New York Rural Water : News

October 17, 2014

Update from the CDC on Guidance on Ebola

Category: Events, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 11:06 AM

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon release an Interim Guidance for personnel working with sewage servicing Ebola related facilities and patients.  Yesterday, the CDC briefed national water associations on the Interim Guidance which is in final draft form, awaiting final approval before public release.  CDC explained the comprehensive content of the guidance including: safety procedures for sewage workers and Ebola survivability in sewage.  CDC did not indicate a release date for the guidance.  Based on previous CDC final review processes, NRWA speculates the document could be released within a week.

EPA Launches Website to Commemorate SDWA

Category: Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:21 AM

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Act was passed to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply. We have made great progress over the past 40 years, but many challenges remain. EPA is committed to working with states, tribes, water sector partners and the public to meet the challenges ahead and protect public health.

October 15, 2014

CDC Recommends Disposal of Ebola Waste to Public Wastewater Systems

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 11:32 AM
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends disposal of Ebola related waste to public wastewater systems (see below).  The CDC does not have guidance for wastewater operations specialists and employees related specifically to Ebola.  The CDC and the World Health Organization conclude that Ebola is not a foodborne, waterborne or airborne illness, it is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluids and Ebola infected cells don’t live long in water because it does not have the same salt concentration as bodily fluids.  On October 13, 2014, the CDC indicated it is reconsidering its approach to decontamination and equipment procedures for all health workers (see article below). National Rural Water Association( NRWA) is in contact with the CDC and the U.S. EPA regarding any additional guidance for wastewater or drinking water employees, and will be distributing all related guidance.
CDC Guidance on Safety of Ebola and Sanitation Systems:

“C.D.C. Rethinking Methods to Stop Spread of Ebola” New York Times, October 13, 2014
  • “The transmission of the Ebola virus to a nurse here forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday to reconsider its approach to containing the disease, with state and federal officials re-examining whether equipment and procedures were adequate or too loosely followed, and whether more decontamination steps are necessary when health workers leave isolation units…  State and federal health officials seemed to be, in a sense, starting over, two weeks after Mr. Duncan’s diagnosis of Ebola on Sept. 30. They were now identifying, assessing and learning more about a group of health care workers they had largely ignored, to the point that they spent more than 24 hours simply trying to identify who they were…  Concern was also evident in Louisiana, where a state judge granted the state attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, a temporary restraining order on Monday blocking the dumping of Mr. Duncan’s incinerated personal items in a hazardous-waste landfill in Calcasieu Parish…”

Gov Cuomo Announces $1.8 Million in Federal Public Assistance Approved for Village of Saranac Lake

Category: Funding, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 11:10 AM

Gov. Cuomo announced the approval of $1.8 million from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to help the Village of Saranac Lake rebuild their municipal sewage treatment plant and better protect it from future damage.  “This vital funding will allow the Village of Saranac Lake, which has seen firsthand the damage that can be caused by extreme weather, to strengthen its infrastructure and build back better than before.”  Gov. Cuomo said.  “I’m proud to have worked with our federal and local partners to advocate for the approval of these funds and to make it a reality.”

The northeast section of the Town of Saranac Lake, suffered the most damage as a result of storms, flooding, tornadoes and straight line winds that occurred during 2011.  This funding will repair and restore several elements of the town’s sewage treatment plant that were damaged as a direct result of the storm including clarifiers, critical upgrades and elevating vital controls to protect against future storm damage.  The estimated repair and restoration costs for this project are $2.4 million, with FEMA covering 75% of the cost, New York State at 12.5% and the Village of Saranac Lake paying the remaining 12%.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “This is great news for the Village of Saranac Lake.  Storms have devastated communities throughout New York and Saranac Lake was hit hard.  Homes, schools and businesses suffered unprecedented damage and the federal government has an obligation to make these investments so communities can continue to recover and rebuild.”

The FEMA Public Assistance program provides assistance to state, local, tribal and certain non-profit organizations recover after a disaster has been declared by the President.  The New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has paid over $30 million in FEMA Public Assistance monies to state and local governments and non-profits that were impacted by this storm.

