EPA announces the launch of the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the launch of the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center. The center will help U.S. communities improve their drinking water, stormwater and wastewater systems, “particularly through innovative financing and by building resilience to climate change.” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Vice President Joe Biden announced the launch of the center during a tour of the construction site for a tunnel to reduce sewer overflows by 98 percent into the Anacostia River. The Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center is part of the White House’s Build America Investment Initiative — a government-wide effort to encourage economic growth and increase infrastructure investment by creating opportunities for the private sector and local and state governments to collaborate, increase the use of federal credit programs and expand public-private partnerships.

 

Group of scientists push for the addition of water to ‘MyPlate’

A recent post in NPR’s blog, The Salt, discusses the upcoming Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s report “on the latest science on nutrition and medicine.” According to The Salt Editor Eliza Barclay, many people are “eagerly awaiting” the release of the report, including a group of scientists interested in the panel’s findings on what the U.S. population is drinking. The blog post reported a group of scientists from the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California are considering adding a water icon to “MyPlate,” which replaced the food pyramid in 2011 with an image of a plate divided into portions of fruits, grains, vegetables and protein with dairy off to the side. Christina Hecht — senior policy adviser at the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, together with Barry Popkin of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Kelly Brownell of Duke University, submitted a letter to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the addition of the water symbol to MyPlate, and also made the case “for including stronger language on water as a substitute for soda and other sugary beverages.”

 

AWWA Water Utility Council chair testifies before U.S. House subcommittee on cyanotoxins

American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Water Utility Council Chair Aurel Arndt stressed in recent testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy that the solution to safeguarding drinking water from cyanotoxins begins with better nutrient pollution management. The hearings are in response to the incident occurring last August in Toledo, Ohio, when cyanotoxin microcystin was found in finished water, resulting in a “do not drink” advisory to be issued for more than 400,000 people. During the testimony Arndt explained cyanotoxin contamination is “always associated with excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in water” and also commented on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of the contaminant candidate lists (CCLs) “to begin the regulation process of cyanotoxins to protect public health.” In November 2014, AWWA President John Donahue also testified on cyanotoxins in a hearing in front of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.

 

NGWA part of ‘team effort’ to provide household water well owner training and assistance

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA), part of a team selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will provide technical assistance and training to private household water well owners around the U.S. In addition to creating new water well owner technical assistance and training programs, NGWA will build upon programs initiated under a one-year grant completed last August. Work is expected to commence in spring, and NGWA will receive around $209,000 of the total $1.7 million grant. Under the grant the NGWA programs will include: Webinars, marketing, a new private well owner app, online sessions, a financing guide, a year-round campaign, a private well owner tip sheet and a well owner’s manual. Leading the EPA-selected team is Rural Community Assistance Partnership, and other grant partners include the Water Systems Council, the National Environmental Health Association and the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois Water Resources Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 

EPA resource provides microbial risk assessment in water

A new resource provided by EPA “aims to help risk assessors and scientists in the development of rigorous and scientifically defensible risk assessments for waterborne pathogens.” The EPA resource, “Microbial Risk Assessment Tools, Methods, and Approaches for Water Media,” highlights a human health risk assessment framework for microbial hazards in water media compatible with other existing risk assessment frameworks for human health and chemical hazards. The assessment framework described in the EPA resource includes pathogens in treated drinking water, recreational waters, biosolids, source water for drinking water and shellfish waters. The EPA document does not address microbial indicators of fecal contamination like enterococci, E. coli and bacteriophage. 

 

U.S. Water Alliance, NACWA and AGree release new white paper

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the U.S. Water Alliance and AGree announced the release of a new white paper titled, “Collaborating for Healthy Watersheds.” The white paper highlights nine successful partnerships between municipal and agricultural sectors addressing water quality issues at the watershed level. NACWA, AGree and the U.S. Water Alliance worked together on the effort, which describes partnership models between farmers and municipalities that can lead to “progress on attaining water quality goals and reducing nutrient pollution in our nation’s surface waters.”

