News Briefs: Success! Maine Program Reduces Baby Wipes in Pump Stations

News Briefs: Success! Maine Program Reduces Baby Wipes in Pump Stations

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Fewer baby wipes are ending up in the Portland Water District Cottage Place pump station in Westbrook, Maine, thanks to a pilot program between the Maine Water Environment Association, Portland Water District and INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. The public awareness campaign, “Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes,” recently received the U.S. EPA’s Region 1 Environmental Merit Award, and was one of four projects honored with an Environmental Excellence Award form Maine Governor Paul LePage. Preliminary data from the program shows the amount of baby wipes in the wastewater system has decreased.

The campaign included television and print ads, social media and supermarket signage, all focused on educating consumers about the proper disposal of baby wipes. Studies were conducted at the pump station before and after the campaign to determine campaign effectiveness. The team also used pre- and post-campaign market research to evaluate the program.

“Treatment operators have told the Maine DEP that with the sales of wipes and new products growing exponentially, consumers can be confused by which ones can be flushed or not, leading to clogs,” says DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “Our wastewater treatment operators who are truly on the front lines of environmental protection are facing more and more of these challenges every day.”

Hopefully, that’s a message that will soon spread to other states.

“This campaign appears to have been successful, but this message is one that needs to reach consumers around the country,” says Aubrey Strause, president of the Maine Water Environment Association. “Consumers need to be consistently reminded that baby wipes are never flushable, so our next step is sharing the campaign materials with everyone else fighting this problem.”

Lawsuit Filed Over Biosolids Application Plan

In Burnside Township, Pa., officials are fighting for local control over a proposed biosolids application site. The township filed a lawsuit against WeCare Organics, Jordan, N.Y., and is also seeking an emergency injunction to stop land application while the case is decided.

The lawsuit claims the application site, — former mining land about a mile from Pine Glen’s main water source — is too close to drinking water supplies and that contamination is “reasonably likely, if not virtually guaranteed, if WeCare applies sludge,” according to an article on Centre Daily Times.

In March, township supervisors appealed a state Department of Environmental Protection decision that permitted the land application. As part of the lawsuit, the township hopes to gain greater monitoring of the biosolids process, requiring those who apply biosolids to register with the township. Burnside officials would also have the right to test soil and each truckload of biosolids.

Source: Centre Dailly Times

Water Reuse Receives Legislative Thumbs-Up

A water reuse bill is on its way to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s desk. The state legislature passed a bill on May 2 that will require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to report on the expansion and beneficiary use of reclaimed water, stormwater and excess surface water. If approved, the DEP will have until Dec. 1, 2015 to complete the report.

According to the bill, the DEP must identify issues that complicate or prohibit water reuse and address environmental, engineering, public health, public perception and fiscal restraints. The DEP will also need to recommend incentives for those agencies switching to reclaimed water.

Source: Desalination & Water Reuse 

Wastewater Plant Assists Drought-Strained Vineyards

After a few hiccups and months of a delay, a plan to irrigate vineyards near Healdsburg, Calif., with treated wastewater has been approved by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. The reclaimed water will be used for drip irrigation but not frost control, and water quality officials are requiring monitoring to prevent runoff and groundwater infiltration.

This year, the water will be free, and city officials estimate 10 to 15 truckloads will be hauled from the city wastewater plant daily.

“Our water is good, and ready to go,” says Gary Plass, city councilman to the Press Democrat. “We can potentially be lifesavers to our grape and agricultural industry.”

Source: Press Democrat



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