funded by rate increases that have been approved over the past several years and are part of a long-term plan to upgrade the city's infrastructure. Daily News_ 10/20/09

Senate passes Energy and Water spending bill
The Senate Thursday afternoon approved the final version of the $33.5 billion fiscal 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, sending it to President Obama for his signature. Passage, by a 80-17 vote, came after the Senate on Wednesday voted 79-17 to limit debate on the measure.  Congress Daily_10/15/09

Toxic algae changes game for W.Va. water quality

Coal mine discharge may contribute to devastation

Toxic algae blamed for killing thousands of fish in a northern West Virginia stream are forcing the state to rethink how it regulates water quality, a Department of Environmental Protection official told lawmakers Thursday.  West Virginia environmental and wildlife officials don't know how golden alga reached the state, but they are worried it could jump to other watersheds like the North Branch of the Potomac before it's controlled.  The alga was first identified in Texas in 1985, and its discovery in Dunkard Creek last month marks the first time its been found so far north. The cell-sized organisms release a toxin that attacks fish, mussels and other aquatic life. The toxin is not considered harmful to humans.  Dunkard Creek, a tributary of the Monongahela River, meanders along the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border. September's algae bloom turned the stream tea-colored and left more than 30 miles of waterway all but devoid of life. Only water bugs and some minnows in feeder streams survive.  "One hundred percent wiped out," is how Frank Jernejcic, a fish biologist with the state Division of Natural Resources, described the creek to the Legislature's Oversight Commission on State Water Resources.  Regulators are looking at whether water discharges from nearby underground coal mines are creating optimal conditions for the algae's growth.  Philadelphia Inquirer_10/16/09

In Charleston, West Virginia, school water fountains targeted in swine flu fight

Some Kanawha elementary principals have called school health officials about banning water fountain use as a way to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus. "I do tell them to clean the water fountains frequently," said Brenda Isaac, lead nurse for the Kanawha school system. "In elementary in particular, it's just too hard to remind the kids to not put their mouth on the water fountain." At Weberwood Elementary in Charleston, Principal Mary Lou Munoz has asked parents to send their children to school with a thermos of water or prepackaged water bottle. She asked parents to write the child's name on the bottle with a permanent marker. The bottles will be sent home daily for washing. Charleston Gazette_ 10/12/09

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lifts veto threat as water talks make progress

Schwarzenegger said he and lawmakers are making progress on a plan to overhaul the state’s aging water delivery system, including a bond measure of as much as $12 billion. After meeting with legislative leaders throughout the weekend, Schwarzenegger said late last night he would call lawmakers back into session to continue work toward a final deal. He rescinded a threat to veto more than 300 bills he had intentionally left pending had lawmakers failed to reach a compromise before midnight. Bloomberg_ 10/12/09

Water releases bring new life to San Joaquin River
Water is flowing down two stretches of the San Joaquin that have been sucked dry since Friant Dam began diverting most of the river into two giant irrigation canals more than 50 years ago.  Dam managers are cranking up releases of water into the San Joaquin as part of an ambitious restoration program intended to return chinook to the once salmon-rich river by late 2012.  The increased flow, which will last six weeks, is the first of several years of test releases to help scientists gauge the effect of restoring year-round flows to a river that shrivels to dust for 60 miles.  The release is not without controversy, however.  Local farmers say environmentalists have reneged on the deal to provide adequate irrigation water.  Los Angeles Times_9/30/09

Cincinnati, Ohio voters to decide future of region's drinking water

From Northern Kentucky to Cincinnati's northern suburbs, more than 230,000 homes and businesses get their water from Greater Cincinnati Water Works. But on Nov. 3, a change that could affect the future of the utility, worth nearly half a billion dollars, is up for a vote - but only by Cincinnati residents. The city wants to spin off the 170-year-old system, which provides water to 85 percent of Hamilton County as well as to 50 other jurisdictions, into a regional water district. Cincinnati Enquirer_ 9/28/09

Upstate vs. downstate; In New York, a source of water, and confusion

Exactly why New York City gets to keep supplying surface water to its mighty millions while the Catskills hamlet of Downsville has been forced to cut off a spring that it has used safely for a century is a complicated mix of muscle and money and law and bureaucratic inertia with its own forms of logic and illogic. Under the rules, wells and springs are inspected to test for the presence of surface water (nearby ponds, rivers, wetlands) that could include parasites resistant to typical disinfection. If surface water has been detected, the Health Department requires that the system be replaced or filtered. The big exception is the New York City reservoir system, which has a waiver from federal officials for the 90 percent of its water that comes from the Catskills. New York Times_ 9/27/09

Water to be auctioned in California; Auction is bound to raise the price

In what officials believe is a first for the state, a Southern California water agency is planning to auction off enough water to supply about 70,000 homes for a year.  Water sales are not uncommon in California, especially when supplies are tight, as they are in the current drought.  But putting water up for bid in an auction -- which is bound to drive up the price -- appears to be unprecedented in the state.  "Water in general has always been a very low-priced commodity, and I think the reality is, it's going to start catching up with other utilities. It's going to fluctuate with markets," said Ken Manning, chief executive of Chino Basin Watermaster, a quasi-public entity that manages the basin. "Whether that's right or wrong, I don't know. I just know where it's going."  Los Angeles Times_ 9/24/09

What's in your water?

First of two parts

Area residents turning on the tap can expect their water to meet federal and state regulations, but that might not mean the water is free from contaminants, water experts say. Federal and state inspectors test water purity by using regulations mostly set in the 1970s. Numerous chemicals have come on the scene since then, but regulators are not required to test for many of them. Opinions vary on whether that means tap water is safe. Inspections in Southeast Tennessee during the past 18 months have resulted in 209 notices of violations at 15 of the region's 87 water systems. A University of Tennessee at Chattanooga researcher who recently found traces of pharmaceuticals in local drinking water said he did not spot anything that made him conclude the water is unsafe. Safe-water advocates, however, say an encouraging assessment should not drown out concerns. Chattanooga Times Free Press_ 9/20/09

Age is enemy of safe water

Second of two parts

The greatest threat to safe drinking water in Tennessee and across the country is the web of aging pipes that carry the liquid from treatment plants to taps, according to a microbiologist who researches water for American Water Co. In the United States, the total miles of drinking water pipeline and aqueducts equal about 1 million miles -- enough to circle the globe 40 times. A June 2009 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report states 75 percent of the water distribution network's iron-based piping is older than 25 years and about half is older than 50 years. "There's a $540 billion difference in what we're spending and what's needed" to keep up the nation's 2 million miles of water and wastewater distribution piping, according to Steve Allbee with the EPA's Office of Water. Chattanooga Times Free Press_ 9/21/09

Rash of Los Angeles water main breaks: Conservation may be the culprit

L.A. officials revealed Friday a significant increase in the number of damaging water main breaks so far this month and said they are investigating whether the city's new water rationing system could be a factor in the pipe bursts. The Department of Water and Power, since Sept. 1, has recorded 34 "major blowouts" in L.A.'s water system in which streets have flooded and pavement has buckled -- in some cases damaging homes and businesses. By contrast, the city had only 21 such ruptures in all of September 2008, 17 in September 2007 and 13 in September 2006. Some experts said a prime suspect should be the city's recent decision to allow sprinklers to run only on Mondays and Thursdays. They say that if more water flows through the system on those two days when people water their lawns and then pressure suddenly changes on other days, it could put added stress on already aging pipes. The rationing began in June, shortly before they noticed an uptick in major blowouts. There were 24 blowouts in July and 31 in August, increases from the same months last year. Engineers also stressed that the city's 7,200 miles of pipe aren't actually leaking more than usual -- in fact, the number of leaks, about 1,400 a year, is down from the past and represents a lower rate per mile of pipe than in other cities. The problem is with bigger, more destructive leaks that send water shooting through streets. Los Angeles Times_ 9/19/09

