News Briefs: Trump’s Effect on the EPA Taking Shape

In this week’s news briefs, the Trump White House’s initial proposal for EPA cuts could negatively affect the water industry, and officials in Fraser, Michigan, are inspecting miles of pipe around the site of the Christmas Eve sinkhole to catch any additional problem areas.
News Briefs: Trump’s Effect on the EPA Taking Shape

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The EPA’s role in rebuilding the country’s water infrastructure could take a hit if President Donald Trump’s plans for the agency come to fruition.

According to a report in the Washington Post, Trump’s proposal would reduce the EPA’s staff by one-fifth in the first year, as well as eliminate dozens of programs. The EPA’s annual budget would drop by $2.1 billion.

Among the items affecting the water industry would be a 30 percent cut to grants for water programs. The Chesapeake Bay cleanup project, currently receiving $73 million a year, would receive $5 million in the next fiscal year.

“I am concerned about the grants that have been targeted, especially around water infrastructure, and those very important state revolving funds,” says EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “What’s important for us is to educate the Office of Management and Budget on what the priorities of the agency are, from water infrastructure to Superfund, providing some of those tangible benefits to our citizens while at the same time making sure that we reallocate, re-prioritize in our agency to do regulatory reform to get back within the bounds of Congress.”

Source: Washington Post

Thorough Inspection Planned for Area Around Fraser, Michigan, Sinkhole
Officials in Fraser, Michigan, plan to inspect 17 miles of pipe near where a massive sinkhole opened on Christmas Eve to determine if any additional repairs might be necessary.

“We need to have all the information at our fingertips to make sure that we can be making the very best decision for the ratepayers, because quite frankly that’s who’s paying for all of this work,” Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller told Michigan Public Radio.

Macomb County has yet to receive any major state or federal aid to repair the sinkhole, which was caused by a collapsed 11-foot-diamter sewer main and measured 100 feet wide by 250 feet long, forcing 22 homes to be evacuated. Total repairs could be in the range of $150 million.

“Fingers crossed we’ll get a little bit of help here, but we might not,” Miller says.

A state grant is covering most of the $1.5 million inspection, which is expected to take about four months.

Source: Michigan Public Radio

Treatment Plant Upgrades in Flint Expected to be Complete in 2019
Flint, Michigan, may not be able to start treating its own drinking water until 2019.

That’s what Flint Mayor Karen Weaver told EPA officials this week, citing a lengthy construction and testing process, according to a CNN report.

“To expedite completion of the project and minimize cost, a design/build project delivery method is proposed,” Weaver wrote to the EPA. “Based on this approach, an August 2019 completion date is anticipated for the treatment plant improvements.”

Flint is currently relying on water from Detroit’s Great Lakes Water Authority, an agreement that is set to expire during the summer at the moment. The authority draws its water from Lake Huron, the same source Flint plans on using according to the current proposal.

Source: CNN

California Utilities Struggle with Overflows During Record-Breaking Rainy Season
The East Bay Municipal Utility District is an example of what some California utilities have been dealing with as the state has been hit by record-breaking rainfall so far in 2017.

According to a report by TV affiliate KPIX 5, East Bay has had 5 million gallons of overflows into San Francisco Bay this rainy season. Activist group San Francisco Baykeeper says in total there has been an almost 2,000 percent increase in the gallons of overflow into the Bay compared to last year’s rainy season.

For East Bay, I&I and other factors that contribute to the system getting overwhelmed during heavy rains are gradually being addressed.

“We are budgeted over $5 million this year and every year until 2036 to fix this problem,” East Bay spokesperson Jenesse Miller told KPIX 5.

Source: KPIX 5


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