News Briefs: WWTP Operators Trace Mercury Contamination to One Household

In this week's water and wastewater news, treatment plant officials track mercury contamination to a homeowner using questionable ointments, and a pilot program in New York City asks Queens residents to limit water use during heavy rains via text message

News Briefs: WWTP Operators Trace Mercury Contamination to One Household

An Austrian wastewater treatment plant saw its mercury levels increase to twice the permitted level due to a single homeowner, according to a story by the Deutsche Welle.

After traveling to India and bringing home a cream billed as a healing ointment that contained mercury, the homeowner, a 50-year-old cancer patient, began using the ointment and rinsing it down her drain.

Treatment plant officials noticed high levels of mercury and started to trace its source. First, they inspected sewer lines from industrial operations, but didn’t find contamination. Using a portable mercury detection device, they eventually traced the source to a private residence more than 10 miles away from the plant.

Nearly nine pounds of pure mercury reached the sewer system over the course of several months, costing the water department about $122,000. The woman was diagnosed with serious mercury poisoning.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Pilot Program Asks Queens Residents to Minimize Water Use During Rains

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is asking Queens residents to put dishes, showering and flushing on hold during heavy rains as part of a pilot program to prevent sewer overflows.

The “Wait…” program sends homeowners text messages alerting them when the Newtown Creek and Bowery Bay wastewater treatment plants are near capacity, asking them to minimize water use to prevent pollution via overflow.

“There is an immediate opportunity for residents to reduce pollution by being aware of when sewage treatment plants hit capacity during rain events and overflow into local waterways, and then taking action to not create additional wastewater during these crucial periods,” Willis Elkins, program director for Newtown Creek Alliance, told QNS.

Source: Queens Courier

West Point WWTP Disaster Has Minimal Environmental Impact, Says Study

A recent scientific review out of King County, Washington, found that last year’s West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant disaster that released around 250 million gallons of untreated effluent into Puget Sound had little effect on water quality.

Fast currents diluted most of the pollution, and water quality remained above required standards at most of Puget Sound’s monitoring stations.

King County’s report was approved by three external reviewers.

Source: The Seattle Times

Kansas Health Institute Promotes Potable Reuse

A recent study by the Kansas Health Institute on the health effects of reusing water recommended that communities in the state consider options for reclaiming wastewater as part of a long-term water conservation effort.

In a recent presentation to the Kansas House Water and Environment Committee, one of the authors of the study said community health depends on water and the willingness of its residents to get past the “yuck” factor of direct potable reuse.

Source: Topeka Capital-Journal


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