WaterWorld Weekly Newscast, November 12, 2018

Nov. 12, 2018
A transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for November 12, 2018.
South African researchers create 'bio-bricks' from urine; EPA invites 39 projects to apply for WIFIA loans ; App encourages tap water use; Oroville Dam ready for winter rains

The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for November 12, 2018.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of November 12. Coming up...

South African researchers create 'bio-bricks' from urine
EPA invites 39 projects to apply for WIFIA loans
App encourages tap water use
Oroville Dam ready for winter rains

Recovering resources from wastewater is a common objective these days, and now South African research students are adding their contribution to the mix: bricks made of human urine.

The University of Cape Town researchers start with loose sand colonized with bacteria, which produce an enzyme that breaks down the urea in urine and produces calcium carbonate.

The bricks grow similar to how seashells and coral are formed. And they can be grown in the shape of whatever mold they're grown in.

In addition to being a beneficial use for human waste, the bio-bricks are made at room temperature with no need for heating or kiln firing like traditional bricks.

Although the process inspires hope as a zero-waste, sustainable building product, it's a ways away from commercialization.

It currently takes about a week and 6 to 8 gallons of pee to make a single brick.

After receiving 62 letters of interest, the U.S. EPA has invited 39 projects in 16 states and the District of Columbia to apply for WIFIA loans in the agency's 2018 round of funding.

According to EPA, the projects total approximately $5 billion in loans, which will help finance over $10 billion in water infrastructure investments.

The applicants represent a range of projects addressing two major national priorities: aging infrastructure and reducing exposure to lead or other drinking water contaminants.

The 2018 round of funding indicates heightened interest in the WIFIA loan program. In 2017, for WIFIA’s inaugural round, EPA received 43 letters of interest and invited 12 projects to apply.

For more details on the WIFIA program or the 2018 applicants, visit epa.gov/wifia.

A new app aims to help people find public places where they can refill water bottles with tap water.

Called Tap, the app was created by Samuel Ian Rosen as a sort of Google Map for water, designed to cut down on plastic waste from disposable water bottles by making it easier to refill with tap water.

Using your location, the app finds nearby refill stations from its network of coffee shops, fast food restaurants, and other public places that don't mind you wandering in to fill up.

Tap currently has in its network over 35,000 Refill Stations in 30 countries.

The Tap app is available for download for Android and iOS.


Just a few months ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Oroville Dam failure, officials with the California Department of Water Resources say the spillway will be ready for winter rains.

Crews worked non-stop on the rehabilitation to meet the November 1st goal for completing the majority of repairs and reconstruction on the main and emergency spillways.

The concrete work will need a month to cure, and some work still needs to be done before it can be fully used, but officials are confident that -- if it's needed -- the main spillway will be usable by Dec. 1.

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