News Briefs: Utility Considers Building First Cross-Border Water Pipeline

In this week’s news briefs, a San Diego area water district wants to build a pipeline to a Baja California desalination plant, and a New Mexico utility is making a $1 million investment to protect its area watershed
News Briefs: Utility Considers Building First Cross-Border Water Pipeline

It’s still a long way from coming to fruition, but the Otay Water District in California is looking at building a $30 million pipeline that would deliver desalinated water to the district across the border from Mexico, a project that would be the first of its kind.

“We have electric lines, the largest crossing in the world, a gas pipeline, a bridge from the airport that cross the border,” Mark Watton, general manager for the Otay Water District, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s only natural that we have a waterline.”

The district serves about 220,000 people in southeastern San Diego County and says a cross-border pipeline would help diversify its water sources with a new drought-proof supply. That supply would be coming from a yet-to-be-built desalination plant in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, which is currently scheduled for completion in 2024. At full build-out, it will be able to produce up to 100 million gallons of water per day.

The U.S. State Department approved a presidential permit in May allowing for a pipeline to be built should things progress to that point. There are no firm commitments on Baja California’s end, Watton says, but there has been interest in selling some of the new desalination plant’s water.

“We’ve had an expression by the state of Baja California in the past that all things being equal, they would like to have an export market,” Watton told the Union-Tribune.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune

Methane Gas Kills Two Men Working in Lift Station
Two workers were killed last week after being overcome by methane gas in a lift station in Petal, Mississippi.

According to a report by WJTV 12, Terry West, 45, and Gage West, 20, were part of a three-person crew working for a contractor the city had hired. The city’s crew was also on scene for most of the day.

“They told our crew they could leave and they were finishing up,” Mayor Hal Marx told the Hattiesburg American.

Terry West and Gage West were later discovered unconscious in the lift station. First responders pulled the men out from a depth of 15 feet, but attempts to resuscitate them failed.

Source: Hattiesburg American; WJTV 12

New Mexico Utility Donates $1 Million Toward Watershed Protection
A New Mexico utility is making a $1 million investment to protect its area watershed.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority announced an agreement last week with The Nature Conservancy to make $200,000 annual payments for the next five years.

According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, the funds will be used to help pay for forest restoration work intended to protect the San Juan-Chama watershed. The conservancy has targeted 600,000 acres in the headwaters of the Rio Grande and Rio Chama for tree thinning to make the forests less vulnerable to wildfire. Other projects will restore land damaged by past fires and restore streams.

“It is kind of an insurance policy for protection of our watersheds,” the utility’s COO John Stomp said at a news conference announcing the $1 million donation.

The San Juan-Chama watershed provides most of the water needs for the utility’s service area. As an example of the effect wildfires can have on the watershed, Stomp cites a major 2011 fire that dumped tons of soot into the Rio Grande, forcing the utility to shut down its water treatment plant for several weeks.

Source: Albuquerque Journal

Pennsylvania Man Serving Prison Sentence for Tampering With Remote Meter Readers
A Pennsylvania man was sentenced last week in federal court to a year in prison for hacking into the computer system of his former employer and disabling remote water meter readers that the company manufactured.

Adam Flanagan, 42, had worked as a radio frequency engineer for the company. Following his firing, he used his knowledge of how the remote readers worked to access them through the Internet and disable them, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The readers were tied to water meters in municipalities spread throughout the eastern United States, and those utilities had to dispatch employees to manually read meters in order to get accurate billing information.

That factored into the judge’s sentence. The judge opted to apply an enhanced sentencing guideline, which is allowed when a crime involves critical infrastructure, such as a municipal water system.

Source: press release



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