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2006 Around the U.S.

 

December, 2006

50,000 in Atlanta suburb advised to boil water

DeKalb County crews have replaced three of the four segments of a broken water main, and hope to conclude the repairs today, said Kristie Swink, a spokeswoman for DeKalb government. The two water lines — a 36-inch main and a smaller, six-inch pipe — ruptured early Thursday. The boil water order, issued Thursday morning, upended routines at more than 50,000 homes and businesses, including about 250 restaurants. County officials initially believed the break was weather-related, but on closer inspection said it might have been the result of an automobile hitting a hydrant in the area, causing the ground pressure to shift, said Swink. Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ 12/29/06

San Angelo, Texas gets its water for Christmas

After a week that saw constant delays in fixing a massive water main leak, the city of San Angelo fixed the 27-inch line the day before Christmas Eve. The disintegrating water main had caused 22 thousand southwest-side residents to lose water pressure this week. Along with restoring water to residents Saturday morning, the city withdrew its notice recommending that residents boil water prior to consumption. The city also stopped door-to-door water delivery and shut down its potable and non-potable water stations. Workers were filling the pipes with water and removing excess air from the system by Saturday afternoon. Refilling the lines was expected to take two hours, with work expected to be complete by 4 p.m. Saturday. The 27-inch waterline problems began on Dec. 15, when leaks in the system were discovered, possibly resulting from droughtlike conditions and a change in weather conditions. San Angelo Standard-Times_ 12/24/06

San Angelo, Texas hopes to have the water back on by Christmas

City crews isolated and stopped a leak in a major water main Wednesday. Water remained out to about 1,000 customers Wednesday, down from a high of about 22,000 on Sunday and Monday. Also, the City Council moved forward on plans to increase funding for water-system repairs and create a three-year capital improvements plan. The council agreed to forgo rebates and put a $640,000 surplus in the city's water fund toward repairs. AP/The Bryan-College Station Eagle_ 12/21/06

Florida cities, counties use joint study to seek increased water supply

The search for a new drinking water supply for many of Broward County's largest cities moves to northern Palm Beach County under a half-million-dollar study approved Tuesday. Fort Lauderdale will lead an effort to boost the regional water supply, under terms of a deal that brings together Hollywood, Plantation, Sunrise, Pompano Beach, and Broward and Palm Beach counties. Together the governments will pay engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer $445,000 to determine whether it is possible and practical to divert rainwater in northern Palm into a rock-pit reservoir called L-8. If so, officials plan to use it to recharge the Biscayne aquifer, South Florida's main source of drinking water. South Florida Sun-Sentinel_ 12/20/06

Florida river to get water from Okeechobee

Pumping Lake Okeechobee water west to help the environment could come at the expense of South Florida crops struggling through drought conditions, agricultural representatives warned.  The South Florida Water Management District next week plans to start 30 days of water releases to the Caloosahatchee River, which flows from the lake to the west coast.  This comes as district officials expect Lake Okeechobee's average depth to dip below 12 feet after this weekend following three months of below-normal rainfall.  The Army Corps of Engineers and the water district try to keep the lake between 12.5 feet and 15.5 feet, considered the optimum depths for the health of the lake.  Drought conditions prompted the water district last month to impose restrictions on how much lake water can be used for sugar cane, vegetable and other crop irrigation.  The 15 percent reduction also limited water uses for residents in lakeside communities.   Sun-Sentinel_12/14/06

Newport News, Va. water source gets another go at state hearing

Twenty years of  work and $25 Million hang in the balance

Plans for a new source of drinking water on Virginia's peninsula will go through the latest twists and turns this afternoon at a hearing in Richmond, and no one is quite sure what will happen.  The State Water Control Board decided in September that it would not give Newport News another five years to work on detailed studies for the 12.2-billion gallon King William Reservoir. The decision came to the consternation of Newport News officials and the pleasant surprise of environmentalists who oppose the reservoir.  Then, to the pleasant surprise of Newport News officials and the consternation of environmentalists, City Manager Randy Hildebrandt asked for a special hearing to reconsider the September vote - the water board will do just that today.  After two decades and $25 million of work on the project by the city, today's fork in the road could have several endings.  The water board could decide not to reconsider extending the timeframe for Newport News to complete work on its environmental impact studies and operations plans. Technically, that would mean not extending the permit the city received for the reservoir in 1997. In that case, the city would have to apply all over again by mid-2007.  Daily Press_12/14/06

Montana water authority settles FWP concerns, plans to drill production well
With the water rights settled, the Central Montana Water Authority plans to drill a production well that could bring water to people in Judith Gap and Harlowton within the next two years.  The well is part of an approximately $50 million project that would build a 220-mile pipeline to carry water to more than 5,000 people in seven central Montana communities.  Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks objected to the project, fearing that the Utica well would impact springs, streams, ponds and other surface water in the area.  Water authority Chairman Dale Longfellow agreed that it was worth extra expense to drill deeper and avoid risking other water sources.  "What they're asking for is not out of line," Longfellow said. "It's going to add cost to the project, but we all agreed that it would be an important part of the process."  With that debate out of the way, the water authority is ready to drill a 4,000-foot-deep production well as soon as January.  Great Falls Tribune_12/8/06

Local California water district fined $66,400, loses water rights

The North San Joaquin Water Conservation District has been fined $66,400 by the state and lost its water rights to the Mokelumne River.  The California Water Resources Control Board levied the fine last week because the Lodi-based water district pumped water out of the river from 2003 through 2005 without the required fish screens, according to Victoria Whitney, chief of Water Resources' Division of Water Rights.  In a separate action, Water Resources denied an extension of North San Joaquin's right to 20,000 acre-feet from the Mokelumne River annually during wet years.  The actions taken by Water Resources puts most of North San Joaquin's projects to replenish the groundwater basin on hold.  The fine, compounded by an estimated $62,000 cost to install fish screens, covers about half the small North San Joaquin district's $268,000 budget.  Lodi News_12/6/06

Kansas farmers sell land, water to energy companies
For generations, the value of land in much of Kansas was based almost exclusively on the value of crops growing there and the price for animals grazing there.  But that has changed dramatically during the past few years, as energy  companies began putting lucrative offers on the table for farmers willing to sell their land -- and the water beneath it, the The Hutchinson News reported.  "In my case, or everyone's, the amount of money industry was paying for water, agriculture cannot compete," said Finney County farmer Dean Gigot. Gigot is one of several farmers who is contemplating selling his water rights to the Ogallala Aquifer to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a Westminster, Colo.-based utility that would own two of three proposed energy plants in southwest Kansas.  The land itself will be transitioned from cropland to grassland before the first plant goes online, possibly by 2011. Other plans are to create grazing land or turn the acreage into a wildlife habitat or hunting area. Agriculture.com_12/1/06

It's not enough to restore dry Owens Lake, but the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is to begin releasing a bit of water into the Owens River

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, fulfilling a long-delayed commitment, plans to put water back into the river on Dec. 6 in hopes of transforming its puddles and ponds into a biological superhighway of trees, fish, waterfowl, songbirds, elk and deer. It's been nearly a century since Los Angeles' water demands reduced a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens onto a parched wisp of a river. Most river water will continue to stream into the intake of the Los Angeles Aqueduct; some will pour through the steel gate and into the river channel. The renewed river is to flow year-round and, depending on the width of the channel, range in depth from 2 to 4 feet. Today, the river channel exists as a series of seasonally flooded pastures and murky shallow ponds fed by springs and agricultural runoff. Most are choked with cattails. Scattered clumps of cottonwoods clinging to shoulders of land are all that remain of once robust stream-side forests. Los Angeles Times_ 11/27/06 (logon required)

Mid-Dakota Rural Water System considers moratorium on new South Dakota water hookups

General manager Kurt Pfeifle said that although the moratorium plans are only under discussion, they will probably take place at some point. The Mid-Dakota Rural Water System provides water from Lake Oahe in central South Dakota. Mid-Dakota serves more than 5,000 individual customers throughout central South Dakota and provides bulk service to 55 bulk users, including 18 municipal customers. AP/Rapid City Journal_ 11/26/06

In Lacey, Washington, water sources are strained

Explosive growth has left Lacey so short on water that it must buy 1 million gallons a day from Olympia to avoid a citywide development moratorium. Lacey already halted new development in its urban growth area in June 2005 because it could no longer guarantee sufficient water to serve new homes and buildings in the area, which is outside its city limits. This year, Lacey will pay Olympia more than $90,000 to buy at least 150 million gallons of its water. The cities are negotiating a new contract; the current one expires in June. The city has tried to get additional water rights from the state for years, but it is a long process. Water in Washington belongs to the state. Individuals and local governments must receive legal authority - called water rights - to use a specific amount of water for designated purposes.

The Olympian_ 11/26/06

Rural Illinois group calls dibs on water supply

Linnea Kooistra and her 250 dairy cows sit squarely on what could be the next battleground in a war over water that has farmers and environmental activists looking for new ways to fend off their thirsty neighbors.  Each of Kooistra's cows sucks down a bathtubful of water every day--as much as 40 gallons--which explains why the McHenry County farmer has joined a group seeking to create a multicounty agency that could be the largest water authority in Illinois.  Kooistra and others plan to file a petition Friday in DeKalb County Circuit Court as a first step toward forming what they call the Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority. It is a move that could pit rural areas in Boone and DeKalb Counties and parts of McHenry County against cities and towns with a craving for development.  If approved by rural voters in an April referendum, the new authority would control how much water is pulled from the underground aquifers in currently unincorporated areas of the three rapidly growing counties on Chicago's suburban frontier. But the proposal is facing criticism, which is not unusual when water is the issue.  Out of reach of Lake Michigan water, communities in booming McHenry County--as well as in Boone and DeKalb Counties--increasingly are focusing on the aquifers that supply everything from farms to new subdivisions to industrial users.  No Illinois statute or county ordinance regulates how much water is taken from the ground. Rural residents have no say when a neighboring community, or a water utility, or a new industry taps into their supply.   Chicago Tribune_11/17/06 (logon required)

Oklahoma attorney general warns state's water quality in danger

Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who is suing Arkansas poultry producers over alleged pollution of Oklahoma lakes and streams by chicken litter, said Tuesday the state will face dire consequences if it does not protect the quality of its water. His concerns were raised in an address before water managers and planners at the Oklahoma Governor's Water Conference. A spokesman for the poultry industry said it is not solely to blame for pollution in Oklahoma waterways and that there is still a chance that a negotiated settlement can be reached. Edmondson filed a federal lawsuit against 14 Arkansas-based poultry companies last year, accusing them of polluting the Illinois River watershed. The lawsuit is scheduled for trial in 2008. AP/Forbes_ 11/14/06

Nipomo, California, still plans to pursue water pipeline despite sticker shock

Nipomo’s Community Services District will still pursue a pipeline that would bring the town water from Santa Maria, but it’ll also look at alternatives after this week’s discovery that the project could cost $26 million. That price tag is three times more than the $7.5 million to $9 million estimates from earlier this year. The district has been looking for a source of supplemental water for more than six years. Several studies show the district’s only source of water, the ground, is in overdraft. San Luis Obispo Tribune_ 11/9/06

Feds OK funds to keep trucking water to Navajo Mountain
The elders of Navajo Mountain just shrug when told their community has enough water to last only four days.  They and about 1,200 others who live in the isolated San Juan County town already have weathered periods without electricity, heat or phone service, not to mention the occasional drought or snowstorm.  "These are people that are isolated," said Navajo Mountain Chapter President Leo Manheimer. "They're used to adversity."  But the elders are also glad that fresh water will continue to be trucked into Navajo Mountain from out of state while authorities work to repair a broken water system the town relies on for drinking water and sanitation. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Thursday announced the approval of $75,000 in additional drought funding to pay for trucks to continue hauling thousands of gallons of fresh water daily from Shonto, Ariz., to the town.  Salt Lake Tribune_11/3/06

Western Kentucky University and China work together for water quality
South-central Kentucky and southwestern China have something in common: major karst systems -- or cave landscapes -- through which rainfall is funneled into a vast network of limestone caverns.   And both have Western Kentucky University geology students studying their underground streams, developing methods of improving the quality and availability of water. WKU geosciences professor Chris Groves, director of the Hoffman Environmental Research Institute, found southwestern China's immense caves were the only source of water for millions of rural families who are living below China's poverty level, the equivalent of about $75 a year.  "The water is there, but they can't get to it. What they're lacking in many cases is access to information, and in some cases, electricity," said Groves.  Earlier this month, the Western Kentucky University China Environmental Health Project  was awarded a grant through the U.S. Agency for International Development to continue its field research, training exchange and assistance in hydrology development as a collaborative effort with the China Environment Forum of the U.S. and the Institute of Karst Geology of China. 

