WaterWorld Weekly: June 9, 2011

June 9, 2011
Transcript of the June 9, 2011, edition of the WaterWorld Weekly newscast.
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The following is a transcript of the June 9, 2011, 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...

• Chicago water agency favors tougher water quality standards
• Oklahoma water plan draws criticism
• PA agency wants tougher regs to protect water
• Water level at Lake Okeechobee dips below 10 feet
• Minorities prefer bottled water over tap
• Drinking water contaminated by chemical spill in China

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's board voted 8-1 last week in favor of a new policy backing tougher water quality standards.

The agency has been the subject of tough criticism over the quality of the Chicago River and its tributaries, which receive effluent from the district's three wastewater treatment plants.

Earlier this month, EPA told the state of Illinois that water quality standards for portions of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers must be upgraded to protect public health.

And a coalition of environmental groups has launched a lawsuit against Metropolitan Water Reclamation District alleging that it regularly violates clean water standards with the poor quality its effluent and frequent sewer overflows.

The water board's president Terrence O'Brien was the only member to vote against the policy.

The draft version of Oklahoma's Comprehensive Water plan, or OCWP, is making its way through a public review process and drawing sharp criticism from local lawmakers.

Four eastern Oklahoma democrats are finding fault with the technical study, which they say does not account for non-consumptive uses of water such as recreation.

They are also suggesting the engineering firm that conducted the study may have had a conflict of interest, and have requested an attorney general's opinion.

The 50-year water plan, which has been in development for the past five years, addresses current and future water needs throughout the state.

Among its recommendations are better stream flow measurements and better utilization of groundwater resources.

Completion of the plan is expected in 2012.

In an effort to protect water resources from drilling operations, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection wants to make a few improvements to the state's Oil and Gas Act.

Recommendations include stronger buffer zones between drilling operations and water supplies, tougher penalties and bond requirements, and a detailed system for tracking wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations.

The agency also wants clearer authority to revoke, suspend, or deny well permits in cases of non-compliance.

DEP's proposal is a response to a request from the shale commission as it prepares a comprehensive set of recommendations for development of the Marcellus Shale.

That report is due July 22nd.

Lack of rain in South Florida is taking its toll on Lake Okeechobee, which is at its lowest level in four years: 9.89 feet on June 6th.

Technically, the rainy season began a couple of weeks ago, but it's off to a very slow start. Rainfall since October is down, with a current deficit of 10.64 inches.

During dry periods, the Army Corps of Engineers typically releases water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River to keep it from getting too salty. But the conditions have been so dry, the Corps stopped releasing water in mid-March.

As a result, high salinity in the river is creating poor conditions for oysters and killing off hundreds of acres of tape grass.

The South Florida Water Management District has declared a regional water shortage and water restrictions are in effect.

A recent survey published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent medicine found that minority parents prefer bottled water over tap for their children.

Researchers surveyed 632 parents who visited a Milwaukee emergency department between September 2009 and March 2010.

They found that African American and Latino parents were three times more likely than white parents to give their children exclusively bottled water.

The researchers said the strong preference for bottled water was largely driven by certain perceptions -- such as it's safer, more convenient, or better tasting than tap water.

In international news...

A chemical company in eastern China is under investigation for its role in a massive water contamination incident there.

Several toxic chemicals, including benzene and alkene, were found in the Tiaoxi River, forcing the shutdown of the local water treatment plant, which serves about 200,000 people in Zhejiang Province.

Operations at two other water treatment plants were also impacted.

Schools and kindergartens in the area were closed down and the local government has been distributing water to residents.

The contamination was traced back to a nearby industrial park but the exact cause of the spill is not yet known.

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