News Briefs: Worker Gambles Away $850,000 in Utility Funds

In this week's water and wastewater news, a water utility office manager is accused of embezzling $850,000 for gambling; and a brewery in Oregon plans to construct its own $11.2 million wastewater treatment plant
News Briefs: Worker Gambles Away $850,000 in Utility Funds

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A state auditor in New Mexico has accused a rural utility worker of embezzling $850,000 and gambling it away at casinos.

The taxpayer money will be difficult to get back, and the loss of the cash significantly sets back the Otis Mutual Domestic Water Consumers and Sewage Works Association on vital infrastructure projects.

Office Manager Lori Whitaker allegedly used a company card to withdraw up to $10,000 at a time from casinos across the southwest.

“And it seems like she was trying to sort of you know, dig herself out, by gambling more,” State Auditor Tim Keller told KRQE News. “So, if you look at it, it just kept going up and up and up to the tune of thousands per day.”

Due to the fact that federal funds may have been involved, the FBI was notified.

Source: KRQE News

Oregon Brewery to Build Onsite Wastewater Treatment Plant

A brewery in Oregon has announced plans to construct its own $11.2 million onsite wastewater treatment plant.

Deschutes Brewery currently sends its wastewater to the city and area farms, but since the city increased its waste charges and the trucking company hauling waste to farms is no longer accommodating the brewery, the company decided to make the investment.

“The farmers benefit from it, but we don’t know how long that business will be in place,” brewery President Michael LaLonde told The Bulletin. “Right now with the increase in rates that the City Council passed last year, plus that risk, we really had to dive deep into how we are going to handle our waste long term.”

The plant being planned will have a capacity of 150,000 gpd and should be completed sometime in 2018.

Source: The Bulletin

South Carolina Board Approves Google's Request to Pump 1.5 MGD of Groundwater to Data Center

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control board unanimously approved a request from Google to pump 1.5 mgd of groundwater to its data center in Berkeley County.

The company currently can pump 500,000 gallons per day free of charge, but it wants triple that amount to cool its data center.

The 1.5 mgd figure is nearly half the amount of groundwater being pumped out of the same aquifer by Mount Pleasant Waterworks, which supplies more than 80,000 residents.

“We’ve invested a lot in making sure the groundwater quality that we treat and send to the customers is of high quality,” Waterworks manager Clay Duffie told NPR. “We also want to protect the quantity side of that.”

Sources: NPR and The Post and Courier

Bacon Grease to Blame for Out-of-Control Bacterial Bloom

Workers have identified the catalyst for a brown foam that overtook Butte-Silver Bow’s wastewater treatment plant in April: bacon grease.

The bloom that caused the plant to shut down for six hours is “uniquely good at eating” oils and grease, operator Matt Moore told the Montana Standard.

And bacon grease in particular is a problem for the plant. Workers broke up a large grease dam in the city that had plugged the sewer line, and when the grease got to the treatment plant, the bacteria fed on it and grew too large for the facility.

Now that the facility is aware of the cause, Moore says it’s unlikely to happen again.

Source: The Montana Standard


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