The Courier Journal_11/3/06

October, 2006

U.S. climate research center's oversight up for bidding
For the first time in 46 years, management of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, perched on a ridge under the Rocky Mountains northwest of Denver, is up for grabs. Since 1997, National Science Foundation policy has required that all government research institutions be subject to a competitive bidding process when their contracts come up for renewal. Foundation officials say that a formal request for bids is imminent and that the competition will be open to all organizations — academic, nonprofit and for-profit. Since its founding in 1960, the atmospheric center, based in Boulder, has been run by a nonprofit consortium of 70 universities, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. The center's research on global warming and its forecasts of rising temperatures, fiercer wildfires and stronger storms have drawn the ire of some politicians. But officials in Washington say that politics will not affect the competition. The current five-year agreement to run the atmospheric center, which ends in September 2008, is worth $548 million. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who contends that human-caused global warming is a "hoax," wrote to the foundation in February to confirm it was putting the atmospheric center's management agreement out for bid. He also asked for lists of the roughly 1,000 employees of the center and its operating consortium, as well as the identities of such employees under contract with other government agencies or nonprofits. Los Angeles Times_ 10/29/06 (logon required)

Audit finds fault with Honolulu's Board of Water Supply

A critical audit released this morning found that management changes at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply resulted in a sharp drop in water pipeline maintenance "sufficient only for the most critical repairs" while offering questionable benefits to water customers. City Auditor Leslie Tanaka reported that the audit came now because the semi-autonomous city agency has been unable to cover its operational costs and just this month began raising rates to customers. Coupled with the high number of water main breaks, Tanaka said this raises concerns "that resources for maintenance and repair of existing drinking water infrastructure may have been compromised by these organization changes." Tanaka noted in the report that the board's re-engineering plan "shows that change cannot occur solely on the basis of one manager's vision, but particularly for a semi-autonomous municipal entity like the BWS, must be reinforced with accountability through documented systems of evaluation, monitoring and reporting that will institutionalize desired changes, preserve the strengths of the organization and protect ratepayers' interests." Honolulu Advertiser_ 10/26/06

To unravel the Boston water conundrum, ask the 'Water Boys'

They include Bob Zimmerman, head of the Charles River Watershed Association; Jim Hunt, chief of Environment and Energy for the city of Boston; Mike Hornbrook, chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority; and John Sullivan, chief engineer of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. The good news, says columnist Sam Allis, is we're using a lot less water than we used to. MWRA drinking water consumption is down from 330 million gallons a day of drinking water in 1987 to 225 million gallons last year. Boston is the real success story here. Today it consumes less than the 90 million gallons of drinking water a day it did in 1910. Chalk this up to conservation, improved leak detection and staggering rate increases. The annual bill for an MWRA family of four using 90,000 gallons of water a year has doubled since 1997 from $450 to $930 last year. (A gallon of drinking water delivered to you.) New toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush or less, says Hornbrook, about a third of what was used in the past. (Here's one hand clapping. My experience with the new ones is, um, mixed.) The Water Boys talk about a delicate balance. The bottom line is we need more ground water.  Boston Globe_ 10/22/06

Protecting water supply key concern as New Hampshire grows; laws get high marks

The state's population is projected to grow by more than 25 percent from 2000 to 2025, and the majority of the increase will occur in the southeast part of the state, according to the 2005 report "New Hampshire's Changing Landscape." They all will need water. Nearly 800,000 people or more than half the population now depend on public water supplies statewide, but Brandon Kernen, supervisor of the Source Water Protection Program at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services said only about 11 percent of critical water supplies are completely protected from development through conservation easements. Kernen said land conservation is the best way to protect drinking water. But more water resources have become protected recently through other means. The state gets high marks, in fact, for its water management. Groundwater withdrawal laws and regulations in New Hampshire are among the top three most protective in states east of the Mississippi, Kernen said. Foster's Online_ 10/15/06 (logon required)

After Hawaii's earthquake, officials on Oahu ask residents to conserve water

The Board of Water Supply asked residents on Oahu to continue to conserve water on Monday and several neighborhoods in particular. Because of Sunday's power outage and other unrelated problems the BWS has been unable to refill some neighborhood reservoirs. Nearly all of those areas did not have power. Pumps were unable to refill reservoirs for 24 hours, BWS spokeswoman Su Shin said. BWS dispatched teams to work on the situation. Shin said that most of the problems will be resolved when electricity is restored to those areas. Hawaii Channel/Yahoo_ 10/16/06

Disaster declared as quake hits Hawaii; Tourists line up to buy water

A strong earthquake shook Hawaii early Sunday, causing a landslide that blocked a major highway on Hawaii Island and knocking out power across the state, authorities said. The state Civil Defense had unconfirmed reports of injuries, but communication problems prevented more definite reports. Gov. Linda Lingle issued a disaster declaration for the entire island, saying there had been damage to buildings and roads. In Waikiki, one of the state's primary tourism areas, worried visitors began lining up outside convenience stores to purchase food, water and other supplies. Managers were letting tourists into the darkened stores one at a time. Karie and Bryan Croes waited an hour to buy bottles of water, chips and bread. "It's quite a honeymoon story," said Karie as she and her husband sat in lounge chairs surrounded by their grocery bags beside a pool at ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Hotel. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 10/15/06

Potable water ready to flow in New Orleans' Lower 9, city's last Katrina devastated area without dependable drinking water

Safe drinking water should be flowing by Oct. 20 to the northern part of the city's Lower 9th Ward - the last area without potable water. Residents in the area, one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by flooding after Hurricane Katrina, have protested for months that without full water service, they've been exiled from their homes. Though water has been available at their lots for several months, dozens of fractured subterranean pipes have resulted in inconsistent water pressure, making state certification impossible. And, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not install travel trailers on private property if the lot can't receive potable water. AP/ Times-Picayune/The Comet_ 10/8/06

Officials: Maine's water table shaken up by this week's earthquake
An earthquake this week near Bar Harbor could have unpredictable effects on the water table,
Since the quake Monday night, the water level at one of the agency's monitoring wells in Acadia National Park dropped by 3 1/2 feet, hydrologist Gregory Stewart said. The water level was still dropping but was beginning to level off Wednesday morning, he said.  The earthquake, which occurred Monday evening, registered a magnitude of 3.9. It followed quakes with magnitudes of 3.5 and 2.5 on Sept. 22 and 26.   Boston Globe_10/4/06

Maine quake causes dramatic drop in well water level

A minor earthquake that shook parts of Maine at 8:07 p.m. local time Monday caused water to drop 2.5 feet at a U.S. Geological Survey monitoring well. Nearly 17 hours later, the water level was still dropping, scientists announced today. Hydrologists call the change in the well “dramatic,” and said well-water users might notice changes in their drinking water. The preliminary magnitude 3.9 earthquake was the third such event to shake the state in the past few weeks. The largest earthquake centered in Maine was a magnitude 5.1 event on March 21, 1904. The largest historic earthquake in the region was a magnitude 7.0 temblor in 1663, centered in Quebec along the St. Lawrence River. It knocked down chimneys in eastern Massachusetts. In 1755, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake brought down chimneys and several brick buildings in eastern Massachusetts. LiveScience.com_ 10/3/06

September, 2006

Vandals in York, Nebraska, waste a water tower full of water

York officials said the city lost about 1 million gallons of water when vandals turned on 10 hydrants in various parts of the city. Police and Public Works crews worked for about five hours to find which hydrants had been turned on. The amount of water lost is the equivalent of a full water tower. AP/KETV_ 9/28/06

Major coalition urges Congress to step up efforts to restore Great Lakes

Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition cited scientific evidence that the Great Lakes are collapsing due to threats from sewage contamination and aquatic invasive species. The intensified effort to restore the Great Lakes comes as Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, and Ohio Senators Mike DeWine and George Voinovich visit Cleveland, Ohio, for the second annual Great Lakes restoration conference, sponsored by Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. The Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act puts into practice priority recommendations of a comprehensive Great Lakes clean-up strategy crafted by civic, business and advocacy organizations. The Healing Our Waters --Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 90 state, regional and national zoos, museums, aquariums, hunter, angler, and conservation organizations. Headed by the National Wildlife Federation and the National Parks Conservation Association, the coalition is seeking state and federal support to restore the Great Lakes. CentralOhio.com_ 9/26/06

At this stage, North Texans expect tougher water rules
Any decision is days, if not weeks, away. But the North Texas Municipal Water District and its customer cities moved Wednesday toward new, tougher water restrictions.  For now, water rationing and other Stage 4 drought controls remain an indefinite, last-ditch option, officials say.  With its water supply dwindling, the district kicked its drought contingency plan to Stage 3 on June 1. Most of the cities it serves in Dallas and six neighboring counties have limited lawn watering to once a week, among other measures.  On Wednesday, district officials and representatives from Plano, Frisco, Garland, Allen, Wylie and other customer cities brainstormed ways to crank up conservation – to avoid Stage 4.  Such a move would put limits on water deliveries to customer cities and could include a ban on most outdoor watering and allow for a moratorium on development, district officials say.  Dallas Morning News_9/14/06

Plans for Recycled Water in the Pipeline for N. California
A joint plan between Mountain View and Palo Alto to use recycled water to irrigate thirsty landscaping is still in play after a $4 million state grant set to expire today was extended for a year.  The five-mile proposed pipeline on the east side of U.S. Highway 101 would funnel recycled wastewater from the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant to Mountain View parks, business landscapes and the Shoreline golf course, reducing the city's potable water consumption by about 10 percent, project manager Daisy Stark said.  ``It's a major step toward sustainability,'' she said. ``We have spent a lot of money treating the water to a very high standard. It's essentially that we put that water to use, instead of dumping it in the bay.''  Stark said the Palo Alto treatment plant filters wastewater at three levels and discharges around 23 million gallons of treated water into the bay every day.  It costs about $10 million per year to run the water through the first two levels, but almost nothing to run it through the final stage for recycling, Stark said.  MercuryNews_9/13/06

