News Briefs: Two Wastewater Workers Air-Lifted After Gas Exposure

In this week's water and wastewater news, two workers are injured during routine work, Waukesha gains historic water access to Lake Michigan, and Florida declares an emergency thanks to an out-of-control algae bloom.
News Briefs: Two Wastewater Workers Air-Lifted After Gas Exposure

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Two treatment plant workers were rescued from the basement of the River Road Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wichita Falls, Texas, on Saturday, July 2, after being exposed to an unknown gas. Both employees were taken to the regional health center and then flown to the Parkland Burn Center in Dallas for further treatment.

The Wichita Falls Fire Department was called to the scene for an unknown number of unresponsive people. When they arrived, firefighters found two semi-responsive workers who had been working on a routine repair. According to Battalion Chief Todd Mudd, who spoke with KFDX, all risk was contained to the plant, and the public was never in danger.

“We shut off some road access … just so we didn’t have people getting in the way of what we were trying to accomplish,” he said.

Authorities have not yet released the names of those involved. It is still unclear what type of gas caused the incident. 

Source: KFDX

Waukesha Gains Historic Great Lakes Water Access

The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, has gained historic permission to draw its drinking water from Lake Michigan. Representatives from eight states in the Great Lakes-St Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council voted unanimously to approve the plan on Tuesday, June 21, thus granting water access to the first-ever outside watershed.

Until now, Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, has drawn its water from groundwater wells that are contaminated with radium. Because the city lies outside the Great Lakes watershed, it had to attain special permission from the region’s states to access the lake water.

Under the agreement, Waukesha must return as much water as it draws to Lake Michigan. Treated wastewater will be pumped into the Root River, which then empties into Lake Michigan near Racine.

Although the approval process has already taken years to complete, Waukesha is still two years away from drawing water from Lake Michigan.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio

Florida Declares Algae Emergency

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of local emergency in St. Lucie and Martin counties because of a large blue-green algae bloom that is affecting miles of waterways and beaches.

The bloom was triggered by high rainfall, soaring temperatures and nutrient-rich water that was released by the U.S. Corp of Engineers from Lake Okeechobee.

“The smell is so bad it will make you gag,” says resident Mary Radabaugh in The Guardian. “We have red eyes and scratchy throats. We can smell it in our office. It’s terrible.”

Deborah Drum, the manager of ecosystem restoration in Martin County, called the bloom “unprecedented.”

“This is the worst it’s ever been, and there are no signs that it is improving,” she said.

In response to the crisis, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would start decreasing the amount of freshwater being discharged from Lake Okeechobee.

Source: The Guardian


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