News Briefs: 700,000 Winnipeggers Warned To Boil Water

In this week's water and wastewater, a boil alert is issued in Winnipeg, microbeads come under scrutiny in Wisconsin, and a Texas utility devises a water savings plan.
News Briefs: 700,000 Winnipeggers Warned To Boil Water

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A city-wide boil alert was on Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after tests confirmed the presence of E. coli in the city’s water supply. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority stated the alert was precautionary.

“There has been no source of contamination identified to date,” read the press release. “However, public health is proceeding according to provincial and national guidelines. These guidelines specify to issue the advisory as a precautionary measure while investigating the possible causes.”

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, officials indicated the problem could test related.

“The expectation for us is there is a problem with the sampling, and the samples will come back as clear and OK,” says Geoffrey Patton, Winnipeg’s water and waste department manager of engineering services, in a CTV News article.

According to a CBC News report, six suspect water samples were identified, five of which came from east of the Red River and one from southwest Winnipeg.

E.coli is an ‘indicator’ of water contamination that we measure,” said the press release. “And there are many other types of bacteria in water that could cause illness. However, a high amount of chlorine has been found in the same water samples measured yesterday, which is reassuring because this would suggest that any bacteria or virus present in the water would likely be killed.”

Source: CBC News, CTV News

Emerging Contaminants: Wisconsin Considers Microbead Ban

Microbeads, those tiny plastic beads in personal care products such as toothpaste and facial cleaners, are coming under increasing scrutiny as research continues to indicate the contaminants are reaching public waterways. Wisconsin will soon join the list of states banning the beads as Republican and Democrat lawmakers introduce separate bills targeting the elimination of the plastics. The legislation is modeled after an Illinois bill that prohibits the manufacture of personal care products with microbeads after Dec. 31, 2017. Products couldn’t be sold after Dec. 31, 2018.

Bill Graffin, a spokesman for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Commission says it’s unclear whether treatment plants are able to remove the microbeads.

“We don’t for sure,” he says in the Journal-Sentinel. “There is very little research on it.”

Studies indicate Lake Erie has the highest concentrations of microbeads, but even samples taken along Lake Superior along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula contained the plastics at a density of up to 12,645 particles per square kilometer. The average density for all three lakes was 43,157 particles per square kilometer.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Stormwater Drainage System Could Save Oodles of Water

El Paso Water Utilities is hoping a three-pronged improvement project will save the district millions of gallons of water, all while improving wildlife habitats. The El Paso Service Board recently approved the $2.75 million purchase of the 9-mile Playa Drain, which will become part of the city’s stormwater drainage system. The El Paso County Water Improvement District is also expected to approve a pipeline that will furnish water to the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park.

The third part of the plan involves turning the city’s unused Socorro wastewater treatment plant site into a 10-foot-deep, 400-acre lake that will hold captured stormwater and water leaving Rio Bosque.

“I would use the word 'fantastic' on this,” says John Balliew, president and CEO of El Paso Water Utilities in an El Paso Inc. article.  “If you were to look statewide for a plant that saves 20,000 acre-feet of water between stormwater and treated water, you won’t find it.”

The utility would like to have the project complete by 2017. The district has already spent $4 million and estimates it will need an additional $22 million.

Source: El Paso Inc.


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