News Briefs: Water Treatment Failures Put Irish Public at Risk

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, the COVID-19 pandemic is straining the Tampa (Florida) Water Department as it seeks a solution to an ongoing liquid oxygen shortage

Two recent failures at water treatment plants in Ireland — at Ballymore Eustace and Gorey — have resulted in illnesses and hospitalizations.

The failure at the Gorey plant resulted in improperly treated water being provided to the public and caused more than 50 illnesses.

Meanwhile, a power failure and chlorine pump failure at a plant in Ballmore Eustace — which serves part of Dublin — produced unsafe tap water for 10 hours for 877,000 customers. In neither case was the public told to boil water.

The Irish Environmental Protection Agency is calling it an “abject failure of managerial oversight, operational control and responsiveness by Irish Water and local authorities in terms of their respective roles to deliver safe and secure drinking water.”

EPA Grants University of Michigan $1.2 Million to Study Virus Removal Methods

In a key step toward improving the feasibility of reusing wastewater as drinking water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted University of Michigan researchers $1.2 million to study how well current treatment methods remove viruses from wastewater.

The team believes that existing techniques may already be effective at removing pathogens, potentially reducing the complexity of upgrading water treatment facilities in drought-prone areas seeking to reuse wastewater and storm runoff for drinking water.

“In areas where water scarcity is becoming a growing concern, they may be forced to look at methods like desalination or potable reuse for their drinking water,” says Krista Wigginton, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, who will head a three-year study. “If we make reuse rules too stringent, and we’re not giving treatment systems the proper credit for what they’re already removing from the water, we’re going to create a much more expensive project for communities.”

Decanters to Help San Diego WWTP in Water Recycling Goal

Alfa Laval has won an order to supply decanters to a wastewater treatment plant in San Diego, California.

The decanters will treat municipal wastewater, ensuring it is suitable for irrigation and other non-potable uses. The project is part of San Diego’s water recycling program which aims to provide more than 40% of the city’s water supply locally by the end of 2035.

The recycled water program offers a cost-effective investment for San Diego’s water needs and will provide a reliable, sustainable water supply. It gives the city a dependable, year-round and locally controlled water resource. Alfa Laval’s decanters will be installed in one of the municipal water treatment plants where they will be used for thickening and dewatering of the sludge.

Tampa Water Department Seeks Solutions to Oxygen Shortage

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a strain on the Tampa (Florida) Water Department, as it begins to look for a long-term solution to an ongoing liquid oxygen shortage.

While the limited oxygen supply is being used on COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, Tampa Water Department has shifted toward disinfecting its water with chlorine.

“We are working with our regulatory partners to figure out, OK, what are our options?” spokeswoman Sonia Quiñones tells WUSF News. “If we get to a point where chlorine isn’t going to be enough for us, what are our options?”


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