New York Rural Water : News

September 2, 2014

Sewer Workers Battling a “Fatberg” the Size of a Boeing 747 Under London

Category: General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 8:07 AM

Thames Water, the company that keeps sewers flowing freely under London, has released a set of disgusting pictures of a “fatberg” that took a week to remove from a 262-foot stretch of Shepherd’s Bush Road in West London. The water authority claims it was the size of a Boeing 747, if it was buried underground.

“A team of sewer experts from the company fought the ‘berg all last week (Tuesday, Aug. 26 to Friday, Aug. 29). The immense, solid blockage needed to be broken up and removed from the sewer to prevent sewer flooding to nearby homes and business,” the company said in a press release.

Fatbergs are composed largely of cooking oil that has been poured down drains while hot and runny. Once in the cold water of the sewer system, however, the fat congeals. The solid mess then combines with “wet wipes.” The wipes are frequently labeled as “disposable” but are turning out not to be.

Cooking oil + wet wipes = fatberg, it turns out.

Unfortunately the pictures could not be copied into this article, although the picture shows the leviathan is all the way up to the roof of the tunnel, preventing the Thames Water worker from reaching the bottom. (The Sheperd’s Bush fatberg was not as big as the monster removed from Kingston-area sewers last year, however.)

The team used high-powered hot water jets for a week to dislodge the colossus.  In the picture you can see that the lipid dam is nearly at the top of the sewer.

‘Pretty soon your fatberg is out of control.’

“Wet wipes cling to the fat. Fat clings to the wipes. And pretty soon your fatberg is out of control and sewage is backing up into roads, gardens and in the worst cases flooding up through toilets and into homes,” said Dave Dennis, Thames Water sewer operations manager. “We’ve found all sorts in this sewer – from tennis balls to planks of wood. It goes without saying they shouldn’t be in those pipes. London – bin it, don’t block it.”

Thames Water spends £12 million a year (about $20 million) on the war against fat. “The sewers serve an important purpose — they are not an abyss for household rubbish,” Dennis said.

The worst neighborhood in London for fatbergs is Harrow, which has been plagued by 13,417 fatberg sightings in the last five years.

August 29, 2014

NYS EFC Approves More Than $3.87 Million in Low Cost Financing

Category: Funding, General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 1:31 PM

NYS Environmental Facilities Corp. Approves More Than $3.87 Million

in Low-Cost Financing for Sewer Projects in Oswego County


Village of Mexico and Town of Hastings to Receive Low-Cost Loans and Grants

The Board of Directors of the Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC) today approved more than $3.87 million in low-cost financing to upgrade sewer infrastructure in the Village of Mexico and the Town of Hastings.

Mexico applied for and will receive more than $2.67 million in financing – half interest-free and the other half at market-rate interest – while Hastings will receive $1.2 million in a short-term, interest-free loan. Hastings has also been awarded a $981,000 grant from the Rural Development Office of the USDA.

EFC is the arm of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration that provides low-cost financing to help local governments afford major improvements to wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. This year marks the 25th anniversary of New York State’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which has furnished more than $17 billion in low-cost loans and grants to thousands of important water pollution control projects in New York State.

“As EFC marks the 25th anniversary of New York’s Clean Water revolving loan fund, New York State is expanding its efforts to help local governments create reliable infrastructure for the collection and treatment wastewater and stormwater,” said Matthew Driscoll, President and CEO of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. “Millions of New Yorkers have benefited from our management of the nation’s largest and most-active Clean Water fund, as upgraded wastewater systems have improved the environment, protected public health and provided new opportunities for economic development.”

At today’s meeting, the EFC Board of Directors approved a total of $28.38 million in loans and grants from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) for seven projects around the state. In addition to the financing for Mexico and Hastings, the EFC Board today approved a total of $28.3 million in CWSRF loans and grants for clean-water projects in the City of Cortland ($13.2 million) in Cortland County, the City of Glens Falls ($689,140) in Warren County, the Village of Philadelphia ($7.3 million) in Jefferson County and Dutchess County (two projects for a total of $3.3 million in financing from EFC).

The project in Mexico includes upgrades to four remote pump stations in the collection system, as well as the installation of screening and grit removal systems ahead of the main lift station. Work will also be performed to restrict water inflow and infiltration in the collection system, including the replacement of manhole frames and covers, to reduce flows during wet weather events.

