News Briefs: Municipal Water Worker Murdered

In this week’s news briefs, a service call ends in tragedy, an Iowa city passes a grease trap inspection fee, and Idaho regulators ask water utilities to double-check water systems statewide.
News Briefs: Municipal Water Worker Murdered

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A municipal water worker in South Africa was murdered March 28 after responding to a customer complaint of a blocked sewer line. Taelo Kekana, 43, was part of a six-person team of the Ekurhuleni Water and Sanitation Department that was investigating the blockage when four men suddenly attacked them.

All four suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack, reports the Alberton Record, but no motive was reported.

“We are still trying to make sense of this incident,” says Ekurhuleni Mayor Mondli Gungubele. “For a municipal employee to sacrifice his family time during the Easter weekend to be on standby, only to be attacked and killed while rendering a service to the community is crude. The safety of municipal workers should be guaranteed at all times considering that they are providing an essential service to the community.”

According to The New Age, Ekurhuleni (a suburb of Johannesburg) had previously launched a public awareness campaign against attacks on emergency services personnel. Gungubele told the newspaper such attacks could result from their teams protesting against working in certain areas for fear of their lives.

The incident follows a string of events in the United States involving water utility employees who were shot while on the job last fall. On Oct. 23, a 28-year-old employee of the Chicago Water Department was shot in his service vehicle shortly after arriving at the job site. In Texas, a 69-year-old Austin Water employee was shot in the face and robbed while checking meters on Sept. 22.

Source: Alberton Record, The New Age

City Passes Grease Trap Inspection Fee
In Waterloo, Iowa, restaurants and other food service establishments must now pick up part of the city’s cost to inspect grease traps after the city council approved a $50 inspection fee.

The Courier reports that the fee will help offset the cost of a fats, oil and grease program adopted in 2014. John LaPointe, the city’s interim wastewater superintendent, told the newspaper that the fee is expected to raise about $15,000 of the city’s annual $100,000 cost of doing the inspections to remain in compliance with a consent decree.

Food service establishments are defined as any business — including schools, convenience stores and hospitals — required to have a state food license. While small operations such as kitchens in local churches and small day care centers would be exempt, the ordinance would allow the city to require FOG inspections if such operations were found to be clogging sewers with their discharges, the report says.

Source: The Courier

Regulators Ask Idaho Utilities to Double-Check Water Systems
Idaho environmental authorities are asking every water utility in the state to double-check its system in response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the Associated Press reports.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has given utilities a July deadline to make their water is safe from lead. The agency says it knows of at least three systems in southwest Idaho that are not in compliance.

The state has 900 drinking water systems.

Source: The Associated Press


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