WaterWorld Weekly Newscast, July 23, 2018

July 23, 2018
A transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for July 23, 2018.
Town uses wastewater sampling to combat opioid crisis; Key step forward in Huntington Beach desal project; Space-age tech helps measure underground water resources; EPA, New Mexico to explore wastewater reuse options in oil and gas industry

The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for July 23, 2018.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of July 23. Coming up...

Town uses wastewater sampling to combat opioid crisis
Key step forward in Huntington Beach desal project
Space-age tech helps measure underground water resources
EPA, New Mexico to explore wastewater reuse options in oil and gas industry

Like many towns and cities across the country, Cary, North Carolina, has seen a dramatic increase in opioid abuse.

Just last year, the town had a 40% increase in fatal overdoses and a 135% increase in non-fatal overdoses.

To better understand the problem and develop programs to address it, Cary is piloting a wastewater monitoring project that would generate opioid consumption data by measuring concentrations of opioid metabolites in sewage.

Working with Boston-based Biobot Analytics, town staff will install and operate wastewater sampling devices, or robots, at ten sampling locations within the sewer system.

The data generated will enable the calculation of an opioid consumption rate and will help develop a baseline data set that could replace overdoses as the standard metric used to gauge opioid consumption.

The pilot project is being funded through a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Mayors Challenge program, in which the town of Cary is a finalist.

The Orange County Water District Board of Directors has approved an amendment to the 2015 water purchase agreement term sheet with Poseidon Water for the purchase of 56,000-acre feet per year of drinking water from the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project.

It's a key step forward in the billion-dollar desalination project that has been 20 years in the making.

Under the new term sheet, the cost-of-service pricing structure is estimated to ultimately provide a lower cost of water than the alternative of purchasing imported water.

The purchase term has also been reduced from a 50-year to a 30- or 35-year term.

The agreement now includes an option for the District to have Poseidon finance and construct the desalinated water delivery system.

And finally, the District now has an option to buy the project 5 to 7 years after operation as opposed to after 30 years under the 2015 term sheet.

The project still needs to clear some significant hurdles before it's a done deal, including securing environmental permits from the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Coastal Commission.

Scientists funded by the National Science Foundation and affiliated with Arizona State University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are using the latest space tech to measure underground water resources.

The researchers have focused their efforts on measuring groundwater volume and storage capacity in California's Central Valley, one of the world's largest -- and most stressed -- aquifer systems.

The team analyzed data from 2007 to 2010 collected from several satellite-based Earth remote sensing techniques to map the entire California Central Valley, study ground subsidence, and estimate groundwater loss.

Their findings? Between 2007 and 2010, ground levels in the southern region of the Central Valley dropped almost 32 inches, something that should normally take decades.

As a result, up to 2 percent of groundwater storage capacity was permanently lost.

The researchers plan to continue their work, looking next at the period from 2012 to 2016, and then eventually expanding their research to Arizona and other parts of the Southwest.

They hope their work will help water resource managers better understand their groundwater resources and plan for future water allocations.

The U.S. EPA and the State of New Mexico have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore how wastewater from oil and natural gas extraction activities could be reused, recycled, and renewed for other purposes.

In 2017, operators in New Mexico produced about 900 million barrels of wastewater — most of which was disposed of in underground injection wells, permanently removing it from the hydrologic cycle.

That volume is only expected to increase in future and work carried out under the MOU will ensure the regulatory framework is in place to support beneficial use of treated produced water.

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

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