 

Survey reveals need for major investment in global urban infrastructure and services

Findings from a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reveals global urban infrastructure and services, including wastewater treatment, water supply and distribution, are in need of major investment within the next five years to remain adequate. The survey’s findings have been published in a new report, “Urban infrastructure insights 2015,” commissioned by FCC (Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas), Spain’s environmental services, infrastructure and water group. Surveying more than 400 policymakers and business executives from across the world, the study assessed “the state of global urban infrastructure and services, and how city leaders can engage with citizens and service providers to secure support and investment for these projects.”

 

AWWA to open India office, creates AWWAIndia

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) announced it will establish its first “International Community” when it opens an office in India this spring. AWWA CEO David LaFrance revealed in comments during the Indian Water Works Association’s Annual Convention in Kolkata, India, that the newly created AWWAIndia is a significant step in achieving AWWA’s vision of “a better world through better water.” AWWAIndia’s first executive manager is anticipated to be introduced in the next few months, and in addition to opening an office, the executive manager’s initial focus will be on “building a community of water professionals who collaborate to support public health, environmental protection and best management practices.”

 

WateReuse Research Foundation publishes how-to guide for building support of potable reuse

The WateReuse Research Foundation announced the release of a how-to guide titled, “Model Communication Plans for Increasing Awareness and Fostering Acceptance of Direct Potable Reuse (WRRF-13-02),” for building support of potable reuse on the community and statewide levels. The guide provides a “roadmap for advancing public acceptance of potable reuse projects” by developing awareness and support of planned and existing potable reuse programs as well as by “fostering an understanding of the great need to continue to expand water supply sources.” It also supplies those involved with planning potable reuse projects with a catalog of methods and messages for advancing potable water reuse, and a combination of face-to-face meetings, public opinion research and literature review indicated public acceptance of potable reuse can be achieved by applying a consistent, transparent and coordinated plan. This project is the first of a two-phase approach toward “fostering acceptance of potable reuse.” In cooperation with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the project was funded by the WateReuse Research foundation.

 

ANSI elects NSF International president and CEO as chair of its board of directors

NSF International announced that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) elected NSF International President and CEO Kevan P. Lawlor as chair of its board of directors. Lawlor began his term as ANSI chair in late February, and is “uniquely qualified” for this role with NSF’s 70-year history of developing ANSI standards and offering “conformity assessment services” for the food, health science, water, construction and consumer goods industries. Lawlor also served as chair for ANSI’s audit committee and most recently served as the vice chair of its board. He has more than 30 years of leadership experience with NSF, holding positions such as senior vice president of food safety, chief financial officer and president of NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF-ISR).

 

Truck fill stations in San Jose to use recycled water

For truck fill stations, San Jose’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) is making recycled water from its South Bay Water Recycling (SBWR) system available to help conserve drinking water. The recycled water will be available for three approved uses: City trucks performing sewer cleanouts, construction trucks spraying water to keep dust down at construction sites and street sweeping trucks misting street surfaces as they sweep. California’s water crisis resulting from four years of severe drought will most likely not be solved from recent storms, and the San Jose's staff has expanded the use of recycled water to help save drinking water. Seven filling stations are now in operation in the city of San Jose, five recycled water filling stations are available in the Milpitas area, and a filling station in Santa Clara is planned to open sometime this year.

 

WERF expands research with new projects exploring wastewater as a resource

The Water Environment Research Federation (WERF) announced it is expanding its research with three new projects examining wastewater as a resource. One of the three projects examines a new method of reducing phosphorus in wastewater, and the two other projects aim “to show that materials in wastewater can be commoditized.” A research team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will take biomass from wastewater treatment facilities and convert it into isoprene, and also renewable biofuel, using an engineered microbe. A study, to be conducted by Greeley and Hansen, will develop economic and technological platforms “for the conversion of organic carbon compounds to commercially attractive chemicals and commodities,” and will consider substrates’ generation for biodiesel production, precursors to biodegradable plastics and alternative vehicle fuels from water resource recovery facilities. An enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) process will be investigated by Northeastern University, and this research could help change the understanding and ability to sustainably and cost-effectively preserve and safeguard water resources.

