News Briefs: U.S. Declares Water Shortage on Colorado River

Also in this week's sewer and water news, water utilities in four states are asking the U.S. EPA for help getting chlorine-based materials amidst an ongoing shortage

The U.S. government has declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time, triggering supply cuts as Lake Mead continues to drain.

The first tier of supply cuts will affect Arizona and Nevada, although Nevada officials say the state has already reduced water deliveries and nothing will change immediately as a result of the declaration.

Further water cuts could be on the horizon in the next few years if Lake Mead’s levels continue to decline.

States Ask for Help With Chlorine Shortage

Water utilities in California, Utah, New Mexico and New York are asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for help getting chlorine-based materials amidst an ongoing shortage.

Section 1441 of the Safe Drinking Water Act authorizes the Commerce Department to order chemical suppliers to provide chemicals to water systems when they’re in need. This is the first time in the Safe Drinking Water Act’s history that a request like this has been made.

Fifteen water systems made the request, according to a Federal Register notice.

“Recent disruptions in the supply of critical water treatment chemicals, such as chlorine products and ferric chloride, have led to reduced allocations and projected shortfalls and delays in the delivery of these chemicals to some water and wastewater utilities,” EPA spokesman Tim Carroll told Bloomberg Law.

Maine DEP Warns Water Officials About Cyberattacks

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is warning municipalities and water officials to stay alert to the threat of ransomware attacks after two such attacks were recently reported in the state.

The ransomware attacks — in Limestone and Mount Desert — are believed to be the first in the state.

“They were both fairly minor, there was no threat to the public, there was no violation, no excursion, no health and safety threat. It wasn’t like the Colonial pipeline, but it was a concern for us that these small facilities were being targeted,” Judy Bruenjes, a wastewater technical assistance engineer for the DEP, told the Maine Monitor.

Canada and Saskatchewan Invest in Water/Wastewater Infrastructure

The governments of Canada and Saskatchewan continue to invest in infrastructure to enhance citizens’ quality of life, meet the needs of communities, and create jobs to address the impact of COVID-19.

Jim Carr, minister and special representative for the Prairies recently announced funding to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in three provincial parks and nine Saskatchewan communities.

The governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are investing more than $23.6 million towards these projects through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s Green Infrastructure Stream. Canada is contributing over $12.7 million and Saskatchewan is funding over $10.8 million. Proponents are also contributing more than $7.7 million. Funding recipients are responsible for any additional project costs.


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