News Briefs: Florida Utility Under Investigation for Illegally Dumping Sewage in Woods

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, watch video footage of wastewater treatment plant employees rescuing a fox that got trapped in an empty tank

Normandy Village Utility in Jacksonville, Florida, is under investigation by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, according to a recent article by First Coast News.

A former employee is blowing the whistle on the utility, claiming that workers regularly dumped untreated sewage with a front-end loader after hours. The worker, Reuben Moody, is now on leave from his job, but he took reporters deep into the woods behind the utility where the alleged dumping took place.

“Florida DEP Northeast District Compliance staff are conducting an active, thorough investigation into a complaint received Jan. 7, 2020 regarding wastewater disposal practices of Normandy Village Utility,” reads a press release. “Protection of public health and safety and the environment is our top priority. The Department takes all potential unauthorized improper disposal of biosolids seriously and will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding any illegal waste practices, including any discharges associated with this improper disposal.”

Operators Team Up With Firefighters to Rescue Fox Trapped in WWTP Tank

A group of rescuers at a wastewater treatment plant in Barrow, Cumbria, England recently had a hell of a time netting a fox that was running rampant in an empty tank.

Firefighters, animal rescuers and utility employees all banded together in an attempt to free the fox, which had been stuck in the tank overnight. They first tried a humane trap with meaty bait inside, but the fox was too scared to comply with that plan.

What they ended up doing was chasing it around with a net for a while before capturing it. There’s footage online here.

Madison Utility Records Massive Five-Year Decline in Water Use

New numbers from 2019 show the biggest five-year decline in water use ever in Madison, Wisconsin. Last year, Madison Water Utility pumped 8.9 billion gallons to homes, schools and businesses across the city. It’s the lowest amount since 1967, and a billion gallons less than the utility pumped just five years ago.

“It’s amazing, really,” says the utility’s Water Supply Manager Joe DeMorett. “I don’t think anybody predicted this big of a change.” 

Water use in Madison hit an all-time high in 2001, when Madison Water Utility pumped 12.2 billion gallons of water from wells across the city. Since then, water use has dropped by more than 27%. 

 Madison Water Utility also tracks the annual per-capita water use of people living in single-family homes, and the change is even more dramatic. In the early 2000s, people in Madison used an average of 75 gallons per person, per day. Last year, that number was just 50.8 — a 32% drop and a new record low. It’s a full 10 gallons per person less than five years ago. 

 Madison Water Utility General Manager Tom Heikkinen points to a combination of factors for the drop — more efficient appliances and plumbing fixtures; the loss of industry in Madison, like Oscar Mayer, which had been the city’s biggest water user; and a decline in outdoor watering because of several unusually wet summers. Read more about this story at the City of Madison - Madison Water Utility.


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