News Briefs: Wisconsin Utility Worker Is Harassed Over Possible Rate Increase

Also in this week's sewer and water news, a New York senator proposes using money gained via sports betting to fund clean water infrastructure; and Purdue researchers publish a study on safety concerns related to the CIPP process

Headlines have surfaced in recent days reporting that the Madison (Wisconsin) Water Utility fell short of its revenue goals for 2017 and is facing a $6 million deficit. Now, in the wake of that story, a utility worker in the city was harassed near a well facility over anger stemming from proposed water-rate increases.

The utility’s public information officer, Amy Barrileaux, told that a man cursed at the employee about possible water-rate increases and refused to leave. “It’s true that water rates could increase by $5 to $9 a month this fall, but we ask that people respect our employees, who have important work to carry out,” she told the news organization.

The utility had apparently filed a rate application with the Public Service Commission last fall, well before the revenue drop-off was reported. Revenues for the utility apparently fell short of targets in part due to the closure of an Oscar Mayer plant, one of its main customers.

With the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a federal law that outlawed sports betting in most states, a senator in New York has proposed using commercial sports betting funds in the state to help fund clean water infrastructure.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky told a panel at a City & State sustainability event that New York should be creative about how it meets its ongoing needs for revenue.

“This is all costing a ton of money,” Kaminsky told the panel. “Sports betting came up this week as a way of certainly bringing a lot of revenue to the states. It’s something we should be looking at.”

Purdue University researchers recently released another study looking at the CIPP process and potential safety concerns. Last year, a research team examined issues surrounding CIPP when using a steam-curing process. This time around, researchers focused on the use of CIPP in stormwater culvert repairs.

“While the technology has been around for 30 years, there are very few laboratory and field studies on possible environmental effects,” says Andrew Whelton, an associate professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University.

More research is needed to develop more definitive conclusions, researchers said, but in the course of the study, the team examined several water contamination incidents that had links to a stormwater CIPP project.

In other sewer and water news, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration in Michigan is nearly finished with its process to enact the nation’s strictest lead-level rules for drinking water.

Those rules would necessitate the replacement of all 500,000 lead service pipes in the state, a plan some Michigan municipalities and utilities have argued against.

The new rules will go in to effect unless a legislative committee objects by June, according to the AP.


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