News Briefs: Obama Declares Flint Water Crisis a Federal Emergency

In this week's water and wastewater news, Flint will receive FEMA funds, the House votes to override Clean Water Act revisions, and a patent is issued for a wastewater treatment system that removes micropollutants
News Briefs: Obama Declares Flint Water Crisis a Federal Emergency

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President Obama has declared the water-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, a federal emergency. The designation lets the city accept $5 million in assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to a White House press release, FEMA will provide equipment and resources “necessary to alleviate the impacts of emergency.” This includes water, water filters, water filter cartridges, water test kits and other necessary related items.

In 2014, the City of Flint temporarily switched its water source from treated Lake Huron water purchased from Detroit to the Flint River until the city could hook up to a new regional water pipeline. The Flint River, however, has more corrosive water than lake water, which caused aging pipes to leach lead into tap water. The city’s residents were then exposed to high levels of lead.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also asked for a disaster declaration, which was denied. Under federal law, only natural disasters qualify for such a designation. According to a Detroit Free Press article, Snyder’s application said up to $55 million would be needed to repair damaged lead service lines and $41 million would be needed for several months of water distribution to residents.

“We’re planning to appeal,” said Snyder spokesman Dave Murray in a Detroit News article. “We want to exhaust every opportunity to bring potential resources to Flint.”

Source: Detroit News, Detroit Free Press

U.S. House Votes to Overturn Clean Water Rule Revisions

On Jan. 13, the U.S. House voted to overturn a revision to the Clean Water Act that would extend the EPA’s authority to non-navigable waters including ditches and areas that occasionally flood. Republicans have stated the extension is an overreach of federal power.

“The EPA claims it is only clarifying the law,” said Speaker Paul Ryan in the Omaha World-Herald, “but Congress never intended the federal government to oversee tiny streams and ponds on private property.”

The Senate passed the same resolution in November. President Obama is expected to veto the bill once it reaches his desk.

For now, the Clean Water rule is not being enforced because of a federal court ruling, which blocked it while it is being litigated.

Source: The Hill

Patent Issued for Wastewater Treatment System

A team of Canadian researchers has been granted a U.S. patent for a treatment system that removes emerging micropollutants from wastewater. The membrane bioreactor system was developed by scientists with the Centre de recherche industrielle du Quebec, or CRIQ, and Institut national de recherche scientifique, or INRS.

According to a statement from the organizations, the system was able to remove 99 percent of bisphenol-A, or BPA, from heavily polluted water. The system is also capable of removing medications including antidepressants, antibiotics, hormones, anticonvulsants and chemotherapy products.

"The presence of micropollutants in effluents carries risks that justify research efforts," said Patrick Drogui, professor at INRS, in a UPI article. "The technology developed by CRIQ and INRS, when installed directly at the source in hospitals, could reduce or even eliminate those risks."

Source: UPI 



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