News Briefs: #Hellastorm Dumps 1.5 Billion Gallons Into Reservoirs

In this week's news, rainstorms ease the West Coast drought, Maine announces changes to its operator exam and Canadian celebrities support a wastewater campaign.
News Briefs: #Hellastorm Dumps 1.5 Billion Gallons Into Reservoirs

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San Francisco and other parts of the parched West Coast couldn’t help but cheer during what’s become known on social media as #hellastorm, #stormageddon and #rainpocalypse.

Rainstorms battered the coast late last week, and although the region dealt with power outages and flooding, utilities acknowledged the rain was a relief for struggling water systems.

“You’re cheering at the water you’re seeing, saying, ‘We’re getting a lot of rainfall, we’re getting a lot of rainfall! Great for the water system,’” says San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tyrone Jue in a KTVU story.

Last week’s storms dumped 1.5 billion gallons of water into San Francisco County reservoirs. Jue said the Crystal Springs Reservoir is now nearly full.

“We were at roughly 56 to 57 percent of total system storage capacity,” he said to KTVU. “Normally, we would be at 80 percent in a normal year. This last storm put us at 100 percent of normal.” reports that Los Angeles captured 1.16 billion gallons of water during the Dec. 3 storm and another 1.8 billion gallons during the Dec. 12 storm.

As of Dec. 9, 80 percent of California was either in extreme or exceptional drought. Although the recent rains have been helpful, the wet weather isn’t enough to break the drought. Los Angeles, for instance, still lags nearly 22 inches below its average annual rainfall.

Source: KTVU,

Ontario Celebrities Promote I Don’t Flush Campaign

A public awareness campaign — aimed at keeping unused/unwanted medications out of the wastewater system — is getting a little help from some notable Ontarians. The I Don’t Flush campaign was launched by the Ontario Clean Water Agency and the Clean Water Foundation in conjunction with The Regional Municipality of York Region, the Region of Peel and the Health Product Stewardship Association.

Local celebrities supporting the effort include ET Canada’s Rick Campanelli, TVO’s The Water Brothers, TSN’s Cabbie Richards and Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion.

“We were delighted to have so many talented and committed Ontarians sign on as supporters for I Don’t Flush,” says CWF President Christopher Hilkene. “Canadians spend more than $2.5 billion every year treating drinking water and wastewater, and we spend hundreds of millions more dealing with environmental and health problems related to water pollution.


Maine Moves to Computerized Wastewater Operator Exams

Beginning in March 2015, wastewater certification in Maine will change from traditional pencil and paper to a computerized test.

"During my interactions with wastewater operators I have repeatedly heard requests for modernization of the testing and certification process," says Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho. "Specifically, I have received suggestions related to increasing the frequency of testing, reducing the lag time to receive exam results and moving to electronic testing."

Current paper testing is only offered twice per year. The computerized process will allow for a more convenient schedule and quicker turnaround on results. The paper exam will continue to be offered at the Presque Isle testing site.

Computer-based testing has been successfully used by Maine's Drinking Water Certification Program since 2012, as well as by other New England wastewater operator certification programs.



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