News Briefs: Bay Area Utility May Cap Water Use

Also in this week's sewer and water news, environmental officials in Maryland warn that the Back River is unsafe for human contact

East Bay Municipal Utility District — the California Bay Area’s largest water provider — has announced it may soon impose water use caps on its customers as the state faces an ongoing drought. The limits would be enforceable by tacking on fines for those who exceed the limit.

“This summer, we will certainly need to cinch our belts not just in the Bay Area but statewide,” Dave Briggs, director of operations and maintenance for the district, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Our goal is to not only ensure we’re ready for a hot summer, but to secure our water resources because next year could also be dry.”

East Bay Municipal Utility District serves 1.4 million customers in the Bay Area.

Environment Officials Warn Maryland's Back River Is Unsafe for Human Contact

Due to contaminants in Back River that can cause illness, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Health recently issued recommendations that citizens avoid contact with Back River water, advising against drinking, swimming or wading in the water.

The departments also advised that people wash themselves with soap and water after coming into contact with the river’s water.

The advisory was issued in consultation with the Baltimore County Department of Health and Baltimore City. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

“The health advisory is a necessary and protective step in our broader effort to stabilize the situation and dramatically improve the operation and maintenance of Baltimore’s world-class wastewater asset,” says Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.

Results of recent water sampling, received April 20, showed bacteria levels above the state water contact standard for samples taken from three of four sampling locations.

The story continues to unfold as Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles ordered in March that the Maryland Environmental Service take control of the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore County after it experienced compliance issues.

EPA to Invest $308 Million Into Illinois City's Distribution Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency kicked off Water Week 2022 by announcing two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling $308 million to the City of Joliet, Illinois. EPA’s WIFIA loans will support the Alternative Water Source Program, which will tap into Lake Michigan as a sustainable source of drinking water to benefit the city and neighboring communities.

“Water Week 2022 is focused on elevating clean water as a national priority and EPA’s WIFIA program is a powerful investment tool that is helping achieve that goal in Joliet and communities across the country,” says EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Clean, reliable, and affordable water is essential to everyone, and this project will help the city transition from counting on a depleted aquifer to a much more reliable and sustainable source of water.”

The City of Joliet’s two WIFIA loans will support the planning, design and program management costs for the Alternative Water Source Program and the modernization of the city’s existing water distribution system. These projects will enable a new connection to Lake Michigan as a primary water source while also identifying and replacing lead service lines and reducing the system’s water loss from over 30% to under 10% — saving 2.5 mgd. An Illinois State Water Survey projection has indicated that local aquifers will be unable to support the city’s maximum daily water demand by 2030.


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