News Briefs: Zebra Mussel Solution Still 18 Months Away for Austin Water

Also in this week's sewer and water news, an agreement between advocacy groups and the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Water and Sewer Authority will see lead lines replaced

A solution to Austin, Texas’ zebra mussel infestation could still be 18 months away, according to Austin Water officials.

Residents in the city have been dealing with malodorous, and city officials say an infestation of zebra mussels in a raw water pipeline is causing it. The pipe first became infested with the mussels a year ago.

The utility is working to slow the infestation by using chemical retardants in its pipelines and raw water tunnels. But so far, they haven’t been able to keep pace with the mussels reproduction abilities.

Faced with the idea of millions of mussels covering every hard surface in the city’s lakes, the utility is taking the matter seriously. However, implementing a copper-ion system capable of killing off the mussels is still a year and a half away.

Settlement Agreement Means Pittsburgh Will Replace Lead Water Lines 

Thanks to a legal agreement negotiated by local advocacy organizations, the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will safely replace thousands of its lead water lines and take significant new steps toward protecting residents’ drinking water.

“The people of Pittsburgh have been drinking lead-contaminated water for far too long,” says Dimple Chaudhary, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Pittsburgh United — a coalition of labor, faith, and environmental groups — advocated for the settlement, represented by lawyers from NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project. The agreement controls how PWSA will spend nearly $50 million in 2019 to safely remove the lead service lines

Lead levels in Pittsburgh have been high since at least 2016, according to an NRDC analysis. And PWSA estimates there being as many as 10,000 lead service lines remaining on public properties. Estimates aren’t available yet for private properties. NRDC data show that Pittsburgh is the second-largest water system in the country to have exceeded the action level for lead set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — and one of multiple cities to face drinking water crises in recent years.

Proposed Bill in Florida Would Require Water Filters in Schools

A bill introduced by Florida state senators Janet Cruz, Lauren Book and Annette Taddeo would require schools to filter drinking water — using filters capable of removing lead — at its source on campuses that were built prior to 1986.

“All kids should have access to clean and safe drinking water at school,” Cruz wrote via email to the Tallahassee Democrat. “Schools around the country are facing this problem. We need to fix this in Florida and that is why I am proud to sponsor Senate Bill 66.”

The proposed legislation would include water fountains and sinks used for food preparation. Unfiltered water sources would be posted with a sign, and drinking water sources would display when filters were last replaced.


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