WaterWorld Weekly Newscast, May 14, 2018

May 14, 2018
A transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for May 14, 2018.
Senate introduces water infrastructure legislation; Researchers find Hurricane Harvey was 'supercharged'; Another water district commits to California WaterFix project; Water utility customer satisfaction -- with special guest Andrew Heath, JD Power

The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for May 14, 2018.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of May 14. Coming up...

Senate introduces water infrastructure legislation
Researchers find Hurricane Harvey was 'supercharged'
Another water district commits to California WaterFix project
Survey assesses water utility customer satisfaction

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works introduced water infrastructure legislation last week aimed at increasing water storage, providing flood protection, increasing local stakeholder input, deepening ports, and maintaining the navigability of inland waterways across the country.

Additionally, America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 would invest in the maintenance and construction of water and wastewater infrastructure and the development of a strong water utility workforce.

The $2.8 billion legislation would also authorize and deauthorize a number of specific water infrastructure projects across the country.

One last item to note: the bill reauthorizes the WIFIA program but calls for a GAO study to assess impediments to broader access to assistance, particularly for small and rural communities.

A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research finds that Hurricane Harvey was 'supercharged' by hotter-than-normal water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the weeks preceding the storm, the near-surface ocean temperature had reached upwards of 86 degrees Fahrenheit, fueling the storm with extra energy.

The scientists said the study highlights how climate change is increasing the threat of future supercharged hurricanes.

Lead author Kevin Trenberth emphasized the need to better prepare for these types of storms and "to increase resilience with better building codes, flood protection, and water management."

You can read more about their research in the American Geophysical Union's journal Earth's Future.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has voted to participate in California WaterFix, Governor Jerry Brown's $17 billion initiative to bring water from the northern Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the south via two massive tunnels.

In October, the District had expressed its conditional support for the project if certain criteria were met. But in the months since then, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said it would pick up the unsubscribed portion -- a $10 billion investment.

This, Santa Clara Valley Water District said, changed the circumstances substantially by reducing its financial burden.

The project has a number of hurdles to overcome before it's considered a done deal, but if it moves forward, it's expected to cost Santa Clara Valley Water District $650 million.

J.D. Power has released its third annual Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. Here to discuss the results is the senior director of J.D. Power's Utility Practice, Andrew Heath. Andrew, thanks for joining us.

[Andrew]

One of the key findings of this year's study is that nearly a third of respondents reported experiencing water quality issues. What's the underlying significance of that statistic?

[Andrew]

Interesting. So what kinds of problems are these customers referring to?

[Andrew]

The study also found quite a wide variation in customers' perceptions of water quality. Can you elaborate?

[Andrew]

Having satisfied customers is clearly important for water utilities, but are there other reasons to focus on customer satisfaction?

[Andrew]

When it comes to overall water utility customer satisfaction, was there anything that stood out as most impactful? And what can water utilities to do address it?

[Andrew]

And one final question before I let you go, Andrew: is there any advice you'd offer to water utilities based on the findings of the survey?

[Andrew]

Fascinating information, Andrew. Thank you very much for being with us today.

If you'd like to learn more about J.D. Power's 2018 Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, please visit jdpower.com/water.

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

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