Tumwater, Washington water not what it used to be

City water will be chlorinated from now on to avoid persistent coliform bacteria growth and state health department citations, officials said Tuesday. Jay Eaton, Tumwater public works director, said the coliform bacteria found in Tumwater's water is naturally occurring on human skin or dirt and is not harmful or toxic. It mainly is an indicator that the water is in a state where other types of bacteria could live in it, Eaton said. Mayor Ralph Osgood said he regretted having to make the decision for permanent chlorination, but "it's quite a major system, with a lot of customers using it." The Olympian_ 9/6/06

August, 2006

Eastern Kentucky targeted for water upgrade
Rural communities in Eastern Kentucky make up half of the state's top 10 list for areas in need of money to improve water quality.  In a draft plan suggesting how to spend $40 million earmarked to improve drinking water in the state, five Eastern Kentucky water districts have been listed as having some of the most important projects.  "We've got people begging for water now," said Campton Mayor Gay Campbell, who said hundreds of residents are stuck with sulfur-laden well water that smells and tastes like rotten eggs.  The state's support for a new $3.7 million water treatment plant has given the 6,500 residents in the water district hope for fresh drinking water, he said.  Officials around Eastern Kentucky say public water upgrades are desperately needed in their region, where coal mines have fouled well water and aging pipes prevent sufficient expansion of public water lines.  The Kentucky Post_8/31/06

AmeriCares and Nestle Waters North America create one million water bottle reserve to aid Gulf Coast communities

Nearly one year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast region, and at the onset of the busiest part of the 2006-2007 hurricane season, AmeriCares and Nestle Waters have created a one million water bottle reserve for rapid distribution after a natural disaster. Deliveries began arriving last Thursday and will continue throughout the next two weeks, including in Florida, where Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to make landfall. A portion of the water reserve will also be used to support ongoing recovery in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities. The bottled water reserve, stocked with the Nestle Pure Life brand, will be stored in a series of food banks run by AmeriCares partner, America's Second Harvest, in regions vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding: Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. AmeriCares U.S. headquarters in Stamford, Conn. will also maintain a storehouse of Nestle bottled water for disaster relief. Press Release/PRNewswire/Yahoo_ 8/28/06

Utah ranchers join lawsuit to block Vegas water deal
Nearly 50 ranchers and business owners from Nevada and Utah, joined by state and national public interest groups, sued Wednesday to allow more protests of plans to pump millions of gallons of rural Nevada water to the booming Las Vegas area.
The lawsuit, filed in a state district court in Ely, accuses the state's water engineer of violating constitutional rights of people who weren't allowed to formally protest water-pumping applications of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.  The state engineer's office held in a July 27 decision that such protests would only be allowed from those who protested when the SNWA applications were first filed in 1989.  Individuals who sued were joined by the Great Basin Water Network, Great Basin and Utah chapters of Trout Unlimited and the Defenders of Wildlife. Salt Lake Tribune_8/24/06

NYC uses fish to guard water supply from terrorists

New York City is guarding the water supply for 9 million people against terrorist attack and keeping tabs on its quality with tiny fish called bluegills.  The 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) bluegills react quickly to small changes in water purity, acting as a ``canary in a coal mine,'' Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Ian Michaels said.  Intelligent Automation Corp., using U.S. Army technology developed 30 years ago, won a Defense Department contract for the project, which will be four years old in October.

The San Diego-area company's equipment monitors the behavior of eight bluegills in a tank, including their respiration rate, their average depth, and even whether they cough. Sensors detect electrical signals generated by the fish's muscle movements.  Bloomberg.com_8/23/06

Fires, rain contaminate Navajo water supply

Fires and floods caused by heavy rains have contaminated the single water source for about 1,200 residents of the Navajo Nation in Utah's far southeastern corner. The Navajo Mountain spring, which runs off the mountain that straddles the Utah-Arizona border, has been unusable for nearly three weeks, San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams said. Ash and other debris has filled the spring and clogged filters at a treatment plant that provides water to area residents, he said. To solve the problem temporarily, San Juan County hauled four tankers of water from the Inscription House spring, which is 40 miles south on the Navajo National Monument in Arizona, and brought in four semitrailers worth of bottled drinking water. The Navajo Mountain spring will eventually clean itself, but the problem is a recurring one. A permanent solution has been proposed in the form a pipeline, that would draw water from the Inscription House spring, Adams said. The project has an estimated cost of $8 million, which would come from state and federal funds. It could take up to two years to build. KUTV_ 8/20/06

Southern California's Metropolitan Water District board approves rebates on new water-saving devices

For the second time in nine months, the list of cutting-edge, water-saving devices eligible for rebates in Southern California has been expanded as Metropolitan Water District's Board of Directors today continued to refine the agency's core conservation program. Metropolitan's board added rotating sprinkler nozzles for pop-up spray heads that save up to 6,600 gallons over five years and retrofitted steam sterilizers that conserve more than 400,000 gallons per year to its inventory of cost-effective devices eligible for district incentives. In 2005 alone, Metropolitan issued about 300,000 rebates for devices that are now saving nearly 3 billion gallons of water a year in Southern California. Metropolitan currently offers rebate packages for a variety of devices, including ultra-low-flush and high-efficiency toilets, high-efficiency clothes washers, "smart" irrigation controllers, waterbrooms, and cooling tower conductivity controllers. Customized incentive programs also are available to homeowners' associations for large landscapes and for industries that use water in processing or manufacturing. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies. Red Orbit_ 8/15/06

Report urges Elizabeth City, North Carolina to join Pasquotank County's $16 million water treatment plant

The city report said it was the cheapest way for Elizabeth City to have enough water to satisfy state officials and meet its future needs. Just how the city should participate — either by buying water as a customer, becoming a part owner of the water plant or helping form a joint water authority — is something that will have to be negotiated, the report by Eric Weatherly, the city's director of public utilities suggests. Also left to be decided is where the money will come from to finance the city's participation in the county's water plant. Weatherly's report estimates it could cost the city $5.2 million in up-front costs to participate in the county's plant, which is expected to produce 5 million gallons of water once it opens sometime in 2008. Daily Advance_ 8/16/06

Water service woes leave residents in Arizona community thirsty for action

Frustrated residents in Desert Hills plan to rally Friday to call attention to their water woes. Desert Hills Water Co. customers, about 1,625 total, have been experiencing frequent water outages and low water pressure for the past year. So far, those residents in unincorporated Maricopa County are still waiting for full water service. Residents hope to bring public awareness to the company's upcoming hearing by the Arizona Corporation Commission Aug. 21. The commission could force the water company to change management, order it to come up with a long-term water supply plan and fine the company up to $5,000 each day. Desert Hills Water Co. officials said it would be another three weeks before residents would see full water usage. Arizona Republic_ 8/10/06 (logon required)

Six weeks after heavy storms flood upstate New York, 30 households near Binghamton still without safe water

Residents in and around the Village of Harpursville have received bottled water donations from various sources, but supplies are running dangerously low because people need water for more than just drinking. Their private wells were contaminated with E.coli. AP/Syracuse.com_ 8/7/06

San Diego mayor urges city to refund more than $1 million to the water and wastewater department

The call by Mayor Jerry Sanders was prompted by an audit that accused the city of sloppy bookkeeping and inappropriate charges. A 2004 10News investigation revealed service level agreements were used to siphon money from the water and sewer funds for use at city hall. Millions of dollars that should have been used to pay for sewer and water system upgrades instead bought boats and popcorn machines. The company Mayer Hoffman McCann was retained to review financial transactions within the city's water and wastewater funds after a grand jury report questioned the city's use of service level agreements. The city charter mandates that fee-supported Water Department and Metropolitan Wastewater Department enterprise funds can only be used to enhance, maintain and improve the water and sewer systems. 10News.com_ 8/7/06

New Jersey American Water issues mandatory water restrictions for Atlantic County customers

New Jersey American said the extreme hot and dry weather over the past week sent Atlantic County water usage to record highs. The mandatory restrictions ban watering existing lawns and set hours to water new grass. Washing cars is prohibited except at commercial
car-washing facilities that employ the use of recycled water. Press Release/prnewswire_ 8/4/06

Texas' San Antonio River gets clean water

San Antonio Water System kicked off a long-awaited project Thursday by pumping thousands of gallons of recycled water into the San Antonio River downtown. The recycled water, which was taken from the Dos Rios Recycling Plant, flowed through a new piping system into the river near the loop at the Henry B. Convention Center. The pumping is effort to clean the river water, which has tested for high levels of fecal coliform. KSAT.com_ 8/4/06

Private water wells needed to participate in Nebraska project

The Nebraska Health and Human Services System is seeking owners of private water wells to participate in a project that will help determine how well household water treatment devices remove contaminants.  Households that use water treatment devices and do not use bottled water for drinking will be considered for the study. These devices may include reverse osmosis, distillation and ion-exchange units but do not include water softeners.  This study will attempt to determine how treatment units are selected by consumers, how they are being maintained, how they are functioning, and what type of contaminants are being removed from private water well supplies.  Southwest Nebraska News_8/3/06

California's Mono Lake was dying 30 years ago; Now, the water's rising

Thirty years ago, a dozen students from Stanford University, UC Davis and elsewhere camped at ancient Mono Lake for more than two months, conducting the first ecological survey of California's largest lake, which was dying as a result of massive water diversions to Los Angeles. This month, the same group -- now college professors, government scientists, an inventor, a physician and high school teachers, all in their early 50s -- returned for a historic reunion to the million-year-old lake that once inspired Californians to slap "Save Mono Lake'' bumper stickers on their '70s vans. Today the lake is saved -- rising and healthy. The group's 1976 study of birds, insects, phytoplankton, salinity and hydrology has been recognized as the scientific underpinning of the California Supreme Court's 1983 decision that the state must protect natural resources such as Mono Lake under the state Constitution's public trust doctrine. That decision ultimately saved the lake from the kind of water grab that in the 1920s turned Southern California's Owens Lake into a 110-square-mile salt flat. San Francisco Chronicle_ 7/29/06

Worker fired for Fire Island, New York, E.coli false alarm that cost water authority $100,000

Officials said the fallout from the false alarm cost the authority $100,000 in overtime, bottled water, ice and other costs. Patrick Vecchio Jr., 41, the son of Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, was fired Tuesday night at a meeting of the Suffolk County Water Authority's five-member board of directors. The vote was unanimous. He is suspected of rushing to leave work an hour early and may have accidentally placed his finger in a tube, a violation of protocol. When 8 of the 10 samples showed signs of E. coli bacteria, the water authority issued a warning on July 8 for residents to boil their water. After retesting, officials determined there was never any danger. Vecchio declined to comment, but testified at a July 17 hearing that he had not made any mistakes. He did say that he might have picked up deer feces during an inspection and said there was no place to wash his hands. He also said he had to leave an hour early that day to pick up his son. According to records obtained by Newsday under the Freedom of Information Act, Vecchio has had six accidents in authority vehicles, has received five warnings related to his work performance and has been suspended three times. He was hired in 1993 and earned $61,568 a year. AP/Newsday_ 7/26/06

Corps finds some Sacramento levees not up to standard

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has withdrawn its endorsement of levees protecting parts of Sacramento, reversing a 1998 evaluation that has facilitated a construction boom in the Natomas area.  In a letter released Tuesday to The Associated Press, the Corps' chief engineer in Sacramento attributed the decision to local and federal studies that have unearthed levee vulnerabilities.

