News Briefs: California Blackouts Cause Water Shortage in Vallejo

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, Wisconsin utilities have largely ignored a request from the Department of Natural Resources to test for PFAS

In the midst of historic blackouts across the Bay Area of California, one water utility in the city of Vallejo faced a near-crisis as one of its pump stations couldn’t lift raw water to the nearby town of Cordelia.

“We were getting close to about two days' water left,” Beth Schoenberger, Vallejo Water Department Operations Manager, tells KPIX News. “It’s not a situation that we are comfortable with and it’s relatively unprecedented.”

Firefighters battling with wildfires in the area also put a strain on the city’s supply. The large-scale blackouts in the Bay Area were initiated by the utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in an effort to avoid starting fires with downed and poorly maintained lines in dry, windy conditions.

Wisconsin Utilities Ignore DNR Request to Test for PFAS

More than 100 Wisconsin utilities have so far ignored a request from the Department of Natural Resources to test samples for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The DNR asked the utilities to test for PFAS in an effort to understand how and where the chemicals are entering the environment.

The DNR says only two utilities in Peshtigo and Marinette have completed the tests, which are estimated to cost $300 to $400.

“We’ve become aware that some other facilities have initiated separate efforts and indicate they’re planning on doing testing on their own,” Adrian Stocks, the DNR’s water quality director, tells Madison.com.

EPA Invites 38 Projects to Apply for WIFIA Loans

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is inviting a total of 38 projects in 18 states to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. Together, the selected borrowers will apply for WIFIA loans totaling approximately $6 billion to help finance over $12 billion in water infrastructure investments and create almost 200,000 jobs.

“This announcement highlights billions of dollars in needed water infrastructure investments to upgrade aging infrastructure, reduce exposure to lead and emerging contaminants and improve the lives of millions of Americans across the country — all while creating almost 200,000 jobs,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

EPA’s WIFIA loans will allow communities across the country to implement projects to address national water priorities, including providing for clean and safe drinking water by reducing exposure to lead and emerging contaminants, addressing aging water infrastructure and developing water recycling and reuse projects. EPA received 51 letters of interest from both public and private entities in response to the 2019 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability.



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