The treatment plant will also receive new high efficiency blowers, dissolved oxygen monitoring, ultrasonic level senor for flow measurement, chemical storage enclosure for dechlorination, and upgrades to the electrical system. Reed beds will be constructed to reduce the cost of solids disposal.

In Hastings, approximately 6,400 feet of new sewer lines, along with individual grinder pumps and a new pump station, will be installed to serve areas of US Route 11. Flows will be treated at the Fort Brewerton Wastewater Treatment Plant.

July 25, 2014

Human Studies On Benefits of Alkaline Water

Category: General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 1:14 PM


Alkaline mineral water lowers bone resorption even in calcium sufficiency: alkaline mineral water and bone metabolism.

  • Summary: Study examined people who were determined to get sufficient calcium from their diets to find out if calcium-rich alkaline water could reduce the rate of bone loss. The study compared alkaline water to acidic water to see if alkaline water worked better.
  • Results: In calcium sufficiency, the alkaline water led to a significant decrease of PTH and of S- CTX (two important markers of bone loss). The acidic water with did not reduce bone loss.
  • Limitation: This study used a calcium-rich alkaline water, your tap water may not be calcium rich. However, the reduction of bone loss markers was also shown in the study below which used ordinary tap water treated by a water ionizer to make it alkaline water that was not calcium rich. (Wynn, Krieg, and et al)

The effect of daily consumption of 2 liters of electrolyzed water for 2 months on body composition and several physiological parameters in four obese subjects: a preliminary report.

  • Summary: Study examined four people who drank alkaline water made with a water ionizer for two months. The study examined two markers of bone loss: serum osteocalcin measures bone formation by osteoblasts. N-telopeptides and NTx measures bone resorption (loss) by osteoclasts.
  • Results: The study showed significant reductions in bone loss markers (N-telopeptides and NTx) for all four test subjects There was no significant effect on bone formation (serum osteocalcin)
  • Limitation: This was a small study, only 4 people were examined, no control group was used to compare the effect of consumption of alkaline water to plain water. (Abrabam, Flebas)

Blood Pressure:

“Intake of mineral water among persons with a low urinary excretion of magnesium or calcium may decrease the blood pressures”

  • Summary: A natural alkaline mineral water with a pH of 8.7 was evaluated to see if it reduced blood pressure in people with low magnesium and calcium levels.
  • Results: The results of this study suggest that water borne minerals can contribute to mineral nutrition requirements. Waterborne mineral supplementation may reduce blood pressure in people with calcium and/or magnesium deficiency.
  • Limitation: This study was performed on a small group (20 people) and was short term. Additional studies are needed to confirm the effect of alkaline water on blood pressure. (Rylander, R)

Laboratory Studies of alkaline water

Laboratory studies are performed in-vitro which means in a test tube, Petri dish or other container. The results of in-vitro studies are used by scientists to test theories. If an in-vitro study looks promising, then an in-vivo study, meaning in the body, is conducted to confirm the results.

July 24, 2014

Flushability of Wipes Spawns Class Action Lawsuit

Category: General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 9:53 AM

A New York doctor has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the makers of “flushable” wipes after experiencing what he claims were major plumbing and clogging issues in his home.

“The defendants should have known that their representations regarding flushable wipes were false and misleading,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit by Dr. Joseph Kurtz, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., cites Kimberly-Clark and Costco Wholesale corporations and seeks damages of at least $5 million. The suit filed on Feb. 21 in the Eastern District of New York represents 100 people and claims that consumers around the country have suffered through clogged pipes, flooding, jammed sewers and problems with septic tanks due to the use of flushable wipes.

The lawsuit is the latest complaint against the flushable wipes in recent years.

PHOTO: Cottonelle wipes

Kimberly-Clark Corporation
PHOTO: Cottonelle wipes

Over the past five to six years, New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection has spent over $18 million to have these wipes removed by hand from the sewer system, according to Deputy Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.

When the department looked at the sales of flushable wipes, Sapienza said that there was almost a direct correlation between an increase in product sales and an increase in clogs within its sewage treatment facilities.

“The word ‘flushable’ means it won’t clog your toilet or your house, but when it gets to a sewage treatment plant, the wipes wrap around the equipment, shuts it down, and then the treatment plant workers go and manually pull these wipes out,” Sapienza told ABC News on Monday.

