News Briefs: Florida Man Pays Utility Bills for 36 Families in Need

Also in this week's sewer and water news, Denver Water announces it will begin a 15-year program to replace lead service lines

A generous man in Florida recently made sure 36 families in the city of Gulf Breeze could enjoy Christmas without fear of gas or water shutoffs. He paid nearly $4,600 in utility bills for families who were at risk of shutoffs to service during the holidays.

The man, Mike Esmond, says he and his three daughters went without heat during an abnormally cold Christmas in 1983 due to a past-due utility bill. He didn’t want other families to have to go through that.

He got the idea after he noticed the cutoff date on his utility bill was Dec. 26. “I went to the city and asked how many people were going to have their gas or water shut off before Christmas, so they gave me the numbers and I paid them,” he tells the Pensacola News Journal. “I wanted to do something that I felt would really help people at Christmas time who are trying to decide between paying bills and maybe having something cut off, or buying presents for their family.”

Denver Water to Begin Replacing Lead Service Lines

The Environmental Protection Agency has given the go-ahead for Denver, Colorado, to begin a trial of its 15-year plan to replace all lead service pipes.

Denver Water estimates that between 64,000 and 84,000 homes get water via lead pipes, and the replacement project could cost approximately $500 million.

The agency’s approval of the plan is good for three years, and to get it approved for the remaining 12 years, Denver Water must replace an average of at least 7% of its lead pipes each year. If it can’t, the utility would be required to treat the water system with orthophosphate.

Migrants Are Using Tijuana Stormwater System to Get Into United States

Border Patrol agents are bringing awareness to a human smuggling problem at the Tijuana River Valley sewer system at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Agents say when it rains, smugglers encourage migrants to cross into the U.S. via storm drains connecting the two nations underground.

Since October, the L.A. Times reports that 45 people have been arrested for trying to gain access to the U.S. through stormwater tunnels and sewers, which puts the migrants and the arresting agents at risk of exposure to potentially harmful wastewater.


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