News Briefs: Utilities Push for WaterSense Program to be Saved from Cuts

In this week’s news briefs, utilities are urging the federal government not to include the conservation program WaterSense in the anticipated EPA budget cuts, and Milwaukee Water Works names a new superintendent
News Briefs: Utilities Push for WaterSense Program to be Saved from Cuts

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Utilities across the country have joined together in support of the EPA’s WaterSense program, asking that it not be part of the anticipated cuts to the EPA.

“The program is a cornerstone of some of Madison Water Utility’s most critical conservation initiatives, like the toilet rebate program, which requires participants to replace old toilets with EPA WaterSense-rated models,” Amy Barilleaux, spokesperson for the Madison utility, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

It costs about $2 million a year for the EPA to administer the program, which primarily promotes the message of conservation through labeling products and services that save water by being at least 20 percent more efficient than other products while maintaining equal performance. The Alliance for Water Efficiency has estimated that $33 billion in water and energy bills has been saved by consumers over the past decade because of the program.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal

North Carolina Communities Receive Grant Help for Hurricane Repairs
Seven North Carolina communities are receiving a first round of state grants to repair water and sewer systems damaged by Hurricane Matthew last year.

A total of $5.2 million is being distributed by the Rural Economic Development Division of NC Commerce, according to a report by the North Carolina News Network. Funds are being used to replace or repair damaged piping, clear lines of storm debris, repair flood damage, and upgrade channels and culverts to prevent future flooding. Additional grants will be awarded for more projects in the coming months.

North Carolina is also seeking public comment on an action plan to use $198.5 million awarded to it from federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds.

“North Carolina is working to help communities impacted by Hurricane Matthew rebuild even stronger and better than before,” Gov. Roy Cooper says. “We still have a long way to go before those devastated by the storm are whole again, but these grants and this action plan are key steps to get us there.”

Source: North Carolina News Network

Milwaukee Utility Names Replacement for Longtime Superintendent
The woman who has led Milwaukee Water Works since the departure of its longtime superintendent in February has been selected to fill the position permanently.

Jennifer Gonda had been working as the director of the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Division, but now is the official head of the water utility after Carrie Lewis left to become general manager of Portland Water District in Maine.

According to a report in the Journal Sentinel, some city aldermen are questioning Gonda’s credentials.

“To be clear, Ms. Gonda has ably led the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Division for the past several years and has done so in challenging times. We are grateful for this leadership and her counsel,” a group of five council members wrote in a letter to Mayor Tom Barrett. “To presume, however, that serving in this capacity marks her as able to act as the steward of the city’s precious water resources risks grave overreach.”

In the letter, they specifically highlight the upcoming task of replacing more than 68,000 lead service lines in the city.

In a response, Gonda noted the depth of expertise of utility employees.

“My qualifications in management, finance and administration are a strong complement to this talented and committed team,” she said.

Source: Journal Sentinel


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