News Briefs: Two Workers Hospitalized After Fire at Water Treatment Plant

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, nearly 600 former EPA officials sign a letter asking House of Representatives leaders to investigate the EPA

Two employees of the Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant in Gilbert, Arizona, were hospitalized after a fire broke out at the facility.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to an area of new construction at the plant, and the fire didn’t affect treatment plant operations.

The two employees were hospitalized as a precaution after inhaling smoke.

Wichita Mayor Avoids Charges for Accusations of Steering Bid Awards to Friends

Wichita (Kansas) Mayor Jeff Longwell won’t face charges over allegations that he orchestrated the bidding process to award a water treatment plant contract to his friends.

A 20-page review from Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says Longwell should make some fixes to his paperwork, but won’t face charges over the matter.

The story originated in The Wichita Eagle, and Longwell claims the Eagle report was “unfair and inaccurate,” according to KWCH News.

Hundreds of Former EPA Officials Call for Investigation Into EPA

Nearly 600 former Environmental Protection Agency officials signed a letter asking House of Representatives leaders to investigate the EPA for its unwarranted focus on enforcing California’s pollution, saying it’s politically motivated.

The letter was sent to the House Oversight and Reform Committee along with the Energy and Commerce Committee, and it asks that they investigate whether Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s recent warnings to California regarding concerns about its homeless population polluting waterways were issued in retaliation for its failure to support President Donald Trump’s political agenda.

“EPA’s credibility depends on its commitment to use its authority to protect public health and our environment in an objective, even-handed manner, rather than as a blunt instrument of political power,” reads the letter. “While that principle has served the public well under both Republican and Democratic presidents, it is in serious trouble today.”

Maui Mayor Won't Drop Case Headed to U.S. Supreme Court

The mayor of Maui, Hawaii, says he won’t go along with a vote by the county council that recommended dropping a major environmental case slated to go before the U.S. Supreme Court — a case that could have far-reaching impacts on the Clean Water Act.

The case will look at whether or not regulations can be applied to groundwater carrying pollution from a point source. The case is the County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al., and it came about because Maui County for years has pumped treated municipal wastewater into injection wells that carry it deep underground — or so everyone said.

In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded a tracer dye study that found wastewater from the wells flowing into groundwater and back into the ocean near Kahekili Beach where it was linked to algae blooms that smother coral reefs and cause other environmental damage.

“To allow this to go unanswered leaves us vulnerable to more lawsuits, to uncertain regulatory requirements and staggering costs ― all for what would be a negligible environmental benefit,” Maui Mayor Mike Victorino states in a press release. “The legal exposure is immense.”


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