News Briefs: New Solar Material Could Clean Drinking Water

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, the Suquamish Tribe plans to sue King County, Washington, for Clean Water Act violations

Providing clean water to soldiers in the field and citizens around the world is essential, and yet remains one of the world’s greatest challenges. Now a new super-wicking and super-light-absorbing aluminum material developed with U.S. Army funding could change that.

With funding from the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a new aluminum panel that more efficiently concentrates solar energy to evaporate and purify contaminated water.

“The Army and its warfighters run on water, so there is particular interest in basic materials research that could lead to advanced technologies for generating drinking water,” says Dr. Evan Runnerstrom, program manager at ARO. “The combined super-wicking and light-absorbing properties of these aluminum surfaces may enable passive or low-power water purification to better sustain the warfighter in the field.”

Read details about the technology here.

EPA Administrator Tours Wyoming Treatment Facility

In other news, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler toured the City of Cheyenne (Wyoming) Board of Public Utilities’ Sherard Water Treatment Plant as part of a meeting with local and state partners.

EPA has primacy over Wyoming, meaning the EPA looks over all Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory programs except the Operator Certification and Capacity Development Programs for the state. The board works directly with EPA to deliver safe and reliable drinking water to Cheyenne.

Those present during the tour included officials from the EPA’s national and regional offices, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), governor’s staff and the board. “It was a pleasure to visit the Sherard Water Treatment Plant yesterday with EPA,” says Kevin Frederick, DEQ Water Quality administrator. “This was a great opportunity to show our EPA partners a first-class water treatment facility and visit with the dedicated professionals who ensure that Cheyenne residents have safe and reliable drinking water.”

Suquamish Tribe to Sue King County for Clean Water Act Violations

The Suquamish Tribe is planning to sue King County, Washington, for violating the Clean Water Act, according to a report by K5 News.

Lawyers representing the tribe say the incoming lawsuit stems from sewage spills from West Point Treatment Plant in 2018 and 2019, and for NPDES permit violations for discharging effluent into Puget Sound. The lawsuit alleges there were at least 11 such incidents ranging from 50,000 to 2.1 million gallons.


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