The letter was forwarded to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which certified the Natomas levees in light of the Corps' 1998 finding the levees provided 100-year flood protection.  The certification led to skyrocketing development of the Natomas area -- a section of the state capital north of downtown that flood experts now say could be submerged by at least 13 feet of water if the levees failed.  If Natomas were to lose its 100-year designation, flood insurance would become mandatory for people with federally insured mortgages, insurance rates would increase, and building restrictions could be implemented.  Foxreno.com_7/25/06

North Carolina law to require monitoring, testing of water wells
Nearly half of 51 private wells tested last year in North Carolina's Yadkin County at random had some type of bacterial contamination.  That figure underscores what water-quality experts have known for years: Water from private wells is more likely to be contaminated than water from public systems.  But until the House and Senate approved new drinking-water legislation last week, there was no state requirement to monitor or test the 26,000 or so wells that are drilled each year.  Counties will be required to monitor the construction of new wells for private homes and small businesses as well as test for a number of contaminants in new drinking wells.  Journalnow.com_7/24/06


Cities reward 'lifestyle' that conserves water
More cities are creating or expanding programs that give residents and businesses rebates or utility-bill credits for installing grass-free lawns or toilets, washing machines and showers that use less water.  Warren Selkow, a retiree in Glendale, Ariz., got a $100 check — and lower water bills — after planting foliage that needs less water than grass. "The first thing I heard was 'never cut grass again,' " he says. "I thought, this is not a bad deal."  Glendale just increased the residential rebate, first offered in 1986, to as much as $750, depending on the size of the lawn. The program was expanded last year to give businesses and homeowner associations as much as $3,000.  Water conservation manager Jo Miller says Glendale wants to create "a lifestyle of conservation." Water usage dropped 5.6% between 2002 and 2005 despite population growth.  USA Today_7/19/06

Pennsylvania governor announces $73 million funding for clean drinking water, other infrastructure projects

Pennsylvania residents will continue to benefit from imporoved creeks and rivers, clener and safer drinking water and revitalized communities as a result of $73 million in Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) funds, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today. The money will be allocated to projects in 20 counties. Press Release/prnewswire_ 7/18/06

Dover, New Jersey presses United Water over low water pressure

To Mayor Paul C. Brush and the Township Council, the water pressure problems in northwest Dover are yet another sign that United Water Toms River, the township's public water purveyor, has not invested enough money in infrastructure improvements to serve the fastest-growing area of town. The township has filed a petition with the state Board of Public Utilities, asking the BPU to revoke United's franchise to operate in Dover. A decision on the township's petition is not expected for several months. United Water spokesman Richard Henning said the water company is working to improve communication with township officials and is also making extensive capital improvements to its system.  Asbury Park Press_ 7/16/06

Virginia closing in on water recycling program

After years of false starts and study, Virginia is poised to launch a program for recycling tap water to irrigate parks, lawns and crops, cool industrial equipment, wash cars and streets, and flush toilets. Florida, California and dozens of other states have been reusing - and conserving - drinking water this way for years. Virginia's draft regulations are expected to be considered in December, with a full-fledged permitting system in place by as early as spring 2007. As envisioned, customers would pay less for recycled water than for drinking water. Less water would have to be withdrawn from lakes, rivers and wells, thus conserving these raw supplies and better protecting the state from drought. In addition, sewage plants would discharge less wastewater into public waterways, such as the Chesapeake Bay, which already suffer from too many nutrients and other pollutants found in treated effluent. The Virginian-Pilot_ 7/16/06

Nevada Paiute tribe challenges plan to export water, citing potential impacts
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe is challenging a plan to export water from Honey Lake Basin to support development in Nevada's North Valleys.  Citing potential impacts to water quality at Pyramid Lake, the tribe has appealed a decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to allow a 28-mile pipeline to cross federal land. The importation project, expected to cost up to $70 million, would pipe 8,000 acre-feet of water a year from the Fish Springs Ranch near Susanville to the hills east of Reno-Stead Airport for storage and distribution in Lemmon Valley.  But the tribe fears the project could reduce the flow of groundwater to Pyramid Lake and two groundwater basins within the reservation. Tribal officials say they also are concerned wastewater from thousands of new homes the imported water would serve could ultimately make its way into the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake, impacting a sensitive environment. The appeal claims the government's environmental studies on the project were inadequate and seeks a stay to prevent BLM's decision from taking effect until the appeal, filed last week with the Department of Interior, is decided.  RGJ.com_7/14/06

Arizona water costs rising, but it's no surprise
The Prescott City Council found out Tuesday that the new price for building the pipeline and pump system to get water from the Big Chino sub-basin to Prescott and Prescott Valley just more than doubled itself to $170 million.  That's more than double the original estimate of $80 million, but it's not surprising in light of worldwide demand for construction materials and high energy prices.  Prescott Daily Courier_7/13/06

South Sioux City, Nebraska to receive federal and state grants for six-mile water main

The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration announced Monday it will invest $618,000 in the nearly $1.4 million project. The remaining portion of the project will be funded by a revolving loan from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. The new 16-inch water line will "loop" the city's waters supply and serve its budding industrial/commercial base while providing better fire protection for the entire community, said Dan McNamara, director of economic development. Sioux City Journal_ 7/3/06

Farmington, Illinois ends 16-day boil water order

The boil order was issued June 15 for the city of 2,600 people after a routine water sample tested positive for total coliform bacteria, which is not harmful but can signal the presence of other dangerous bacteria. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency officials told the city to empty, power-wash and sanitize both 150,000-gallon water towers and both 75,000-gallon ground storage tanks and then have all of them inspected for structural problems before the boil order could be lifted. Workers from Hydro-Vision Engineering in Waggoner, Ill., discovered earlier this week that the lid on the west ground storage tank, built in 1955, wasn't sealed all the way and was allowing black dirt to get inside the tank. They sealed the lid from the outside and inside. Peoria Journal Star_ 7/2/06

June, 2006

Madison, Wisconsin water utility says new manganese report shows water is safe

The Madison Water Utility released test results on manganese levels on Thursday, bolstering its position that the city's water supply is safe. The new numbers are from the city's ongoing study of the metal manganese in the three highest-producing city water wells. The news comes as even more bottled-water companies reach out to concerned utility customers, and the utility dispensed cash payments to dozens in a limited bottled-water advisory for Wells 3 and 10. But David Denig-Chakroff, the manager of the Madison Water Utility, said that even repeat testing of the highest hour came back at safe levels. Channel 3000_ 6/29/06

Flooding shuts some water-purification plants

New Jersey's capital city's drinking water supplies were dwindling Thursday, June 29, a day after the rain-swollen Delaware River forced the city's water purification plant to shut down.  As of Thursday morning, Trenton's water supply was down to 36 hours' worth, and Mayor Doug Palmer said he did not immediately know when the plant might be able to reopen. Only scattered drinking water problems were reported elsewhere around the New Jersey on Thursday. The problems in Trenton contributed to the decision to have nonessential state workers remain home for the day, and there was a question as to whether they would return Friday. Workers were sent home early on Wednesday, June 28th. The state work force is the biggest user of drinking water in Trenton, a city of 85,000 people. 1010wins.com_6/29/06

Safety precautions offered for well water users
Flooding in the Northeast has contaminated thousands of wells

The Bradford County Master Well Owners and the Penn State Cooperative Extension are offering suggestions on how to care for wells during and after floods.  Flooded wells and springs could be contaminated by flood waters, or damaged by the water strength.  Before reactivating a water supply, make certain the electrical system has dried completely.  The water system should be disinfected, first by purging the system of murky or muddy water, usually done by running the outside spigot until the water is clear. Next, add common, unscented bleach to the water system to kill the bacteria.  After the bleach is added run an outdoor spigot until the odor of bleach is detected. Then the system must be left alone for six to 24 hours to allow “contact time.”  After the waiting period, run the outside spigot again, or use a hose to flush the system. The system is flushed once the odor of bleach is no longer detected.  It is recommended that your water be tested for bacteria about a week after this process, but it should be safe to drink after these steps are completed.  It is also recommended that any toys or play equipment that is in contact with flood water should be disinfected using detergent followed by a rinse of ¼ cup bleach to one gallon of water. Star-Gazette.com_6/29/06

Proposed changes to Ohio drinking water rules will better protect public health

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 seeks comments on its tentative decision to approve five changes to Ohio's drinking water regulations that will enhance protection of public health and increase information provided to the public about drinking water.  Ohio plans to adopt:

* The revised definition of a Public Water System to include systems that provide drinking water through conduits other than pipes;
* The Consumer Confidence Report rule that requires public drinking water systems to provide their customers with annual reports on the quality of their drinking water;
* The revised Public Notification rule that emphasizes the consumer's right to know about the quality of their drinking water and sets guidelines for the form, manner, frequency and content of public notices;
* The Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment rule improves public health by increasing protection against waterborne pathogens such as cryptosporidium;
* The Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts rule that minimizes exposure to disinfectants that are added to drinking water and byproducts that can form in water distribution systems.

If there is sufficient interest, EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes. Newsblaze.com_6/28/06

Montgomery County, Texas, overusing underground water supply

It soon will need to rely more on area lakes for water. "There is a serious problem," said Kathy Turner Jones, general manager of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District. "We didn't realize it was so immediate. We thought we had more time." Montgomery County relies solely on groundwater as its water source, and already permitted use exceeds what the three aquifers in the county can replenish annually. The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District unveiled a new plan to address the problems now and identify new water sources for the future. Houston Chronicle_ 6/27/06

Tampa, Florida looks to dropping 200,000 water customers outside city limits

City Council members say they would rather keep cheap drinking water from the Hillsborough River flowing exclusively to the taps of Tampa's 330,000 residents. The city gets most of its drinking water from the river. But the city now pulls 82-million gallons a day from the river, the maximum allowed according to its state permit. During exceptionally dry months when demand is high, the city buys water from Tampa Bay Water, the utility that provides water to the region. This year, the city has spent $3-million on water purchases since March. Other member governments of Tampa Bay Water, including Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey, get the vast majority of their water from the utility. Tampa's population boom means soon the city will have to start buying water every month from Tampa Bay Water. St. Petersburg Times_ 6/23/06

‘Super ditch’ management concept key part of Colorado water storage talks

A “super ditch” water management program is a key part of negotiations over proposed water storage legislation shared Wednesday by the Colorado Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board at its monthly meeting.  The district has been negotiating with participants in the Preferred Storage Options Plan (PSOP) for 18 months. In May, a PSOP bill being drafted by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District stalled partly because the Lower Ark and Colorado Springs have not reached agreement on key issues.  “Our mission is not to let agricultural water leave the basin,” said John Singletary, Lower Ark chairman. “We have found a tool to do it.”  A cornerstone of negotiations, from the Lower Ark’s point of view, has been Colorado Springs’ acceptance of a water management plan.  The plan would provide valleywide leasing of ditch water to avoid the wholesale purchases that have devastated parts of the valley in the past, Singletary said.  Pueblo Chieftan_6/22/06

