News Briefs: Minnesota City Sues Makers of Flushable Wipes

In this week's news, flushable wipes makers face another lawsuit, two major water system acquisitions are announced, and a rural Wisconsin water operator is recognized.
News Briefs: Minnesota City Sues Makers of Flushable Wipes

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The City of Wyoming, Minnesota, has filed a class-action lawsuit against six makers of wet wipes, claiming the flushable wipes cause harm to plumbing and municipal systems.

The complaint states that manufacturers are aware of the harm wipes cause to sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities, and yet the companies “continue to manufacture and promote them as flushable.”

The complaint also states that despite many notifications from state and local sewer authorities throughout the United States, the manufacturers have not removed claims regarding the flushability of the wipes.

The city says it has incurred ongoing expense from removing the flushable wipes at its lift stations. Because the wipes do not degrade after flushing, they wrap around filters or pumps, creating clogs that need to be manually removed.

Other cities have started to take legal action as well.

Earlier this year, New York City introduced a bill that would ban companies from advertising products as flushable. There, the amount of material removed at plants has more than doubled since 2008, up from 50,000 cubic feet per month to 110,000 cubic feet per month. Officials say the increase is almost entirely caused by wipes.

Source: New York Daily News, complaint

Water and Wastewater System Acquisitions Announced
Two major acquisitions of water and wastewater systems were recently announced: American Water, the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company, purchased Environmental Disposal Corporation (EDC), and Aqua Illinois, a subsidiary of Aqua America, acquired North Maine Utilities (NMU) water and wastewater system from the Village of Glenview, Illinois.

EDC serves the territory of Bedminster and Bernards Townships, New Jersey, with a total of more than 5,300 customer accounts. Additionally, the utility has long-term contracts for providing retail wastewater treatment to the Boroughs of Far Hills, Peakpack, Gladstone and portions of Bedminister outside EDC’s service territory.

“Increasingly stringent environmental regulations coupled with the ongoing need to invest capital into modern wastewater systems can prove challenging for some systems,” says Susan Story, president and CEO of American Water. “EDC’s customers will benefit from our operational and engineering expertise, as well as our commitment to make the necessary capital investment to ensure their wastewater service meets and routinely surpasses state and federal standards.”

Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed, according to a press release, but American Water has filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and will complete the acquisition upon approval.

The Aqua Illinois-NMU transaction totaled $22 million, and was accompanied with a commitment by Aqua to freeze rates for NMU customers through June 2020. The only exclusion to the clause is any purchased-water increases from the current provider, which will have to be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

“We believe NMU customers can benefit from a new owner that has more flexibility, especially to provide rate stability,” says Glenview Village President Jim Patterson.

NMU serves more than 44,000 customers through 4,700 metered water connections and nearly 2,500 wastewater connections, an article on MarketWatch reports.

Source: American Water, MarketWatch 

Wisconsin Water Operator Recognized
Dan Mulhern of the Arlington (Wisconsin) Water Utility received the Wisconsin Rural Water Association (WRWA) 2015 District Operator of the Year award during the WRWA annual Technical Conference in Green Bay. This award is presented to industry personnel who demonstrate excellence in the field of waterworks operation. 

“The role of a water operations specialist has become increasingly difficult as state and federal governments have imposed tougher standards for water utilities,” said Dave Lawrence, WRWA executive director, to the Lodi Enterprise. “Dan has been recognized by his peers as well as a well-trained and dedicated operations specialist, deserving of WRWA’s highest award for a state licensed water operator. Arlington can be proud of Dan’s accomplishments.”

Source: Lodi Enterprise



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