WaterWorld Weekly Newscast, July 9, 2018

July 9, 2018
A transcript of the WaterWorld  Weekly Newscast for July 9. 2018.
Pruitt resigns from EPA amid controversy; Water usage in U.S. at 45-year low; MIT study finds potential in brackish groundwater desalination; Water is risky business

The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for July 9. 2018.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of July 9. Coming up...

Pruitt resigns from EPA amid controversy
Water usage in U.S. at 45-year low
MIT study finds potential in brackish groundwater desalination
Water is risky business

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tendered his resignation as head of the Environmental Protection Agency last week.

The former Oklahoma attorney general had been under increasing scrutiny as allegations of ethics violations -- including improper use of public funds for travel, among others -- had begun to surface.

Pruitt said in his resignation letter that "the unrelenting attacks" on him and his family were "unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll" on them.

EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will take over as the interim acting head of the agency.

Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the coal mining industry, is expected to continue Pruitt's work in carrying out President Trump's mission to roll back environmental regulations.

According to a new USGS report, water use across the U.S. is at its lowest recorded level in 45 years, indicating an ongoing effort to use water resources more efficiently.

Scientists first observed water use declining in 2010, and by 2015 -- the most recent reporting period -- it had gone down another 9 percent to 322 billion gallons per day, the lowest level since before 1970.

Thermoelectric power generation continues to be the largest use nationally, but showed an 18 percent decline from 2010.

And water withdrawals for public supply decreased 7 percent -- despite a 4 percent increase in the nation’s total population.

To learn more, visit the news section at usgs.gov.

New research out of MIT suggests that desalinating brackish groundwater could be a viable strategy for water-scarce regions across the U.S. and around the world.

And it's largely untapped: While about a fifth of the nation’s water supply comes from fresh groundwater, less than 1 percent currently comes from brackish groundwater.

But it would be incredibly energy-intensive to desalinate brackish groundwater, right? Well, not necessarily.

The researchers noted that traditional seawater desalination technologies would indeed be energy-inefficient for the much-less-salty brackish groundwater, but what if the treatment process could be tailored to a specific well's composition?

The scientists identified five different classes of brackish groundwater composition.

Each would require a different pretreatment approach with varying levels of energy required.

The researchers believe that information, coupled with a map of usable brackish groundwater sources, could help communities make more informed decisions when developing new water sources.

If you'd like to learn more about the study, please visit news.mit.edu.

A recent study by workplace safety consultant DEKRA suggests the utility sector is at a higher risk for serious injuries and fatalities -- or SIF -- than other industries, like construction and manufacturing.

The study examined more than 1,000 recordable incidents across 11 prominent utility organizations representing electric, gas and water, and found that water had the highest SIF exposure rate of all utilities studied, at 42 percent.

The utilities sector, in general, has an SIF exposure rate of 32 percent -- seven points higher than the all-industry SIF rate of 25 percent.

Two exposure categories stood out in particular: motor vehicle incidents; and "line of fire" or "struck by" incidents.

DEKRA said there are steps organizations can and should be taking to reduce SIF rates. First and foremost is identifying and understanding the risk factors.

Other tips from DEKRA:

- Educate senior leadership on SIF and when action needs to be taken.

- Provide visibility to SIF exposure by defining what it is and determining the organization's exposure rate.

- And know your organization's SIF precursors -- high-risk situations with little oversight that could result in a serious or fatal injury.

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

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