Back in September 2014, NYRWA held two training events, one in New Hampton and another in Cobleskill with assistance from USEPA on Flood Resiliency for Small and Medium Water and Wastewater Systems.  The USEPA has developed a tool, Flood Resilience – A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities, to help utilities become more resilient to flooding.  The guide includes resources for systems to assess their utility and improve flood resilience, in addition to determining possible ways to approach mitigation and a plan to implement and pay for mitigation measures.  More information on this guide and many other tools are available on the USEPA website.

October 10, 2014

Congratulations Gary Biekert

Category: Achievements, Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 10:40 AM

Congratulations to Gary Biekert, Chief Operator for the Village of Mayville in Chautauqua County on his recent retirement.  Gary handled the water system for the village for the past three decades and oversaw many system improvements.  Gary plans to travel to a warmer climate for the winter months with his wife and their new RV.  From all of us here at the NYRWA, thank you Gary for a job well done and here’s to a long, happy, and healthy retirement!!!

New York’s Slow Comeback to Title of the Big Oyster

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 10:24 AM

“It’s a big one,” Chris Anderson shouted through his diver’s mask when he surfaced.

Indeed it was: an oyster 11.1 centimeters long, or about 4.37 inches. It was the second largest he had seen in nine years of hunting for Crassostrea virginica, wild oysters, on the bottom of the Hudson River.

Some naturalists are building reefs in New York Harbor for oysters to live on. Some even import the oysters to local waters. Last year, about 100,000 farm-raised baby oysters were relocated to an artificial reef in the Bronx River, just off the shore of Soundview Park in the South Bronx.

Then there is Mr. Anderson. As the lead diver for the River Project, he goes looking for wild oysters that have found places to live on their own — places in a tiny area of the Hudson, beneath the old wooden pilings around the former Hudson River Pier 42, only a few hundred yards from the West Side Highway at Morton Street. His boss, Cathy Drew, the founder and executive director of the River Project, said: “Everyone has their little niche. This is ours.”

As the author Mark Kurlansky has observed, New York was the Big Oyster before it was the Big Apple. Little Oyster Island and Great Oyster Island were what New Yorkers once called Ellis Island and Liberty Island. And famous British authors helped make New York oysters famous. Guess what a 12-course tribute to Charles Dickens — who described Scrooge as “secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster” — began with? Yes, food, glorious, food, and not the same old gruel.

But the city’s once-rich oyster beds were decimated by pollution. Now there are oyster restoration projects, and Mr. Anderson, who is both census taker and mapmaker, intends to count the oysters at the former Pier 42 as part of a pilot study. He also intends to note the oysters’ locations in a systematic way, so he can pay return visits and keep track of the pier’s oyster population almost one by one. And he puts the emphasis on “micro” as he calls the pier a microcosm of hopeful signs.

One is that there are more wild oysters in the densely grass-green water than 10 years ago. “The one hiccup” since then, he said, was Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Anderson blamed that storm, in 2012, for a drop of 15 to 20 percent in the oyster population at the pier. Hurricane Sandy, unlike Hurricane Irene in 2011, caused heavy damage to the pilings, he said. Pieces of the pilings tumbled into the water and presumably crushed some oysters. Other oysters, buried in sediment as the storm subsided, suffocated.

“It was tough to find the same oysters again,” Mr. Anderson said. “Irene was O.K. Sandy was violent.”

PhoStill, he said, the population count is easily several thousand, and growing. “They’re living on some of the concrete, the cement, from the actual pier itself,” he said. “Years ago, when they removed the pier, a lot of the rubble from the base of the pier fell to the bottom. Luckily, that’s been good for the oysters. The oysters don’t necessarily want to settle on wood.”

