News Briefs: Wastewater Testing Predicts Minnesota COVID-19 Outbreak

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a gasification plant in North Dakota is selling beverage-grade CO2 to water treatment plants due to a CO2 shortage

Wastewater testing for COVID-19 has continued around the nation, including testing at 22 treatment facilities in Minnesota thanks to the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth.

The university is four months into its monitoring program, according to Duluth News Tribune, and researchers say the presence of viral particles indicates increasing prevalence of COVID-19 across the state.

The results are helping to predict outbreaks as well. Back in June, wastewater samples showed that cases were increasing in Mankato and Minneapolis before the state linked the increase to four taverns in the cities.

“We kind of started seeing things that indicated that something was going on down there before that story actually broke,” Medical school assistant professor Glenn Simmons Jr. tells the Duluth News Tribune. “Even right now, things in a lot of places are trending up.”

Gasification Plant Selling Beverage-Grade CO2 to Treatment Plants

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, the Dakota Gasification Plant near Beulah is selling beverage-grade CO2 liquid to water treatment plants throughout the state due to a CO2 shortage.

Dakota Gas Marketing Account Manager Zach Jacobsen tells Prairie Public beverage-grade CO2 liquid must be 99.98% pure.

“There was almost a state of emergency in North Dakota, because the usual sources for the CO2 — ethanol plants — were curtailed on production, because oil prices were not great, and the COVID-19 pandemic had a big effect on that,” Jacobsen says.

EPA Announces $137 Million for Great Lakes Water Supply Project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a $137 million loan to the City of Waukesha, Wisconsin, to help implement the Great Lakes Water Supply Project.

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan will help protect public health and the environment, affecting Waukesha’s transition to a sustainable, safer source of drinking water.

The Great Lakes Water Supply Project includes the construction of infrastructure to obtain, store and distribute drinking water from Milwaukee Water Works to City of Waukesha residents. The project also includes pumps and pipes needed to return treated wastewater to Lake Michigan via the Root River.

“When the federal government listens to our local communities and responds to their needs, we all reap the benefits,” said Rep. Bryan Steil. “This is a win for our health, a win for jobs, and a win for the future of Waukesha.”



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