 

The Water Council receives Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant

The Water Council has been chosen to receive a Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant for $100,000. The grant will fund the creation of the Water Research Pilot Project. The program, supporting the progression of new water technologies from the lab to demonstration sites for practical application, will assist in developing and obtaining resources necessary for small- and medium-sized businesses to expand and reach full commercialization.

 

PEOPLE

Greg Cannito has been appointed managing director of Corvias Solutions. In his new position Cannito will oversee the application of Corvias’ public-private partnership (PPP) model to solve energy and infrastructure challenges facing U.S. public sector institutions. Cannito previously served as the senior vice president of program development for Corvias Group and was responsible for “strategic development and execution” of new, state-of-the-art opportunities allied with Corvias’ PPP model. He joined the company in 2003 and has over 15 years of PPP and business development experience.

The U.S. Water Alliance announced G. Tracy Mehan III has joined the nonprofit as interim president. Prior to his new role as the U.S. Water Alliance’s interim president, Mehan worked in various roles to promote and implement environmental sustainability as well as watershed protection and conservation. He acted as principal with the Cadmus Group Inc., an environmental consulting firm, from 2004 to 2014, and from 2001 to 2003 he served as assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

SEAL Analytical announced two new appointments, Caroline Blyth and Jens Neubauer. Blyth will join the Southampton, U.K., office to boost customer support, and Neubauer will join the Norderstedt, Germany, office to manage business development in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In her position as the U.K. customer support coordinator, Blyth is looking forward to improving customer service. Neubauer has more than 10 years of experience as an application engineer and sales manager for analytical instrumentation in food and beverage, wastewater, water, pharmaceutical and other environmental and industrial applications.

MWH Global has named Todd Larson as its global project delivery director of engineering and quality to boost the team of professionals in the design, construction and delivery of infrastructure projects. Larson, rejoining MWH Global after eight years with Black & Veatch, will provide leadership to the global delivery group, focusing on “design excellence within the construction design-build operations” in his new position. Based out of the Broomfield headquarters, he will also oversee U.S. and U.K. design teams, estimating support teams as well as startup, commissioning and quality. Larson has over 27 years of experience in the design and construction of wastewater and water projects, with expertise in all aspects of project delivery, procurement, commissioning, design, construction and startup, as well as operations for projects from $8 million to over $342 million.

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN) announced that Daniel Dow, P.E., has joined the firm as the infrastructure manager. Focused on the water and wastewater market in Central Texas, in this role Dow will serve as project manager and senior engineer for major treatment distribution and collection projects. Dow has more than 15 years of experience as a manager, designer and process engineer in an array of municipal wastewater and water infrastructure projects with an emphasis on wastewater treatment. He has substantial experience with aging infrastructure evaluation, improvement, rehabilitation and replacement programs in addition to new infrastructure for growing municipalities. Prior to his new position with LAN, Dow was the regional service group manager for Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc., where he managed the expansion and replacement of several wastewater treatment plants, collection and distribution systems, pump station improvements, and sewer replacement and rehabilitation.

NSF International announced Tina Yerkes, Ph.D., has been appointed as general manager of filtration products under its Global Water Division. In her new position, Yerkes will help NSF grow its auditing, testing and certification services for point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) drinking water treatment and filtration products. She has over 20 years of experience in strategic business unit operations with a focus in water quality issues, environmental education and wetlands conservation. Yerkes has held leadership positions at nonprofit organizations with program areas steering research initiatives, conservation efforts and environmental awareness. Prior to her position with NSF, she served as chief operating officer of The Stewardship Network as well as spent over 12 years in management roles at Ducks Unlimited, eventually becoming director of conservation programs.