News Briefs: Worker Rescued After 24-Foot Fall

In this week's water and wastewater news, a contract worker is rescued after a scary fall, a public works director resigns amidst controversy, and the EPA awards a water-quality research grant
News Briefs: Worker Rescued After 24-Foot Fall

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A contract worker at the Piscataway Wastewater Treatment Plant near Accokeek, Maryland, was rescued Nov. 17 after falling 24 feet from scaffolding into a pit. According to a WTOP report, the worker was unconscious when rescuers arrived. He was lifted out with a ladder truck and a system of ropes and pulleys and transported to a trauma center.

A spokesperson from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission later said the worker was doing fine and suffered from “just bruises.”

Source: WTOP

Flint Director Resigns Amidst Lead Contamination Controversy
The director of public works in Flint, Michigan, resigned this week amidst a drinking-water controversy that has resulted in legal action from several groups. Howard Croft, who has held the position since late 2011, had headed the city’s water treatment and distribution.

The city began drawing its water from the Flint River in spring 2014 as a cost-saving measure. According to a Detroit News article, a failure to treat the water with proper corrosion controls coupled with aging lead-connections lines created widespread lead contamination. The city previously received water from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department.

Two lawsuits have been filed in the matter.

“The action is about holding the government accountable for failing to protect the public health of an entire community,” says Anjali Walkar, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Source: Detroit News

The Link Between Beer, Algae and Biofuel
Brewery wastewater, with its nutrient-heavy loads, continues to intrigue researchers. As some breweries search for efficient ways to pretreat their wastewater, others are looking at its beneficial uses. Jakob Nalley, a graduate student at Michigan State University, thinks the answer is in algal cultivation.

“The nitrogen and phosphorus are perfect for us, and that’s why brewery wastewater is perfect for algal cultivation,” he says in a WMUK story. “If we could mass cultivate this (algae), it’d be a really, really easy alternative to start to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.

Nalley’s research also indicated that algae could be used to treat wastewater. In his studies, the algae cleaned the wastewater enough so it could be reused at the brewery for washing equipment or cleaning floors.

According to the WMUK article, several companies, including Algal Scientific, have launched pilot projects testing the potential for the wastewater/algae connection.

Source: WMUK

EPA Awards $1M Grant for Water-Quality Research
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $1 million grant to the Public Policy Institute of California to conduct research on the effects of drought and extreme weather on the state’s water resources. The study will examine conditions that contribute to drought and look at the effect decreased water supply and unpredictable water quality have on agriculture, the environment and the hydropower sector. 

“We’re already seeing the harmful effects of droughts and extreme weather on the environment and economy,” says Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Our goal in investing in this research is to gain innovative solutions that reduce the risks associated with inadequate drought preparedness.” 

The grant will examine previous response to drought conditions at the federal, state and local level to determine the most effective and sustainable management system. PPIC will also study climate adaptation strategies and develop drought. 

To conduct the work, PPIC has assembled an interdisciplinary team including experts from UC Davis and several other leading California universities. The study will also have an extensive engagement program involving workshops aimed at providing results to policymakers and water-quality experts.  

Source: EPA press release



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