Two more Los Angeles water mains burst overnight, bringing more questions

The breaks in the San Fernando Valley are the latest in a rash of problems hitting L.A.'s water system. Underground water pipes in Los Angeles have suffered significantly more "major blowouts" in the last three months, officials confirmed Tuesday after analyzing dozens of ruptures, some of which flooded streets, damaged vehicles and buildings and, in once case, created a sinkhole so big that it almost swallowed a firetruck. And the city's engineers don't know why. It could be fluctuating temperatures. It could be a statistical anomaly. It could be something else. Los Angeles Times_ 9/16/09

Second ruptured water line in San Fernando Valley raises concerns
A second burst water line in the San Fernando Valley in less than 72 hours -- creating a sinkhole that nearly consumed a firetruck -- prompted concern about the city's aging pipe system and criticism that officials have moved too slowly to upgrade it.  The sinkhole appeared Tuesday morning in Valley Village, about two miles from the spot where a 95-year-old trunk line failed late Saturday night, sending a 10-foot torrent of mud and water into the streets of Studio City and inundating homes and businesses.  The incidents follow what Councilman Tom LaBonge said had been "a rash" of water-line breaks around his district in recent weeks, including some in Hancock Park, Los Feliz, Hollywood and Koreatown. He said he would formally ask the Department of Water and Power today to brief the council on the situation.  DWP officials, however, said that the leaks were nothing out of the ordinary -- city pipes fail about 1,400 times a year, a decrease from the recent past -- and that the city was making great progress on a $4-billion program to upgrade its subterranean water system. Los Angeles Times_9/9/09

100-year-old Los Angeles County water main breaks; Homes flooded and at least 8 spend night in shelter

A rupture in a nearly 100-year-old, 62-inch water trunk line caused flooding several feet deep on some streets in Studio City, officials said. Some cars, businesses and homes were damaged and large chunks of concrete were ripped from the ground. About eight people from the flooded neighborhood stayed at a shelter Saturday night and some were scheduled to stay in a hotel Sunday night, officials said. No one was injured, but one person was rescued from a car. The steel pipe, according to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials, was among several mains in the area scheduled for replacement. It did not carry water directly to homes but moved water between reservoirs. Los Angeles Times_ 9/7/09

Gloucester’s water problems persist; Boil water orders hit the two-week mark; EPA offers advice
Environmental Protection Agency scientists are offering advice on Gloucester's water system, four days after tests showed the second-highest finding of bacteria since the crisis began Aug. 22, officials said.  Tests since the problem was discovered show that the levels of coliform bacteria had been decreasing until they spiked Monday. On Tuesday, levels decreased again, but generally remained higher than last week’s readings. The bacteria can cause diarrhea and indicate the presence of other, more harmful germs. Boston.com_9/4/09

Delaware River states reduce resevoir levels
Pennsylvania and other Delaware River states are working with New York City to reduce reservoir levels in the river basin to reduce the risk of flooding and benefit fisheries during a temporary shutdown of a major water supply tunnel that connects several of the city's reservoirs.  The Rondout to West Branch Tunnel in the upper Delaware River Basin will close for a major repair project, and the city has agreed to divert as much as 50 billion gallons of water from reservoirs to the Delaware River between September 2009 and May 2010.  In addition to benefiting the freshwater fishery in the river and creating more reservoir storage capacity, the increased flows will allow Pennsylvania and other states in the basin to test long-range weather forecasting and weekly monitoring tools. Reuters_9/3/09

Newark, New Jersey begins cutting water service over late bills

Newark began shutting off water service on Monday to dozens of customers who were overdue on their bills, sending hapless property owners, bills in hand, to City Hall in hopes of paying at least enough to keep their taps flowing. On Friday, the city announced that it was cracking down on delinquent accounts, beginning with 1,600 of the worst offenders in a first wave on Monday. They are among about 5,000 property owners who, the city says, owe more than $1,000 each. All have been sent warning letters, city officials said. Delinquent apartment tenants blamed the recession and loss of jobs. Apartment owners said many tenants were behind on their rents because of the economy. New York Times_ 8/31/09

Day 11: Gloucester, Massachusetts to disinfect water tanks again; Boil water order continues

The city cleaned the three tanks after the initial detections of coliform bacteria earlier this month, but the new cleaning will be more thorough, involving a scrub-down of the insides of the tanks. The recleaning, which started this morning, will take about a day. On Aug. 21, coliform was detected at 12 locations in the city and is still being detected at 10 to 12 locations. City officials want that number to drop to zero, with at least two consecutive days of zero readings. Deputy Fire Chief Miles Schlichke said that the coliform could be anywhere in the system, including within some of the city's hundred-year-old pipes. Boston Globe_ 8/31/09

Water managers OK'd to borrow $650 million for U.S. Sugar deal

Florida water managers' plans to buy a vast swath of sugar cane land for Everglades restoration got a boost when a local judge cleared them to borrow $650 million for the initial purchase.  The amount, enough to buy 73,000 acres, was far less than the $2.2 billion in bonding authority that the South Florida Water Management District had requested.  Opponents of the purchase contend that the acquisition would waste taxpayers' money and drain resources from Everglades restoration projects more likely to be completed. Palm Beach Post_8/27/09

Mississippi Delta town hopes for help with its brown water problem

For years, Greenville, Miss., has struggled with the yellowish-brown water that flows from its taps. Although the water meets federal and state standards, city leaders believe that it has hampered the community's economic development. They hope to install a filtration system to take care of the problem, but have yet to receive federal stimulus money for their proposal. Washington Post_ 8/24/09

Boil-water order lifted for most of Milford, Massachusetts after 10 days

A boil-water order was partially lifted yesterday, ending a townwide drinking crisis on Day 10 for most of the town's residents, with tap water remaining unsafe only in an isolated part of north Milford. The boil-water order remains in effect for 475 Milford Water Co. customers. While coliform bacteria is still being detected in that area, tests show the rest of the town's drinking water is clean, said Martin Suuberg, regional director of the state's Department of Environmental Protection. In nine days, the town handed out 167,400 gallons of water, with an average of 18,600 per day and a high of 30,000 yesterday, said Fire Chief John Touhey, the town's emergency management director. Milford Daily News_ 8/18/09

California governor says water deal has to include bonds for dams

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today said he will not approve a deal with the Legislature unless it includes a multibillion-dollar bond to pay for dams and other projects. His position, which repeats a pledge he's made for three years, is at odds with the Democrats who control the Legislature, who are seeking policy changes first. The divide threatens to derail negotiations on legislation to shore up water supplies and fix the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Lawmakers began water hearings today and hope to finalize a deal before the legislative session ends on Sept. 11. Democrats say a seven-member council is needed to bring more order in the delta, which is now overseen by more than 200 separate agencies. Fresno Bee_ 8/18/09

Milford, Massachusetts water company ends free bottled water supplies; Boil water order continues

The privately-run Milford Water Company has decided to end the free water distribution program, which has been run for more than a week, said Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director John Touhey. As of Monday night, 138,000 gallons of bottled water had been handed out, he said. The boil water order was issued Aug. 8. Last week, officials said the source of the contamination is believed to be a one million gallon water tank where an engineer found cracks and coin-sized holes in a fiberglass cover that is about 35-years-old. Officials said that rain water and bird droppings that penetrated the cover might be the source of the pollution. The tank was taken off line last week and water company Manager Henry C. Papuga told the Boston Herald the utility is flushing fire hydrants and increasing chlorine levels to purge the contaminants. Private engineers are examining all aspects of the water system, which serves 10,000 households and businesses. Boston Herald_ 8/18/09