New Orleans water system leaking all over
More than 85 million gallons of drinking water are leaking into the ground every day through breaks in the city's hurricane-fractured water system.  That comes despite the recent repair of a crack blamed for leaking 15 million gallons per day, using a process that cut water pressure and led to problems with firefighting and complaints from residents, city officials say.  By comparison, New Orleans residents are paying to use about 50 million gallons per day, said Marcia St. Martin, executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board.  One problem is that underground leaks are difficult to locate, especially with so few residents around to report them in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, St. Martin said.  "That's still just the tip of the iceberg," she said.  The water board has hired a contractor using a sounding device to search for breaks.  In the meantime, the water pressure problem prompted several days of complaints from residents, first in the Gentilly section and then throughout the east bank of New Orleans, of low water pressure or no water at all flowing from their faucets. Nola.com_6/8/06 log on required

Massachusetts to tighten water use
As Boston's western suburbs have grown, their demand for water has grown, too.
Now, concerned that the region's supply is being stretched too thin, state officials are preparing to set new limits on water use in a number of communities along the Charles River, including Bellingham, Dover, Franklin, Holliston, Medway, Medfield, Milford, Millis, Natick, Norfolk , and Wrentham.  The new standards, which are expected to hit the communities over the next several months, could mean tighter restrictions on nonessential water use.  State regulators and environmental activists say restrictions are necessary in the towns, which draw water from the same underground sources that feed the Charles, to preserve the area's drinking-water supply in the face of continued development.  Boston Globe_6/8/06

Despite downpours, Seabrook, New Hampshire continues partial ban on outside watering

Nineteen inches of rain fell during the Mothers Day flood and at least another three inches fell this weekend, but Seabrook is still short on drinking water. The partial ban on outside watering remains in effect. Despite the rainfall, town wells are clogged with iron and manganese, which is preventing at least two from recharging once their current water levels drop. Reducing iron and manganese in town water is expected to occur when a facility goes online to also limit the amount of arsenic in the water. The towns plan for an arsenic removal facility has gone back to the drawing board as the state and federal mandates changed after Seabrook finished a design, according to Town Manager Fred Welch. Seabrook runs its own water system, dependent entirely on town wells. It is researching other sources of water, such as stream diversion and desalinization system. SeaCoastOnline.com/MSNBC.com_ 6/6/06

Denver water drafts $400 million conservation plan that includes tests for new and resale homes

The plan aims to cut annual water use 22 percent - or 16.7 billion gallons - during the next 10 years. Among the new measures being proposed are a water-efficiency rating system for new construction. If builders don't meet certain standards, the utility might refuse to hook up a new home to the water system. Initiating water audits of existing homes before they are sold and requiring the replacement of leaky faucets, shower heads and toilets. The utility also might require home owners to replace inefficient fixtures. Commercial buildings would be required to install low-flow urinals. The three initiatives make up about a third of the reduction target. Other measures - such as adding irrigation water meters and removing park lawns - are aimed at Denver Water's municipal and commercial customers. Denver Post_ 6/4/06

May, 2006

Los Angeles Times 2nd of two parts: Small towns in California tell a cautionary tale about the private control of water

In San Jerardo, a tidy but poor farmworker cooperative encircled by the black earth of Salinas Valley fields, residents have been drinking bottled water for almost five years because the tap water they buy from a private company is unsafe. San Jerardo and other communities are fronts in a statewide battle over the price, quality and reliability of water that investor-owned utilities are supplying to nearly one in five Californians. In the late 19th century, private companies delivered water to most of the state's homes and businesses. Today about 80% of the state's people live in large cities and towns served by publicly owned utilities. About 140 for-profit companies provide water to more than 6 million people, mostly in suburbs and smaller communities. Supporters of government-run water systems point out that they, unlike investor-owned utilities, do not need to pay taxes or produce a profit. But big companies contend that they can operate with less overhead per customer. At the core of the dispute are philosophical differences over whether an indispensable resource should be controlled by private firms. Los Angeles Times_ 5/30/06 (logon required)

Los Angeles Times 1st of two parts: Misconduct taints the water in some privatized U.S. systems

In recent years, cities across the U.S. have turned over a vital public service — providing safe drinking water — to private enterprise. Driving the trend was the idea that for-profit companies, mainly European conglomerates, could operate water and sewer systems efficiently, keeping water quality high and costs low. In some places, private-sector management helped trim bureaucracies and replace decaying infrastructure, local officials say. But in Indianapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta and other cities, privatization has been accompanied by corruption scandals, environmental violations and a torrent of customer complaints. Los Angeles Times_ 5/29/06 (logon required)

Also: Two deal brokers with dirty hands manipulated Ohio water contracts

Los Angeles Times_ 5/29/06 (logon required)

Nevada's White Pine County rejects $12 million offer to drop its opposition to pumping millions of gallons of water to fast-growing Las Vegas

White Pine County has rejected a $12 million offer to drop its opposition to a plan to pump millions of gallons of water from eastern Nevada into the fast-growing Las Vegas area, but will continue talks on a potential settlement. John Chachas, vice chairman of the White Pine County Commission, said Thursday the first offer by the Southern Nevada Water Authority "doesn't hold water," adding that the authority "should stay out of White Pine County." White Pine County Commissioner Gary Perea said the Southern Nevada Water Project has offered $12 million, with $1 million to be received upon signing the 75-year agreement. Another $5 million would be placed in a trust fund for mitigation for such things as drilling deeper wells in Spring Valley if the water table drops because of the pumping, and $300,000 would go to White Pine County annually for 20 years, he said. "I have a hard time getting past" the proposed 75-year settlement, Perea said. Seventy-five years ago, White Pine County had more residents than Clark County, he noted. "Once they take the water it puts a big squash on White Pine for development," he said. Las Vegas Sun_ 5/26/06

North Dakota seeks more latitude to drain water from Devils Lake
The North Dakota Water Commission wants to operate its controversial outlet on Devils Lake more often - an idea that has heightened concerns in Manitoba about cross-border pollution.  The commission is asking the state Health Department to change the outlet's operating permit, which currently forbids it to be used when sulphate levels in the nearby Sheyenne River exceed 300 milligrams per litre.  The restriction has prevented the outlet, which is aimed at easing chronic flooding, from operating this spring and most of last fall.  The commission wants the sulphate limit raised to 450 milligrams per litre and says the higher limit does not threaten human or animal health.  "Sulphates will cause some taste and odour problems during the treatment process," Dale Frink, North Dakota's state engineer, said Wednesday from his office in Bismarck.  "But in itself, sulphates are not all that harmful."  The Health Department is expected to hold hearings on the issue in the early summer, and the Manitoba government is promising to fight the change. Canada.com_5/24/06

Water suppliers warned to submit safety reports
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued warnings to 18 small drinking water suppliers in California, saying they could be fined for failing to submit plans describing how they would prevent or respond to terrorist attacks.  The cities of Perris and Norco and the Lake Arrowhead Community Service District were among water suppliers that submitted no plans for emergency response or reducing vulnerability to terrorism, which were due in 2004, the agency said. The city of San Jacinto did not provide an emergency response plan, the agency added. If suppliers without vulnerability plans do not submit them within a month, the companies could face up to $32,000 a day in court-ordered penalties, EPA officials said. Federal legislation in 2002 ordered all water systems that serve more than 3,300 customers to submit plans. Los Angeles Times_5/19/06

Drinking water fund tops $9 billion
More than $9 billion has been invested in U.S. drinking water improvements on nearly 4,400 projects over the past decade, a report said Thursday.  In its 2005 annual report, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund said investments had come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, all 50 states and Puerto Rico with loans largely going to systems serving fewer than 10,000 people. Projects range from treatment and transmission to finding new water sources. Congress established the program in 1996 to help finance infrastructure improvements.   UPI_5/18/06

Pennsylvania Gov.Rendell OKs water projects
Governor Ed Rendell said Pennsylvania will invest more than $34 million to support the development of water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the state.  The projects will receive funds through the Water Supply and Wastewater Infrastructure Program, or PennWorks, a $200 million program established in 2004 to provide single- or multi-year grants and loans to municipalities, municipal authorities, industrial development corporations, and investor-owned water or wastewater enterprises. Projects may include construction, expansion or improvements to water and wastewater infrastructure related to economic development.  Bizjournals_5/18/06

Quake would put northern California drinking water at risk, study says

Even a moderate earthquake could cause California's aging levee system to collapse, flooding 400,000 houses and sending brine into the drinking water of homes across Northern California. According to a computer-generated study presented this week at Stanford University, a 6.5 magnitude quake in the area of Antioch and Rio Vista could trigger the breaching of as many as 50 levees in the southwestern regions of the Sacramento Delta. Drinking water and farm water exports to Santa Clara County and the San Joaquin Valley from the Delta would halt immediately. Damage could cause the aqueducts that carry water to the Bay Area from the Sierra Nevada to fail. Two-thirds of Californians depend on the Delta for at least some of their drinking water. And for the 500,000 customers of the Contra Costa Water District, the effects could be particularly devastating. The district manages the largest urban water delivery system that relies entirely on Delta supplies. Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times_ 5/12/06

Report: contamination rare in Minnesota's community water systems
Minnesota's 964 community water systems are virtually free from contamination, according to the annual drinking water report issued by the state Department of Health.  None of the systems exceeded federal or state standards for pesticides, industrial contaminants, and nitrate or nitrite, the Health Department said.  Seventeen systems showed detectable levels of coliform bacteria. Those systems were disinfected.  Four exceeded the federal standard for lead. That's a much lower total than 10 years ago when testing for lead and copper began.  The report included test results for 721 city water systems and 243 non-municipal systems, such as manufactured home parks, colleges, hospitals and prisons.  Water samples were subjected to more than 19,000 separate tests for more than 100 potential contaminants last year.  Grand Forks Herald_5/10/06

Louisiana lifts boil water order for part of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward

The state health department Monday cleared the way for the repopulation of the New Orleans neighborhood most wrecked by Hurricane Katrina when it said tap water in part of the Lower Ninth Ward is safe. Monday's announcement by state health officials does not mean there will be a rush of residents returning to live in the area. The Lower Ninth Ward remains a wasteland of severely flood-damaged or destroyed homes and piles of debris. And not all of the neighborhood can be reopened — only the higher ground, within about 10 blocks of the Mississippi River. Officials don't know when they'll be able to reopen the 10 blocks or so north of that. Moreover, many homeowners won't know for some time whether they'll be able to rebuild. AP/Times-Picayune/nola_ 5/8/06 (logon required)

U.S. EPA and AWWA celebrate National Drinking Water Week

Promote awareness of water infrastructure

In celebration of National Drinking Water Week (May 7-13, 2006), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) will host a May 10 public event to highlight the importance of the nation's water infrastructure.  EPA will promote public awareness of the "Four Pillars of Sustainable Infrastructure," an EPA Office of Water stewardship initiative to change how the nation views, values, manages, and invests in its water infrastructure. AWWA will showcase its new campaign, "Only Tap Water Delivers," which explores the value of water service provided every day to millions of Americans. Also, the Delaware Rural Water Association will provide a real-time water treatment demonstration from its Mobile Training Unit for Small Drinking Water Systems. Press Release_ US Newswire 5/4/06

April, 2006

San Diego County water officials OK spending moire than $42 million to line two canals

