News Briefs: Human Fetus Found at Wastewater Treatment Plant

In this week's water and wastewater news, workers make a grisly discovery at an Arizona plant, data says Wisconsin is highest in strontium levels and a survey indicates Californians support recycled water.
News Briefs: Human Fetus Found at Wastewater Treatment Plant

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A 17- to -18-week human fetus was found at the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rio Rico, Arizona, on March 4. According to a report from News 4 Tucson, a plant worker found the fetus inside a 40-inch pipe.

The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an investigation. So far, it is unclear whether the fetus was the result of an abortion or miscarriage. Sheriff Tony Estrada said it is also possible the fetus came from someone traveling from Mexico. The 15 mgd plant is located 9 miles from the border.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 49 years, and I can’t recall seeing anything like this,” Estrada said in an article. “Right now, we don’t have any leads. We’re hoping somebody will come forward.”

Source: Channel 12, KVOA, 

Wisconsin Strontium Levels Highest in U.S.

According to EPA data from 2013 to 2015, public water systems in eastern Wisconsin are among the most contaminated in the country when it comes to strontium. The mineral, which is currently considered an unregulated drinking water contaminant, might cause dental and bone growth issues for those exposed to high levels during infancy and childhood.

In January, the EPA postponed a decision to regulate strontium in drinking water, stating that more information is needed to determine whether regulations would reduce health risks.

The EPA has set 4 mg/L as the lifetime health advisory limit and 25 mg/L as the short-term health advisory limit. In Wisconsin, 29 sites exceeded the short-term advisory, with the highest level coming from Germantown with 53 mg/L.

Source: Green Bay Post-Crescent

Study Says Californians Support Recycled Water Use

According to a survey by Xylem Inc., Californians are highly supportive of using treated wastewater, or recycled water. Of those questioned, 76 percent said recycled water should be used as a long-term solution for managing the state’s water resources, regardless of whether or not a water shortage continues.

Nearly half of respondents were very supportive of using recycled water as an additional local water supply, and another 38 percent were somewhat supportive. The survey defined recycled water as wastewater that has been treated and purified so it can be reused for drinking purposes. Of the respondents, 42 percent were very willing to use recycled water in their everyday lives and an additional 41 percent were somewhat willing.

According to the survey, 89 percent of residents were more willing to use recycled water after reading an educational statement explaining the treatment processes. Further, 88 percent agreed that seeing a demonstration of the water purification process would make them more comfortable using and drinking recycled water. These findings suggest education is important in gaining even stronger support for recycled water.

The survey also found that terminology is important. When reused water was referred to as purified water, respondents were more likely to be supportive (90 percent) of it as an additional local water supply than when the term recycled water (87 percent) or reclaimed water (82 percent) was used.

Know a Great Teacher Who Loves the Environment?

Applications are now being accepted for the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, administers this award to honor, support and encourage educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms and teaching methods.

This program recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who use innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning. Up to two teachers from each of EPA's 10 regions will be selected to receive the award. Applicants will be evaluated based on five primary factors: innovation, achievement, leadership, service to the community and underserved populations, and integration of environmental education. Applications are due May 16.


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