News Briefs: Gas Blast Destroys Digester Cover, Sends Smoke Billowing

In this week's news, a digester cover bursts into flames, a utility helps residents prepare for emergency and emergency grants aid drought-distressed systems.
News Briefs: Gas Blast Destroys Digester Cover, Sends Smoke Billowing

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An explosion at a problematic biodigester near Waunakee, Wis., destroyed a $250,000 nylon inflatable cover early Wednesday morning. The digester, owned and operated by Clear Horizons LLC, generates biogas from cow manure. The facility includes three 1.25-million-gallon digesters.

The explosion sent a plume of smoke into the air, which could be seen for miles. No one was hurt in the incident.

“A manure digester on the property had been emptied two days prior, and when workers started an exhaust fan, they heard a loud noise followed by the cover at the top of the digester bursting into flames,” says Elise Schaffer, spokeswoman for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in a Wisconsin State Journal article.

The facility has had trouble in the past. Twice this past year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources met with Clear Horizons over three separate manure spills that totaled 400,000 gallons. The company has also failed to meet phosphorus reduction requirements, removing just 44 percent in 2013 when the state permit requires 60 percent.

“Definitely things like this have come up too often,” says David Mosher, DNR wastewater specialist, in the article.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal 

ISO Publishes Water Footprint Standard

Curious about your organization’s water footprint? The ISO has released requirements and standards for measuring water use and pollution impact. ISO 14046 includes guidance for assessing the magnitude of potential environmental impacts, ways to reduce those impacts, and methods for optimizing water management. The standards also provide scientifically consistent information on how to report water footprint results and track results over time.

The standards are relevant for all types of organizations, including industry and government entities.

For more information, see ISO 14046.

Utility Offers Discounted Water Jugs for Emergencies

In an effort to educate and assist customers with emergency preparedness, the Eugene (Ore.) Water & Electric Board is providing discounted 3-gallon water containers that can be included in disaster kits. The BPA-free containers are available to EWEB customers for $5, which can be charged to water bills. Customers are limited to four bottles, and proceeds will go to the Red Cross.

“You can live without electricity, but you can’t live without water for very long,” says EWEB public affairs manager Lance Robertson in a Register-Guard article.

EWEB serves 157,100 customers, and is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest without a secondary source of drinking water. In case of emergency, the utility plans to deploy emergency water distribution trailers. By 2018, EWEB hopes to own seven trailers that can be connected to a reliable water supply such as a hydrant or building hose bib. Customers can then bring their water containers to a trailer to fill up on drinkable water.

Source: Register Guard 

Drought-Distressed Water Systems Receive Grants

In Tulare County, Calif., much-needed disaster relief is on the way thanks to drought-emergency funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The county has secured 11 grants, netting $4.1 million, which will help offset the high cost of securing water.

“We’ve seen [shallow] wells go dry. We’ve had wells pumping air,” says Jim Wegley, a civil engineer who helped secure the funding. “I think the problem has become severe in Tulare County. There’s zero allocation for surface water this year.”

Three of the grants will go to small water systems that need to offset the cost of reallocated water, which came at a premium price. The remaining grants will be used to help local systems that rely on wells.

At the Poplar Community Services District, the money will be used to lower the pumps in a pair of wells to ensure a steady source of water.

The California Department of Public Health’s Drinking Water Division also has grants available for water systems experiencing hardship.

Source: Recorder Online 



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