Saying the water it would bring to San Diego County over the next century was too cheap to pass up, regional water leaders voted Thursday to spend an additional $38.3 million on a long-discussed project to line the 82-mile All-American Canal in Imperial Valley. Four North County water agencies opposed the expenditure, saying it wasn't quite as cheap as it looked. San Diego County Water Authority board members also voted to spend $4 million more on a similar lining project for a 35-mile stretch of the Coachella Canalin canal in Coachella Valley. The two actions mean the Water Authority, and county water ratepayers, will spend at least $134.3 million ---- on top of the $219.3 million the state is giving the Water Authority for the projects ---- to complete the projects for a total of $353.6 million. North County Times_ 4/27/06

It's baaaack: Prospect of controversial California water canal returns

Thumped at the polls in 1982 and discarded as politically toxic long ago, the idea of building another canal to send water to Southern California is getting a fresh look in the wake of rising fears that a catastrophic levee break could cut off deliveries through the Sacramento Delta. The Peripheral Canal – one of the battle cries in the historic north-south water wars – is back, but under euphemisms such as the Delta Protection Project, the Clean Water Project, or the Isolated Facility. But will the public swallow a Peripheral Canal by any other name? That's what state Sen. Joe Simitian wants to know. The Palo Alto Democrat has proposed a $3 billion bond measure for the November ballot that would pay for a range of Sacramento Delta improvements, including a new north-south delivery system. But the governor's top water advisers are working to quell calls for immediate action, insisting that any new water delivery project be folded into an overall plan charting the entire Sacramento Delta's course for the next half-century. At stake is the safety and reliability of water for two-thirds of the state and much of the vast San Joaquin Valley breadbasket. The San Diego County Water Authority counts on delta flows for about a third of its supply. Copley News Service/San Diego Union-Tribune_ 4/24/06

California governor seeks restructuring of federal-state CalFed water program

The Schwarzenegger administration released a plan to reorganize a wide-ranging government program launched six years ago to repair the ailing heart of California's water system. Known as CalFed, the alliance of state and federal agencies was supposed to improve water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta east of San Francisco while also restoring the delta's deteriorating environs. But in the past year, CalFed has been severely criticized for being ineffective and slow to tackle some of the delta's most vexing problems. Under the restructuring, a new governing body would be created, composed of the directors of 14 state and federal agencies. Co-chair of that entity would be the state resources secretary, who administration officials said would be the ultimate state decision-maker and held accountable for state actions. The current governing board, made up of agency heads, regional representatives and members of stakeholder groups, would be dissolved. The CalFed staff would be folded into the resources agency. Los Angeles Times_ 4/21/06 (logon required)

CalFed water program should be disbanded, report says
The governing board that oversees Delta water supplies and its ecosystem should be disbanded and more accountability for the foundering program should be placed at the desk of Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman, a new state reports says.  The report is more than a year in the making and was requested by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was under pressure from state lawmakers unhappy with the CalFed program's finances and performance.  Despite spending $3 billion, the Delta's ecosystem is in danger of collapse, its levees continue to deteriorate, and water quality and water supplies have not significantly improved.  Mercury News_4/20/06

California's water gauge points to 'full'
A wet spring means California water contractors will get all the water they need this year. In fact, California has surplus water for sale.  The snowpack statewide is at 172 percent of normal, thanks to a March-April period that was the second-wettest in the northern Sierra since 1921.  On Tuesday, the state Department of Water Resources boosted its allocation to State Water Project contractors from 80 percent to 100 percent.  This marks the first time since the water project's founding in 1968 that contractors have asked for full contractual deliveries and will get those requests.  The 100 percent allocation amounts to 4.1 million acre-feet of water. The largest customer is the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which uses half this total, followed by the Kern County Water Agency, which takes 25 percent.  Sacramento Bee_4/19/06

EPA to study water efficiency in eight states

Arizona is one of eight states chosen for a federal study aimed at figuring out whether newly built homes, with their high-efficiency dishwashers and low-turf desert landscaping, really use less water than older homes. EPA officials say the study, which will cost $530,000, will take about 33 months to finish. Joining Arizona are Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, California, Nevada and Florida. Arizona Republic_ 4/17/06 (logon required)

Rural Tennessee residents gladly trade 10 years of bottled water for tap

Clustered in a tiny church fellowship hall, congregants joined residents Thursday to sing the praises of good drinking water. It took 10 years and three tries to put together enough federal and state grant money to extend five miles of water line, said Anderson County Utility Board Commissioner Rickey Rose. "I'm sorry it took so long." Heretofore, the 34 families and churchgoers made do with well water tainted with a witch's brew of bacteria, iron and sulphur. Drinking water had to be hauled in and stored at the church in 5-gallon plastic containers. Knoxville, Tennessee News_ 4/14/06


Cities seek own water utilities
Officials across the United States, including on the Monterey Peninsula, have asked German utility RWE AG to consider selling some of its water companies to the cities they serve rather than roll them into a publicly held company.  The plea came Monday in time for RWE's annual shareholders' meeting scheduled today in Essen, Germany.  Investor-owned RWE is Europe's third largest utility and has announced it will offer shares in its American Water Works Co. subsidiary in an initial public offering, abandoning plans to sell the New Jersey-based unit to an investor.  RWE bought American Water Works, the parent company of California American Water, for $7.5 billion in 2001. In November, the company announced plans to divest American Water and its British water business, Thames Water.  The petition, titled "Statement of U.S. Mayors and Local Elected Officials," contends that RWE "has been unwilling to evaluate fair offers from municipal buyers, who are seeking to fix the problems created by RWE."  Montery County Herald_4/13/06


Full reservoirs and more rain on the way prompt California governor to declare second state of emergency

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday declared his second state of emergency stemming from winter rainstorms that threaten to overburden California's system of levees, aqueducts, reservoirs and rivers. In February, the governor took similar action to speed repairs for the state's levee system statewide. He said "the already poor conditions of many levees creates conditions of imminent peril to those living near the levees, to the environment, businesses and the critical life support systems, such as drinking water." Schwarzenegger surveyed a wall-sized map showing California's 564-mile-long water-management system, which runs from Shasta Lake near Redding to Lake Perris in Southern California. Los Angeles Times_ 4/11/06 (logon required)

California water managers brace for more rain, possible flooding

Haunted by the New Orleans flood catastrophe, California water officials scrambled Sunday to pre-emptively patch weak spots in the state's levee system, tapping emergency funds meant for summertime repairs. After the rainiest March on record, many reservoirs in California's Central Valley are groaning at full capacity, and another 10 days of rain are forecast. State flood authorities used a weekend lull in between storms to identify levees and other water-control sites at risk of failing. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in February declared a state of emergency for California's levee system, a step that freed up about $103 million for repairs to 24 flood-prone sites. That work is typically done in the summer, when water behind the levees is at its low point. AP/USA Today_ 4/9/06

California rainfall totals approaching those from 1983, the wettest year on record
A sodden California is stumbling toward the wettest year on record, with water managers closely watching stressed levees as a seemingly endless string of storms continue to dump water into the state's rivers.  The lower San Joaquin River is a particular concern, said Gary Bardini, chief of hydrology and flood operations for the California Department of Water Resources.
The Consumnes River, the only undammed river on the Sierra's western slope, crested at 13.4 feet Tuesday evening, the first time since 1958 the river has reached flood stage in April.  With a lull in the storms expected statewide Thursday reservoir operators scrambled to make room for the next series of storms, arriving Friday and expected to last well into next week at least.

IBA_4/5/06

Museum of Water plans to educate New Yorkers
One of the four classic elements is finally on the road to getting its own museum — and it has nothing to do with Action Park or hot tubs. That's right, the Museum of Water is opening up.  Asher Shomrone, founder and executive of the New York Museum of Water, said at a New York City event on March 22, World Water Day. "Our civilization is water. Life is water. We are water."   The event, which took place at an art gallery and was attended by everyone from United Nations representatives to marine biologists to a professional surfer to a man in a blue Spandex suit calling himself "Waterman," was meant to highlight the need for a permanent educational site that would showcase the historical importance, cultural ramifications and growing threats to a fundamental resource that Americans seem to take for granted.  An opening date for the museum is less than, well, solid right now, as another $500,000 to $1 million will be needed to find a space in Manhattan, hire more than a skeleton staff and see to the basic needs of an institution, Shomrone says.  Fox News_4/5/06

March, 2006

Watchdog to probe US water diversion into Canada's Lake Winnipeg

North American environmental groups, upset over water diverted from the U.S. into Canada, have asked an international watchdog to investigate the matter, the coalition said on Monday. Sierra Legal Defense Fund lawyer Robert Wright said the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation will determine why the dispute between the United States and Canada wasn't resolved through the International Boundary Waters Treaty. The treaty was established in 1909 to resolve water-quality disputes along the U.S. and Canadian borders. Sierra, along with U.S. and Canadian environmental groups, said both countries violated obligations when North Dakota, in a bid to prevent flooding last year, briefly drained water from the Devils Lake in North Dakota into Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. North Dakota is scheduled to reopen the drainage system on May 1 at an increased capacity of 100 cubic feet per second. The water will flow into the Sheyenne River and eventually into Lake Winnipeg. Reuters_ 3/27/06

Snowy March in California boosts water supplies

A wet March led the 29 water and irrigation districts served by the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) to see their allotments for the 2006 water year increase to 80 percent from 70 percent, the CDWR announced on Friday. The 29 contractors who buy water from the CDWR serve more than 23 million in California and about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland. The largest buyer of CDWR's water is the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Its full allotment is 2 million acre-feet. It serves cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach and Anaheim. Reuters_ 3/24/06

Rural Arizona water study a step behind developers

Hydrologists have begun drilling into the desert outside Kingman as part of an in-depth study of whether the region's water resources can support a sprawling new community of more than 160,000 homes. They hope to produce the first results in about two years, or about two years after a Las Vegas developer wants to start building. It's an awkward situation for Arizona's water managers, who would prefer to map out the area's water resources before people start buying homes. But weak rural water laws force the state to work within the developer's plans instead of the other way around. At issue is the critical question of whether there is enough groundwater in the remote Mohave County basins to supply the new subdivisions. Arizona Republic_ 3/22/06 (logon required)

California rainfall totals approaching those from 1983, the wettest year on record
A sodden California is stumbling toward the wettest year on record, with water managers closely watching stressed levees as a seemingly endless string of storms continue to dump water into the state's rivers.  The lower San Joaquin River is a particular concern, said Gary Bardini, chief of hydrology and flood operations for the California Department of Water Resources.
The Consumnes River, the only undammed river on the Sierra's western slope, crested at 13.4 feet Tuesday evening, the first time since 1958 the river has reached flood stage in April.  With a lull in the storms expected statewide Thursday reservoir operators scrambled to make room for the next series of storms, arriving Friday and expected to last well into next week at least.

IBA_4/5/06

s force the state to work within the developer's plans instead of the other way around. At issue is the critical question of whether there is enough groundwater in the remote Mohave County basins to supply the new subdivisions. Arizona Republic_ 3/22/06 (logon required)

Survey: Arizona leaders fail to respond to water crisis
About 63 percent of residents in the Phoenix area of Arizona believe the region has a water crisis and state and local governments are doing too little to promote water conservation, according to a recent poll.

The survey of 401 metro Phoenix residents conducted in February by WestGroup Research also shows that:
   60 percent believe there is insufficient water to sustain growth and development in Maricopa County.

  49 percent believe water supplies in other parts of Arizona are insufficient to support growth.
  66 percent said they would very likely follow state mandated water conservation procedures, with another 23 percent saying they would be somewhat likely.

