Tree ring growth reveals California’s current drought is the worst in 1,200 years

A study published in the journal of the American Geophysical Union and undertaken by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Minnesota concluded that California’s past three drought years are the most severe that region has experienced in at least 1,200 years. The study measured the growth of tree rings to estimate how wet each year has been. Tree rings from 278 blue oaks in Central and Southern California were measured by researchers, who then compared the collected information to a tree ring record database for longer-lived trees, which takes the record back about 1,200 years to approximately A.D. 800. Findings from the study also reveal that 2014 was the single worst year of drought in the past 1,200 years.

 

The WateReuse Research Foundation publishes white paper on potable water reuse

The WateReuse Research Foundation released a new white paper titled, “The Opportunities and Economics of Direct Potable Reuse (WRRF-14-08).” According to the white paper, for many communities a viable and affordable solution for prolonged and severe droughts and other factors that have made water supplies increasingly scarce in many regions throughout the U.S. is to turn wastewater into purified drinking water. Dr. Robert S. Raucher of Stratus Consulting and Dr. George Tchobanoglous of the University of California, Davis, found that potable water reuse is generally comparable in cost to, or less expensive than, the potential alternative sources of new water supplies available for communities in areas like California. The white paper also found that potable reuse can also be compared favorability with regards to energy requirements, reliability and environmental considerations.

 

EPA awards funds to Arkansas for water infrastructure improvements

EPA awarded more than $13.5 million to help Arkansas upgrade, install and replace water infrastructure. Arkansas Natural Resource Commission plans to use the funds mainly to provide loan assistance to eligible public water systems to help ensure safe drinking water. EPA works with states and other organizations to help protect against naturally occurring and man-made contaminants found in drinking water sources. The funds awarded to Arkansas are part of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), which assists drinking water systems by helping to finance infrastructure improvements.

 

Canada establishes stricter regulations for mercury

Canada has established a new set of regulations that will prohibit the importation or production of most products containing mercury, or any of its compounds, while setting limits on the maximum quantity of mercury permitted in certain products. Theses Canadian Environmental Protection Act changes will take effect Nov. 5, 2015. Manufacturers of products affected by these regulations will be required to obtain a permit from Environment Canada in order to distribute and import products containing mercury and additional testing, labeling, record-keeping and reporting requirements will be associated with the new regulations.

 

USGS releases new interactive visualization website on California’s drought

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the release of a new interactive California Drought visualization website aimed at providing the public with atlas-like, statewide coverage of the drought as well as a timeline of its impacts on water resources. The website was developed by USGS as part of the federal government’s Open Water Data Initiative. The drought visualization page features high-tech graphics illustrating the drought’s effects on region reservoir storage from 2011-2014, and for the visualization, drought data are integrated through time and space with plots and maps of reservoir storage. California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in January 2014 to help officials manage the drought.

 

EPA issues permit to protect Rio Grande River in the Albuquerque area

EPA issued the Middle Rio Grande Watershed Based Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit establishing “requirements to reduce pollution carried by stormwater runoff and to restore portions of the Middle Rio Grande River that are too polluted.” The permit allows for collaboration and combined programs among local jurisdictions, and EPA recognizes the need for everyone within the area to do their part to protect the Rio Grande River. Applicants of the Middle Rio Grande Watershed Based MS4 permit are required to develop a stormwater management plan and apply stormwater management controls. The new permit will supply local municipal systems with up to an additional four years to develop or update local pollution control programs, as well as provide more flexibility to meet water quality requirements.

 

Colorado reservoir breaks ground

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) recently broke ground on a new water supply reservoir near Lane City, Texas. When completed in 2017, the about 40,000-acre-foot (13-billion-gallon) reservoir being constructed off the main channel of the Colorado River will help secure water sources for the drought-prone Texas region. In April 2013, LCRA awarded CH2M HILL a contract for the design of the reservoir and pump station as well as the rehabilitation and upgrade of the intakes, along with associated conveyance to and from the reservoir. The Lane City Reservoir Project is the region’s first significant new water supply reservoir in decades.

 

NGWA helps achieve $2.6 million for National Ground-Water Monitoring Network

Congress recently approved $1.1 trillion in spending that contains $2.6 million for the implementation of the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network. The money allows the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to provide cost-share grants to states in the form of cooperative agreements to upgrade monitoring networks to national standards and to incorporate wells into the network. The funding also will support additional work by USGS to manage the network and provide data access to the public through an Internet portal. The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) led the effort with allied organizations and coalition members to obtain funding for the network.

 

SFPUC signs landmark agreement for groundwater storage project

A landmark agreement ensuring long-term, management and sustainability of the South Westside Groundwater Basin was recently finalized and signed between San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and three San Mateo County organizations. Stretching from San Francisco to Burlingame, the basin has the capacity to store 20 billion gallons of groundwater in a regional water “savings account” to protect against future earthquakes and droughts. The $113 million Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery project is in partnership between the city of Daly, San Bruno, SFPUC and California Water Service Company, and during years of normal or heavy rainfall in order to reduce the quantity of groundwater pumped from the South Westside Groundwater Basin, the project will supply additional surface water to the partner agencies in San Mateo County. Construction of the project will be finished in 2018 and will provide 7.2 million gallons of water per day to benefit the 2.6 million residents in the area who rely on the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System.

 

Teenage girl and WWIF raise money to provide clean drinking water around the world

In lieu of presents, Delaney Hill, a teenage girl, requested donations for her birthday on Aug. 25 to provide clean drinking water to disadvantaged people around the world. She successfully initiated a “dress-down day” at her school, St. Paul Lutheran School in Boca Raton; and alongside Wishing Well International Foundation (WWIF), she helped raise $9,000 in donations matched by the Clean Water Team to total $18,000. The donations will help to provide clean, safe drinking water for 10 years to 1,500 people. Hill started her campaign for safe water in 2011, when she first raised money on her birthday for the cause. For every $120 donated, 10 people are provided with clean water for 10 years.

 

PEOPLE

Hellenbrand Inc., located in Waunakee, Wisconsin, recently named Jim Donohoe as regional sales manager for the Eastern U.S. region. In his new position, Donohoe will provide ongoing support to Hellenbrand’s present dealer base as well as focus on new business development. He has 16 years of industry experience including regional management, multiple location business, sales, district management and sales management.

Robyn Toole has been named a water resources engineer in Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Indianapolis office. Toole will participate in and manage water resource projects throughout the U.S. and Canada in her new position. She has experience with surface water hydraulic analysis, water treatment and distribution, hydraulic modeling, wastewater collection and treatment, pump station design and storage facility design. Toole has been involved in the design of highway drainage structures, federal and state permitting, environmental site assessment and remediation and inspection work for levees and other water resources infrastructure. Prior to her new position, Toole worked as a project manager and project engineer on stormwater, water and wastewater infrastructure projects and environmental remediation.

HydroNovation Inc. announced that Terry Heckman has joined the company as the Western regional sales manager. Heckman has over 27 years of commercial and residential water treatment experience and has previously worked for Nelson Corporation, GE Water & Process Technologies, Pentair Residential Filtration, Autotrol and Osmonics. Heckman will use his background and industrial channel partner contacts to help commercialize the salt-free HydroDI™ water treatment technology to the commercial and residential markets. His industry experience includes product training, sales management, troubleshooting and service, water treatment equipment installation and development of marketing collateral for dealer network programs. Heckman holds a WQA CWS-VI certification and will be based in Arizona.