The following is a transcript of the May 19, 2011, edition of the WaterWorld Weekly newscast.Click 'Play Video' to watch newscast.Hi, I'm Angela Godwin, digital media editor for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you this week's water and wastewater news headlines. Coming up...
• Wall collapses at wastewater treatment plant
• DC Water breaks ground on upgrades at Blue Plains
• New York sewer overflow facility comes online
• Water sustainability leaders honored
• Chesapeake fined for contaminating water wells
• Thousands of customers lose water service for unpaid bills
• Rain threatens revival of cholera in Haiti
A wall collapse at the Binghamton-Johnson City Sewage Treatment Plant in Vestal, New York, earlier this week sent thousands of gallons of sediment and partially treated wastewater into a tributary of the Susquehanna.
The spill has been contained at this time but the plant is not yet fully operational.
The collapsed wall was part of the carbon removal section of the plant's biological aerated filtration system which came online in 2006.
A recent audit of the structure indicates that officials were aware of deficiencies -- such as leaks and improperly installed vertical control joints.
At this time it is unclear what exactly caused the collapse, but an investigation is underway.
Nobody was injured in the incident.
DC Water and Sewer Authority this week kicked off two huge projects at its Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The first is the installation of thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digesters, which will 'pressure cook' leftover biosolids to generate heat and power.
When finished, this will be the first wastewater plant in North America to use thermal hydrolysis -- and the largest in the world.
The second project is the Authority's Enhanced Nutrient Removal Facility, which will decrease nitrogen levels in effluent to meet EPA and Chesapeake Bay Program goals.
Both projects are slated for completion in 2014.
The new $404 million dollar Paerdegat Basin CSO Facility came online this week in Brooklyn, New York.
The 50-million-gallon facility will prevent combined sewer overflows from reaching Jamaica Bay by retaining stormwater in underground tanks during heavy rainfall until it can be accepted by the nearby Coney Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The facility, which is part of Mayor Bloomberg's larger $1.6 billion dollar plan to restore Jamaica Bay, is expected to reduce CSO's in the city by 70%. It also has a screening system to remove debris and large floatables that would otherwise end up in the Bay.
DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway said the facility represents "a major milestone" in improving water quality in the city.
Last week the Clean Water America Alliance held an award ceremony for its inaugural U.S. Water Prize. Over 200 water industry leaders gathered in Washington DC to recognize the five winners: the City of Los Angeles, the Milwaukee Water Council, the National Great Rivers Research & Education Center, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and the Pacific Institute.
EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water Bob Perciasepe said of the winners: "To confront ... growing challenges, we need innovative strategies and cutting-edge technologies like those being used, developed and promoted by this year?s United States Water Prize winners.?
Ben Grumbles, President of the Clean Water America Alliance, said the five winners "reflect the diversity of America" and set "a shining example for innovating, integrating, and collaborating to sustain America?s liquid assets."
To hear more from this year's prize winners, check out the collection of video interviews at WaterWorld TV.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection levied a record penalty on Chesapeake Energy this week, sending a clear message to gas drillers when it comes to taking responsibility for their drilling operations.
The majority of the over $1 million dollar fine -- the largest single penalty DEP has ever assessed against an oil and gas operator -- is for contaminating 16 private drinking water wells in Bradford County.
A 2010 investigation of Chesapeake's operations revealed improper well casing and cementing in shallow zones. This made it possible for natural gas from non-shale shallow gas formations to migrate into groundwater and contaminate the wells.
In a statement, Chesapeake said it will pay the fine and has made improvements to its cementing and casing practices.
Fed up with delinquent customers, the Niagara Falls Water Board started shutting off water to more than 2,400 customers this month.
With more than $440,000 in unpaid water bills, the Board said the outstanding balance puts significant strain on the city's budget and future planning.
The Board's Executive Director Paul J. Drof said it simply isn't fair to those customers who pay on time and that the shut-offs are a last resort.
In international news...
UN officials are warning that the rainy season in Haiti could revive that nation's cholera epidemic, which stemmed from the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake there.
Since the outbreak last fall, nearly 5,000 people have died of cholera in Haiti, due in large part to lack of clean drinking water.
With the heavy rains expected between June and December, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the number of cholera cases could rise dramatically.
Cholera response efforts have been hindered by a wide funding gap: only about 48% of the needed $125 million has been covered by donors.
Recently inaugurated Haitian President Michel Martelly said stopping the cholera outbreak as well as relocating thousands of displaced people from camps would be two of his immediate priorities.
For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.