News Briefs: Pipe Breaks Deplete Water Supply in Florida Keys

Also in this week's sewer and water news, a group of Democratic senators recently introduced the FLOW Act, which aims to make it easier for cities and utilities to issue bonds to finance lead pipe replacement projects

News Briefs: Pipe Breaks Deplete Water Supply in Florida Keys

A recent series of three underground pipe breaks in the Village of Islamorada, located in the Upper Keys, severely depleted the Florida Keys water utility's reserves. As a result, the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority has urged customers to reduce water usage by taking shorter showers, refraining from watering lawns and postponing car and boat washes. FKAA Executive Director Greg Veliz emphasized the importance of conserving water in an email to customers, expressing gratitude for any efforts to help rebuild the water supply. A precautionary boil-water notice
was also issued.

These water main breaks have not only led to major traffic disruptions along U.S. 1 throughout the Florida Keys, but have also significantly lowered water pressure for customers, impacting local businesses such as bars, restaurants and hotels during the height of the winter tourist season and spring break.

Nestlé's Push to Change Arizona Water Law Sparks Controversy

A Nestlé factory in Glendale, Arizona, is facing a water supply issue as it seeks to produce a large amount of high-quality creamer. The company's proposed solution could lead to the depletion of Arizona's groundwater and pose a risk to the quality of city tap water, according to water experts. 

Last year, Nestlé announced plans for a $700 million plant in Glendale but encountered problems with its water provider, EPCOR, as the wastewater requirements exceeded the Canadian utility's capacity.

In response, Nestlé is attempting to change Arizona water law, with a bill that would enable factories to treat their own water on-site, bypassing state-licensed public and private water providers. This proposal has been met with opposition from various Valley cities, water officials and business associations. 

FLOW Act Aims to Facilitate Lead Pipe Removal

A group of Democratic senators recently introduced the Financing Lead Out of Water Act, which would reduce exposure to lead in old water pipes by making it easier for cities and utilities to issue bonds
to finance replacement projects.

The FLOW Act would provide an explicit guarantee in the tax code to allow public water utilities to issue tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the removal and replacement of both the publicly and privately owned lead service lines, resolving the full scale of the issue for residents in areas with lead pipes. This bill also would help funds for lead pipe replacement from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law make a deeper impact on replacing the nation’s essential water infrastructure.

Bennet’s Financing Lead Out of Water Act draws on the experience of Denver Water, a public water utility that is financing the removal of all public and private lead service lines in its service area at no cost to its customers by issuing tax-exempt bonds. Denver Water found that issuing tax-exempt bonds for this purpose required a costly and time-consuming analysis of its service area as part of the “private business use test” administered by the IRS to qualify for the tax exemption, adding months to its effort. The FLOW Act provides a solution to this issue
for public water utilities.

Precipitation Helps Great Salt Lake, But Water Levels Are Still Low

Utah's Great Salt Lake has seen a rise in water levels in recent months following heavy snow and rainfall in the West. However, water levels remain below average due to persistent regional drought. As of March 13, the lake's water levels stand at 4,189.35 feet above sea level, a notable increase from the record low of 4,188.2 feet in November 2022, according to Newsweek.

Despite the increase since the end of 2022, the current water levels are still lower than those observed in previous years. A year ago, the lake stood at 4,190.62 feet, while in 2021 and 2020, the levels were 4,192.44 and
4,193.75 feet, respectively.


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