The following is a transcript of the Oct. 17, 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...
• House passes ballast water treatment bill
• Clean drinking water bills signed in California
• DC Water breaks ground CSO project
• Car maker installs rain gardens to help improve river water quality
• Denver water utility kicks off water storage project
• Encephalitis outbreak kills 400 in India
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved H.R. 2840, the "Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2011."
The bill amends the Clean Water Act to set a single nationwide performance standard for the treatment of vessel ballast water. The U.S. Coast Guard will be responsible for setting an implementation schedule requiring vessel owners to install treatment technology certified to meet the new standard.
The bill also allows for a review of the performance standard every 10 years or upon petition from the states.
Supports expect the bill to address the patchwork of varying and inconsistent ballast water regulations across states.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed seven bills into law this past week that aim to improve access to clean drinking water in the state.
AB 54 allows water agencies to begin construction on ailing systems as soon as an application for state funding is accepted, rather than waiting for the money to be received. It also provides training for board members of small, community-run mutual water agencies.
AB 938 requires drinking water alerts to be translated when 10 percent or more of the water district's customers speak a second language.
AB 983 enables "severely disadvantaged communities" to obtain 100 percent grant funding -- as opposed to the current 80 percent -- for water infrastructure improvement projects.
AB 1221 allows state-recognized tribes and nonprofits to qualify for cleanup money from the state's Cleanup and Abatement Account to pay for pollution mediation.
SB 244 requires cities and counties to consider the infrastructure needs of disadvantaged and unincorporated communities in urban planning efforts.
AB 1194 clarifies drinking water laws to ensure that state public health laws conform with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
And finally, AB 1292 authorizes the issuance of revenue bonds, which will be deposited into the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund so the state can satisfy federal matching requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Governor Brown said, "Clean drinking water is a basic human right." These bills, he said, "will help ensure that every Californian has access to clean and safe sources of water."
DC Water broke ground this week for its largest construction project ever since the building of the city.
The $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project aims to nearly eliminate combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and Rock Creek, which will ultimately improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
The project consists of huge underground tunnels where combined sewage will be stored during rain events until it can be accepted by the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The Blue Plains Tunnel is the project's first -- and largest -- tunnel system. It's 23 feet in diameter and runs more than 100 feet deep from Blue Plains in Southwest DC, along the east bank of the Potomac, under the Anacostia and then along the west bank to RFK Stadium.
This first portion of the project is expected to be operational by March 2018, the remainder will be completed by 2025.
Subaru is doing its part to help improve water quality by installing rain gardens at two of its facilities. The first will be at the company's headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey; the second at its Pennsauken, NJ office.
The rain gardens will help reduce runoff, including nutrients and pollutants, into surrounding rivers and streams.
Tom Doll, executive vice president and COO of Subaru of America said they will also help "educate our employees, our corporate neighbors, and the public about the importance of stormwater management."
Subaru worked in partnership with the Camden County Soil Conservation District and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Rutgers University to install the rain gardens.
Denver Water began construction on a new $7.4 million water storage facility and pumping station.
The 5-inch concrete base slab was poured this week for the utility's new Basin No. 2 in Lone Tree. The underground reservoir will be 23 feet deep and hold about 10 million gallons of water, which will be transported in and out of the basin via 60-inch pipes.
This will be the second water storage basin at the Lone Tree site -- the first was built in 1983 and is no longer adequate to serve the area's growing population.
The new reservoir will be very similar to Basin No. 1, except that it won't be completely buried. About a foot of the tank will be exposed, which will facilitate maintenance among other things.
The project is expected to take about 18 months.
In international news...
An outbreak of viral encephalitis has claimed more than 400 lives in the Gorakhpur area of Uttar Pradesh, India -- most of the victims are children.
The disease is not uncommon in this area, where monsoon season flooding creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes, a major carrier of the disease.
But there has been a marked increase in the number of cases of encephalitis since July; the cause of which is undetermined but suspected to be a waterborne enterovirus spread through water contamination.
Children between the ages of six months and 15 years are the most vulnerable because of their weaker immune systems and exposure to contaminated water.
Most of the victims are also poor and from rural areas where contamination of water supplies is prevalent, partly due to open defecation.
The government has set up treatment center at the BRD Medical College but the nearly 400 beds are filled, some patients having to double up.
Controlling this form of the disease has proven to be a difficult challenge, one that experts say will require a massive effort to improve access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.