News Briefs

News from the nation.


Project aims to mutually reduce water, energy use

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the Central Basin Municipal Water District (MWD), located in the city of Commerce, Calif., with a new grant that will make history as the first project aimed at reducing water and energy consumption simultaneously.

MWD will use the funds to retrofit public facilities, implement a notification awareness program and install software to manage water and energy use in its recycled water delivery system.

The retrofit component of the grant will provide qualifying public facilities, such as school districts, city-owned properties and non-profit organizations, with free water-efficient devices and installation. Qualifying sites will also be provided with a facility inspection that includes an in-depth analysis of their water-use practices.

The results of the inspection will help determine the recommended retrofits. Devices available for retrofit include high- efficient urinals and toilets, faucet aerators and rotating nozzles.

Funding from the grant also includes the development of a notification awareness program. The web-based platform will be made available to water retailers to send inter-agency notifications on water usage, drought emergency and conservation measures.

Partnership seeks to unite water technologies with investment community

In late August, JPMorgan Chase and The Water Council announced a partnership created to unite North America's investment community with water technology entrepreneurs in order to match capital with water innovation.

The partnership includes a $225,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase as part of the company's recently-launched Small Business Forward initiative -- a national, five-year, $30-million grant program designed to boost small business support networks that help growing enterprises in specific industries. With the grant, The Water Council will identify investment firms that are interested in exploring water technology investments, prepare water investment training information and conduct an investor conference with entrepreneurs.

Through the support of JPMorgan Chase, The Water Council will look to expand the water investment program nationally and internationally. The partnership will help to advance The Water Council's vision of being the globally-connected epicenter of freshwater research, innovation, education, and business development; drive economic development in Milwaukee; enable water technology companies to strengthen and grow their businesses; and ultimately help address pressing global water issues.

States missing out on opportunities to improve water infrastructure

According to a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), some states are not maximizing the use of Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRFs), resulting in "missed opportunities" to improve water system infrastructure.

OIG found that an investigation of DWSRF use in five states showed that "unliquidated balances" exceed the EPA goal of keeping those balances below 13 percent of the cumulative federal capitalization grants awarded.

The Office further found that the states were not adequately projecting the DWSRF resources that would be available in the future to enable them to anticipate the amount of projects needed to be ready for loan execution in a given year.

"As a result, $231 million of capitalization grant funds remained idle, loans were not issued, and communities were not able to implement needed drinking water improvements," OIG stated.

OIG recommended that EPA require states with unliquidated obligations that exceed the 13-percent cutoff goal to project future cash flows to ensure funds are expended as efficiently as possible.

Washington dam removal is largest in U.S. history

Washington's Elwha River dam removal project -- the largest in the nation -- is now completed, with the remaining 35 feet of Glines Canyon Dam removed last month.

Since crews finished demolishing the dam, once towering 210 feet tall, the Elwha River can now flow freely from the mountain wilderness of Olympic National Park to the sea.

Removing both dams opened up 70 miles of habitat for salmon. The river restoration effort, which began in 2011, is surpassing expectations and showing great progress, including fish returning, native plants reclaiming riverbanks, and sand rebuilding the beach at the river's mouth.

The Elwha River's revival has been underway since Elwha Dam was removed in March 2012. Salmon have returned, swimming up past the old dam site, and Elwha fish populations are expected to reach 400,000 over the next 20 to 30 years.

Volunteers have also planted native grasses, shrubs and trees to jumpstart the restoration of land exposed by the drained reservoirs. Sediment blocked in the reservoirs behind the dams has moved downstream, creating habitat and restoring the beach at the river's mouth.

ANSI standard for drinking water treatment systems released

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has recognized WQA/ASPE/ANSI S-803: Sustainable Drinking Water Treatment Systems by the Water Quality Association (WQA) and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) as an American National Standard.

WQA collaborated with ASPE to take the original version of the standard through the formal public review process necessary for a voluntary public standard to be accredited by ANSI. S-803 is the first sustainability standard for drinking water treatment products to receive such an accreditation.

Products certified as meeting the requirements of S-803 are eligible to bear the WQA Sustainability Mark in recognition of passing the assessment of sustainable production practices that must be adopted by the manufacturer.

The standard evaluates the products in all other phases of the product's lifecycle, from responsible raw material sourcing, through product packaging and consumer use, and to end-of-life disposition. It even addresses the basic elements of corporate social responsibility.

The S-803 standard operates on a points-based system, giving manufacturers the freedom to choose from a menu of sustainability-oriented criteria. The scope of S-803 includes drinking water filter products that utilize activated carbon, as well as similar types of filters made from polypropylene, polyethylene or string fibers.

Drought spurs new reporting requirements in California

In an effort to address reduced water supplies made worse by continuing drought conditions, the state of California has announced a new reporting requirement for water production and water consumption.

According to the State Water Resources Control Board, the emergency regulatory action is meant to "ensure that urban water suppliers implement drought response plans to limit outdoor irrigation and other wasteful water practices."

In addition to having to impose mandatory restrictions on the use of potable water for certain outdoor uses, suppliers must also provide a monitoring report by the 15th of every month, which began in August. The report must detail the amount of potable water produced or purchased and the number of customers served.

Additional residential per capita consumption reports will be required starting on October 15th, 2014.

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