Milford, Massachusetts enters second week of boil water order

The boil water order is now in day eight. Samples were taken Friday, said Fire Chief John Touhey, and he hoped they would put an end to the week-long ordeal. But two of the 20 samples taken showed bacteria, he said. State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Joe Ferson said officials have isolated a portion of the water distribution system in the upper-end of Purchase Street where they will add more chlorine. This will flush the pipes, Ferson said. The state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring two clean consecutive rounds of test results before it lifts the boil order, which was issued last Saturday night. Milford Daily News_ 8/15/09

Las Vegas, Utah pipeline delayed

A growing and thirsty Las Vegas wouldn't be able to begin building a water pipeline from a shared aquifer with Utah until at least 2019 under a draft agreement between Utah and Nevada regulators announced Thursday.  The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to eventually start delivering rural groundwater from the Snake Valley, which straddles the Utah-Nevada line, to the Las Vegas area through a pipeline that could stretch more than 300 miles and cost up to $3.5 billion.  The pipeline could supply enough water for almost 270,000 homes and is intended to diversify Las Vegas' water supply. The area currently gets about 90 percent of its water from the Colorado River, according to state regulators.  The 10-year delay is intended to provide time to study the environmental impacts of pumping the water out of the aquifer to Las Vegas before public hearings on the pipeline can begin. Utah regulators were mostly worried the pipeline would allow Nevada to take water belonging to Utah.  MercuryNews.com_8/14/09

'Buy American' rule holds up $6 Billion water stimulus projects

President Barack Obama’s stimulus spending has run into a problem: A shortage of General Electric Co. water filters.  GE makes them in Canada. Under the program’s ‘Buy American’ rules, that means the filters can’t be used for work paid for by the $787 billion fund.  Contractors are searching the U.S. in vain for filters as well as bolts and manhole covers needed to build wastewater plants, sewers and water pipes financed by the economic stimulus. As officials wait for federal waivers to buy those goods outside the U.S., water projects from Maine to Kansas have been delayed.  At stake are the president’s efforts to fuel an economic recovery in the U.S. by funneling stimulus funds to communities, including $6 billion for municipal water projects. Lawmakers mandated that the money be spent on U.S. products, with exceptions to meet international trade obligations.  Bloomberg.com_8/6/09

American Dietetic Association releases position paper on U.S. water, food safety

The American Dietetic Association has released an updated position paper on food and water safety that reviews the current situation in this country, identifies new tools that can help decrease illness and encourages continued research, education and technological advances to keep the food and water supply safe. ADA’s position paper, published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, represents the Association’s official stance on food and water safety and says in part "the Association supports collaboration among food and nutrition professionals, academics, representatives of the agriculture and food industries and appropriate government agencies to ensure the safety of the food and water supply by providing education to the public and industry, promoting technological innovation and applications and supporting further research." ADA’s position paper was written by registered dietitians Julie A. Albrecht, professor of nutrition and health sciences at the University of Nebraska; and Debe Nagy-Nero, director of quality assurance, nutrition and safety at The Holland Inc., Vancouver, Wash. RedOrbit_ 8/1/09

Methane from drilling affecting drinking water more frequently that Pennsylvania officials said

When methane began bubbling out of kitchen taps near a gas drilling site in Pennsylvania last winter, a state regulator described the problem as "an anomaly." But at the time he made that statement to ProPublica, that same official was investigating a similar case affecting more than a dozen homes near gas wells halfway across the state. In fact, methane related to the natural gas industry has contaminated water wells in at least seven Pennsylvania counties since 2004 and is common enough that the state hired a full-time inspector dedicated to the issue in 2006. Since it evaporates out of drinking water, methane is not considered toxic, but in the air it can lead to explosions. When methane is found in water supplies, it can also signal that deeply drilled gas wells are linked with drinking water systems. ProPublica_ 7/31/09

In Atlanta, the water meter covers don't fit

The City of Atlanta is looking at a potential hotline to deal with the issue of ill-fitting and frequently busted water meter covers, and one councilman is asking constituents to snap pictures of the offending covers, which he then forwards to the Department of Watershed Management with pointed questions about when repairs can be expected. Additionally, residents are raising questions about how quickly the department is responding to persistent leaks. At issue is the city’s $35 million replacement and retrofit of more than 150,000 water meters. The goal was to put in devices that could be read automatically, a move that was supposed to save the city a million bucks or so a year in meter-reading and administrative expenses. Janet Ward, spokeswoman for the water department, said the water meter cover problem isn't the fault of contractor K and V Automation. “The city thought all of the meter boxes were the same size. They’re not. They’re different sizes, so they didn’t fit,” says Ward. “We are in the process of identifying those meters with improperly fitting lids so we can change them out." The Sunday Paper_ 7/26/09

5 injured, water and power shut down after test malfunction at California's Oroville Dam

Five people were injured this morning at Oroville Dam during a routine test of a large water valve in the dam's hydroelectric structure. Electrical generation and water flow at the dam have been shut down as a result. Four of the employees suffered minor injuries, while the fifth suffered moderate injuries that did not appear life-threatening, said Susan Sims, spokeswoman for the state Department of Water Resources, which owns and operates the dam. All the injured are DWR employees and were being treated at a local hospital. There is no estimate of when water and power production will be restored. Oroville, with a capacity of 3.5 million acre-feet, is the second-largest water supply reservoir in California and the primary storage point for the State Water Project. It was completed in 1967. Sacramento Bee_ 7/22/09

California farmers told how to save huge amounts of water

California farmers could save enough water each year to fill Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy reservoir 16 times by using more efficient irrigation techniques, according to a study that is bound to be highly controversial among the state's powerful agriculture interests. The report, released by the Pacific Institute, an Oakland water policy group, also recommends that the state rethink its historic water rights system and boost water prices. Both measures, in theory, would spur agricultural users to use less water at a time when climate change, urban growth and ecological restoration are expected to further cramp water supplies. Click here for the full report.  SFGate_7/22/09

Dallas, Texas haunted by 'water hog' label

Local officials, who say they need to nearly double their water supply in coming decades to keep up with a fast-growing population, want to build new reservoirs and buy water from nearby Oklahoma. But these efforts are entangled in federal lawsuits as Dallas's neighbors see the city's love for emerald-green lawns and lush golf courses as rampant waste. Spats between communities that sip and those that gulp are becoming increasingly common in the South and the West. In recent years, cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas have been forced to conserve water aggressively to meet their needs and persuade other communities to let them tap their supplies. While other cities in drought-prone Texas started slashing water consumption decades ago, Dallas used increasing amounts until the late 1990s. Wall Street Journal_ 7/15/09

South Carolina overturns key water permit

S.C. environmental regulators on Thursday rejected a state water-quality permit that Duke Energy Corp. needs so it can renew its federal license for 11 reservoirs and 13 hydroelectric facilities along the Catawba River.  The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control board voted 4-0 to overturn staff approval of a 401 water-quality certificate for Duke’s hydro operations in South Carolina.  South Carolina has filed a federal law suit against North Carolina to pursue equitable sharing of the Catawba’s waters.  At issue: whether Duke’s dams provide enough water flow for fish and wildlife. Nonprofit group American Rivers says the DHEC permit guaranteed South Carolina would receive only about 25 percent of the water flowing from North Carolina. BizJournal_7/10/09


State dragging feet on crucial water transfer
The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority that serves 2.1 million acres is in a world of hurt due to lack of water.  The South San Joaquin Irrigation District wants to help by selling them 25,000 acre feet of water that district farmers have helped them conserve through prudent water practices.  The only problem is the State of California is holding up the transaction.  The SSJID board is frustrated since it has been more than two weeks since they’ve asked for state approval of the water transfer. As a result, many farmers have plowed under crops and pulled out orchards.  Estimates from University of California Davis economists have indicated up to 80,000 jobs and upwards of $2.2 billion will disappear from the San Joaquin Valley alone due to reduced water supplies.  Manteca Bulletin_7/9/09

