News Briefs: Ongoing Megadrought in West Makes National Headlines

Also in this week's sewer and water news, a Missouri laboratory detects the Delta variant of COVID-19 weeks before the first case was reported in the state

Reports of an ongoing megadrought — a prolonged drought lasting two decades or longer — in the American West continue to make headlines this summer. Some articles claim the West is drier than it has been in 1,200 years. Drought conditions now afflict 96% of seven Western states, which is the highest percentage since record keeping began in 2000, according to ClimateWire.

Here are some recent and noteworthy articles:

• Lake Mead is at historically low levels at only 37% capacity, and officials are expected to declare a “tier one” water shortage.

Utah farmers and ranchers are seeing water curtailments of up to 75%, while the impacts of the drought also threaten water reservoirs around the state and the ecosystem of the Great Salt Lake.

• Significant portions of agricultural fields are being left fallow in California due to water shortages.

• The drought in California has left vegetation dry and prone to wildfires. Already in 2021, more than twice as many acres of wildfires have burned compared to 2020, which was the worst fire season on record in the state.

• Trees are dying in New Mexico, as drought stresses the state’s forests and opens up their vulnerability to pests and disease.

US Water And Wastewater Contract Operations Market Report Shows Sector Continues to Build Momentum

The National Association of Water Companies has released the 2020 edition of the Contract Operations Report, a report intended to raise awareness of the water service solutions available to municipal, regional, and federal utility owners.

The report, produced in partnership with Mazars USA, compiles survey data on the contract operations of water and wastewater utilities, with the goal of measuring industry growth and the performance of the private sector involved in these operations. This year’s report compares the latest data to the 2019 findings, better illustrating trends and sector performance.

Some of the key 2020 findings were that demand for contract operations services continues to grow; a high overall customer retention rate (99.7%) indicates excellent customer satisfaction within the contract operations industry; and a full contract operations and maintenance model continues to be the prevailing form of public private partnership, rather than the more complex Design Build Operate or concession models.

For more information and to download the full report, click here.

Missouri Lab Detects Delta Variant in Wastewater Weeks Before Outbreak

A professor from the University of Missouri says his lab detected the Delta variant of COVID-19 in wastewater weeks before the first case was reported in the state. Missouri is currently amidst a surge of the variant.

“We detected it in the first wastewater facility on May 10, a week later we saw it in four different wastewater treatment facilities and by the third week it was everywhere,” Marc Johnson, who is leading a study about COVID-19 in wastewater, told FOX 2 Now News. “It was across the state, all different parts.”


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