News Briefs: Super Bacteria Help Turn Wastewater to Candy Wrappers

In this week's water and wastewater news, superbugs help create bioplastics, Apple plans a massive recycled water project and a legal battle heats up in Des Moines.
News Briefs: Super Bacteria Help Turn Wastewater to Candy Wrappers

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It might sound like a joke waiting for a punch line, but the question of, “how do you turn wastewater into candy wrappers?” has a simple answer: bacteria.

According to a research team at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, a very specific, very hungry type of bacteria is converting industrial wastewater from the country’s largest chocolate plant into bioplastics. Those bioplastics can then be used to create candy wrappers and other practical applications.

“We created an environment which allows a very peculiar group of organisms to thrive,” says biochemist Gerben Stouten at TEDxAmsterdam. “In a matter of hours [the bacteria] develop a belly that is nine times the size that [it] originally is.”

While cleaning the wastewater, the bacteria create a fat that can be used to create plastic items. According to the Prague Post, bioplastics currently account for only 1 percent of plastic production. However, demand is expected to rise as worldwide population increases and resource recovery becomes more paramount.

To watch the entire TEDx talk, click here.

Apple Campus Plans Massive Recycled Water Project
The Santa Clara Valley Water District has approved a $17.5 million project that will supply recycled water to Apple’s new very green and very futuristic campus. According to a report in the Mercury News, the iPhone maker is partially funding the project, which will channel recycled water to the South Bay.

“Apple drove this project,” says Katherine Oven, deputy operating office of the water district in the article. “As we look to the availability of supplies in California, we know we’ve really exhausted in many areas our surface water and also our groundwater. We will certainly be seeing more of these projects.”

The project will include 13,300 feet of recycled water pipeline and a booster pump station. The new pipeline will be able to pump up to 10 mgd, with about 3 percent of the pipeline’s capacity devoted to Apple, which is contributing $4.8 million to the project. The remainder of the project cost will be covered by the City of Sunnyvale, the California Water Service Company, the Department of Water Resources and the water district.

Source: Mercury News

Players Pick Sides in Des Moines’ Nitrate Lawsuit
The Iowa Drainage District Association is asking about 40 counties and 20 corporations to join a legal battle against the Des Moines Water Works. The utility is suing several drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties, claiming that a system of underground tiles is increasing nitrate runoff levels in the Raccoon River, which is a source for drinking water.

According to an article in The Des Moines Register, the utility struggles to meet federal nitrate levels and says the drainage districts — and indirectly farmers — should be responsible for meeting clean-water standards.

The Sierra Club in Iowa has sided with the utility.

“We believe the Des Moines Water Works has legitimate concerns about the operations of the drainage districts named in the lawsuit,” says Katy Heggan, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Environmental Council. “We share Des Moines Water Works’ concern about the lack of urgency and measurable progress to reduce the nitrate pollution.”

Source: Des Moines Register


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