A quarter-million dollars: Average compensation for general managers of Orange County, California's 12 water districts

The average compensation for head honchos at Orange County’s dozen water districts is $249,890. That’s $205,049 in salary, car allowance, performance bonuses, etc.; and another $44,841 in medical, retirement and other benefits. Orange County Register_ 7/6/09

Water referee says Nebraska owes Kansas $10,000
A high-stakes water fight between Kansas and Nebraska over use of the Republican River appears headed to court after an arbitrator decided Kansas is owed a tiny fraction of the $9 million it demanded from its northern neighbor.  In a nonbinding decision, Colorado-based arbitrator Karl Dreher ruled that Nebraska only owes Kansas $10,000 for Nebraska's alleged overuse of the water in 2005 and 2006.  Dreher wrote that the damages incurred by Kansas may range as high as several million dollars, but Kansas didn't provide sufficient evidence to back its claim that Nebraska inflicted heavy losses on Kansas by breaking a 65-year-old compact that guides the use of the heavily irrigated river basin. The compact also includes Colorado. Forbes_7/2/09

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signs closed-door water bill, angers conservationists

Angering conservationists and siding with developers, Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday signed a controversial bill that would give water management district staff working behind closed doors more power to grant lucrative water rights. In a transmittal letter, Crist said he sympathized with critics and would ask water management districts to continue putting water-rights decisions on the agendas of their monthly public meetings. Former Environmental Regulation Commission Chairman Dick Batchelor, who lobbied hard against the measure, said the decision flies in the face of Crist's inaugural pledge to make government more open and transparent. Pensacola News Journal_ 7/1/09

June, 2009

Oklahoma town puts water plant on line
Tuttle, Oklahoma put on line its new ionic exchange water plant, the first public system of its kind in Oklahoma, June 17.  Tuttle City Manager Tim Young has already noticed a difference in water quality.  “We’ve left the 1940s and are now in the 21st Century,” Young said. “The water tastes much better, and the water pressure is increasing across the commuity.  Because of the increasing amount of nitrates in well water over several decades, the Tuttle Water Department previously issued warnings for pregnant women and for children younger than 6 months to avoid drinking city water. Today, the water is clean and safe for all residents to drink. Chickashanews_6/25/09

New Web site lists water quality tests for Wisconsin beaches
If you want to know if a beach is safe in parts of Wisconsin, there’s a Web site where you can check it out.  The new site ( has updated water conditions for 120 beaches on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, plus more than 100 beaches in La Crosse, Waukesha and Winnebago counties, as well as the Madison area.  Wisconsin became the first state to conduct a monitoring program with criteria from the federal government. The federal Environmental Protection Agency calls it a model for other states. Log on required- Hudson Star Observer_6/18/09

EPA takeover sought for West Virginia's water program
Petitioners cite complete breakdown in state environmental enforcement

West Virginia regulators have allowed a "complete breakdown" of their water pollution control program, and federal officials should seize permitting and enforcement duties from the state Department of Environmental Protection, a coalition of environmental groups said Wednesday.  The petition focuses on DEP's program for mining, but also targets problems in non-mining water quality enforcement and permitting. Among other things, it cites the state's granting of broad compliance waivers, the Legislature's weakening of key pollution rules, and a long-standing lack of action by DEP on permit limit violations by coal operators. WVGazette.com_6/18/09

Florida's Tampa Bay Water to close reservoir for two years and raise taxes to repair cracks

Tampa Bay Water officials have figured out what's causing all the cracks in the state's largest reservoir — and fixing it will require raising rates for the region's 2 million water customers, general manager Gerald Seeber told the St. Petersburg Times Editorial Board Thursday. During the repairs, scheduled to begin in June 2012, the reservoir will have to be drained dry for two years. Tampa Bay Water is suing the companies that built the 15-billion-gallon reservoir in the hopes of recouping at least some of the repair cost. At this point, Seeber said, no one can say for sure how much it will cost to fix the cracking problem, but one early estimate puts it in the neighborhood of $125 million — nearly as much as the $146 million facility cost to build. St. Petersburg Times_ 6/5/09

Ga. water projects get $144 million in stimulus funds
Georgia’s water will get a little bit cleaner and healthier, thanks to $144 million in federal stimulus funds.  The funds will help improve both drinking water and sewer-related water, according to the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.  “There’s a lot of need for water and sewer infrastructure in the state,” said Shane Hix, spokesperson for GEFA.  “We will approve projects until we run out of financing,” Hix said.  AJC_6/4/09

Upper Klamath water rights issue settled

One of the most contested issues between irrigators and American Indian tribes in the Upper Klamath Basin of Oregon has effectively been resolved, potentially simplifying talks on a much larger dam removal and restoration deal.  On Thursday, Klamath water users and the Klamath Tribes announced a settlement of water rights claims that stretch back nearly 30 years. The settlement is contingent on the approval of a broad-scale restoration agreement for the Klamath River and a tentative deal to tear out four hydropower dams owned by Pacificorp.  Under the agreement, the water users would withdraw their challenge to the tribes' claims, and the tribes would not litigate over water deliveries for irrigators that comply with the larger basin agreement.  Times-Standard_5/22/09

Federal dollars flow to California water projects
Some $439 million in federal stimulus money is flowing into California's water systems.  The money, in the form of grants, subsidies and low-interest loans, is expected to spur hundreds of new water infrastructure projects as well as jump-start those stalled by California's budget disaster, state and federal officials said.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday awarded $280 million to the State Water Resources Control Board's Clean Water State Revolving Fund program for wastewater treatment, pollution control and estuary management projects. The state Department of Public Health's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program received $159 million for drinking-water infrastructure improvements.  The award is one slice of the $6 billion in water system improvement funds contained in President Obama's American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 - Washington's effort to shore up the nation's infrastructure while providing much-needed jobs.  SF Gate_5/21/09

And trickle to New Mexico

NM gets $27.5M in stimulus for water projects
Twenty-two drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects around the state will receive $27.5 million in federal stimulus funding. Bizjournal.com_5/20/09

Cincinnati, Ohio city manager favors plan to turn city water agency into regional water district

City Manager Milton Dohoney has endorsed a plan to spin off the Greater Cincinnati Water Works into a new regional water district, saying the change will generate needed revenue for the city and also is “in the best interest” of the utility. But Dohoney listed 11 conditions for his support, including a perpetual ban on the sale of Water Works assets to a private entity and a change in state law to ensure that Water Works employees remain in the Cincinnati Retirement System. Local labor groups oppose the spinoff idea, arguing it will lead to higher water rates and fewer employment opportunities for union members. For the new district to be created, the City Council would have to approve the idea and petition a Hamilton County court for an order to permit the district to organize. Business Courier_ 5/18/09

Florida bill would weaken managers' say on water permits

An amendment quietly tacked onto a bill during the last days of the legislative session would strip water managers' authority to control permits, seriously altering 37 years of the state's efforts to control one of its most precious resources. Instead of governor-appointed board members voting on water-use and development permits, executive directors of each of the five water management districts would make the decisions - behind closed doors - about who gets water, how much they get and under what conditions. The measure (SB 2080) has sparked an outcry from environmentalists, who are asking Gov. Charlie Crist to veto the bill. Palm Beach Post_ 5/18/09

Chinatown redux? In California's Owens Valley, resentment again flows with the water

