News Briefs: Police Sting Centers on Olympic Venue's Wastewater Plants

In this week's water and wastewater news, polluted waters near the Olympic venue trigger a police investigation, a St. Louis plant goes back online after severe flood damage and Flint water quality shows improvement.
News Briefs: Police Sting Centers on Olympic Venue's Wastewater Plants

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Police are investigating some of Rio de Janeiro’s largest wastewater treatment plants to determine if the facilities are actually treating sewage.

In a surprise sting, police took samples and collected documents at six treatment plants. Depending on the findings, charges could be brought against Cedae, Rio’s state water and sewage utility, for allegedly dumping raw or minimally treated wastewater into city waterways.

The host city for the upcoming Summer Olympics has come under fire for its water pollution problems as the start of the games nears. Last year, an independent analysis by the Associated Press found high levels of viruses and bacteria in all of the Olympic water venues. The plants being investigated are all near polluted lagoons located along the Olympic Park and Guanabara Bay, the site of sailing events and one of the venues tested in the AP’s analysis.

Cedae has denied any wrongdoing.

Source: ABC News 

Full Treatment Restored at Flood-Ravaged St. Louis Plant 

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has restored full treatment at the Fenton Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was shut down due to heavy flooding last year.

The flooding also affected the Grand Glaze and Missouri River plants, but the Fenton plant sustained the greatest damage. The plant was submerged under 6 feet of water after the Meramec River topped the levee surrounding the facility, keeping it offline for several weeks. Since then, the plant has been rebuilt, and the treatment process gradually restored.

According to a report by KMOV, although it will take several more months to restore backup systems and other noncritical functions, the plant once again meets regulatory standards, allowing the recreational advisory for the Meramec River to be lifted.

Source: KMOV 

Flint Water Improving, But Still Contaminated

Although the threat of lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, remains, researchers say the city’s water system has improved since the switch to a different water source and the addition of corrosion-control chemicals six months ago.

Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor whose work shed light on the scope of the problems in Flint, says in a Washington Post report that the system is beginning to recover. However, Flint residents still shouldn’t drink unfiltered water. Lead levels throughout the system are being described as “highly variable,” and too many homes still have lead levels greater than 15 ppb, the EPA’s official action level.

Part of the reason for the slow recovery is that many Flint residents are using little tap water, instead relying on bottled water, much of which is being provided to residents free of charge. With low flow, the chemicals added by the city to combat bacteria and reduce lead leaching from pipes are slowly making it through the system.

“If we want to help this system recover, we have to get water moving through these pipes,” Edwards says in the Washington Post report.

Source: Washington Post 

Unknown Donors Pay for Iowa Counties’ Legal Battle with Water Utility

Three northwest Iowa counties won’t identify the donors who have provided nearly $1 million to cover the counties’ fight against a lawsuit filed by a Des Moines water utility.

Des Moines Water Works alleges that Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties should be required to obtain federal permits because they release pollutants into rivers. The three counties oversee 10 agricultural drainage districts. According to an Associated Press report, the lawsuit could affect the way farm drainage tiles are treated by environmental regulators.

The counties don’t believe they are required to reveal the sources of the donations they have received so far, but others argue the identification of those sources is important because their interests may differ from that of taxpayers. Those donors might have a financial interest in the counties not losing the lawsuit, but taxpayers would be the ones ultimately on the hook for any damages, says Randy Evans, Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director, in the AP report.


Study Gives Water Quality Monitoring Lackluster Reviews

A new report claims that only 2 percent of streams and rivers in the country are effectively tested for water quality, and most don’t meet local water quality standards.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 requires states to monitor the safety of all waterways, report water quality information publicly every two years, and handle pollution problems. However, an investigation conducted by the Izaak Walton League of America found that states vary widely in how they meet those criteria. According to the group’s report, many states have weak water quality standards that can inflate the number of waterways rated clean, and most don’t monitor waterways enough to make accurate safety claims.

To combat the problem, the Izaak Walton League has been training and supporting citizen volunteers through its Save Our Streams program, so the public monitor water quality and work with state officials to improve waterways.

Source: Izaak Walton League of America


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