News Briefs: Florida Utility Plans Big Infrastructure Investment to Improve Hurricane Preparedness

In this week’s news briefs, Jacksonville Electric Authority prepares to invest millions in sewer upgrades in light of the overflow issues Hurricane Matthew caused, and uncertainty remains about when Congress will approve federal funds to aid the Flint water crisis.
News Briefs: Florida Utility Plans Big Infrastructure Investment to Improve Hurricane Preparedness

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In the wake of the strain Hurricane Matthew put on collections systems on Florida’s east coast in late September and early October, the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) is planning to spend $250 million on sewer rehab over the next five years. The average annual investment of $50 million will be double the utility’s typical yearly expenditure on collections system work.

“We’re going to identify short-term issues and mitigate before next hurricane season. Long-term, we’ll build toward a more resilient system,” said CEO Paul McElroy at a recent JEA board of directors meeting, according to a report in the Financial News & Daily Record.

Plans include installing backup generators at more pumping stations because many overflows were caused when power failed during the storm. Of the 67 overflows related to the storm, 55 occurred at pump stations.

Source: Financial News & Daily Record

Project Improving Potable Water Access for Remote Areas of Argentina
About 16,500 Argentines living in one of the poorest areas of the country will benefit from a new water distribution system that will include several cisterns, treatment plants, storage tanks, two aqueducts, and a 62-mile pipe network connected to schools and health care centers in the most remote regions.

The goal is to ensure people don’t have to walk such long distances to obtain potable water, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on a recent visit to the water treatment plant in the town of Mision Nueva Pompeya, according to a report by Fox News Latino. The project spans a 15,450-square-mile forested region in northern Argentina with a large indigenous population. Currently, water supplies are driven in by truck and people spend about six hours a day manually transporting water, Macri said.

Source: Fox News Latino

Flint Officials, Other Groups Push for Approval of Federal Funds
Federal funding to address the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, remains up in the air. Currently the funds are tied to the Water Resources Development Act, which is still being debated by Congress, and it’s unclear whether lawmakers will wrap up the bill this year. The funding may instead come as part of a year-end spending bill.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver along with groups across the country are pushing for Congress to take immediate action and give the funding final approval, no matter what form it comes in.

“Flint needs to stay a priority. We cannot let this go away,” Weaver said in a recent telephone conference, according to a report by the Flint Journal. “Water is a basic human right. What we have right now is a start but we have nowhere near enough funds to get the job done here in the city of Flint.”

Using state funds, city contractors have so far replaced nearly 500 lead service lines in the city.

Source: Flint Journal

Wisconsin Utility Uses Shower Head Giveaway to Meet Water Conservation Goals
The water utility in the city of Madison, Wisconsin, recently gave away 1,500 high-efficiency shower heads to customers as part of an effort to reduce water usage.

“This is a really unusual thing,” utility spokesperson Amy Barrilleaux told Wisconsin Public Radio. “We’ve had our toilet rebate program, but we’ve never just straight up given away more than 1,000 shower heads before.”

The utility uses groundwater as a source, and while there isn’t a current concern about the supply, Barrilleaux says it’s important to continually practice conservation measures.

“We don’t have an urgent issue, but at the same time it’s really important for people to understand that our water supply isn’t infinite,” Barrilleaux says. “We did have a situation in Madison where more water was coming out of the aquifer than was going back in. We’ve reversed that over the last 10 years.”

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, in most homes, showers are the third-largest water users behind toilets and washing machines.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio


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