News Briefs: Diabetes Drug Discovered Near Lake Michigan Treatment Plants

In this week's water and wastewater news, a study finds metformin in Lake Michigan, increased expenses could end a biosolids program, and New York City christens sludge boats.
News Briefs: Diabetes Drug Discovered Near Lake Michigan Treatment Plants

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Researchers with the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have found elevated levels of metformin, a diabetes treatment drug, in Lake Michigan. Levels of 40 ppb were detected outside one treatment plant. About two miles away, the levels dropped to 120 parts per trillion.

“It was kind of a surprise,” says UW-Milwaukee professor Rebecca Klaper in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article. "It was not even on our radar screen. I said, ‘What is this drug?’”

The study focused on the effects of metformin and other contaminants on fathead minnows. According to the Journal Sentinel, the research indicates that other prescription drugs, which have escaped the wastewater treatment process, could have a negative environmental impact.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

City Installs $2.3 Million TCP Filtration System

The City of Livingston, Calif., recently completed the installation of a $2.3 million TCP filtration system. The system, which was installed by Conco West, was part of a $9.3 million settlement the city won in a 2011 lawsuit against two chemical companies — Dow Chemical and Shell.

Although California does not regulate TCP, the state recommends levels do not exceed .025 mg/L. Livingston had reached .44 mg/L.

The upgrade is only part of a larger improvement project. The city has also approved plans for filtration systems that will remove arsenic and manganese at three other wells. 

Source: Merced Sun Star 

Wastewater Authority to End Biosolids Program

Economic feasibility could be the death knell for a land application biosolids program at the Pepper’s Ferry Regional Wastewater Treatment Authority in Virginia. Clarke Wallcraft, the Pepper’s Ferry executive director, said that administrative costs along with continual changes to regulations have made the land application program a tough sell.

“We’ve fought this battle a long time,” he says in the Southwest Times, “but it’s getting too expensive to continue to fight. … There are a lot of hoops to jump through and costs associated with [land applications], so the question is, do we continue to go down this road or stop now?”

According to the Southwest Times, new phosphorus restrictions, which require increased farmland, have contributed to the rising costs of the biosolids program.

Source: Southwest Times 

City Christens Sludge Boats for Newtown Creek

Three new sludge boats are in service in New York City. The boats transport sludge from several plants, including Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, to one of the city’s eight dewatering sites.

The new boats, which cost $106 million, were partially funded with a federal stimulus grant. According to the Brooklyn Paper, the new boats are able to load sludge directly from the Newtown plant. Previously, the sludge was sent from the plant via pipeline to a storage tank at the mouth of an inlet where it was picked up by the boats.

The Department of Environmental Protection estimates the boats transport 1.2 billion gallons of sludge each year. Each of the new vessels can carry up to 1 million gallons.

Source: Brooklyn Paper 



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