News Briefs: Toxic Sediment Threatens Cleveland’s Drinking Water

In this week’s news briefs, the EPA seeks direction from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding a toxic blob in Lake Erie, and El Paso Water Utilities deploys “mosquito fish” in the fight against the Zika virus.
News Briefs: Toxic Sediment Threatens Cleveland’s Drinking Water

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The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports a large mass of toxic sediment lying on the floor of Lake Erie about 9 miles offshore is migrating toward an intake pipe and threatening Cleveland’s drinking water supply.

The 2-square-mile “toxic blob” contains material dredged from the nearby Cuyahoga River shipping channel and dumped untreated into the lake before the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, the report states. Recent testing shows the location, known as Area 1, contains high concentrations of PCBs and PAHs.

“Area 1 is within approximately 5 miles of a water intake for the City of Cleveland,” EPA Director Craig Butler wrote in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes division. “Sampling data in and around Area 1 clearly shows the ability of these sediments to migrate and further shows the sediment migrating in the direction of the water intake.”

An Army Corps spokesman says they received the letter and will be discussing it with the Ohio EPA as requested.

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Water Utility Details Plans to Fight West Nile, Zika Virus
In an effort to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile and Zika, El Paso (Texas) Water Utilities will treat stormwater ponds using various methods, including using fish that eat larvae, according to a report by KVIA-TV.

“We have several hundred stormwater ponds, many of which tend to hold water,” says EPWU Vice President of Operations Alan Shubert. “The ponds that tend to stay wet because of the water table … we’re treating with what’s called mosquito fish. These fish actually live off mosquito larvae.

“We’ve put together about four or five approaches we are going to take with the ponds that we have that tend to hold water,” Shubert says. “We’ve accounted for about 44 of those so far.”

EPWU will also be using commercial larvicide, a biological treatment with bacteria that also eats the larvae. The agency will also treat ponds that don’t drain with gypsum, a soft sulfate mineral that changes the soil structure at the bottom of the pond and allows it to drain. The gypsum is coming from recycled sheet rock that has no other use, according to the report.

Source: KVIA-TV

City Employee Discovers Large Water Leak
A public works employee in Cassville, Missouri, recently discovered a water leak where a 2-inch pipe broke at the joint, which the city estimates may have resulted in a potential loss of 7 million gallons of water, reports the Cassville Democrat.

“We discovered a leak that had been going on some time,” says Steve Walensky, Public Works director. “It was discovered by one of our staff. He was going to check on a valve and found the leak. He saw some water where there wasn’t supposed to be water, and he tested it and found some chlorine residue in it, so he knew it was ours.”

Walensky says he does not know when the leak started, but it took just two days for crews to repair.

“We had to cut a little piece of pipe out and fix it,” Walensky says. “It could have been a 7-million-gallon water leak due to a busted main.”

According to the report, the city uses an online tool on the Missouri Rural Water Association’s website to estimate leaks.

“It does preset calculations for a variety of things: water pressure, potential loss, etc.,” Walensky says. “It’s a very well-tested and true tool to help municipalities. Any time there’s a leak we use it. If it’s a hole in a pipe, a circular break or a rectangular break along a pipe, you can estimate the width of the break in inches, the pressure in the pipe and it calculates a guesstimate on average water loss."

Source: Cassville Democrat


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