In this week’s news briefs, the whistleblowers of Flint’s lead contamination problem report water quality has greatly improved, and a California water district is recognized for its public communication efforts about drought conditions.


The Virginia Tech researchers who exposed Flint, Michigan’s lead problem say the city’s water quality is improving. Of the 162 homes tested in July, 45 percent showed no detectable levels of lead. That’s up from 37 percent in March and only 9 percent a year ago.

“Flint water now looks like it’s entering a range that’s considered normal for other U.S. cities,” said Marc Edwards at a news conference last week according to an Associated Press report, though he still urged residents to drink only filtered tap water or bottled water while the system continued to heal.

Edwards and his fellow researchers have been taking water samples from 162 randomly selected homes since August 2015. Their recent findings follow results from separate water tests conducted by the state of Michigan that showed lead levels at or below the federal threshold in 93 percent of 160 homes tested.

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“Statements from independent experts will reassure residents who may have lost some trust in government,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said of the Virginia Tech researchers’ testing.

Source: Associated Press

Federal Air Base Identified as Lead Contaminator of a New York Water Supply
Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, has been deemed a Superfund site after state regulators found it “potentially responsible” for contaminating the city’s water supply.

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According to a report in the Daily Freeman News, the state Department of Environmental Conservation last week said the water contamination from perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), a chemical formerly used in firefighting foam, was linked to the base and it will use its authority under the Superfund law to expedite the cleanup. PFOS is unregulated federally, but New York added the chemical to its hazardous substance list earlier this year, allowing for the Superfund program to pay for cleanup efforts.

Newburgh’s primary water supply is Lake Washington and concentrations of PFOS at nearly 5,900 ppt were found in an outfall from the air base that drains into Silver Stream, a primary tributary of the lake. A portion of Stewart International Airport, adjacent to the air base, has also been identified as a potential Superfund site.

Two backup water sources are being secured for the duration of the cleanup and the state also plans to fully fund the design and installation of a water filtration system for Lake Washington to remove PFOS. Arcadis has been hired to design and construct the system, which is expected to be complete by October 2017.

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Source: Daily Freeman News

AWWA Awards California Water District for Drought Outreach Program
A California water district has been recognized by the American Water Works Association for its proactive approach to communicating with the public about drought conditions.

“The entire district worked together to provide excellent communication to customers and our customers responded with a 28 percent reduction in water usage,” said Jeff Armstrong, general manager of the Rancho California Water District (RCWD), in a Patch.com report.

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The AWWA gives its Public Communications Award annually to one water district in the country with more than 25,000 customers that has demonstrated a commitment to public outreach as well as proven results from that outreach.

As part of its outreach, the RCWD attended public events, held workshops, developed an online tool for customers to track daily water usage versus budget, mailed out educational materials, posted signs throughout the community, and used electronic communication to easily get info to customers about water supply conditions.

Source: Patch.com

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