News Briefs: Contractor Error Causes Major Wastewater Spill in Georgia

Also in this week's sewer and water news, federal funding could soon alleviate the ongoing wastewater spill problem on the U.S. and Mexico border

Crews had to undertake a big cleanup in Valdosta, Georgia, after they found a manhole had overflowed due to a contractor error, spilling millions of gallons of wastewater.

City officials say a contracted employee was working on improvements to notifications at one of the lift stations, but the employee failed to reconnect a cable after working on the system. The station’s pumps couldn’t turn on and more than 7.5 million gallons of wastewater spilled.

The city’s utilities director, Darryl Muse, expressed frustration in an interview with WCTV News. “It is very frustrating. We spend millions and millions of dollars to address spills that we’ve had in the past, and I think we’ve done a really good job. We were on a path to not have a significant release in the city this calendar year, after the major event that we had in December of 2018.”

Green Bay Uses Satellites to Detect Leaks

The city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is using a satellite technology originally invented to search for water on Mars to find leaks in its water system.

“They’re saying we’re around 30 million gallons of water that we saved by the 57 leaks we repaired this year,” Green Bay Water Utility general manager Nancy Quirk tells WBAY News.

The satellite started its scans earlier this spring and identified 207 hot spots that potentially had leaks. The satellite can find leaks up to 10 feet underground, officials say.

Quirk and her team of engineers first heard about the Utilis satellite leak detection system at a trade show.

Federal Funding Could Alleviate Sewer Spill Problem on U.S.-Mexico Border

Rep. Scott Peters of California, along with the San Diego congressional delegation, recently learned that implementing legislation for the approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will provide a new authorization of $300 million, in equal installments of $75 million over four years, to fund Environmental Protection Agency grants under the Border Water Infrastructure Program to address sewage pollution on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The announcement is the result of consistent and coordinated advocacy by the congressional delegation and local elected and community leaders.

Since at least 1944, the federal government has tried, and failed, to stop flows of treated and untreated sewage in the U.S. from the Tijuana River in Mexico. This problem has been especially prominent recently. In 2017, a broken pipe flooded the river with upward of 143 million to 230 million gallons of raw sewage in one spill alone. The rupture of the Collector Poniente, in southeast Tijuana on Dec. 10, 2018, is a more recent example. At the time of the break, it was leaking roughly 7 million gallons per day.


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