News Briefs: Water Workers Sue Over Age Discrimination

In this week's water and wastewater news, water workers sue over lost jobs, Detroit resumes water shutoffs and Iowa waters get a failing grade.
News Briefs: Water Workers Sue Over Age Discrimination

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Sixteen former employees of the Las Vegas Valley Water District have filed a civil lawsuit against the utility, claiming they were forced off the job to cover up mistakes. The former employees have also accused the utility of age discrimination and breech of contract.

According to a Review Journal article, the 16 employees were among 101 workers laid off in 2014 by the water district and its umbrella agency, the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The employees, who were nearing retirement, say age played a role in their dismissal, claiming the utility wanted to replace them with less-experienced and lower-paid employees.

The lawsuit also claims the 16 employees were potential “whistleblowers,” who knew about accounting mistakes and poor decisions made within the utility, including a switch to automated meters that resulted in billing errors.

Source: Review Journal

Detroit Water Shutoffs To Resume

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will soon resume water shutoffs for customers with delinquent accounts. The utility sent out about 2,900 door tags for shutoffs scheduled to begin on May 26. Customers receive a notice when an account is greater than $150 or more than 60 days late.

According to a Detroit News article, the City says it will not interrupt water for those customers who enter a payment plan. Currently, more than 32,000 customers participate in payment plans. The utility says it has 20,000 to 25,000 delinquent residential accounts.

Detroit has come under fire in the past year from many groups, including the United Nations, because of the water shutoffs. In an effort to aid low-income residents, the City reworked the Detroit Water Fund, which now covers up to 50 percent of an eligible customer’s outstanding balance.

Source: Detroit News

Iowa’s Nutrient Pollution Getting Worse

A new report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources reveals a tale of nutrient pollution in the state’s water bodies. According to the report, 726 bodies of water in the state are impaired, which is up from 630 in 2012.

Officials say the problem comes down to bacteria in the water, largely caused by agricultural runoff from large cattle or hog operations.

“What we’re seeing here is one out of every two water bodies that we’ve assessed is determined to be impaired,” says Susan Heathcote from the Iowa Environmental Council in a KCCI report. “The No. 1 cause of impairments in our rivers is high bacteria levels that are not safe for human contact.”

In a statement to KCCI, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said it’s up to all Iowans to work in partnership on a statewide nutrient reduction strategy.

Source: KCCI

City Seeks Lake Michigan Water Withdrawals

The City of Waukesha, Wisconsin, is hoping to tap into Lake Michigan for its water supply. According to Water Utility Manager Daniel Duchniak, the city’s aquifers are rapidly declining, and a new water source is necessary.

“Our aquifers are declining,” he says. “They’re becoming contaminated with different contaminates such as radium.”

The City petitioned the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources five years ago. To tap into Lake Michigan, Waukesha will need approval from all eight Great Lakes governors. Until then, the city is pushing water conservation by offering incentives to local businesses.

Source: ABC WISN


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