In this week’s news briefs, the California state Senate passes legislation aimed at making it easier to finance stormwater capture projects, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation debuts a mapping tool to better identify water quality problem areas


The California Senate has passed a bill that would make it easier for utilities to build stormwater capture projects.

“We’re losing hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water each year to the ocean in places like Los Angeles and San Diego and San Francisco, and that’s water that if we make the proper investments, can be captured and used,” Andrew Fahlund of the Water Foundation told Capital Public Radio.

The bill would define stormwater as a sewer service, so that fees or taxes could be assessed for stormwater capture projects. Currently, it’s not possible to finance those projects in that way without voter approval. Proponents of the bill see it as a way to get stormwater capture projects built more easily in order to boost water supplies. Opponents view it as a bypassing of voter approval for new taxes.

Related: EPA Grant Program Provides Boost to Cities’ Stormwater Management

“I just see this as a step in the wrong direction that does not provide accountability to taxpayers when in fact taxpayers ought to have that right in the form of a ballot and a vote when it comes to fee and tax increases,” Republican state Sen. Ted Gaines told Capital Public Radio.

The Senate passed the bill 23-10. It now moves to the state Assembly.

Source: Capital Public Radio

Related: EPA Helps Protect Oklahoma’s Waters with $11.2 Million Grant

Contract Awarded for Tunnel Project in Fort Wayne, Indiana
The Fort Wayne City Council has granted preliminary approval to a $187.7 million contract to build a 5-mile-long tunnel for reducing overflows.

It’s the largest public works project ever undertaken by the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is part of an effort to reduce the average number of annual CSOs from 76 to four. Salini Impreglio/S.A. Healy Joint Venture is being awarded the contract after being the lowest of five bidders. The company recently installed a freshwater intake at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, which consisted of a 23.5-foot-diameter, 15,000-foot-long tunnel.

“It was the highest water-pressure project ever done in the United States,” city utilities engineering manager Mike Kiester told the council, according to a report in the Journal Gazette. “This firm, they’ve worked around water, they’ve worked around high water pressures much more severe than we anticipate seeing here in Fort Wayne, so they should come well-qualified to us.”

Related: EPA Helps Protect Louisiana’s Waters with $15.3M Grant

The project is expected to take about 4 1/2 years. The tunnel-boring machine will run 24 hours a day, five or six days a week.

Source: Journal Gazette

Online Mapping Tool Provides Big Picture on Water Quality Issues
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is testing a new mapping tool that allows the public to easily access water permits, water quality data, and other information about clean-up activities at various locations.

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The prototype online map has location icons spanning three counties and includes the Owasco Lake watershed, an area that’s been plagued by blue-green algae blooms during the late summer months. Toxins released from the dying blooms were found in treated drinking water last year.

“That shows they are concerned and working on Owasco Lake, which is good. I was really pleased to see Owasco watershed is taking a priority for them,” Cayuga County Environmental Health Director Eileen O’Connor told The Citizen.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says Owasco Lake was included in the prototype because the cause of the algal blooms are not well understood and the hope is that the mapping tool can help identify some best management practices. The plan is to add information about other locations in the next version of the application.

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Source: The Citizen


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