Valley Forward President Diane Brossart said the survey, released at the organization's monthly board and membership luncheon March 16, was enlightening because of its results. While Arizona governments and experts have helped the state lead the Southwest in managing its water supplies, public perception is just the opposite.  The Business Journal_3/16/06

Opposition to California water-bill fees places plan at risk

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ambitious waterworks plan for the state could cost San Diego County homeowners and businesses about $2 million every month.  But the governor's proposal to impose water-bill surcharges ranging from $3 to $10 a month across the state has met with strong opposition. The resistance jeopardizes an important piece of the governor's 10-year, $35 billion plan for California's water system and flood control.  Over the next 10 years, the fees would raise an estimated $5 billion for local and state projects to keep pace with growth by targeting conservation and improving water quality, Snow said.  SignOnSanDiego.com_3/8/06

Michigan bill gives Detroit suburbs control of water

Suburban customers would have greater oversight over the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department under a Senate-approved bill that is now before the full House. The measure, described by critics as a hostile takeover, is fueled by the growing sentiment among suburban customers that their water and sewer rates are too high and that Detroit does a poor job of managing the system. It serves more than 4 million customers in 126 communities in southeast Michigan, pumping a daily average of 675 million gallons of water. Detroit News_ 3/5/06

Water system at Strong Hospital in Rochester, New York deemed free of legionella after 5 weeks

Most inpatients can now drink the water at Strong Memorial Hospital, after a second round of test results released March 3 show there is no legionella bacteria present. The hospital has been struggling with bottled water mandates and chlorine treatments of its main water system after a patient with advanced cancer contracted Legionnaires' disease, a pneumonia-like illness, Jan. 27. Legionnaires' is contracted by inhaling mist or water from a system that has had legionella bacteria growing in it. Three other patients were subsequently diagnosed with Legionnaires'. One died and the others are recovering. As a precaution, patients in the hospital's organ and bone marrow transplant units will remain on bottled water and receive sponge baths until three months of further testing conclude the bacteria has not returned. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle_ 3/3/06

Hopis' trek to tell world about water

Relay run draws attention to March 16-22 World Water Forum
A group of Hopi runners plans to cover 1,500 miles on a trek from northern Arizona to Mexico City, where they will help open a global conference on water issues.  The 25 runners will run relay-style, with each of the 15 primary runners covering at least 10 miles a day, on a 14-day journey through New Mexico, over the border at El Paso and south to the Mexican capital.  The runners hope to demonstrate the importance of water to Arizona as 5,000 scientists, diplomats, activists and government officials gather in Mexico City for the March 16-22 World Water Forum, said Vernon Masayesva, executive director of the Black Mesa Trust, which is organizing the run. "Our tradition is to carry important messages through running," Masayesva said. "That's what we're doing with this run, carrying a prayer for water to this important meeting."  The Arizona Republic_3/2/06 logon required

February, 2006

Las Vegas eavesdrops on water pipes to uncover leaks

Over the past two years, the Las Vegas Valley Water District has installed 8,000 high-tech listening devices beneath streets across the valley. So far, the $2.1 million remote-listening program is credited with identifying nearly 600 leaks that utility crews might not have known about otherwise. By patching those leaks, the district estimates it has been able to halt the loss of more than 575 million gallons of water, enough to supply about 3,200 households for one year. The listening devices look like a cross between a travel coffee mug and a walkie-talkie and are run by a battery built to last at least five years. They have powerful magnets in their bases so they can be attached to underground pipes. Las Vegas was the first city in the country to apply the technology systemwide. Las Vegas Review-Journal_ 2/26/06

US plans to send Missouri water north worry Canada
U.S. plans to combat droughts by diverting Missouri River water north into Canada are pushing the two countries toward their second clash in a year over water use.  At issue is a North Dakotan plan to divert water from the Missouri River into a system that would take it over the border to Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, the world's 10th largest freshwater lake and home to a commercial fishery. North Dakota says it faces severe drought within 50 years and needs to tap water from the Missouri, which normally flows into the Mississippi River and then on to the Gulf of Mexico. When drought conditions hit, the proposed diversion would take an estimated 120 cubic feet of water per second out of the river, which flows at an average of 20,000 cubic feet per second. The province of Manitoba, still smarting from losing a bruising row with North Dakota over draining low-lying Devil's Lake into a river that feeds into Lake Winnipeg, says the risks of the plan are just too big.   "Our concern would be that brings a risk of harm to Manitoba with the potential movement of harmful, invasive species," Dwight Williamson of Manitoba Water Stewardship told Reuters ina recent interview.  That's one of the arguments the Manitoba government put forward last year when it and the Canadian government resisted the Devil's Lake plan. North Dakota finally got its way after agreeing to add more rocks and gravel to its drain as filters to try to prevent the introduction of foreign species.  Reuters_2/23/06

St. Louis, Sacramento face flood danger: experts

St. Louis and Sacramento, California, may be the next two U.S. flooding disasters waiting to happen, with rivers prone to overflow and insufficient levees protecting developments that never should have been allowed, experts said Saturday at a meeting in St. Louis of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. U.S. officials have not absorbed the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, in which floodwaters breached levees and inundated most of New Orleans, relying on outdated models to forecast risks to low-lying areas and allowing development in places that have been under 10 feet of water as recently as 1993. Jeffrey Mount of the University of California, Davis, predicts a 2-in-3 probability of a catastrophic levee failure over the next 50 years in the 700,000-acre (280,000-hectare) estuary that makes up California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Reuters_ 2/18/06

Washington governor signs water storage bill

Saying "the gridlock is broken," Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday signed into law the Columbia River Basin Water Resource Management Act, which aims to strike a balance between water for fish and water for farmers and other users. "For 30 years, people have been wrangling over the best way to support the water needs of eastern Washington and protect and restore our native salmon runs on the Columbia River," Gregoire said during a news conference. "Now we have a road map towards achieving those goals." The new law will enable the development of new storage and water conservation projects on the Columbia River, and provides a formula for allocating that water. One-third of all newly stored water will be allocated to support stream flows for fish. Two-thirds will be available for new out-of-stream water uses, such as farming, industry and municipal growth. Conservation projects are also encouraged, and $220 million worth of funding will be available under the state's capital budget, still awaiting approval in Olympia.  Yakima Herald Republic_2/17/06

President cuts Alaska's village water, sewer funding, adds grant office
While President Bush’s budget proposes to chop federal funding for Alaska village water and sewer projects by 75 percent next fiscal year, it contains a small footnote that could more firmly cement the effort in the federal bureaucracy.  Steve Johnson, the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, told a congressional committee Wednesday that the president’s budget for the first time has money to run the office that handles federal water and sewer grants.   “There’s a small staff, eight people and a little over $1 million, $1.5 million,” Johnson said.  The request to make the office more permanent is “again, trying to show that we are committed and believe that are real needs in Alaska,” Johnson said.  Kodiak Daily Mirror_2/16/06

Water pipeline from Watsonville to Monterey County coast approved
California water management officials have approved the final design for a $15 million network of pipelines to deliver recycled water from the city of Watsonville to coastal farmers.  The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency board of directors voted 5-1 Wednesday to go forward with plans to start building the pipeline, which will start at the Pajaro River and stretch south along Monterey County's coast.  Construction costs are expected to range between $15 and $18 million, most of which will be paid by a state grant, water management officials said.  The project is designed to benefit nearly 100 coastal farmers whose water quality is being damaged by the intrusion of saltwater from the ocean. The Mercury News_2/16/06

Celebrity governor touts his water storage, levee repair plan

After a whirlwind tour through the World Ag Expo where he was followed by hollering fans and a buzzing mass of journalists, photographers and curious farmers, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to make water a high priority in his long-term strategic plan for the state.  If California is going to prosper, we need a vision – a long-term plan,” Schwarzenegger said.  His Strategic Growth Plan proposes to invest $35 billion in roads, schools, and water storage systems, including levees over the next 10 years.  “Water is front and center” in that plan, he said. “It’s extremely important to us. We have a comprehensive plan to strengthen and secure our water for years to come.”  More than $1 billion would be used to build new water storage capacity to support families, businesses and farms, Schwarzenegger said.  Capital Press_2/15/06

Tools released to help small drinking-water systems

The EPA has released two new tools and a suggested affordability approach for small water utilities trying to balance the demands for quality water with their financial ability to deliver.  The action is part of an overall program to protect public health, support small water systems and keep costs of water manageable.  The targeted systems serve 3,300 customers or fewer.  The first document, "Setting Small Drinking Water System Rates for a Sustainable Future," will help owners and operators understand the full costs of providing a quality and adequate supply of drinking water to their customers and guide them in setting water rates that will support these costs.  The second document, "Case Studies of Sustainable Water and Wastewater Pricing," provides real-world examples of eight drinking-water systems and their approach to determining and establishing rates.  AXcess News_2/15/06

Water shutoffs avoided--for now--in parts of San Diego County

Customers in the Vallecitos Water District conserved enough water over 24 hours Friday to avoid having their water shut off as work on the treatment plant that serves the area continues, district officials said. Bill Rucker, general manager for the district ---- which serves 80,000 people in San Marcos and parts of Carlsbad, Vista and Escondido ---- said water usage dropped from 9 million gallons Thursday to 4.4 million gallons Friday. The water crisis started Sunday when pipelines from the Metropolitan Water District's R.A. Skinner Treatment Plant near Temecula, which serves most of San Diego County, were shut down for expansion and repair work. Officials on Tuesday warned residents that at the rate they were using water, Vallecitos had only enough water to serve customers for five of the nine days that the pipes would be closed. It wasn't until Friday morning that Rucker said the district's pleas were taken seriously. North County Times_ 2/10/06

EPA budget cuts trouble environment groups
Grants to state and local governments for land and water conservation would be cut 40 percent, and money for the Environmental Protection Agency's network of libraries for scientists would be slashed severely under President Bush's proposed budget.  By contrast, Bush next year would spend $322 million for "cooperative conservation" - up from $312 million the Congress approved last year - to encourage more private landowners to protect endangered species, conserve wildlife habitats and do other nature work traditionally done by government. Other proposed increases are $50 million more for cleaner-burning diesel engines and $5 million more for drinking water improvements. Cuts and proposals to sell some of the government's vast land holdings have upset environmentalists. The Mercury News_2/10/06

US Plains towns struggle with dwindling water
The Ogallala aquifer, the vast underground pool that feeds faucets across the US Great Plains, is running low, forcing farmers and towns to find other sources of water and pay dearly for it, too.  "Out here, water is like gold," Mayor Ed Wiltse said as he ran his hands over a chart of the town's faltering wells. "Without it, we perish." The Ogallala aquifer is the world's largest underground water system, irrigating one-third of the nation's corn crops and providing drinking water to Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. It contains enough water to cover the entire United States to a depth of 1 1/2 feet.  But because of heavy usage, some water experts have pronounced it one of the fastest-disappearing aquifers in the world. Forbes_2/10/06

Michigan agrees on limits for water use

Preservation balanced with industrial, farm needs
Michigan's first laws to safeguard its signature resource -- water -- from being sucked out in massive quantities were passed Thursday by state legislators.  The new rules will preserve water for sportsmen, farmers, resort owners and industrialists who depend on it for recreation and profit, said a bipartisan group that hammered out the laws in tense negotiations during the past several weeks.  Farmers, utilities, industry and Nestle Waters' controversial Ice Mountain bottling plant can continue their water withdrawals.  Detroit Free Press_2/10/06

