News Briefs: Austin Water Loses Hundreds of Millions of Gallons of Water After Storm

Also in this week's sewer and water news, a new NOAA report makes the case for funding longer-range weather forecasting

Austin (Texas) Water is reporting that tens of thousands of leaks in its water system caused by recent winter storms have led to hundreds of millions of gallons of lost water.

Utility Director Greg Meszaros told KXAN News many leaks may not have even been detected yet.

“Tuesday night and Wednesday morning when this peaked out, we were losing 325 million gallons of water at our peak,” he said. “That is an incredible amount of water — nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Report Makes Case for Funding Longer-Range Weather Forecasting

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report could spur Congress to approve the $15 million annual investment necessary to translate sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasting (S2S) from concept to implementation through pilot projects in the West.

An advocacy effort is underway to fund the NOAA report to Congress. The idea is to make S2S as much a priority as improvements in hurricane forecasting on the East Coast.

“It’s a water management tool that will benefit every ACWA member,” said Brad Sherwood, ACWA Region 1 chair and Sonoma Water's division manager for community and government affairs, explaining that it will dovetail with the ability to apply Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations, or FIRO, which allows for flexibility in reservoir storage in coordination with weather forecasts.

Reclamation Awards $15.4 Million for Drought Project in the West

The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $15.4 million for projects in the West to prepare for and respond to drought. The WaterSMART Drought Program funding will leverage $54.9 million in non-federal cost-share to complete projects in seven Western states.

“More than 50% of the Western United States is in a severe drought or worse,” says Chief Engineer David Raff. “The projects selected will help communities prepare for the increased risk of a drought by increasing the reliability of water supplies and improving water management.”

Reclamation’s Drought Response Program is part of WaterSMART. It supports a proactive approach to drought by providing water managers assistance to develop and update comprehensive drought plans.


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