News Briefs: Minnesota City Sues Makers of Flushable Wipes

In this week's water and wastewater news, flushable wipes makers face another lawsuit, Silicon Valley mayors push for recycled water, and nitrate problems continue in Minnesota.
News Briefs: Minnesota City Sues Makers of Flushable Wipes

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The City of Wyoming, Minnesota, filed a class-action lawsuit on April 23 against six makers of wet wipes, claiming the flushable wipes cause harm to plumbing and municipal systems.

The complaint states that manufacturers are aware of the harm wipes cause to sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities, and yet the companies “continue to manufacture and promote them as flushable.”

The complaint also states that despite many notifications from state and local sewer authorities throughout the United States, the manufacturers have not removed claims regarding the flushability of the wipes.

The city says it has incurred ongoing expense from removing the flushable wipes at its lift stations. Because the wipes do not degrade after flushing, they wrap around filters or pumps, creating clogs that need to be manually removed.

Other cities have started to take legal action as well.

Earlier this year, New York City introduced a bill that would ban companies from advertising products as flushable. There, the amount of material removed at plants has more than doubled since 2008, up from 50,000 cubic feet per month to 110,000 cubic feet per month. Officials say the increase is almost entirely caused by wipes.

Source: New York Daily News

Silicon Valley Mayors Taste Treated Wastewater

California’s San Jose Mayor Sam Licarrdo and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews say an $800 million water-recycling project could help drought-proof the region’s water supply. They dramatically made that point during a news conference on April 28 by gulping treated wastewater at the district’s Silicon Valley Advanced Purification Center.

The mayors, along with other local politicians, are asking state legislators to fast track the project by exempting it from the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires a detailed study of how the project will affect the environment.

“The critical thing for us at this point is to be able to have the regulatory pathway to make this happen,” Licarrdo says in a KRON report. “We know that this is a technology that’s proven, it’s safe.”

The facility currently produces treated wastewater for non-potable use, supplying about 800 customers with water for irrigation and industrial use. If approved, the 55,000-acre facility could provide at least 10 percent of the county’s drinking water supply by 2025.

Source: KRON4, Mercury News

Nitrate Emergency Shuts Down Public Well

In agriculture-heavy Minnesota, nitrates are becoming a big problem for drinking water supplies. Last month, a municipal well in Randall was shut down when high levels of nitrates were detected. Earlier this year, a nitrate-removal system in Adrian failed, and residents were issued vouchers for free bottled water until the $15,000 repair could be made.

According to a report by the Star Tribune, those events are just a small indicator of a much bigger problem caused by fertilizer leaching into groundwater.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s becoming part of the cost of operation,” says St. Peter Public Works Director Pete Moulton to the Star Tribune.

The Minnesota Department of Health is set to address the problem in its upcoming Drinking Water Protection Annual Report. According to the agency, nitrates affect a significant number of the state's 729 municipal well systems.

Source: Star Tribune, Star Tribune


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