News Briefs: Legal Battle — Who Owns Treated Wastewater?

News Briefs: Legal Battle — Who Owns Treated Wastewater?

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The San Antonio Water System and Texas state regulators are debating ownership rights to treated wastewater once it’s released into a public waterway. Earlier this year, SAWS sought ownership of the water, applying for a “bed and banks” permit. In Texas, water law states all surface water is owned by the state, so the city cedes ownership once effluent is released into the river.

Recently, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality responded to the request, denying San Antonio permission to retain rights.

According to a letter from the agency: “the legislature has recognized that it has not authorized granting water rights exclusively for instream flows dedicated to environmental needs or inflows to the state’s bay and estuary systems.” 

According to an article in the Texas Tribune, SAWS wanted to divert the water to San Antonio Bay to protect habitat. But in a drought-sensitive state, water ownership is becoming a more complex issue. Water authorities downstream from San Antonio, which hold water rights that depend on the treated wastewater, stated such a permit would present a major challenge.

Source: Texas Tribune, KDH News 

NOAA Releases Lake Erie Algae Bloom Forecast

The summer blue-green algae season has started in Lake Erie, and forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting an above-average bloom. The NOAA algae prediction model ranks the blooms on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe. This year, the bloom is ranked at a 5 or 6, which is nowhere near the record-setting 2011 season that scored a 10.

To create the forecasts, the NOAA calibrates 12 years of bloom observations from satellite imagery.

Algae blooms were particularly aggressive from the 1960s to 1980s. In 1988, a ban on phosphorus in laundry soap halted growth. However, phosphorus from fertilizer, stormwater runoff and wastewater treatment plants continues to affect the relatively shallow lake, creating oxygen-depleted dead zones.

The full report is available from the NOAA.

Source: The Weather Channel 

Cherokee Nation Contributes to Water Treatment Plant Costs

In a unique partnership, the City of Locust Grove, Okla., will receive funds from the Cherokee Nation to improve the town’s water treatment plant. The tribe will contribute $877,800 toward the upgrade, which includes new equipment and a substantial expansion.

“The town’s sanitation system was in desperate need of an upgrade, and we’re pleased beyond measure that the Cherokee Nation could help,” says Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker, in an Indian Country Today article. “Building and retaining partnerships with our local communities is so important.”

In 2013, the tribe used more than $250,000 in tribal funds to help complete 10 water and sewer projects.

Source: Indian Country Today 

Clarity Issues Hamper Reclaimed Water Program

Reclaimed water has been a source of trouble for the Wildcat Hill Wastewater Treatment Plant in Flagstaff, Ariz.. In mid-June, treated effluent became cloudy and was later found to exceed maximum levels of E. Coli. The city took the plant out of its reclaimed wastewater program because the water did not meet Arizona Department of Environmental Quality clarity requirements.

The plant cleaned equipment, which solved the E. Coli problem. However, Utilities Director Brad Hill stated the clarity issue was caused by excess “filamentous bacteria solids” in the sewer system from SCA Tissue, a company that produces hygiene products.

“The City and SCA have been working closely together over the past few weeks to ensure they have sufficient filtering capacity on-site to help stop their discharge of excess solids until they get their treatment process under control,” says Hill in an Arizona Sun Daily article.

During the summer, the reclaimed water is used throughout the city on golf courses, parks and ball fields. In the winter, it’s used to make snow at a local ski hill.

Source: Arizona Daily Sun 

Watch Your Outdoor Water Use, Vermonters!

In Vermont, elected officials are asking residents to take a pledge to reduce outdoor water use this summer as part of the Make Water Work campaign. The effort is headed by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, which is hoping to decrease water use across the region by offering simple tips.

“Some residents use less water, especially if they’re on a meter, but we still are using more than what is sustainable,” says Doug Findlater, OBWB chairperson in a Vernon Morning Star article.

According to the article, Okanagan residents use a yearly average of 675 liters of water per day compared to only 328 liters per day by their Canadian neighbors.

Those who take the water pledge will be entered to win $5,000 in WaterWise yard upgrades.

Source: Vernon Morning Star


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