News Briefs: Desalination Decision Approaches for Orange County

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, utilities are beginning to step up their cybersecurity infrastructure and practices

Next month, the California Coastal Commission is set to decide whether to allow Poseidon Water to build a $1.4 billion seawater desalination plant that could provide 50 mgd of clean water to parts of Orange County, California.

The controversial proposal has its critics, and their main concerns center around the plant’s need for 19 gigawatt hours of energy per month; whether Poseidon will mitigate damage to marine life; the projected increase of cost for the water it would replace; and the facility’s vulnerability to sea level rise.

For its part, Poseidon Water signed an agreement stating that its goal is to use 100% clean energy to run the plant, but some critics have doubts about whether the company will live up to that goal.

Utilities Begin to Take Cybersecurity More Seriously

In the wake of recent cyberattacks targeting water/wastewater utilities like last year’s incident in Oldsmar, Florida, and as the Biden Administration extends its Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative to the water sector, more utilities are beginning to take cybersecurity seriously.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County (New Mexico) Water Utility Authority for instance has turned to new technologies to allow it to gain visibility into its networks and physical infrastructure.

The utility recently deployed Cisco Cyber Vision to inventory its assets and detect potential threats.

“The cool thing about Cyber Vision is that the switches we purchased have sensors built into them, so we’re able to view what assets we have,” Kristen Sanders, chief information security officer for the water district, tells StateTech. “It tells us what protocols are running and what’s talking to what. It will actually allow us to do baselining of what normal network traffic looks like. That allows us to set up alerting, so we know immediately if suddenly something starts talking to something new or a new device pops up.”

President Announces $1 Billion Investment Into Great Lakes Restoration

President Joe Biden recently visited The Shipyards in Lorain, Ohio, to announce an investment of $1 billion into Great Lakes restoration as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“We’re going to accelerate cleanup of sites across six states in the Great Lakes Basin — from Duluth, Minnesota, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Gary, Indiana, to Buffalo, New York, and everywhere in between,” the president said at the event.

He also reaffirmed his pledge to address lead pipes and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the region. “That means replacing 100% of the lead water pipes and service lines and addressing what they call PFAS — a dangerous forever chemical that are a threat to the drinking water here in Ohio and other parts of America.”


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