In this week’s news briefs, officials are planning to release 9 million acre-feet of water from Lake Powell into the Colorado River, and a drought in South Florida could bring mandatory restrictions for water customers


An above-average amount of water will be released this year from Lake Powell, one of the country’s major reservoirs, but not as much as some hoped given how much snow much of the West received this past winter.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the Bureau of Reclamation announced this week that 9 million acre-feet will be released from Lake Powell, which straddles the border of Arizona and Utah, sending it down the Colorado River into Lake Mead. From there it will provide for the water needs of areas of Arizona, California and Nevada.

The agency had projected it could release 11.1 million acre-feet, but a dry early March changed those plans. The planned release still exceeds the average of 8.7 million acre-feet and should be enough to delay a widely expected shortage in Lake Mead, the Bureau of Reclamation said.

Related: Congress Allocates $100 Million to Address Western Drought

Source: Associated Press

Flint Mayor Wants City to Remain With Detroit Water
Flint, Michigan’s mayor is recommending that the city stick with Detroit’s system as its water source. The city has drawn water from the system since its water crisis started.

It’s a reversal of Mayor Karen Weaver’s initial plan of eventually using the Karegnondi Water Authority once a pipeline connecting Flint to the authority’s system was complete. The EPA also had a number of water treatment plant upgrades required of Flint for that to occur.

Related: Could California Run Out of Water?

“This protects residents from any potential fears or anxieties that would come from another change in our water source, especially at a time when the water has improved and is now meeting federal and state action level standards,” Weaver said at a press conference this week, according to an Associated Press report. “Ensuring the public’s health and safety is our No. 1 priority.”

Finances are also factoring into Weaver’s recommendation. She says staying with Detroit’s system is the cheapest option and would also save Flint from investing $58 million into its treatment plant, which could instead be diverted to distribution system upgrades. Flint would remain on the hook for $7 million annual bond payments to the Karegnondi Water Authority, but Weaver said that would be offset by credits from the Detroit authority.

Source: Associated Press

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Florida Water District Issues Water Shortage Warning
Mandatory water restrictions may be considered for about 8.1 million residents from Orlando to the Florida Keys if residents’ voluntary efforts prove ineffective.

South Florida Water issued a water shortage warning this week, according to an Associated Press report. Officials with the water district said rainfall across the district’s 16 counties since Nov. 1 has been 6.75 inches below average and water levels in Lake Okeechobee have dropped to 12 feet. Above-normal temperatures over the next few months are also a strong likelihood, with the rainy season still more than a month away.

“The purpose of this warning is to urge South Florida families to voluntarily conserve more water,” South Florida Water’s board chairman Dan O’Keefe said in a statement. “This effort will help your water supply last through the remainder of the dry season.”

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O’Keefe said if those efforts are not good enough, mandatory restrictions could be implemented.

Source: Associated Press

Wisconsin Business Lobby Opposed to Lead Pipe Funding Bill
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce spoke out this week against proposed state legislation related to funding lead-pipe replacements.

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The legislation is aimed at helping water customers replace their portion of lead service lines by removing restrictions on how utility funds can be allocated. The bill would give municipalities the authority to allow their utilities to finance customers’ lead line replacements using reserve funds or excess capital funds.

But according to a report by the Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s business lobby, argues that the bill should have municipalities, not utilities, covering the cost.

Bill supporters say that if cities were responsible there would be too many delays in replacing lead lines because limits on local tax revenue have made it difficult for many cities to pay for even basic services.

“They just don’t have the tools,” Sen. Rob Cowles, one of the bill’s co-authors, says. “What are you going to do? Get rid of the police department?”

Cowles says he’s going to work with bill opponents to find a solution.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal


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