James Lodge, senior scientist with the Hudson River Foundation, said the research at the former Pier 42 was different from projects that simply counted the oyster population — or worked to increase it. “What’s unique about it is they’re looking at the same oysters over time in a relatively small area,” Mr. Lodge said. “They’ll be able to document if there was natural recruitment” — if new oysters were born there — “and how those oysters grow and survive.”

Mr. Anderson spent 20 minutes under water the other day and surfaced without incident, which has not always been the case. In years of exploring the Hudson, he has been poked by rebar, the metal bars used in reinforced concrete structures like the slab that once sat atop the pilings at the former Pier 42. He said that he had seen “weird unidentifiable objects” in the river, and that he had declined the opportunity to see two bodies that turned up at Pier 40, where the River Project, a nonprofit marine science research operation, has its laboratory.

In the densest area at the former Pier 42, Ms. Drew said, the count was nine oysters per square meter. In his dive the other day, Mr. Anderson reported seeing four per square meter, including the big one he found the other day.

That creature, he speculated, was at least four years old, “but more likely around six or seven years old.” It was nine millimeters shorter than the longest oyster he has ever discovered in the Hudson. He brought it to the surface and measured it with calipers as he bobbed in the water, then returned it to its place on the river bottom.

“I knew oysters existed that are that large, and I know there are ones that are larger than that in the piling field than I have found yet, because I haven’t gotten to survey much of the piling field over all,” he said. “It was whiter than the other oysters. It almost seemed to glow. It really stuck out among the mussels and the sea squirts and the algae.”

September 23, 2014

Fallsburg gets $10M Loan for WWTP

Category: Achievements, Events, Funding, General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 1:48 PM

A $10.8 million no-interest loan was awarded to the eastern Sullivan County Town of Fallsburg last week so it can upgrade a wastewater treatment plant.

The state Environmental Facilities Corporation’s board of directors announced the money will go toward improvements at the Loch Sheldrake Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was built in 1938 and last renovated in 1980. Upgrades will include a membrane bioreactor for secondary treatment at the plant and an ultraviolet light system for disinfection.

The money will be provided through the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

The Facilities Corporation said the upgrades would increase the plant’s capacity from 700,000 gallons per day to 997,000 gallons per day.

Project upgrades are expected to be completed by 2017.

September 17, 2014

Revised Total Coliform Rule Assessments and Corrective Actions

Category: Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:52 AM

EPA has released the Interim Final version of the Revised Total Coliform Rule Assessments and Corrective Actions Guidance Manual.

The guidance manual is currently available online at

The guidance manual provides public water systems and primacy agencies with guidance on complying with and implementing the assessment and corrective action requirements of the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR).  Under the RTCR, public water systems that are vulnerable to microbial contamination in the distribution system (as indicated by their monitoring results for total coliforms and E. coli) are required to assess the problem and take corrective action that may reduce cases of illnesses and deaths due to potential fecal contamination and waterborne pathogen exposure.  The guidance manual provides information on the common causes of total coliform and E. coli occurrence in the distribution system, how to conduct assessments to identify possible causes of contamination (“sanitary defects”), and corresponding corrective actions that systems can take to correct the problem.

September 15, 2014

WaterSense Free Webinar on Water Loss Control

Category: Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:31 AM

There is a free water loss control webinar that will review effective tools, policies, and programs. They will  discuss free software utilities can use to manage water loss; review policies that local and state governments can implement to encourage program adoption; and hear about the successful water loss control efforts of two utilities: the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in California and the Water and Wastewater Aut hority of Wilson County (WWAWC) in Tennessee.

Scheduled for Wednesday, October 15, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific (1:00 p.m. Eastern), the webinar will feature Kate Gasner from Water Systems Optimization, Danielle Gallet from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Penny Falcon from LADWP, and Chris Leauber from WWAWC. To get the latest on water loss control, register today and, this fall, get ready to save water, energy, and money by managing your “real” and “apparent” losses.

Please note this webinar is open to any interested parties, and this invitation can be posted publicly and forwarded to non-WaterSense partners.

If you have any questions regarding WaterSense webinars, please contact the WaterSense Helpline or 866-WTR-SENS (987-7367). We hope you will join us on October 15.

