News Briefs: ​Sandpaper Blockage Floods Connecticut Wastewater Plant

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, the city of Austin, Texas, ends a nearly weeklong boil-water advisory after heavy rainfall

The town of Wallingford, Connecticut, could soon pay more than $100,000 in plant repairs after sandpaper clogged its wastewater treatment system.

In late September, an automatic alert informed an on-call operator about a blockage, and stormwater had backed up and flooded part of the facility. Cleanup is expected to cost between $100,000 and $150,000.

The material clogging the system was 50 to 80 feet of paper for a belt-sander. It’s unclear how the sandpaper entered the system.

Austin Ends Boil-Water Advisory

The city of Austin, Texas, faced a boil-water advisory for several days as the city struggled to deal with excess stormwater during severe rainfall in the central part of the state. The city also prohibited outdoor water use and asked citizens to conserve water in general as it faced a shortage.

The notice ended Oct. 29, but Austin restaurants were required to flush out all their waterlines, including those for faucets, ice machines, coffee machines and other appliances used for food and drink preparation.

Now, the city is working to release a report about what it learned from the nearly weeklong ordeal. Recommendations could include facility upgrades or new technology at treatment plants, along with ways to offer better public outreach during boil-water notices.

Hazmat Incident Causes Injuries in Staten Island Laboratory

The New York City Fire Department reported that a recent hazmat incident at Oakwood Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant in Staten Island caused multiple minor injuries.

First responders arrived on scene after getting a report of a contamination incident at the plant, where they found a chemical reaction had taken place in the laboratory.

Seven people were treated for injuries and six of those were taken to the hospital, according to FDNY. Plant operations continued as normal.

WWTP Construction Destroys Nearby Residential Wells

Two homeowners in Saint John, New Brunswick, are claiming that the construction of a water treatment plant across the street ruined their well water.

The plant was part of a $216 million water services upgrade, and although they can see the plant from their houses, that area of the city isn’t served by the plant, so the residences remain on well water.

Since the treatment plant was installed, the homeowners have reported gritty, mud-like water coming from their taps. One of the homeowners tells CBC News he thinks crews' use of dynamite cracked something critical underground and he expects his well won’t last much longer.

President Signs America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018

Marking the final step of a rare bipartisan effort by Congress, President Donald Trump recently signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 into law in an effort to help communities across the nation improve the safety and reliability of drinking water and wastewater systems.

The America’s Water Infrastructure Act will:

• Significantly increase annual, federal investment on water and wastewater infrastructure from approximately $2 billion to over $7 billion per year.

• Improve the efficiency and timeliness of the WIFIA Loan approval process.

• Allow states to fast-track existing, approved and permitted projects with the “no new reviews” provisions.

• Safeguard existing Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act state-revolving funding from cuts – no funding for WIFIA unless existing SRFs are fully funded.

The bill marks the most comprehensive infrastructure legislation passed this Congress and would authorize federal funds for water projects, including post-Harvey wetland restoration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and hydropower projects.

“This legislation invests in the critical water infrastructure we don’t see every day, but that American families in every state rely on, such as drinking water systems, dams, reservoirs, levees and ports,” says Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Delaware).


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