The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for December 19, 2016.
Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of December 19. Coming up...
Chemical spill triggers tap water ban in Corpus Christi
Water tank inspection ends in tragedy
EPA releases final fracking report
Interactive USGS map documents 60 years of water use
Last Wednesday, a chemical spill in Corpus Christi, Texas, resulted in a tap water ban as officials worked to determine the nature and severity of the substance.
It was later identified as Indulin AA-86, an asphalt emulsifier that, in concentrated amounts, can burn skin and cause respiratory problems.
Officials estimated that anywhere from 3 to 24 gallons of the chemical may have entered the city's water system during a "backflow event."
The company responsible has been identified as Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions. In a statement, the company said that it "has been in contact with TCEQ and is working cooperatively to provide all information to ensure state officials can remedy the situation as quickly as possible."
Complicating the situation is the fact that the emulsifier is a proprietary substance. The city had to sign a non-disclosure agreement before the company would release a list of ingredients, which it needs in order to determine the appropriate tests for the chemical.
By Friday, the city had lifted the ban in select areas. For the most recent information, please visit the city's website at cctexas.com.
Last Thursday in Braintree, Massachusetts, what should have been a routine tank inspection turned tragic when a diver inside the million-gallon tank reported a problem with his air supply.
Despite frigid temperatures and icy conditions, a spotter jumped in to help but was unable to save the diver, a subcontractor from Texas company T.K. Potable Diving.
Emergency crews rescued the spotter.
By Friday morning, after a 16-hour effort, the tank had been drained and the diver's body was recovered.
OSHA investigators were on scene and the local district attorney said there were no immediate signs of any criminal activity.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.
The agency concluded that, under some circumstances, hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources and identified factors that influence these impacts.
The report looks at stages in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle, including: water acquisition, chemical mixing, well injection, produced water handling, and wastewater disposal and reuse.
Some conditions that could make impacts more frequent or severe include:
- Water withdrawals in times or areas of low water availability
- Poor well integrity
- Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources
- Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources and
- Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits.
The agency said the report, which was requested by Congress, provides valuable information about potential vulnerabilities to drinking water resources but was not designed to be a list of documented impacts.
To read the study, visit epa.gov/hfstudy.
The USGS has released a very cool map that visually presents water usage data by state since 1950.
The data, presented in 5-year increments, is segmented by five categories of withdrawal: thermoelectric, public supply, irrigation, industrial, and total withdrawals.
The interface helps visualize trends over time, which USGS said is "essential to help plan for future water demands."
For example, the map illustrates how water withdrawals for thermoelectric power generation are more prominent in the eastern half of the country while water-use for irrigation is predominant in the west.
The map is current through the year 2010 and USGS says compilation of data for 2015 is underway.
To see your state's water usage, please visit owi.usgs.gov/vizlab/water-use.
For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.