News Briefs: ‘Drought Proof’ City Targets Brackish Water

In this week’s news, El Paso Water Utilities looks to become drought-proof, and a city in Montana wins a legal fight to take ownership of its water system
News Briefs: ‘Drought Proof’ City Targets Brackish Water
A new project, which was recently approved by the El Paso Water Authority, seeks to wean the city from its dependency on the Rio Grande River.

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In El Paso, Texas, drought is driving the city’s water agenda. A new project, which was recently approved by the El Paso Water Authority, seeks to wean the city from its dependency on the Rio Grande River.

Enviro Water Mineral Co. is slated to build a plant to extract useful minerals from leftover water at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Desalination Plant. According to the El Paso Times, this additional step will increase freshwater recovery at the plant from 80 percent to about 93 percent. Currently, the unusable salty water from Kay Bailey is pumped into injection wells.

Enviro Water plans to use the extracted salt to make products such as bleach and magnesium sulfate. The company will then sell back the treated water at $200 an acre-foot.

The new plant is expected to increase production at Kay Bailey by about 1 mgd.

“It’s a win, win, win,” says Enviro Water Spokesman Hubble Hausman, in the El Paso Times article. “It’s a win for them. It’s a win for us. It’s a win for the environment.”

Source: El Paso Times

Missoula Wins Legal Fight to Take Ownership of Water System

After nearly a year since the lawsuit was filed, a 68-page court decision dictated that the City of Missoula, Montana, won the right to own its drinking water system.

On June 15, Missoula District Court Judge Karen Townsend said the city showed that “its contemplated use of the water system as a municipally owned water system is more necessary than the current use as a privately owned for-profit enterprise.”

“Based on credible evidence at trial, the court concludes that the object of this condemnation proceeding, the use of the water system, is a public use for which the right of eminent domain may properly be exercised (under Montana law),” says Townsend.

The suit, which aimed to force the sale of its water utility from the private owners, Mountain Water Company and the Carlyle Group, went to trial March 18. Missoula was the only major city in the state that didn’t own its own water.

Source: Missoulian

Koontz Begins Term as AWWA President

Before a packed plaza outside the Anaheim, California, Convention Center, Gene Koontz of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, accepted the American Water Works Association’s ceremonial gavel and began his one-year term as president.

The gavel passing ceremony last Wednesday night concluded AWWA’s four-day Annual Conference & Exposition (ACE15), which drew more than 11,700 water professionals and technology providers. A specialist in water quality and treatment, Koontz oversees the national water market for Gannett Fleming, a global infrastructure firm that provides planning, design, technology and construction management services for a diverse range of markets and disciplines.

Koontz, an AWWA member since 1982, told the crowd he will build on several new AWWA initiatives, including the establishment of an office in India, the launch of the Community Engineering Corps, the introduction of the Water Equation Campaign and the expansion of AWWA’s Total Water Solutions offerings. He said will also concentrate on engaging students and young professionals to ensure a healthy future for the water profession.

“All you leaders of utilities, service provider and consultants,” Koontz told the ACE15 attendees, “Next year, bring a young professional along, hire a student. Let’s get them into AWWA. Let’s get them engaged.”

Koontz accepted the gavel from Immediate Past President John Donahue, CEO of North Park (Illinois) Water District.

“We have set the bar for AWWA very high in the past couple of years,” Donahue said before handing over the gavel. “We have introduced new programs, created a new culture, broadened our reach and expanded our vision. It has been an honor to be a part of everything we have done and are doing, and I know AWWA is in excellent hands with our new president.”

Koontz has served as an active volunteer and leader within the AWWA Pennsylvania Section as well as on the broader Association level. He has held many leadership positions within the Pennsylvania Section, including Section Chair, Chair of the Water Quality Committee, member of the Water Utility Council and Chair of the Program Committee. On a broader level, he has served on three separate Water Research Foundation project advisory committees.

Source: AWWA


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