News Briefs: New Estimates Show Extent of Hurricane Florence's Wastewater Discharges

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, one person dies after a Legionnaire's disease outbreak at a Michigan hospital

A joint report by the The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and The Herald Sun recently sought to answer a reader’s question about how Hurricane Florence affected wastewater treatment plants in North Carolina and how much untreated or partially treated wastewater spilled.

New figures show the discharges were worse than experts originally thought. The Department of Environmental Quality first submitted a report titled “Hurricane Florence Impact on Water and Wastewater Facilities” in November 2018, but the latest data shows that the 121 million gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage that spilled is about 28 percent more than that report estimated.

Meanwhile, the DEQ is still trying to make a similar estimate showing how much hog waste spilled from overflowing lagoons during Hurricane Florence.

Hospital in Michigan Sees Legionnaire's Disease Outbreak

A Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at a hospital in Hastings, Michigan, has killed one person, according to WWMT News.

After one patient was diagnosed with the disease in September 2018 and another diagnosed in November, the presence of the Legionella bacteria was confirmed in the water supply of Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital.

The hospital’s medical director says the person who died was elderly and that it was a complicated case. The other infected person was treated and released from the hospital.

In the meantime, the hospital switched to bottled water and is installing a new water treatment system.

Madison, Wisconsin, Testing for PFAS Contamination in City Wells

Madison (Wisconsin) Water Utility will begin this month collecting samples to test city wells for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination from military firefighting foam.

The decision to test the wells comes after the Wisconsin State Journal reported PFAS had soaked into the groundwater at Truax Air National Guard Base on the north side of Madison. Later in 2017, low levels of PFAS were found at a city well nearly a mile from the base.

So far, the spread of PFAS in the area has gone unmonitored by the Air National Guard, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.


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