The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for August 22, 2016.
Hi, I’m Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of August 22. Coming up…
Harvard study finds toxic chemicals in 33 U.S. water systems
Tank malfunction triggers sewage overflow at Texas plant
Tap water sickens thousands in New Zealand
Failed sensor causes wastewater spill in Michigan
Horrific side effect to Louisiana flooding
Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoralkyl substances were the focus of a recent Harvard study that looked at US EPA drinking water data from 36,000 water samples across the nation, as well as industrial sites and wastewater treatment plants.
The researchers identified 194 water supplies in 33 states where PFAS was detectable at the minimum reporting level.
About a third of those — 66 — indicated levels of PFOA and PFOS above the EPA’s recently established safety limit of 70 ppt.
Fluorinated compounds are used in the manufacture of commercial and industrial products and have been linked to a number of illnesses including cancer.
You can read more about the Harvard study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
Last week, a malfunction at an Austin-area wastewater plant caused about 25,000 gallons of raw sewage to overflow an equalization basin.
Workers reportedly recovered the waste, and none of the sewage made it into a nearby waterway.
The Lost Creek plant, operated by Austin Water, has had a number of operational issues over the past few years and residents have filed numerous odor complaints.
The city says it is planning improvements, including to the equalization basin, by the end of 2016.
Meantime, the utility is planning to replace the tank’s damaged cover.
Last week, an outbreak of campylobacter bacteria in the water supply of North Havelock, New Zealand, sickened around 4,000 residents, causing a variety of gastric illnesses.
At least 17 people were hospitalized. The autopsy of an elderly woman who died last week showed the presence of the bacteria but health officials could not say for certain whether it was the cause of death.
Officials don’t know how the bacteria — which is usually spread by animal feces — got into the water supply but a full investigation is underway.
Meanwhile, the water system is being treated with chlorine and a boil water advisory is in effect.
More than 500,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled from a treatment plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, last week — reportedly caused by a failed sensor.
Excessive amounts of rain had almost doubled the plant’s daily flow — from 26 MGD to 47. Apparently, a third pump should have kicked on but didn’t because of a failed sensor.
Workers caught the error during a routine inspection and started the pump.
Plant engineers have since fixed the faulty sensor.
As if recent flooding in Louisiana weren’t bad enough, families in Denham Springs are discovering an unexpected consequence: the caskets of loved ones have been washed away by floodwaters. Josh Replogle has the full story.
For WaterWorld magazine, I’m Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.