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is quietly prospecting once again for land and water rights in the Owens Valley, sparking tense disputes among residents over the agency's influence on their economic stability. The communities of Olancha, Lone Pine, Independence and Big Pine continue to deteriorate, with most of their developable land controlled by the DWP. Los Angeles Times_ 5/16/09

Wrongful-death lawsuit filed over Crestwood, Illinois water

The widow of John Maan De Kok, a Crestwood man, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the village and former mayor Chester Stranczek, claiming her husband developed lymphoma after drinking the village's contaminated water for years. Four class-action negligence lawsuits have been filed against Crestwood and its current and former officials regarding the water controversy, but Michelle Maan De Kok's suit is the first to alleged wrongful death due to the contaminated water, her attorney said. Sun-Times_ 5/15/09

Iowa to launch $455 million river and lake pollution clean-up

After decades of struggling to address serious pollution problems, the state now has an unprecedented pool of state and federal money to solve some of its worst water-quality problems, said Charles Corell, the water chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. One of the biggest impacts: improved sewage treatment and septic systems in the 500 towns and rural subdivisions that don't have any. Much of the new money for water quality was approved last month by the Iowa Legislature as part of a huge bond package pushed by Gov. Chet Culver. Other money was awarded as part of flood recovery efforts. Des Moines Register_ 5/10/09

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin urges U.S. health experts to study whether anyone got sick from drinking Crestwood's polluted well water

Since the Chicago Tribune first revealed that Crestwood residents unknowingly drank contaminated water for more than two decades, scores of people have asked if their chronic, low-level exposure to toxic chemicals contributed to any diseases or illnesses. Durbin, a Democrat and the Senate's assistant majority leader, sent a letter this week to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that nudges federal and state health officials to at least attempt to answer those difficult questions. Federal authorities already are conducting a criminal investigation. The disease registry, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, often works with the EPA and state agencies to assess health threats related to polluted sites. Chicago Tribune_ 5/6/09

Scandalous arrest, grudge and unlikely tip led to Crestwood, Illinois water revelation

Crestwood's secret use of a tainted well might not have come to light were it not for a widely publicized and unrelated incident in which village police charged a mother with child endangerment. The charges were dropped but to say her husband Tim Janecyk was upset by Crestwood's handling of the incident would be an understatement. He wanted an apology, straight from Mayor Robert Stranczek. When he didn't get one, he set out to find some dirt on the village. "I saw a people willing to perpetrate a great injustice," he said of Crestwood officials. "And I followed a trail to an even greater injustice." Southtown Star_ 5/3/09

Third law suit filed against Crestwood, Illinois over possibly tainted drinking water

The class-action suit was filed Friday by former Crestwood resident Diana Delarosa. She lost four family members to diseases possibly linked to allegedly contaminated water. WLS_ 5/2/09

Debt may hamper Atlanta, Georgia's ability to fix water system

Atlanta officials fear the city’s $4 billion water and sewer system overhaul could collapse because the city’s crushing debt and already low credit rating threaten the city’s ability to borrow money in ever-tightening credit markets. The city hopes Monday to issue $500 million to $700 million in new bonds for the program, with much of the money to refund old debt that must be repaid before interest rates or other factors send payments skyrocketing. The planned issuance comes as the City Council is mulling Thursday’s release of an audit of the city’s Watershed Management Department that questions the way the city has set rates and notes the department’s huge debt. Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ 5/2/09

Feds no longer stand behind report on water contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

The 1997 public health assessment by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or A.T.S.D.R., found that adults who drank the water did not have a significantly higher risk of cancer. On Tuesday, the A.T.S.D.R. pulled the report off its website to redo the study. As of now, the validity of its 102-page health assessment published almost 12 years ago is in doubt. The A.T.S.D.R. made the decision to disavow the report after determining it was inaccurate and important information was left out of the assessment. First, researchers did not examine benzene. The cancer causing chemical was found at the base, but did not get included in the assessment. Second, the A.T.S.D.R. says researchers based some of their conclusions on the assumption that a known contaminated well was closed when, in fact, it was still in operation delivering water to marines and their families. wnct.com_ 4/28/09

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agents raid Crestwood, Illinois offices in water probe

More than a dozen agents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raided government offices in south suburban Crestwood this morning, 10 days after a Chicago Tribune investigation found that the village cut corners and knowingly supplied its residents with contaminated well water for two decades. The investigators from the Environmental Criminal Division of the EPA raided Crestwood Village Hall and then the town's public works department. Randall Ashe, special agent in charge, said the team is looking for evidence of environmental crimes. Mayor Robert Stranczek made a one-line statement about 12:35 p.m. Standing on the front steps of village hall, he said: "Right now our drinking water is 100 percent safe and the village doesn't believe there was anything wrong with it prior to this." As a horde of media shouted questions, the mayor returned to his offices. Chicago Tribune_ 4/29/09

Break in aging water main shuts down downtown Baltimore

Thousands of workers were sent home Tuesday when a water main break sent torrents gushing into Baltimore, Maryland, streets, closing roads and snarling traffic. Repairs could last into tomorrow. At a news conference, Mayor Sheila Dixon warned people to stay out of downtown. "This is an example of what happens when you having a very aging infrastructure system," Dixon told reporters. Many offices were shut down, affecting thousands of workers, including 14 state agencies, all city buildings in the area, including the Baltimore Circuit Court, and the federal courthouse and the U.S. Custom House. Baltimore Sun_ 4/28/09

Plumbing changes help New Yorkers use 20% less water in 20 years

From small apartments to massive stadiums, plumbing fixtures are helping people conserve water and save money. Citi Field, the $800 million is the new home of the New York Mets, features a host of water saving devices. According to New York City's Department of Environmental Protection, the city as a whole has seen a 20 percent decrease in water consumption over the past 20 years. Commissioner Steven Lawitts says its largely due to plumbing changes. At CitiField, Mets fans will use 50,000 fewer gallons of water per game than they did last year at Shea Stadium. By the end of the season that will put more than 4 million gallons of water back in reservoirs. WCBSTV_ 4/22/09

Cincinnati, Ohio, city council committee members skeptical about proposal to sell city's water system

The only council member who spoke favorably of the idea was Vice Mayor David Crowley, council's sole representative on the task force that made the recommendation. By the end of an hourlong committee session, it was clear that the plan to turn the city's 170-year-old water system over to a newly-created independent water district - in exchange for millions in payments over a 75-year period - is a long way from becoming a reality. The next step in the process will come May 5, when city manager Milton Dohoney is to submit his recommendation to council on the task force report. Cincinnati Enquirer_ 4/21/09

Chicago Tribune Investigation:

Crestwood, Illinois officials cut corners and supplied residents with tainted water for two decades

For more than two decades, the 11,000 or so residents in this working-class community unknowingly drank tap water contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems, a Tribune investigation found. As village officials were building a national reputation for pinching pennies, and sending out fliers proclaiming Crestwood water was "Good to taste but not to waste!," state and village records obtained by the newspaper show they secretly were drawing water from a contaminated well, apparently to save money. Officials kept using the well even though state environmental officials told them at least 22 years ago that two chemicals related to perchloroethylene, or PCE, a dry-cleaning solvent linked to cancer, liver damage and neurological problems, had oozed into the water, records show. Chicago Tribune_ 4/18/09

Cincinnati, Ohio should end city operation of water system: report

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works should be removed from city government after 170 years as a city-owned utility and established as an independent water district, according to a report to be delivered to City Manager Milton R. Dohoney this week. The water works serves 80 percent of the region's water, including Cincinnati. Groups on both sides of the spectrum are already lining up against the plan. Some liberal activists say the change is a step toward privatizing the utility, while conservatives say the city would be giving away an asset built by Cincinnati taxpayers. Cincinnati Enquirer_ 4/12/09

