News Briefs: President Obama Signs Drinking Water Protection Act

In this week's water and wastewater news, a new law targets algal toxins, a Michigan State study blames septic systems for fecal baceria contamination and a water reuse project kicks off in Georgia.
News Briefs: President Obama Signs Drinking Water Protection Act

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On Aug. 7, President Barack Obama signed the Drinking Water Protection Act, which directs the EPA to develop a risk management plan for cyanotoxins in public water systems.

The bill was authored by Ohio Congressman Bob Latta in response to the 2014 Toledo water crisis, which left nearly 500,000 people without water for several days.

The EPA is now required, among other things, to evaluate the risks of cyanotoxins in drinking water and provide treatment recommendations to public water systems. The EPA must provide Congress with a strategic Algal Toxin Risk Assessment and Management Plan within 90 days.

Cyanotoxins are created by blue-green algae. When conditions are favorable, algae can reproduce quickly to create blooms. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a severe bloom season for Lake Erie.

Latta called the bill a “major step” in protecting Lake Erie as a source of drinking water.

“This legislation — developed through input from the states, as well as academic and scientific communities — will help ensure the protection of public health and safety, and the preservation of one of our greatest national gifts, Lake Erie,” he said in a article.

Source: Toledo News Now

Study Says Septic Tanks Contaminate Watersheds

According to a new water-quality study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, septic tanks are contributing to fecal bacteria contamination in freshwater.

“All along, we have presumed that onsite wastewater disposal systems, such as septic tanks, were working,” says Joan Rose, Michigan State University water research chair. “But in this study, sample after sample, bacterial concentrations were highest where there were higher numbers of septic systems in the watershed area.”

The MSU researchers used source-tracking markers in 64 Michigan river systems. It is the largest watershed study of its kind.

“The study has important implications on the understanding of relationships between land use, water quality and human health as we go forward,” Rose says. “Better methods will improve management decisions for locating, constructing and maintaining onsite wastewater treatment systems. It’s financially imperative that we get it right.”

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Gwinnett to Participate in Direct Water Reuse Project

Gwinnett County (Georgia) commissioners have approved a pilot project — funded in part by the WateReuse Research Foundation — that will help determine the feasibility of using ozone/biological treatment processes in a direct water reuse project. Gwinnett currently returns 33 mgd of highly treated wastewater to Lake Lanier where it is then treated at the F. Wayne Hill Water Treatment Plant in Buford.

“This project will allow water utilities to evaluate water-supply options to decrease their dependence on lake or river withdrawals,” says Denise Funk of the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources in a Gwinnett Daily Post story.

The research project will include representatives from Georgia Tech, Tennessee Tech, Hazen and Sawer, Eurofins Eaton Analytical and CDM Smith.


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