News Briefs: ​El Paso Lift Station Sees 20 PPE Clogs in 24 Hours

Also in this week's sewer and water news, a California representative urges Congress to include Bureau of Reclamation funding in the next COVID-19 stimulus package

Utility workers for El Paso (Texas) Water say they’ve had to unclog pumps at one of its lift stations more than 20 times in a single 24-hour period due to residents flushing wipes, face coverings and latex gloves.

The infrastructure at the lift station is state-of-the-art, according to water officials, and is only two years old. They hadn’t experienced any problems prior to the quarantine.

“All the problems we've had at this lift station have started since everybody started working and practicing safe practices at home,” utility spokesperson Carlos Briano says, according to Newsweek. “We want people to continue to do that. Continue to stay at home, continue to go to school at home. Just don’t flush anything down the system that is not toilet paper or something your body made.”

Water Utility Seeks Postponement of Rate Increase Due to COVID-19

With infrastructure upgrades on the horizon and ever-increasing operational costs, Madison (Wisconsin) Water Utility last year filed a request for a $3.8 million rate hike. But as the nationa finds itself in a dire economic situation due to COVID-19, the utility is asking regulators to postpone the increase.

“We are concerned about putting more stress on our customers,” utility spokeswoman Amy Barrilleaux tells the Wisconsin State Journal. “But we can’t delay an increase unless they allow us to.”

Barrilleaux says MWU plans to go forward with the rate increase if approved, but will likely ask to delay the increase.

California Representative Urges Congress to Fund Water Infrastructure

Rep. T.J. Cox of California led seven of his colleagues in sending a letter to House of Representatives leadership calling for any COVID-19 infrastructure stimulus package to include Bureau of Reclamation infrastructure. 

Bureau of Reclamation facilities supply drinking water for 31 million people.

“As Congress continues working to respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic, we must include funding for Bureau of Reclamation projects, especially those that increase our water storage capacity,” says Cox. “Upgrading water infrastructure in the Central Valley is overdue and the economic recovery is an opportunity to address these critical needs.”


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