Leaks, wasteful toilets cause cascading water loss

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 1.25 trillion gallons of water — equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami combined — leak from U.S. homes each year. According to the EPA, toilets account for nearly 30% of indoor water consumption in American homes. Old, inefficient toilets are responsible for the majority of the water wasted — 200 gallons a day each in some cases. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 36 states anticipate water shortages over the next five years. Bathroom sink faucets and accessories that have the WaterSense label, now numbering more than 500 on the market, can reduce a sink's water flow by 30% without sacrificing performance, the EPA says. USA Today_ 4/5/09

Northern Louisiana aquifer running out of water

Drip by drip, West Monroe is running out of drinking water. Like much of north and central Louisiana, the town of 13,000 gets its water from the Sparta aquifer, an underground reservoir formed thousands of years ago. In all, 16 parishes and over 60,000 people rely on wells drilled into the Sparta. But Sparta's watery treasure is slowly disappearing, because residents and industry use it up faster than rainwater replenishes it. No one knows when the aquifer will stop producing drinkable water, or where it could happen first, but towns and cities across the region are looking for alternate water sources. AP/NOLA_ 4/5/09

New York City's big water tunnel carries a big price tag

Eighty feet below an unremarkable section of the northeast Bronx, a smooth tunnel freshly bored through ancient rock punches through five layers of brick into a 114-year-old tunnel - still as solid as the day it was built. In a few years, the combination of old and new tunnels will carry filtered water from a new $3 billion underground plant south to millions of city faucets. The Department of Environmental Protection has embarked on a massive construction spree during Mayor Bloomberg's time in office, spending billions to dig a new water tunnel under Manhattan, upgrade sewage plants and reservoirs, and construct the city's first water filtration plant under Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. NY Daily News_ 4/5/09

Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota work to protect good water from bad

The bad water is rising from the swollen Red River. The good water is flowing through the cities' drinking water and sewage treatment plants, and officials say protecting the good water from the bad is their top concern. "If we lose water and sewer, the city is uninhabitable," said Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral. In 1997, Grand Forks lost both its drinking water and sewage treatment plants to rising floodwaters. AP/Star Tribune_ 3/30/09

Water quality of potential concern in U.S. private wells

More than 20 percent of private domestic wells sampled nationwide contain at least one contaminant at levels of potential health concern, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). About 43 million people - or 15 percent of the Nation's population - use drinking water from private wells, which are not regulated by the Federal Safe Drinking Water

Act. USGS scientists sampled about 2,100 private wells in 48 states and found that the contaminants most frequently measured at concentrations of potential health concern were inorganic contaminants, including radon and arsenic. These contaminants are mostly derived from the natural geologic materials that make up the aquifers from which well water is drawn. Elevated concentrations of nitrate were largely associated with intensively farmed land, such as in parts of the Midwest Corn Belt and the Central Valley of California. Radon was found at relatively high concentrations in crystalline-rock aquifers in the Northeast, in the central and southern Appalachians, and in central Colorado. "The results of this study are important because they show that a large number of people may be unknowingly affected," said Matt Larsen, USGS Associate Director for Water. "Greater attention to the quality of drinking water from private wells and continued public education are important steps toward the goal of protecting public health." News Release_ 3/27/09

(read full report)

New York City installing $250 million wireless water meter system

The system, which is free to property owners, will make New York the largest city in the world with a wireless water meter system when it is fully installed in 2011, according to the mayor's office. Currently, the city has a $3.6 million a year meter reading contract and Con Edison employes estimate water bills every three months. New York Times_ 3/24/09

Detroit, Michigan settles water lawsuit with town of Warren

The City Council today approved a settlement agreement with Warren, ending the controversial lawsuit that alleged overcharging by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and sought to outline its water rate calculations. Warren sued Detroit in state court in 2002, saying the department overcharged customers by more than $1 million a year. Warren has its own sewage treatment plant and alleged Detroit, which provides water to more than 100 area municipalities, included sewage-related charges in its rate calculation. The Warren City Council approved the settlement last month. This year, water rates are expected to increase an average of 8 percent across southeastern Michigan under rate changes proposed by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which serves nearly 4 million customers in 126 communities. Detroit News_ 3/24/09

California water supply vulnerable to quakes, floods: Report

Earthquakes and severe storms could destroy hundreds of miles of mostly earthen levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in coming decades, according to a state report that provides the most detail yet on the vulnerabilities of the hub of California's water system. Among the findings in the 1,000-page report released Friday by the Department of Water Resources: There is a 40 percent chance that a major earthquake will flood 27 delta islands between now and 2030, costing billions in repairs and knocking out the water source for 25 million Californians for more than a year. The second part of the report, to be released this fall, will focus on ways to head off those worst-case scenarios, including raising the height of levees throughout the estuary or building a so-called peripheral canal that would route water from the Sacramento River to large pumps in the southern delta. The delta acts as a giant funnel, channeling meltwaters from the Sierra Nevada to long pipelines that deliver water to two-thirds of the state - mostly the Central Valley and Southern California, but some to the Bay Area. San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/21/09

(download full report)

Who owns Colorado's rainwater? State law could change

According to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on private property is not your to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways. Barrels used by homeowners to catch rain and snowmelt to irrigate gardens, are not allowed. But laws against diverting rainwater have governed the development of the region since pioneer days. Increasingly, however, states are trying to make the practice of harvesting rainwater more welcome. Bills in Colorado and Utah, two states that have limited harvesting over the years, would adjust their laws to allow it in certain scenarios. Among those supporting a change is developer Harold Smethills who wants to build more than 10,000 homes southwest of Denver that would be supplied by giant cisterns that capture the rain that falls on the 3,200-acre subdivision. Los Angeles Times_ 3/18/09

To balance state budget, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue takes $100 million from water and sewer projects

Some 192 water and sewer projects, many of them already under construction, have been halted across the state in the wake of Gov. Beverly Perdue’s decision to strip $100 million from the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund to help balance the budget. Formed in the mid-1990s, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, or CWMTF, receives about $100 million a year from the General Assembly to make grants to rural communities in the state that need help installing, expanding or repairing water and sewer lines. Looking to make up for an expected $2 billion budget gap this fiscal year, Perdue took the agency’s 2009 grant cycle money, plus $200 million more from the State Lottery Reserve and other special funds. Triangle Business Journal_ 3/6/09

North Dakota man shot by police after attacking city official over water bill

Morton County officials said George Fischer, 52, of Hebron threatened the Hebron city auditor about his water bill and the possibility of having his water shut off. When a deputy sheriff went to Fisher's home, Fisher threatened the officer with a gun, officials said. After a nearly nine hour standoff, the SWAT team shot and wounded Fisher, officials said. Bismarck Tribune_ 3/4/09

Thieves stealing city water from hydrants in Butte, Montana

About 15 fire hydrant locks in Butte have been broken in the past three months in what authorities believe is an act to steal municipal water. Dan Dennehy, county public works director, said hydrant locks, which cost $120 each, are being broken by wire cutters or crowbars. Dennehy suspects contractors or small businesses in need of large amounts of water are responsible for breaking the locks. Dennehy said he believes people are filling tankers from the hydrants. Billings Gazette_ 2/28/09

California lawmakers seek billions to expand, improve water supply
State lawmakers turned their attention to a three-year drought that has left key reservoirs at 35% of capacity.  Legislators stepped forward with plans to ask voters to borrow as much as $15 billion for projects to expand and improve the state's water supply.  The issue has renewed urgency after the California Department of Water Resources last week said it may be unable to provide more than 15% of the water sought by contractors such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water districts throughout the Los Angeles area.  Los Angeles Times_2/27/09

