News Briefs: 'Salty Roads, Salty Water' Say Water Utilities

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After a punishing winter, full of snowstorms, ice storms and every mix of precipitation Mother Nature could conjure up, many freeways and highways are coated in a thick layer of salt. The New Jersey Department of Transportation has used more than 460,000 tons of salt this year, an 80 percent increase from Winter 2012-13. As spring comes, and runoff season begins, water utilities are on the lookout for increased sodium chloride levels.

United Water New Jersey hasn’t yet seen a significant increase in either sodium or chloride, but the facility took a precautionary measure by notifying about 50 nearby medical facilities that an increase is expected.

“This can be a serious health issue for those folks,” says Bill Sheehan, the Hackensack Riverkeeper. “And it’s not good for the environment, either.”

Although the federal government doesn’t set sodium limits for drinking water, the state Environmental Protection recommends an upper limit of 50 ppm.

Source: Courier Post Online

Cold Temps Equal Long Hours and High Overtime Costs
Add subzero temperatures to 16-hour days, and you’ll get a lot of exhausted utility employees. In Evansville, Ind., utility workers have logged double shifts and worked in cold temperatures below ground all winter, searching for cracks or breaks in cast iron water pipes. “I can’t remember any season this bad,” says Dave Lichlyter, of the Evansville Water & Sewer Utility. “Exhaustion was a big factor this year, being out in the weather and the long hours.” As of Feb. 19, the city utility had run up $430,000 in bills for employee overtime, contractors and supplies related to winter repairs.

Nearby Henderson Water Utility reported the same scenario, where workers logged 200 hours of overtime during only one January weekend, which equates to a $50,000 expense for the city.

Source: SeattlePI

Business Sees Opportunity in Record Drought
In California, which is experiencing its worst drought in decades, a private company is exploring opportunities to sell water to suburbs and subdivisions in the Los Angeles Basin. According to Scott Slater, of Cadiz Inc., water could come from an aquifer beneath the Mojave Desert. His company has teamed with a public water agency in southern Orange County to propose pumping 16.3 million gallons per year from the aquifer toward the coast. The proposal has received criticism from several groups. “How can a private company come out here and drain an entire basin of its groundwater for L.A.?” asks Ruth Musser-Lopez, an archaeologist in Needles, Calif. Slater argues that as the state continues to struggle with water supply, projects like this are necessary.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Chlorine Leak Injures One at Water Plant
A chlorine leak at the Green Bay (Wis.) Water Utility sent one employee to the hospital late last week. Workers were changing a 100-pound chlorine cylinder, which was 15 percent full, when they discovered a leak in the piping of the cylinder. The building was evacuated, and authorities called. Hazmat responders capped off the cylinder, ventilated the water treatment facility and monitored air quality to ensure the gas had dissipated to safe levels.

Source: Green Bay Press-GazetteWBAY


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