September 10, 2014

Flush Defying Wipes Bedevil Cities as Sewers Surrender

Category: General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 10:14 AM

The ancient Greeks used clay and stone; the Romans, sponges and salt water. Americans made do with rags, newspapers or mail-order catalogs until 1890 when the Scott brothers popularized toilet paper on a roll.

Only in the past decade have grownups seized upon moist “flushable” wipes similar to those that clean baby bottoms, a product that has become a prized asset in a flat market. Accelerating sales are demonstrated inside the world’s sewers, where tons clog equipment. From New York to London, the hygiene fad costs governments millions of dollars a year.

As profit drive collides with the public’s interest in functional wastewater infrastructure, officials are discussing regulation and how to assess the cost of ungunking the system.

At stake is nothing less than “the long-term viability of the product category,” said David Rousse, president of the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, a Cary, North Carolina-based trade group that represents manufacturers.

Wastewater officials in New York and other cities say products advertised as flushable aren’t, and that adults use products such as baby wipes that are too resilient to dissolve.

New York City, which runs the largest U.S. sewer system, has spent more than $18 million during the past five years replacing and repairing sewer-plant pumps, gears, valves and screens clogged when the cloth-like material didn’t disintegrate.

“A growing number of adults think that if it’s good for baby, it’s good for them,” said Vincent Sapienza, deputy commissioner of the city Department of Environmental Protection. “Many brands may say they’re flushable, but they wind up in our sewer plants fully intact.”

London’s Fatberg

Wipes compose about a third of the debris choking screens and pumps in U.S. treatment plants, and about 30 percent were sold as flushable, said Cynthia Finley, director of regulatory affairs for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies in Washington.

In New York, the city must pay workers to pull the stuff off screens and pumps and to cart it to landfills. Residual material extracted increased to more than 40,000 tons last year from 21,000 tons in 2008, Sapienza said. That’s about a thousand subway cars.

The globs aren’t unique to New York, which processes 1.3 billion gallons of waste a day. In London, a 15-ton wad of wet wipes and cooking grease last year accumulated to the size of a yellow school bus inside a sewer line, preventing neighborhood toilets from flushing. It took more than three weeks for Thames Water Utilities Ltd. to break up the “fatberg.”

Swirling Away

Similar blockages have been experienced in Orange County, California; Columbus, Georgia; and Vancouver, Washington. Portland, Maine’s Water District is still paying for the $4.3 million it borrowed in 2009, an amount almost equal to half its annual operating costs, for screens to catch wipes before they ruin pumps. In Canada, the Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group, an association of 25 communities, estimated wipes clogs cost the public at least C$250 million ($230 million) a year.

Sales of moist flushable wipes are a souce of sales growth in the household paper-products industry, rising 23 percent to $367 million from 2008 to 2013, according to Mintel Group Ltd., an international market-research firm.

“The average consumer believes if a product clears their toilet bowl, it’s flushable,” said Jamie Rosenberg, a Chicago-based household and personal-care analyst for Mintel. “People in their homes have no idea what’s going on downstream.”

Cheeky Question

Sales have grown thanks to frank and funny advertising, Rosenberg said. He cited a commercial for Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s (KMB:US) Cottonelle Flushable Wipes featuring British television personality Cherry Healey, who asks strangers in a U.S. airport, “How do you like to wet your bum?”

As wastewater officials become vocal, manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark andProcter & Gamble (PG:US) Co. have played defense.

“We have invested significant time and resources to understand the difficult issues faced by agencies that process wastewater and to develop technologies to make sure that flushable wipes sold by K-C will be considered flushable,” said Eric Bruner, a Kimberly-Clark spokesman.

The company is part of a task force organized to work with a group of municipal wastewater authorities to quantify how much of the clogging is due to flushable wipes. The group will also develop labeling standards.

“The biggest culprit is baby wipes designed to be wrapped up in the diaper and thrown out in a bin,” Rousse said in an interview.

Older Posts »