News Briefs: Flint Water Meets EPA Lead Limits

In this week’s news briefs, the latest round of sampling in Flint shows lead concentrations are below the federal action level, and officials in Fraser, Michigan, project the massive Christmas Eve sinkhole could cost $100 million to fix.
News Briefs: Flint Water Meets EPA Lead Limits

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Flint, Michigan’s water system no longer has lead levels exceeding the EPA’s limit. Officials reported this week that a sampling of 368 residences in the last six months of 2016 showed lead concentrations of 12 ppb for at least 90 percent of the residences, below the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. Lead concentrations were 20 ppb for the six-month period before that.

“This is good news and the result of many partners on the local, county, state and federal levels working together to restore the water quality in the city of Flint,” the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Heidi Grether, said in a statement. “The Flint water system is one of the most monitored systems in the country for lead and copper, and that commitment will remain to ensure residents continue to have access to clean water.”

The Associated Press reported that some residents are still skeptical.

“There’s still lead in the system, especially with disruptions, main breaks — pieces of lead scale will be breaking off until these pipes are replaced,” Melissa Mays told the Associated Press. “You cannot tell me the water is safe because you have not tested every home.”

Because the federal limit was still exceeded in the first half of 2016, Flint must continue replacing 7 percent of its lead service lines by June 30. That requirement will be discontinued if the next round of testing continues the trend of declining lead concentrations, but Flint officials say they’re committed to eventually replacing all lead service lines. The state has set aside $27 million for the project. However, this week’s announcement means the state will soon stop providing a credit to Flint water customers. It has been partially covering bills since April 2014.

Source: The Associated Press

Work Progresses on Major Lake Mead Pumping Station Project
The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) board has approved another $150 million for a pumping station project that will help keep water flowing to Las Vegas, even in the event of low levels at Lake Mead.

According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the pumping station is expected to be complete in 2020 and will work in conjunction with a 3-mile intake pipe that began drawing water from deep in the lake in 2015. The pumping station will expand the intake’s reach, allowing it to pull from the bottom of the reservoir even if the reservoir drops to the point where the Hoover Dam can no longer release water downstream. SNWA officials say the project is crucial considering Lake Mead provides 90 percent of the area’s water supply.

Work on the station began in 2015 with the excavation of a 520-foot vertical access shaft so workers can drill and blast a large underground chamber that will be the forebay for the facility. Workers are currently drilling 32 vertical well shafts, each about 500 feet deep, to house submersible pumps.

When the pumping station is complete, it will be able to pump 900 million gpd, about 350 million gallons more than the authority delivers on a peak summer day.

“The underground work is progressing very well and on schedule,” Dave Johnson, SNWA deputy general manager of engineering and operations, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Fraser Sinkhole Repairs Could Carry $100 Million Price Tag
Officials say the Fraser, Michigan, sinkhole that forced the evacuation of 22 homes on Christmas Eve could cost in the $100 million range to fix.

The estimate came earlier this month at a Macomb County Board of Commissioners meeting, where the county also extended the state of emergency that has been in place since the massive sinkhole developed. The suspected cause is a collapsed 11-foot-diameter sewer main 60 feet deep.

“This is an enormous thing that’s happening to the county,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, according to a report by the Detroit News. “We’re up to the challenge. We’re going to get through this thing. We’re going to solve this problem. And somehow we’ve got to figure out how to pay for it.”

She says the county may seek a bond issue and rate hike to pay for the repairs. Funding could also come from federal or state sources, such as the Federal Highway Administration and Michigan Department of Transportation.

The state of emergency is remaining in place while a long-term emergency bypass system is installed. Miller says once the long-term bypass is in place, the county will be able to better assess the sinkhole, how to fix the sewer main, and how much the effort will cost. The 100-foot-wide, 250-foot-long sinkhole is currently bookended with grouted pillars to prevent it from spreading. Of the homes that were evacuated on Christmas Eve, three have been condemned.

“We’re trying to figure out if we can come to an agreement with these folks,” Miller says.

Source: Detroit News


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