WaterWorld Weekly Newscast: Mar. 5, 2012

Transcript of the Mar. 5, 2012, edition of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast.

Click 'Play' to watch video

The following is a transcript of the Mar. 5, 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...

• House passes controversial California water bill
• City sued for misusing wastewater funds
• Water infrastructure price tag marked at $1 trillion
• China hydro dam blamed for dried up river in India

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, was meant to address California's long-term water challenges, but critics say it turns back decades of environmental progress and sets a dangerous precedent by pre-empting state laws.

Under the new legislation, federal irrigation contracts to would return 40 years (rather than the 25-year limit imposed in 1992). It would ease water transfers and also boost water deliveries to Central Valley farmers -- even in times of drought.

Environmentalists say the bill also replaces federal and state agreements aimed at restoring the San Joaquin delta with weaker, less ambitious plans.

Supporters of the legislation say it will alleviate the "man-made drought" in the Central Valley. Opponents, however, say it favors farmers and nobody else.

The legislation now moves to the Senate. Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have said they will do everything they can to make sure the bill doesn't pass. And if it does, the Obama administration has threatened a veto.

Attorneys for the City of Petaluma, California, have denied allegations by former Petaluma City Council member Bryant Moynihan that the city wrongly funded routine storm drain maintenance and stormwater projects with money from the wastewater enterprise fund.

In January, Moynihan filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming it owes the wastewater fund $4.7 million. In his complaint, he says the city is in violation of Proposition 218, which stipulates that the city cannot charge customers more than the cost of providing the service.

Money from the wastewater enterprise fund, Moynihan says, has been used to pay for a number of things not necessary to support wastewater operations -- things like landscaping and computers, in addition to storm drain operations.

The American Water Works Association released a startling new report last week, estimating the cost of repairing and expanding aging drinking water infrastructure in the U.S. at over $1 trillion in the next 25 years.

AWWA considered many factors in its study, including timing of water main installation and life expectancy, materials used, replacement costs and shifting demographics.

Among the key findings, AWWA said on a national level infrastructure needs are split roughly 50/50 between replacement and expansion of water infrastructure.

Regionally, however, pipe replacement will require more investment in the Northeast and Midwest; while expansion of infrastructure will be the focus in the rapidly growing South and West.

Water bills will rise, AWWA speculated. While the costs will vary widely, AWWA said some communities could see their water bills triple.

The report is called "Buried No Longer: Confronting America's Water Infrastructure Challenge" and it's available online at awwa.org/infrastructure.

China is denying allegations that its hydropower dam on the Brahmaputra River in Tibet has strained downstream water supplies to India to that point that a stretch of the Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh has essentially dried up.

Chinese officials maintain that the Zangmu hydropower station is not big enough to affect downstream water supply and, they say, it has no environmental impact whatsoever.

India isn't buying it. While the cause of the water shortage is still unknown, local Indian state legislator Tako Dabi said he suspected China is diverting water resources.

China has plans to build 28 dams on the Brahmaputra as part of its massive, $62 billion South-North Water Transfer project aimed at alleviating water shortages in its northern zones.

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


More in Treatment