The agency recommends that people not flush these wipes and instead throw them out in the garbage can.

The wipes market is a $6 billion-a-year industry with sales growing by 5 to 6 percent annually, according to court papers.

In response to this federal lawsuit, Bob Brand, a spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Cottonelle wipes said, “Kimberly-Clark has an extensive testing process to ensure that our flushable wipes products meet or exceed all industry guidelines and we stand behind our claims of flushability.”

A Costco official told ABC News that Costco does not comment on lawsuits.

While the cleansing cloth packages are labeled as “flushable” and “sewer-and-septic-safe,” the lawsuit states that there are no legal requirements that a product must meet in order to claim that it is “flushable” and only voluntary guidelines may be followed at the discretion of manufacturers.

Experts running public wastewater facilities have independently tested the wipes because there is no legal standard.

“We started doing testing ourselves because we couldn’t get any information from the manufacturers,” said Rob Villee, executive director of the Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage Authority in New Jersey.

Villee, who has been working on the testing of these wipes for four years, said that when the wipes were put in 2 liters of water, the Cottonelle wipes took 20 minutes to disperse while the Costco wipes, even after three hours, were not totally broken up and there was no noticeable loss of mass.

Unlike the Cottonelle brand that uses a water-soluble binder that breaks down when put in water, the Costco brand has a plastic backing sheet on the wipes, Villee said. “I flushed that sucker down 100 times and it still held together,” he said.

The Water Environment Federation and the American Public Works Association — both nonprofit groups that deal with wastewater issues — are expected to meet later this year with product manufacturers to jointly determine what the term “flushable” should mean, Villee said. The groups also expected to do more testing on the wipes, he said.

July 14, 2014

Best Practices For Septic System Repairs using CWSRF Funds

Category: Events, General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 9:19 AM

The Office of Water and Region 8 are pleased to announce the 8th in a series of monthly 1-hour webinars on best practices in the implementation of the National Water Program.  The next webinar is scheduled for Thursday, July 17th from 2 to 3 pm (Eastern Daylight Time). Representatives from EPA’s Region 3 Office will provide a presentation on using CWSRF funds for septic system repairs by partnering with state housing agencies.  Tune into the webinar next Thursday to hear how they did it.

A best practice is defined as a process, tool, or methodology usually developed by Regional or state water program staff that contains innovative and successful approaches that helps the program achieve its goals to protect human health and restore watershed and aquatic ecosystems.  A two page description of each best practice published in the FY 2013 End of Year Report can be found at the following link on OW’s Performance web site:

Each webinar will consist of a 30 minute or less presentation by the developer and/or sponsor of the best practice.  In addition to a brief description of the  practice, presentations may cover any of the following:

- What were the driving factors in developing the practice.

- How was it developed.  Who was involved.

- What outcomes or impact has the practice had in the presenter’s Region.

- What were the lessons learned in developing and implementing the practice.  What could have been done differently.

- Recommendations for others in adopting the practice for their Region.

- Who to contact for more information about the practice.

Sufficient time will be allowed during the remainder of the webinar for questions and answers and an open discussion on the best practice.

To access the webinar, please follow these instructions:

For audio, the call in number is :  1-866-299-3188;  conference code – 202-564-0572

July 7, 2014

How to Protect Your Drinking Water from Harmful Algal Blooms

Category: General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 1:57 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

To register for this webinar:

On July 16, 2014, EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds will host a webinar on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and drinking water, entitled, “How To Protect Your Drinking Water From Harmful Algal Blooms.” Karen Sklenar from The Cadmus Group and Tom Conry from Waco Water Utilities Services will continue the series with a discussion of the impact of HABs on drinking water sources, the extent to which treatment facilities can remove toxins, and ultimately how people can help to reduce the environmental, health, and economic problems in the future.

This series is a part of a broader outreach effort that aims to focus public attention on HABs, which are associated with nutrient pollution, and can sicken people and pets, devastate aquatic ecosystems, and be a detriment to the economy. To register for this and future webinars, visit

States Top Court Rules in Favor of Local Town Prohibiting Hydraulic Fracturing

Category: General, Hydrofracking, Water — New York Rural Water @ 1:01 PM

On June 30th, the State Court of Appeals in a 5-to-2 decision found that the Town of Dryden in Tompkins County and the Town of Middlefield in Otsego County have the authority to prohibit fracking through local land use regulations.  Opponents of fracking immediately celebrated the ruling whereas a lawyer for one of the energy companies in the suit indicated that the ruling made it increasingly unlikely that gas drilling companies would invest in New York State.