Billions flow to water, sewer funds in Obama budget
U.S. states would get a significant bump in funds for clean drinking water and sewer systems under the budget President Barack Obama proposed on Thursday.  According to budget documents, $3.9 billion would go to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in an "historic increase" that would fund more than 1,700 water projects in states, Native American tribes and territories.  That comes on top of $4 billion that will go to the funds through the recently-enacted economic recovery plan.  Reuters_2/26/09

Federal water supply may be cut off from California
Federal water managers say they might have to cut off water supplies to some of California's largest farms, thanks to the state's severe drought. This would be the first time in more than 15 years such a move was taken. The state predicts a loss of more than $1 billion and an elimination of as many as 40,000 jobs if this takes place.  MSNBC_2/23/09

Los Angeles, No. 2 U.S. city, nears water rationing
The nation's biggest public utility voted on Tuesday to impose water rationing in Los Angeles for the first time in nearly two decades.  Under the plan adopted in principle by the governing board of the L.A. Department of Water and Power, homes and businesses would pay a penalty rate -- nearly double normal prices -- for any water they use in excess of a reduced monthly allowance.  The rationing scheme is expected to take effect in May unless the City Council acts before then to reject it -- a move seen as unlikely since Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for the measure under a water-shortage plan last week.  Reuters_2/17/09

Flattened pipeline cuts water to Folsom, California and prison

The waterline from Folsom Lake to the city of Folsom has been restored, city officials said Friday morning and work is underway to restore a regular water supply to Folsom Prison. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation pipeline that supplies the city with its drinking water collapsed Thursday morning, and water for city use had been coming from the city’s reserve tanks. The 42-inch steel pipeline that normally carries water from Folsom Lake to Folsom's water treatment plant was flattened like a pancake after contractors for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation created a vacuum while draining the pipe. Folsom Prison has a contingency plan in case the repair time is extended. Folsom has been grappling with low water levels in Folsom Lake and is expected to declare a stage three water conservation alert by the end of February. Folsom Telegraph_ 2/13/09

Idaho's snowpack dropping- water should be OK
Idaho's snowpack has shrunk by at least 20 percent since Jan. 1, but there should still be adequate water for state needs this year, the Idaho Water Supply Committee said Thursday.  Idaho Department of Water Resources hydrologist Steve Burrel said snowpack levels statewide are at about 80 percent of the average amount, a decrease from January when levels were normal.  Seattle Times_2/13/09

Utah water outlook - 'very good
Utah enjoyed healthy precipitation in January, allowing the National Weather Service to issue an optimistic report about this spring's runoff.  Hydrologist Brian McInerney, who issues his reports via the Web to make science more available, says this water year is "looking very good."  As of Feb. 11, his prediction for water supplies between April and October are from 83 percent to 109 percent of normal compared with the past 30 years. Salt Lake City Tribune_2/13/09

Vegas water pipeline discussed

Foes compare it to LA water grab

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is making a major effort to get rights to water in rural valleys that could be piped to Las Vegas.  On one side are the casino operators, developers and unions who warn of dire economic consquences of a water shortage in Las Vegas; on the other are the ranchers, farmers, environmental and conservation groups fighting to preserve a way of life.  The issue:  a 200-mile statewide pipeline and the rights to draw 16 billion gallons of water a year from the Snake Valley on Nevada's border with Utah.  Public hearings are scheduled.  Foes of the entire SNWA plan have repeatedly compared it with a Los Angeles water grab that parched California's once-fertile Owens Valley in the early 1900s.  San Jose Mercury News_2/11/09

Water chief for Atlanta, Georgia says problems being fixed that inflated water bills for hundreds of customers and shut off service to others

Water managers blame both technological error and an overwhelmed customer service department for the poor service they acknowledge some customers have received. Fox5_ 2/10/09

Acid accidentally added to Bellaire, Ohio water supply

Hydrochloric acid accidentally was added to the water supply at the Bellaire Water Treatment Plant Sunday night, a mistake that resulted in many businesses and schools in the village being forced to close Monday while the lines were flushed. A "do not drink" order was sent out to village customers. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency later checked the quality of the water and determined the water to be safe around 12:30 p.m. Monday. Hydrochloric acid was accidentally put into the water system instead of hydrofluoric acid or fluoride. It was discovered Monday morning when workers noticed a strong odor and different pH levels in the water than norma. The acid was purchased from a different company than normally used by the water treatment plant and was in a drum identical to the drum containing fluoride, but with a different label. Bellaire Times Leader_ 2/3/09

January, 2009

Grim water outlook for Nevada and California
Experts have offered a grim water outlook for Nevada and California, saying farmers can again expect to receive less water than normal this year because of a drought.  U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials, meeting with water users at a conference last week in Reno, said the snowpack water content is again averaging below normal so far this winter in both states.  Ron Milligan, the bureau's Central Valley operations manager in Sacramento, Calif., said his office's initial water allocations will be "relatively low" this year because of the drought.  "Clearly, this is going to be a tight year," Milligan said. "The amount of water in storage is very low and the run-off projections at this point are very low. It's going to be very challenging to meet the various needs."  AP_1/28/09

Ogden, Utah cuts off water, but Red Cross helps families

Ogden is cutting water service to dozens of households that can't afford to pay their bills, but the Red Cross is stepping in to help. Ogden's chief administrator John Patterson says the city turns off the water only after providing two delinquency notices and trying to contract households that can ask for help from a city relief program. The American Red Cross of Northern Utah has paid $2,400 to cover bills for 16 of the families whose taps went dry Thursday. AP/Deseret News_ 1/24/09

U.S. Senate confirms N.J.'s Jackson as EPA head

The Senate has confirmed Lisa Perez Jackson as Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Thursday's confirmation of Jackson, the former head of New Jersey's environmental agency, was unanimous. AP/Asbury Park Press_ 1/23/09

Louisiana water wars spurred by natural gas drilling

Water wars continue to emerge from the shadow of  Louisiana's Haynesville Shale, a natural gas rich aea, that has parish and state officials scrambling to keep up with never before encountered propositions, complaints and demands for action.  The issues include a growing interest in the questionable construction of ponds for commercial water sales to gas drillers and uncertainty about ownership of waterways. Still waving the red flag are the water system operators who fear residents who have never worried about water could one day find not a drop from their faucets.  At issue is the heavy demand for water from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer — the underground source of water for a majority of northwest Louisiana.  Agriculture users, especially in farm-heavy north Caddo Parish, have always pulled from the aquifer, as do a host of municipal and individual well owners scattered across the region.  Competing for that supply now are the oil and gas companies drilling on the Haynesville Shale.  Millions of gallons of water are needed per well for the fracturing process that is necessary to release the hidden natural gas reserves. Shreveport Times_January 23, 2009

Calif. farmers slash planting to cope with drought
Some of the nation's largest farms plan to cut back on planting this spring over concerns that federal water supplies will dry up as officials deal with the drought plaguing California.  Farmers in the Central Valley said Thursday they would forego planting thousands of acres of water-thirsty canning tomatoes and already have started slashing acreage for lettuce and melons.  Computer models of the state's parched reservoirs and this year's patchy snowfall showed shortages so extreme that federal officials could slash supplies down to zero, managers at the Westlands Water District told their members in an emergency conference call.  Farmers' decisions to fallow thousands of acres during last year's drought cost $260 million in crop losses statewide, as well as hundreds of jobs. In the tiny farm community of Mendota, in the heart of Westlands farming country, the unemployment rate is nearly 40 percent, city officials report.  AP_January 23, 2009


U.S. Senate confirms seven Obama nominees, including interior and agriculture secretaries

