News Briefs: Water Outage in Austin Influenced by Obscure Gear Switch

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a Massachusetts WWTP sustains damage after a vehicle catches fire inside the building

Power outage issues during the recent storms that led to a boil-water notice at Ullrich Water Treatment Plant in Austin, Texas, were related to a 52-year-old gear switch that staff members didn’t know how to operate, KVUE News reports.

Texas regulations require water treatment facilities to have backup power sources or water reserves in case of power outages, and the plant has both. However, after a tree limb took out power at the plant, no one immediately knew how to operate the gear switch that would have restored power, causing the facility to become inoperable for three hours while water reserves were drained.

Vehicle Catches Fire Inside Massachusetts WWTP

The South Hadley (Massachusetts) Wastewater Treatment Plant sustained damage after a truck parked inside of the building caught fire, according to Mass Live.

During a routine inspection of the plant, an employee discovered the fire.

“When he opened the door he saw heavy smoke coming from the garage area and he called 911,” Chicopee Deputy Fire Chief David Beauregard told the news organization.

When firefighters arrived they were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, and no one was injured in the incident.

Hach Co. Rolls Out Rapid COVID-19 Test for Wastewater

Hach Co. has begun rolling out a rapid test to measure the presence of the COVID-19 virus in a wastewater stream.

In a statement, the water-testing firm says it partnered with Canadian biologics tester LuminUltra Technologies Ltd. to develop a test that can provide results based on samples pulled from a wastewater stream in as little as 90 minutes rather than wait for an outside lab to measure viral load.

“This non-invasive testing method is a game-changer for effectively managing the pandemic, and this partnership between our two organizations makes this surveillance tool more accessible to communities everywhere,” LuminUltra CEO Pat Whalen said in a statement.


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