After Katrina: Congress opens investigation, charges filed, tax cuts delayed & water flows

As the president prepared to address the nation on Katrina, southern Mississippi had most water and sewer service restored. New Orleans reported 40% of pumps draining the city were operational. And federal biologists began studying the storm's impact, with a Duke engineering professor predicting pumping water into Lake Pontchartrain was just a problem delayed in terms of environmental problems. AWWA adds disaster preparedness to upcoming conference's themes...

TULSA, OK, Sept. 14, 2005 -- As Congress opened hearings on the initial slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina and FOX News reported the disaster would delay Republican tax cut plans, local officials began filing charges for negligent deaths in a Louisiana nursing home and planned more such action.

President Bush, seeking to recover from earlier criticism, planned a fourth trip to the Gulf Coast, including a national address from New Orleans on Thursday night.

The Biloxi Sun Herald, meanwhile, reported that most water and sewer services were back online in the region thanks to the efforts of scores of water workers from Florida. Pressure was low in some places and wastewater pump stations are running on diesel bypass pumps, but taps are running.

Today's breaking news from New Orleans' Times-Picayune reports that 40% of the city's pumps were operational this morning, with the latest estimate for St. Bernard Parish to be fully drained set for late October. There are still areas of the city with as much as 10 feet of water. The EPA also warned of bacteria and mold health risks during cleanup.

The Houston Chronicle reported that federal biologists began to study the storm's impact on area waters and the Gulf of Mexico, with researchers from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration taking water, fish and sediment samples from several areas.

A Duke University environmental engineer lamented the long term impact of contaminated waters being pumped out of the city to Lake Pontchartrain, according to an item picked up by the Environmental News Service from AScribe. Acknowledging that tough decisions had to be made, he criticized the fact that the focus was on where to pump the water rather than whether to treat it as well. Without treatment, he called pumping the water into the lake rather than the Mississippi River or Gulf of Mexico a way to contain it for future remediation, but only the "lesser of evils."

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia of everything, even added a page for Hurricane Katrina that covers everything from the Atlantic hurricane season to the international response and political fallout. The environmental section is fairly skimpy, consisting of just three short paragraphs.

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In other hurricane news, see the following:

DSS Conference Highlights Include Water Industry's Emerging Technologies, Personnel Management and System Security -- New Session Focuses on Hurricane Response -- DENVER, Sept. 14, 2005 -- The American Water Works Association (AWWA) will add a new session at its DSS Conference & Exposition that will explore the water industry's response to Hurricane Katrina. Water industry leaders will gather at DSS on Sept. 18-21 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside in Tampa, Fla., to explore new technologies, security issues and other pressing matters related to water distribution and treatment plant operations. In addition to other modified themes to address the aftermath of the disaster and emergency preparedness, a new session has been added Sept. 19, where AWWA's Alan Roberson will discuss modification of the National Emergency Response Registry (NERR) for the water sector and Scott Kelly, from JEA, will talk about how FlaWARN was used in Katrina and Dennis and how Florida utilities responded to help impacted utilities in Mississippi...

Hydration Technologies' Life-Sustaining Water Filtration Bags Deployed To Hurricane Katrina Victims -- ALBANY, OR, Sept. 14, 2005 -- With thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims still in need of clean drinking water, Hydration Technologies Inc. (HTI) is providing emergency water filtration bags that turn muddy, contaminated waters into clean, potable drink. Over the past 10 days, the company has deployed nearly 25,000 of its X-Pack™ systems to U.S. military centers responding to the Gulf Coast disaster. Used by the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and in water-deprived areas of Africa, HTI's X-Pack provides a portable, life-sustaining source of clean drink at a time when a lack of clean water poses the biggest health threat to hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi...

Ecosphere Technologies' First Responder Team Sends Emergency Water Filtration System to Waveland's Hurricane Katrina Victims -- STUART, FL, Sept. 14, 2005 -- Ecosphere Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of UltraStrip Systems, Inc., is providing clean drinking water to 7,000 residents in Waveland, Mississippi, after deploying the Mobile Emergency Filtration System (MEFS) to the devastated area. Ecosphere's MEFS is the nation's first high-volume Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-verified Homeland Security water filtration system. The Ecosphere MEFS converts highly contaminated water, including contaminants such as E. coli bacteria, chemical and other biological contaminants, into enough pure drinking water to meet the needs of approximately 10,000 people daily...

