News Briefs: Texas Town Creates Emergency Water Reuse Plan

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Although water usage in Wichita Falls, Texas, is down by about half compared to last year, conservation efforts are not enough to maintain the city’s drinking water supply. The area is in the midst of a three-year drought, and is 34 inches behind on rainfall for that period.

“The citizens of Wichita Falls are doing a superior job of conservation — without that we’d be running through 23 million gallons a day and now, on good days, we’re using half of that,” says Kerry Moroney, consulting engineer for the city. “But we can’t conserve our way out of this.”

To combat the situation, the city created an emergency water reuse solution, running 12 miles of HDPE pipe to transport treated wastewater to the Cypress Water Treatment Plant where it undergoes extensive filtration, reverse osmosis, clarification and then is mixed with surface water and treated again.

If approved by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, a permanent reuse project will be completed in the next four to five years, and the pipeline will be reused. Wichita Falls would become the second water reuse project in the state.

“The point is, we’re trying to keep people with a viable supply of drinking water,” says Russell Schreiber, the city’s water utilities director.

Source: NBCDFW, ISCO press release 

$5 Million MIEX System First in State
A nine-year, $5.3 million water treatment plant and water main system project in Saxon, Alaska, is now complete. Planning for the system began when the Environmental Protection Agency flagged high levels of haloacetic acids and other disinfection byproducts in the drinking water. The system is the first in the state to use magnetic ion exchange coupled with chlorine as a secondary disinfection measure. With the MIEX system in place, the city will reduce its chlorine needs from 20 barrels per year to five.

The new system can hold 800,000 gallons of treated water and produce up to 200 gallons per minute under emergency situations. Water plant operator Richard Shields says the city — population 430 — might sell water to neighboring communities now that the new plant is online.

Source: SF Gate 

Trickle Orders End, Utilities Calculate Costs
As spring slowly seeps into the Midwest, utilities are removing water trickle orders, which have prevented pipes from freezing across the region. Now that frigid weather is receding, towns and municipalities are tallying the costs and deciding who will pay for increased water use, employee overtime, frozen pipes and more.

In La Crosse, Wis., 220 property owners were required to run water, while other residents were encouraged to monitor pipes and regularly turn on their faucets. That number is a substantial increase from previous years, when only about 20 properties were affected by cold weather. The city says residents used an extra 1 mgd of water this winter. Only those residents who were required to run water will be reimbursed for the extra water use.

“It’s been way too long a winter,” says Lee Anderson, superintendent of La Crosse Water Utility. “This is the worst year La Crosse has ever seen.”

In Trempealeau, Wis., residents used about 4.5 million more gallons of water this winter than last year because of trickle orders and concern over freezing pipes. There, too, only those residents who were required to run water will be reimbursed.

Source:La Crosse Tribune 

Home Water Reports Decrease Water Use
Can pretty graphics decrease water use? In California and several other states, where water districts are using WaterSmart software, the answer is “yes.” In Palo Alto, Calif., about 75 percent of city residents receive quarterly reports from WaterSmart, which takes meter data and transforms it into easy-to-understand home water reports. The reports are either mailed directly to customers or made accessible via the Web.

At the East Bay Municipal Utility District, 10,000 water customers were enrolled in a one-year pilot program. The utility saw a 5 percent reduction in water use, and it has now rolled out the software to 100,000 customers.

“We know that people regularly underestimate how much water they use,” says Andrea Pook of East Bay Municipal Utility TexDistrict. “The water bill is a hugely effective way for people to understand their use. The home reports allow us to really target information.

Creative solutions are needed in California, where water districts have been tasked with reducing per capita water use 20 percent by 2020.

Source: Mercury News



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