July 2, 2014

New York Tap Water Taste Contest Schedule – Be sure to Join in the Fun!!

Category: Achievements, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 1:41 PM

New York Tap Water Taste Contest Schedule

The New York Water and Wastewater Education and Outreach Committee has updated the schedule for the Tap Water Test Contest and provided the Local competition winners.  We are now advancing to the Regional competitions and will wrap it all up with the final State competition at the NY State Fair.  Please click on this link to see the full schedule and local competition winners for 2014.  Please consider participating in this event and show off your Quality on Tap!!

June 24, 2014

Legislature Slams Clean Water Act Reform

Category: General, Legislative, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 11:53 AM

The Greene County Legislature is fighting a proposed modification to the Clean Water Act that lawmakers say will burden farmers with “costly and time-consuming permitting and regulatory protocols,” according to a resolution passed last week.

The change was proposed in April by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the stated intention of clarifying protections for streams and wetlands, which became confusing and complicated after Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.

According to an EPA press release, the proposed rule clarifies that most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected, as are wetlands near rivers and streams. Other waters with more uncertain connections to downstream waters will be evaluated on a case-by-base basis.

“We are clarifying protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities,” stated EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in the release. “Clean water is essential to every single American, from families who rely on safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops, to hunters and fishermen who depend on healthy waters for recreation and their work, and to businesses that need a steady supply of water for operations.”

The EPA claims the rule “does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.”

But opponents, like the Greene County legislature, read it differently.

“Both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers essentially want to broaden the definition of the existing Clean Water Act,” said Greene County Legislator James Hitchcock, R-Maplecrest. “And under their proposal, a large puddle in a field, a typical farm field, could be considered navigable waters. And I feel that it is EPA overreach at its worst.”

The resolution passed unanimously last week states that “the CWA was not intended to protect ditches and other channels through which water flows intermittently, nor was it intended to capture seeps, wet areas, isolated man-made ponds and other structures not currently subject to CWA.”

Legislators and agricultural groups fear the changes will require many public works projects and farm activities to go through the “costly and time-consuming permitting” process necessary under the CWA, not only increasing costs to farmers, but to the taxpayers, as well.

Mick Bessire, agricultural educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia & Greene Counties, said farmers are particularly upset and concerned that they’ll be responsible for ensuring that runoff during rainstorms is in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

“Any pollution or any degradation to the water by farm activities is not acceptable, and everybody knows that,” he said. “But the idea here is that every time it rains, you’re going to have to deal with EPA regulations. That’s why its not very popular with the farm community. They haven’t got the time or the money to do all the things that may be required under this new law.”

Bessire said it’s about “being responsible versus being mandated or being regulated into doing things.”

Both Bessire and Elizabeth LoGuidice, natural resources educator at CCE, said this kind of decision is not easy and not black-and-white — nobody wants more burdens on farmers, but nobody wants a polluted water supply, either.

“The water quality in our streams, of course, is of paramount importance to our groundwater supplies and our economic well-being as well as our ecological well-being,” said LoGuidice. “The bottom line is that reducing our impacts on streams is really necessary because we have impacted them negatively in the past and we need to minimize that in the future.”

The public comment period for the proposed rule is open until Oct. 20. Read the law and learn how to comment at

June 6, 2014

Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Revisions

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:57 AM

Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Revisions – NRWA is participating on an EPA consultation panel considering revisions to the LCR.  Last week, during a webinar EPA made the following findings on the current rule:

  • Sampling sites that have the greatest copper levels almost always are different from the sites that have the most lead (38:30)
  • Current sampling sites for copper are flawed (46:00)
  • First litre sampling for lead is not capturing lead contributed by LSL (46:20)
  • People are getting sick from copper where the utility is in compliance with the copper action level (47:20)
  • Interior plumbing, especially galvanized pipe, will accumulate lead like a sponge (56:17).
  • Without tailoring the monitoring to each specific house it is easy to intentionally miss capturing the peak lead levels for that sampling site (1:00:50).
  • To target high lead levels, the following need to be included in sampling site selection: water quality zones, length of LSLs & PLSLs, physical disturbances, unstable surface coatings, etc. (1:03:50).
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