GE Comments on Hurricane Katrina and Reaffirms Third Quarter Outlook and Total Year 2005 Earnings per Share Guidance -- Continues to Execute Strategy to Reduce Investment in Insurance -- FAIRFIELD, CT, Sept. 14, 2005 -- General Electric Co. Chairman and CEO Jeffery R. Immelt today said that GE's earnings forecast for third quarter and full year 2005 remain on track: "Hurricane Katrina has caused significant personal and public loss. We are committed to helping the people of the Gulf Coast rebuild their communities and their lives. To date, the GE Family has committed over $21 million in direct contributions and resources -- and we have dedicated teams working with government and relief agencies to assist those in need"...

Suez's U.S. Companies, Employees Donating Life Essentials to Aid Hurricane Katrina Victims -- Utilities leader offers water purification and energy resources; employees offer food, clothing, shelter, and counseling. More than $500,000 also pledged to American Red Cross and the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. -- NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2005 -- SUEZ Group, through four of its U.S. affiliates and subsidiaries -- SUEZ Energy North America, United Water, Infilco Degremont, and Teris -- said today that it is donating $500,000 to two prominent agencies working on behalf of hurricane relief and rebuilding efforts in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana: The American Red Cross and Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund will each receive $250,000...

Hercules Hosts Investor Day; Discusses Hurricane Katrina Impacts -- WILMINGTON, DE, Sept. 14, 2005 -- Hercules Inc. today held an Investor and Analyst Day with a focus on technology and innovation. President and CEO Craig A. Rogerson also commented on the impact of Hurricane Katrina, "While the company's Mississippi paper chemicals production facility sustained relatively minor damage and some lost production time, the indirect effects of the Hurricane are more pronounced across all our businesses." Hercules is experiencing increased raw material, utility and transportation costs exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina. While the full impacts of Hurricane Katrina aren't fully known at this time, the company believes that it will impact earnings per share by at least five cents for the balance of the year...

Southwest Water Aids in Hurricane Katrina Recovery Efforts; Restores Water and Wastewater Service to 250,000 Residents -- Transports Emergency Supplies to Affected Staff; Establishes Matching Fund for Employee Donations -- LOS ANGELES, Sept. 14, 2005 -- Shortly after Hurricane Katrina tore through the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Southwest Water Co. launched efforts to assist more than 300 of its employees and restore essential water and wastewater services to a quarter of a million residents in the region. Through its operating subsidiaries, Operations Technologies and ECO Resources, Southwest Water provides contract operation, maintenance and management services in D'Iberville, Gulfport, Harrison County, Long Beach and Pascagoula, all of which sustained catastrophic damage from Katrina...

Bentley Provides Assistance to Design and Construction Firms Displaced by Hurricane Katrina or Helping With Rebuilding Efforts; No-Charge, 60-Day Renewable Software Licenses Can Be Downloaded Immediately -- EXTON, PA, Sept. 13, 2005 -- Bentley Systems, Incorporated today announced that it will provide special assistance to architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms that have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina or are contributing to rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region. Realizing that AEC professionals in communities hard hit by Katrina have undoubtedly lost most or all of their technology resources, Bentley will make available to them, at no charge, the design software they'll need to get back to work. In addition, the company will extend this assistance to organizations helping restore infrastructure along the Gulf Coast...

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Earlier "After Katrina" reports and related company news dating to Aug. 31, are available at: After Katrina: Post-hurricane environmental details emerge, water plants restarted (Sept. 13, 2005) -- A Shreveport expert caught in New Orleans works to get water and wastewater treatment services up and running. Officials indicate two thirds of SE Louisiana water treatment plants were now operational. As the Port of New Orleans prepares to reopen, aid shipments of water treatment equipment arrive in region from Holland and South Africa. President names veteran firefighter as new FEMA director and acknowledges responsibility for failures in federal response...

If you would like to assist financially, to contribute directly through the American Red Cross and for the latest news on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, see: www.redcross.org/news/.

The latest government agency information on Hurricane Katrina response can be found at:
-- Department of Homeland Security: www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/katrina.htm
-- FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/press/2005/katrinarecovery.shtm
-- USEPA (including results of ongoing water quality testing), see: www.epa.gov/katrina/
-- U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (see "Daily Update on CDC Response"): www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/
-- U.S. Geological Survey (with before and after photos of the hurricane's devastation along the Gulf Coast): http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/hurricanes/katrina/
-- FirstGov, the U.S. Government's official website (English/Spanish): www.firstgov.gov

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