Deal reached on ground and Great Lakes water withdrawals
Michigan policy makers agreed Thursday, Feb. 9, on the final shape of legislation to enact the state’s first ever comprehensive regulation of Great Lakes and underground water withdrawals.  The water legislation package, which could be approved by both the state House and Senate by day’s end, will require major, new water users to obtain permits that require them to protect the resource.  The agreement has been endorsed by business and environmental organizations and by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who began calling for water legislation early in her tenure.  Major users are defined as those using more than 2 million gallons per day, although smaller users also would have to register with the Department of Environmental Quality. Detroit Free Press_2/9/06

S. Calif. residents not conserving enough ; face water shutdown
The district that supplies water for much of San Marcos and parts of Carlsbad, Escondido and Vista says it will run out of water tomorrow night or by Saturday unless residents conserve as they have been asked to do.  Bill Rucker, general manager of the Vallecitos Water District, said that if residents don't cease all outdoor water use immediately – mainly irrigation of lawns – he predicts up to 80,000 people could be affected, without water for even indoor use for five or six days, or until work on pipelines and a filtration plant near Temecula is completed.  “By Saturday, I predict being in a crisis mode where I've got areas with no water,” Rucker said.  Water officials say current shortages in North County are not the result of bad planning but rather unfortunate timing of an 11-day scheduled shutdown of treated water from the Robert A. Skinner Filtration Plant for expansion work, combined with unseasonably warm weather. The shutdown of the treatment plant began Sunday and is scheduled to continue through Wednesday.  San Diego Tribune_2/9/06

Bryson, Texas rushes to build a pipeline before the faucets run dry

Water is so precious in this little town that elementary school students have to wash their hands with pre-moistened wipes instead of turning on the restroom faucets. Folks haven't turned on their lawn sprinklers for three years. The problem: The sole source of water for Bryson's 550 residents is one small well that is pumping a drought-constricted 38 gallons a minute. But help is on the way. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week approved the city's $500,000 grant application to build a six-mile pipeline to another community's water supply, and the project should be completed by June. Now the race is on to finish it before the water runs out. AP/San Diego Union Tribune_ 2/8/06

Chipping at bedrock for 50 years to keep New York City's faucets working

"They call me Vinnie the Mole," said Vinnie Crimeni, 39, an operating engineer in the driver's seat of the machine digging City Tunnel No. 3 far beneath Manhattan's street level, part of a 50-year, $6 billion project to upgrade New York City's water system. Vinnie the Mole is digging the massive second phase of a 60-mile tunnel that began in the Bronx in 1970 and is scheduled for completion in 2020. By then, the tunnel will be able to handle the roughly one billion gallons of water a day used in New York City that originates from rural watersheds to points throughout the city. New York Times _ 2/6/06 (logon required)

California's water use not expected to change in 25 years
In 25 years, California is expected to use about the same amount of water it uses today, even though the state is projected to add another 12 million people, according to a new state study.  The California Water Plan released Tuesday found that farmers, who currently use about 80 percent of the state's "developed water," will use less as new development reduces the amount of irrigated farmland by about 10 percent. Irrigation systems are also expected to become more efficient.  "Urban users are going to need more water, and agriculture is going to need less," said Paul Dabbs, a supervising engineer in the State Department of Water Resources who worked on the study. "You come up with about the same amount of water, but we're using it differently."  San Jose Mercury News_2/1/06

January, 2006

Mississippi's water may be regionalized
Local governments might oppose giving up control of small systems

Mississippi's Department of Environmental Quality expects to get between $500 million and $600 million in federal money to restore water and sewer systems damaged by Katrina and extend services north of the worst damage, where evacuees resettled. The plan, which is still in its infancy, will be one of the first taking the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal recommendations to regionalize what has been the domain of local governments and businesses. "It may be the first step to regionalizing," said Charles Chisolm, DEQ's executive director.   "It certainly relates and comes directly from the vision established by the governor and the Governor's Commission."Chisolm said that the money, which will come from congressionally approved Community Development Block Grants, would be in addition to FEMA money going to rebuild and "storm-proof" existing water systems. The commission's final report recommended that the "state Legislature should create a regional utility authority for the purpose of managing sewer, water, storm water and other utility services across the six coastal counties." The Sun Herald_1/26/06

Republican River talks are a hopeful sign

On Thursday, U.S. Reps. Tom Osborne of Nebraska and Jerry Moran of Kansas will join attorneys general Jon Bruning of Nebraska and Phil Kline of Kansas in Concordia, Kan., to discuss the Republican River Compact. Earlier, Kansas was cool to the idea of new talks, first proposed by Osborne a few months ago. Under a 1998 settlement, Nebraska agreed to make sure more water is available to Kansas under the 1943 agreement. The original compact allocated Nebraska 49 percent of the annual water supply in the Republican River Basin, Kansas 40 percent and Colorado 11. McCook Daily Gazette_1/25/06

California town's water choice could affect fee

The Woodland Public Works Department is promoting using surface water rather than ground water for combined agriculture and city use.  Director Gary Wagener told the Woodland City Council Tuesday the citizens would enjoy a higher quality water supply allowing the city to meet the discharge standards, rather than paying high sewer rates to only dispose the effluent, or the water that flows from a sewer or sewage system. Wagener said surface water would promote a higher quality of drinking water at a relatively lower cost. Daily Democrat_1/25/06

How to improve your home's drinking water quality

Do-it-yourself kits to test the water quality in your home are now available to test chemical levels and sediment. These tests cost less than $15 (www.prolabinc.com) and will give you quick results as to the overall quality of your drinking water. Home water-filtration systems have been around for years and have become even more sophisticated and better at cleaning up the water we drink. For a small investment, you can save hundreds of dollars a year and deliver clean water right in your own home. Today Show/MSNBC_ 1/24/06

Water log service launched by Nebraska Water Users to link those with extra surface water to those in need
The service is available to anyone in the state, noted the NWU board of directors. NWU legal counsel LeRoy
Sievers noted it will be important to keep transfers as close together geographically and in use as possible, as transfers must be approved by irrigation districts and they are much easier if the land is located in the same district.
The further apart the uses are and the more change in type of use, say from ag to an industrial use by an ethanol plant, the harder it will be to get a transfer approved by the state, said Sievers. Once a match is made the water users involved will need to negotiate a lease, setting mutually agreeable annual payments. Sievers agreed that the Water Log should give Nebraskans a better idea of what their water is worth. Lexington Clipper-Herald_ 1/21/06

Board of Arkansas water district throws up hands and quits

Bowing to pressure from water users, 6 of 7 members resigned from the Paron-Owensville Water Authority. Water users were critical of the board's administration. Resignations will not be official, however, until board members submit them in writing. Even so, a petition is being circulated to hold a special meeting sometime in February to elect new board members. Benton Courier_ 1/13/06

But wait. At least one board members says he didn't mean it

And others may have changed their minds. Benton Courier_ 1/19/06

Support grows for single water agency in southern Nevada

An end to turf wars
Support is mounting over the creation of a single regional authority to oversee acquisition of new water supplies for southern Nevada's Truckee Meadows, a state lawmaker leading discussion on the possibility said Thursday.  And officials need look no further than Las Vegas to study a program that has successfully brought new water to an area rocketing with growth, state Sen. Mark Amodei said. The Carson City Republican is leading an interim subcommittee considering possible consolidation of water-related services in Washoe County. The committee, formed after the cost of local water rights spiked dramatically last year, met Thursday in Reno to take testimony on the issue. The example set by the Southern Nevada Water Authority could be used to help end turf wars and competition between water agencies in the Truckee Meadows, Amodei said.  RGJ.com_1/20/06

Source of water is shut off to New Jersey town

Growth, allocation is at issue

Water allocation concerns have led New Jersey-American Water Co. to stop selling water to United Water Toms River and prompted Manchester's water utility to warn United that it probably will have to cut back the amount it's selling to the Toms River company.  "Everyone seems to have some difficulty with allocation," said United spokesman Richard Henning. "This is not just a Toms River issue; it's a statewide issue." Linda L. Gillick, a Dover Township resident who heads the Citizens Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster, said no one should be surprised that water allocation problems persist here.  Asbury Park Press_1/20/06

Great Lakes an arena for Canada-U.S. water issues

International Joint Commission has a busy year ahead

Water is the oil of the 21st century and Canada has lots of it. So much water in fact, that the Water Poverty Index rates Canada as one of the worst nations in the world to practice water conservation. Unfortunately, many of us take water for granted -- but not Herb Gray. "There is nothing more important than water and the air above it," says Mr. Gray. As Chair of the Canadian section of the International Joint Commission (IJC), Mr. Gray is one of six commissioners (three American, three Canadian) tasked with dealing with trans-boundary environmental issues.  The IJC is an independent bi-national organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. Its purpose is to help prevent and resolve disputes relating to the use and quality of boundary waters and to advise Canada and the United States on related questions. Coming up for review this year is the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Study Board's final report will change water levels affecting millions of people.  Other big-ticket issues include resolving the apportionment of water the state of Montana receives from the St. Mary and Milk Rivers. This dispute has been going on since 1921. Embassy-Newspaper Online_1/18/06

Water Issues in Nebraska: 2006 Holdrege Water Conference

Ground water, surface water and irrigation top agenda items
"Whiskey's for drinkin', and water's for fightin' about," author and humorist Mark Twain supposedly said as he appraised the competition for water on the semi-arid Great Plains.  More than a hundred years later, water issues can still kindle heated discussions. The issues may change, but water -- or the lack of it -- remains an enduring topic for discussion.  After 11 years in Elwood, the Water Conference moves to the Phelps County Ag Center in Holdrege on Thursday, Feb. 2, bringing together experts involved in water issues to discuss topics important to area residents.  Nebraska News_ 1/18/06

Algae. Algae. Algae. Algae.

The Akron water situation remains largely unchanged

The city is continuing to make changes in the treatment process at the water plant next to Lake Rockwell near Kent, said Michael McGlinchy, head of Akron's Public Utilities Bureau. Akron officials have been in contact with professors and water experts across the country who are knowledgeable about blue-green algae and a gaseous algae byproduct that has created odor and taste problems in the drinking water since early December. The water remains safe to drink and meets all federal and state requirements, McGlinchy said. Akron typically treats about 38 million gallons of water a day to serve 300,000 customers.  Akron Beacon Journal_1/13/06

Flagstaff, Arizona secures potential water supply

The city has completed the purchase of 8,500 acres of ranchland that will give Flagstaff access to thousands of acre-feet of water. The water from this ranch alone, 10,000 to 20,000 acre-feet per year, would be enough to meet Flagstaff's current demand of 8,000 acre-feet per year. AP/Arizona Republic 1/6/06

Duke Power backs away from water charge plan

Duke Power is backing away from a proposal to charge Charlotte and other governments that take water out of its Catawba River reservoirs.  Under a tentative agreement with Duke, the cities and counties that get their drinking water from the Catawba would pay into a water management fund to help protect the river. The deputy director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities says the money would be controlled by all users of the river and not just Duke.  The money would pay for projects such as conservation education and control of aquatic weeds. Officials hope to bring a formal agreement on the management fund to the Charlotte City Council and other governments for a vote this summer.  Roughly 40 cities and industries pump from the Catawba, which flows from the North Carolina mountains to South Carolina's midlands.  The Dispatch_1/5/06

 

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