WaterWorld Weekly Newscast: Mar. 19, 2012

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The following is a transcript of the Mar. 19, 2012, edition of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin, digital media editor for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you this week's water and wastewater news headlines. Coming up...

• Initial tests show Dimock water safe to drink
• Milwaukee lauded for watershed-based permitting program
• Nitrates threaten Cali water supplies
• Enviro groups sue EPA for tougher wastewater regs
• New film examines world water crisis
• Aluminum poisoning didn't cause UK woman's death

EPA has released the initial results of their re-examination of Dimock, Pennsylvania, water wells.

Residents believe Cabot Oil's nearby hydraulic fracturing operations contaminated their wells with drilling fluids.

The EPA tests, however, do not indicate levels of contaminants that could present a health concern. In 6 of the 11 homes tested, sodium, methane, chromium or bacteria were found -- but not at levels exceeding federal standards.

Cabot said in a statement that it's pleased about the results, but Dimock residents aren't convinced yet.

EPA said it will conduct additional sampling and monitoring to make sure the quality of the drinking water remains consistent.

A couple of weeks ago, the Clean Water America Alliance announced the six winners of its second annual U.S. Water Prize, a program recognizing innovative, watershed-based approaches to water sustainability.

This year's winners are Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Frito-Lay Inc., Philadelphia Water Department, Project WET Foundation, Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

We caught up with Kevin Shafer, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, for his reaction to the award.

[audio clip: Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District]

Milwaukee was recognized for its cutting-edge watershed-based permitting pilot program with focuses on a geography-based approach to discharge permitting.

[audio clip: Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District]

MMSD along with the other U.S. Water Prize awardees will be recognized at a special ceremony on April 23rd.

In the meantime, stay tuned to the WaterWorld Weekly newscast over the coming weeks when we'll be hearing from each of the U.S. Water Prize winners on their achievements.

A study by UC Davis says hundreds of thousands of people in California's farming areas are at elevated risk of disease from nitrates in their groundwater supply.

The study looked at groundwater data from two regions in particular, the San Joaquin Valley and the Salinas Valley, both of them intensely farmed areas.

Contributing to the high levels of nitrates are the area's expanding dairy herds -- and the manure that goes with them.

The study suggests that the cost of increased drinking water treatment -- estimated at $20-$35 million per year -- is cheaper than reducing the nitrates at their source.

The State Water Resources Control Board, which commissioned the study, plans to compile recommendations to send to the state Legislature.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA aimed at reducing pollution in the Mississippi River Basin.

The groups say the EPA hasn't done enough to reduce the amount of nutrients gathered along the Mississippi's trek to the Gulf of Mexico, which are contributing to a dead zone there that's roughly the size of Massachusetts.

The lawsuit seeks to force EPA to increase nutrient removal at wastewater treatment facilities.

One of the biggest contributors of nitrogen and phosphorus, the groups say, is Illinois, in large part from Chicago area wastewater treatment programs.

NACWA, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, criticized the groups' lawsuit, which it says will result in costly, one-size-fits-all wastewater regulations. NACWA said it's considering legal options for responding, including possible legal intervention.

A new documentary from Participant Media promises to take a fresh and urgent look at the world water crisis.

The movie, "Last Call at the Oasis," presents a powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century.

The documentary premieres May 4 in select theaters. To expand the film's reach, Participant is launching a companion social media effort, including a 'water calculator' smartphone app and an SMS campaign.

Other feature documentaries by Participant Media include "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Waiting for Superman."

For more information on "Last Call at the Oasis," or to watch the trailer, visit www.lastcallattheoasis.com.

In international news, a coroner in the UK has delivered his verdict in the inquest into the death of Carole Cross, a suspected victim of the July 1988 mass water contamination incident in Camelford, Cornwall.

Twenty-four years ago, a delivery driver mistakenly tipped 20 ton of aluminum sulfate into the wrong tank at Lowermoor treatment works, sending the chemical directly into the town's water supply.

The water utility -- at the time, South West Water Authority -- failed to notify residents of the poisoning for 16 days, despite being inundated with complaints.

Cross lived in Camelford at the time but later moved. Post-mortem tests found highly elevated levels of aluminum in her brain. When she died in 2004, she was suffering from a very rare form of dementia.

The coroner found that while there is a definite possibility aluminum contributed to Cross's death, there is only a slight possibility that it caused it.

For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.


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