The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed seven nominees to President Barack Obama’s administration and scheduled for tomorrow a vote on Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state. The Senate confirmations included Steven Chu as secretary of energy, Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture and Ken Salazar to be interior secretary. The Senate acted hours after Obama was sworn in today as the nation’s 44th president. Salazar, 53, Obama’s choice for secretary of the Interior Department, was a first-term Democratic senator from Colorado. Vilsack, 58, a former governor of Iowa, was confirmed as the nation’s 30th agriculture secretary. During his Senate hearing last week he said he would work to boost ethanol production and also listed among his priorities protecting the nation’s food supply, quickly implementing the $289 billion 2008 farm bill and improving soil and water conservation. Bloomberg_ 1/20/09

Prince George's County, Maryland to boil water through Inauguration Day

More than 90,000 homes and businesses in a wide swath of Prince George's County are being told to boil their water through Inauguration Day as officials run tests in the wake of a massive water main break yesterday. The county is across the Potomac River, southeast of Washington, D.C. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission announced early this morning that it had extended its boil-water order through at least 11 p.m. Tuesday night. The order requires people in that area to boil water that they would consume in any fashion, including water used for washing dishes, brushing teeth or making ice, said WSSC spokesman Mike McGill. The announcement will almost certainly complicate plans for inaugural parties and balls in the area, he said. Officials blamed freezing weather and aging infrastructure for the breaks, which snarled traffic and bogged down emergency crews days before the presidential inauguration. Washington Post_ 1/18/09

2008 ranked in top 10 for heat

Last year was the eighth warmest year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The world's temperature in 2008 tied that of 2001 according to the center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ranking means that all of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997. AP/Charlotte Observer_ 1/16/09

Eastern Arizona water deal struck with Apaches
One by one, Arizona and its Indian tribes are settling decades-old disputes over the state's precious water supply.  The latest deal, still being formalized by the numerous governments and agencies involved, will end almost half a century of claims originating on White Mountain Apache land at the headwaters of the Salt River in eastern Arizona.  The agreement will allow the 15,000-member community to build a reservoir on the White River to ensure a reliable supply.  The Arizona Republic_1/16/09

New Mexico water measure up for US Senate vote
Authorization of the Ute Water Project contained in Senate Bill 22 is expected to be on the Senate floor Thursday, according to U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.  Senate Bill 22, commonly referred to as the Bingaman lands bill, includes authorization for the Bureau of Reclamation to spend up to $327 million to assist the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority  to build the Ute pipeline project.  When completed, water from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County will be piped to eight counties in New Mexico.   Also included are measures for water projects in the San Juan River Basin and an irrigation infrastructure improvement act for the Rio Grande Pueblos. CNJonline_1/14/09

Public hearing on Georgia water plan draws demonstrators
The last of three public hearings on metro Atlanta’s long-term water plan drew about 30 umbrella-carrying protesters into sunny downtown Atlanta on Wednesday.  “The metro district plan is basically ‘hope and wish for more rain,’ ” said Sally Bethea, executive director of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a clean water advocacy group.  The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District is finalizing an update to its original 2003 water and wastewater plan that includes conservation goals, six new water-supply reservoirs and increased withdrawals from drought-depleted Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River through 2035.  Environmentalists say the plan relies too much on expensive 20th-century technology —- reservoirs and transferring water from one basin to another —- while shorting less expensive conservation methods.  The district board, made up of local elected officials and appointees, is expected to vote on the plan in March or April. AJC.com_1/15/09

Southern Colorado Utes decry water pollution
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is asking Colorado officials to stop a nearby town from polluting its water supply.  The Utes say effluent sent into Dry Creek from Bayfield is polluting its water supply in Ignacio.  The Utes say Bayfield's wastewater treatment plant discharges effluent into the creek, which flows onto Southern Ute land and into the Pine River. Town officials say they are doing everything possible to slow water pollution until a new wastewater treatment plant is built in eight to 10 months.  Waiting for the new wastewater treatment plant is not an option said Southern Ute Tribal Council Chairman Matthew J. Box.  If the problems are not corrected at the Bayfield plant, the state could sue Bayfield over the pollution. Examiner.com_1/14/09

Army Corps' dam release floods Washington community

Sandbags offered
Residents of  Pacific Washington located between Tacoma and Seattle have given an earful to the Army Corps of Engineers over flooding last week, saying they were not notified before water was released from Mud Mountain Dam, which was built to prevent flooding in the area.  The release, ordered Jan. 8 after the reservoir behind the earthen dam on the White River had filled to 75 percent of capacity from heavy rain and snowmelt, was the subject of a frequently emotional public forum that drew a standing-room-only crowd of about 300 people Tuesday evening at Alpac Elementary School.  The dam on the Pierce-King county line east of Buckley controls about 40 percent of the Puyallup River system, which includes the White River. It was designed to prevent flood water from breaching levees and flooding downstream communities, including Puyallup, Fife and Pacific. Water normally is released from the dam once the flood surge is over.  The flooding in Pacific was upsetting and indicates something has changed in the river system," said Wayne Wagner, the corps' deputy chief for operations at Mud Mountain.  "It's our mission to protect people and property and to have that happen is surprising and very embarrassing," he said.  Seattle Times_1/14/09

New Georgia water plan adds six reservoirs

Plan is open for public comment

Metro Atlanta’s draft water plan for supplying the growing region through 2035 is ready for public comment.  The draft includes proposals for handling water supply and sewage, and protecting the region’s six major river basins. This is the first update of a plan adopted in 2003 by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.  Among the proposals are six additional reservoirs to serve population growth forecast to be more than 50 percent, to 7.5 million people in the 15-county district. Also, more water would be drawn from lakes Lanier and Allatoona, and the Chattahoochee River.  Omitted from the final draft were controversial proposals to tap into the Flint River and West Point Lake on the Chattahoochee near LaGrange, which is outside the district.  Click here to download the draft plan.  To access more information about the draft plan, other long-term water and wastewater plans and scheduled public meetings, go to

Study claims SoCal water polluters not cited

An environmental group claims regulators have let toxic pollutants foul Los Angeles County water by failing to create precise enforcement standards.  In a report released Thursday, the group Heal the Bay looks at discharges from 42 industrial and sewage treatment plants in the past eight years.  The group says it found nearly 900 instances in which discharge samples proved harmful, in lab tests, to aquatic species.  But it says the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board only imposed penalties in about 1 percent of those cases.  Water board chairwoman Fran Diamond says it's hard to act because the state doesn't have numeric limits for chronic toxicity.  Jonathan Bishop of the State Water Resources Control Board says his agency plans to adopt such standards this year.  Mercury News_1/9/09

Tennessee sludge contains elevated levels of arsenic

The drinking water in the area of last month's coal-sludge spill in eastern Tennessee is safe, but elevated levels of arsenic have been found in the sludge, authorities said. Preliminary results from water samples taken in the spill area show no unsafe levels of toxins, said Leslie Sims, on-scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency. The testing includes municipal supplies and private wells, he said. However, samples of the fly ash scooped up along roadsides and river banks show elevated levels of arsenic that normally would trigger an EPA response, Sims said. "These are levels that we consider harmful to humans," he said. But the EPA is not responding because the Tennessee Valley Authority is taking action to fix the problem, he added. CNN_ 1/2/09

Broken water pump causes problems in Altheimer, Arkansas

Altheimer Mayor Donald Robinson distributed bottled water to residents on New Year’s Eve following a malfunction of the city’s water system. Some residents of the town have stated the water has become discolored. Robinson stated the city has ordered a new pump through Jones Hydraulics of Stuttgart, but Jones had not yet received the device due possibly to holiday delays in shipping and order processing. Dennis Taylor of the state Department of Health said Friday the department had not issued a boil order for the town and he was not aware of a water problem at Altheimer. Robinson said a boil order was not necessary and the health department had been made aware of the situation. The Pine Bluff Commercial_ 1/2/09

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




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