News Briefs: Wastewater Supervisor Skips Work for Years ... And Gets Paid

In this week's water and wastewater news, a Spanish civil servant is fined for skipping work, a new facility treats desalination wastewater and legislation could aid states with drinking water problems.
News Briefs: Wastewater Supervisor Skips Work for Years ... And Gets Paid

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When it was time for Spanish civil servant Joaquin Garcia to collect an award for two decades of loyal service, he was a no-show. It was only then that officials started questioning where the 69-year-old engineer had been for the past several years.

Garcia began working for the local authority in Cadiz, Spain, in 1990, and in 1996, he was given the position of supervising the wastewater treatment plant. In 2010, when Garcia was to receive the loyalty reward, Deputy Mayor Jorge Blas Fernandez started wondering where the man was.

“He was still on the payroll,” Fernandez told the newspaper el Mundo. “I thought, where is this man? Is he still here? Has he retired? Has he died?”

After some investigating, Fernandez discovered Garcia hadn’t been in his office for at least six years and possibly up to 14.

This month, the courts fined Garcia the equivalent after tax of one year of his annual salary. Garcia told the court he was the victim of workplace bullying because of his family’s socialist politics. He admitted he may not have kept regular business hours, according to a report in The Guardian.

The employment confusion stemmed from a reporting problem. The water board thought Garcia was the responsibility of the city council while the city council thought Garcia was working for the water board.

Source: The Guardian

Plant Converts Desalination Wastewater to Drinking Water

A new commercial water plant near El Paso, Texas, will be the first of its kind, according to project partners Veolia and Enviro Water Minerals. The plant, which is located next to a desalination plant, will convert wastewater from the desalination process into potable water. Extracted contaminants will be transformed into reusable mineral products.

The new plant is scheduled to open in 2017 and will produce more than 2 mgd toward the El Paso water supply.

“Waste brine disposal has long been the Achilles’ heel of inland desalination facilities,” says Hubble Hausman, EWA CEO, in an Environmental Leader article. “Our El Paso project will demonstrate that it is possible to produce multiple marketable chemical and mineral products from the waste brine while increasing the recovery of potable water and eliminating waste.”

The zero-discharge facility will be located next to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant.

Source: Environmental Leader

New Funding Targets States With Water Problems

Legislature introduced into the U.S. Senate could provide states with federal funding should drinking water emergencies arise. If passed, the measure — introduced by Sens. James Inhofe (Oklahoma) and Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) — would provide $100 million to a revolving fund.

The measure was introduced in response to the Flint, Michigan, drinking water emergency, which exposed the community to lead-tainted water.

States would be required to explain how the money would be spent. If not used in 18 months, the funds would be returned to the federal government. The deal also includes $70 million in a credit subsidy under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority and $50 million in aid for a childhood lead poisoning prevention program.

According to a Reuters report, the funding in the agreement is paid for by cuts from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loans for auto companies.

Source: Reuters

Poll Says 95 Percent Support Water System Investments

The Value of Water Coalition released the results of a national poll on public attitudes and concerns about water. The poll found that Americans are deeply concerned with the state of water infrastructure.

In light of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, 95 percent of respondents said it was important or very important for public officials to invest in water systems. Initially, respondents were evenly split when asked if they’d support higher water bills for increased water system investment. After receiving more information on water issues, 60 percent of those surveyed favored paying more to invest in water infrastructure.

“This is a critical time and important opportunity to have a conversation across the country about the importance of investing in our water systems,” says Radhika Fox, director of the Value of Water Coalition and CEO of the US Water Alliance. “Being able to drink water straight from the tap and knowing that wastewater is safely and responsibly treated are top concerns for Americans. As a nation, we must prioritize investment in our water systems — to maintain high-quality water service today and for future generations.

Source: Value of Water Coalition


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