News Briefs: Nebraska Town Claims 'Best-Tasting Rural Water' Title

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Curtis, Neb., known by locals for its annual Easter pageant, now holds a national title: the best-tasting rural water. The small town beat out 36 other municipalities on Feb. 12 in the 15th annual Great American Water Taste Test sponsored by the National Rural Water Association. “There’s no treatment whatsoever,” says Mike Stanzel of the Nebraska Rural Water Association. “It’s right out of the ground, right into the tower and right into the sink.” The silver medal went to Stansbury Park, Utah, and the bronze went to Fulton, Mo.

Source: Seattle Times

Divers Keep San Francisco Reservoirs Clean
About once a year, a handful of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission employees don diving suits, ankle weights and diving helmets to inspect and clean 10 reservoirs in the city’s limits. “When my construction supervisor asked if I was interested in diving, I thought he meant on vacation,” says diver Mike Broussard.

The pristine unfiltered Hetch Hetchy water is treated with chlorine and ultraviolet disinfection. After inspecting the reservoirs, the divers spend up to 2 ½ months vacuuming the eighth-inch of sediment that naturally settles to the bottom. Unlike other cities, which filter the sediment out, the commission said it’s less expensive to have divers clean it manually, and the process keeps the reservoir in service. In the 1930s, crews would drain the entire reservoir and clean it with fire hoses and squeegees, which wasted millions of gallons of water.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Texas Water Plant Recovers From Hurricane Dolly
Recovery continues in Donna, Texas, where a water treatment plant was severely damaged during Hurricane Dolly nearly six years ago. City leaders are moving forward with plans to repair the plant, which currently shows deteriorating water pumps, damaged controls to pump motors, damaged chemical feed controllers, an air compressor that is no longer operable and valves that are frozen in place across the plant. “The water plant is up and running,” says City Manager Oscar Ramirez. “What it translates to is running it more manually.”  City officials hope to receive some of the $1.2 million needed for the repairs from FEMA.

Source: The Monitor 

Minnesota Water Bills Increase, Residents Blame Farms
Customers in Park Rapids, Minn., will soon see their water bills increase by 25 percent to help pay for a water treatment plant. Angry residents blame local farmers for nitrate contamination in local aquifers. The $2.5 million treatment plant will come on line in March, and will address nitrate levels, which are two to three times higher than safe levels according to the state’s Department of Agriculture. “It’s the farmers that are putting this stuff in the ground,” says homeowner Dick Rutherford. “I don’t feel we should be paying for the whole thing, I don’t think we should be paying for any of it.”

Source: Crookston Times

Water District Finances Solar Thermal Desalination Project
In water-hungry California, a pilot project developed by San Francisco start-up WaterFX uses solar thermal desalinization to remove impurities from subsurface drainage water at half the cost of traditional desalinization. The Panoche Water District has financed the $1 million plant, and if proven commercially viable, the technology could offer relief to the West’s long-running water wars. During the pilot project, WaterFX produced 14,000 gallons of purified water per day. A commercial version of the plant, set to be built this year, will produce 2,200 acre-feet a year. “For specialized applications like agriculture, I can see there being some value to solar thermal desalinization,” says Brent Giles, a senior analyst at Lux Research.

Source: New York Times


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