News Briefs: Minnesota WWTP May Feature Public Display of Pumps Clogged With Wipes

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a new report shows that a $12 billion investment into Michigan's existing water infrastructure could address problems while creating 90,000 jobs

The Hutchinson (Minnesota) Wastewater Treatment Facility may soon put a gallery of valves and pumps clogged with wet wipes and rags on display for the public so they can see the damage first hand.

There have been a number of clogs in recent years, according to wastewater manager Tim Gratke. Most recently, he tells the Hutchinson Leader, a large clog was found in a valve. “We alternate force mains,” he says. “We have two and we usually use one. In order to keep the wastewater fresh in them, we usually switch them weekly. They went to switch it one time and all of a sudden they had flow for about an instant and then the flow went to zero.”

Now, in an effort to educate the public, Gratke and local city council members are considering putting the clogged equipment on a trailer to display at churches, fairs or even the city’s Sculpture Walk.

Study Shows Benefits of Water Infrastructure Expenditures in Michigan

Investing $12 billion on top of existing water infrastructure expenditures over the next two decades would address the Flint water problem and also create nearly 90,000 direct full-time jobs and generate $8.8 billion in total direct, indirect and induced labor income in Michigan, according to a new study from the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

According to the report, How Investing in Michigan’s Water Infrastructure Protects Our Economy, Creates Jobs and Drives Growthoverhauling Michigan’s infrastructure — including residential waterlines, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure — would generate $441 million in additional wages for workers and $28 million in state and local tax revenue every year for 20 years.

“Keeping Michigan’s water infrastructure functioning properly — and keeping contaminants out of our water supplies — is essential to the state’s economy, public health and our quality of life,” says Micaela Preskill, E2 Midwest advocate.

Manufacturers, Not Treatment Plants, Are True 'Releasers' of PFAS

Treatment plants and trade associations in Wisconsin recently rejected a request from Gov. Tony Evers for widespread PFAS testing at the facilities. The governor was looking for test results to help the state push for new water-quality discharge standards.

But the trade associations representing the facilities opposed the effort because sampling protocols and lab certifications haven’t been completed for PFAS, and the state currently has no standards for PFAS, which they argue makes the testing meaningless.

There’s some debate about whether water utilities or manufacturers should be held responsible for the expensive PFAS problem, and Paul Yaroschak, innovation manager at Temple University’s Water and Environmental Technology Center, couldn’t have put it any better than he does in this quote from a Bloomburg Environment news story:

“I understand these guys are discharging it from their treatment plants, but in a true sense they are really not releasers of PFAS, they are receivers of it. It’s coming downstream from other sources.”


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