News Briefs: Mothballed Plant Could Become Wastewater University

In this week's wastewater news, Maine looks at ways to upcycle a treatment plant, NASA launches a groundwater tracking satellite and one state considers local biosolids control.
News Briefs: Mothballed Plant Could Become Wastewater University

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A mothballed water treatment plant, once operated by Maine’s Greater Augusta Utility District, could become the site of a unique hands-on water and wastewater treatment training center. The district has proposed leasing the property to the Maine Rural Water Association, which would use the facility to train and certify new operators.

“It’s challenging for the trustees [of the Greater Augusta Utility District] to think about demolishing a $12 million building,” says Board of Trustees Chairman Ken Knight, in a article. “Because it’s not being used, you can’t just keep maintaining it for nothing. This proposal seemed like a wonderful opportunity to not demolish the plant.”

The Carlton Pond Road plant was shut down in 2004 when demand decreased and the district found cheaper ways to provide water.

If the training center moves forward, Kirsten Hebert, executive director of the Maine Rural Water Association, says it will be a one-of-a-kind facility.

“Being able to sit in class, then get up from your chair, walk out back and do hands-on training on what you were just talking about in class, that type of training is truly unique,” she says. “It is young, in concept, but I truly think the one-of-a-kind opportunity here can be a boon to this state. I see it reaching beyond Maine’s borders. Someday, we could be worried about where dorms are going to go.”


NASA Launches Groundwater Tracking Satellite

On Jan. 31, NASA launched the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite, which will map global water distribution. NASA plans to use data from SMAP to better predict floods, droughts and other natural disasters.

SMAP will use radio waves bounced off of Earth’s surface to measure moisture levels in the planet’s shallowest surface layers.

“SMAP will improve the daily lives of people around the world,” says researcher Simon Yueh in a UPI article. “Soil moisture data from SMAP has the potential to significantly improve the accuracy of short-term weather forecasts and reduce the uncertainty of long-term projections of how climate change will impact Earth’s water cycle.”

The observatory’s instruments will be turned on 11 days after launch.

Source: UPI

Lawmakers Push for Local Biosolids Control

In Pennsylvania, lawmakers hope to reintroduce a bill that would grant local control for biosolids application and regulations. Currently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection controls biosolids permits.

A similar bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Emrick, died in committee in 2014. Ermick plans to reintroduce a resolution authorizing a study of the state’s biosolids program. He cites biosolids critics who are concerned about pathogens and toxic metals in biosolids.

“If an independent study comes back, and they say this stuff is perfectly fine, that should give everyone peace of mind,” Emerick says in a Leigh Valley Live article. “If they come back and say we have serious concerns, then obviously we need to know what those concerns are so we can address them to protect the community.”

Source: Leigh Valley Live


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