New York Rural Water : News

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).

June 2, 2014

European Cities’ Sewer Water Exposes Drug Use

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 2:10 PM

 European cities’ sewer water exposes use of cocaine, cannabis, meth and ecstasy
Imagine you could let your city urinate in a cup and submit the sample to a laboratory for drug testing. Would it pass?

Researchers in Europe did something similar with 42 major cities, and many of them failed.

Lab tests on sewage water to detect chemicals excreted after drug use turned up high levels of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, meth and other amphetamines.

The scientists’ results, published this week in the journal Addiction, read like a top 10 list of European party capitals.

Some of them should come as no surprise to experienced travelers.

Amsterdam in the Netherlands, for example, where smoking cannabis is tolerated — though not legal — in its trademark coffee shops, hovered near the top of the list in every category but meth.

The port city, also saddled with the reputation of a red-light district hub, took second place in levels of ecstasy excretions found in wastewater, according to the study led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology.

As for cannabis, a lesser-known town bumped Amsterdam to second place.

The top spot for traces of pot in wastewater went to the Serbian city of Novi Sad, population 265,000. Paris came in third.

Serious problems

The study may seem like a review of dereliction hot spots, but its aim is serious: to help detect dangerous addictions and spikes in the use of certain illicit drugs.

Multiple governmental authorities, drug prevention councils, universities and laboratories participated in the research.

The scientists are hoping to develop a useful monitoring tool.

It’s hard to get solid data on drug usage, because it’s traditionally gathered via questionnaires, the study said. Respondents can fudge the answers or forget details.

Drug users also sometimes don’t know what they are really taking or whether other drugs are mixed in.

The laboratory analysis of wastewater has the potential to get more accurate results more quickly and detect new drugs spreading into a local market.

London cocaine, Prague meth

The study reveals apparent preferences for certain drugs in certain regions.

Particularly high levels of benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine, turned up in the wastewater of Amsterdam, the Belgian city of Antwerp, London and Zurich. Barcelona, Spain, and Basel, Switzerland, were not far behind.

London sewage also turned up high levels of ecstasy, but the British capital did not stick out on the list of the other drugs tested for.

There were no measurements taken there for cannabis.

The Netherlands swept the top three on the list of ecstasy remnants gone down the drain, according to the analysis, but was much further down the list for meth concentration.

That drug appears be prevalent in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and parts of Germany.

The highest concentration of meth excretions showed up in Prague’s wastewater, but in all other categories, the Czech city landed in the mid-teens.

The Swiss team turned in results that indicate that ecstasy is a weekend drug in that country. Its excretion levels in wastewater crept along during the week and then rocketed on Fridays, peaked Sundays and nosedived Mondays.

Utah State University Study Praises PVC Pipe

Category: General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 2:02 PM

A new study released by the Utah State University Buried Structures Laboratory praises PVC pipe and confirms it as a sustainable pipe material with a longevity in excess of 100 years.  The research laboratory examines previous pipe excavations, testing, and life cycle analysis and has significantly contributed to water and wastewater research internationally for over 50 years.

 The data confirms that PVC pipe is affordable, has the lowest rate of water main breaks of all pipe materials examined (ductile iron, cast iron, steel, concrete, and asbestos cement), and offers the highest degree of resilience to freezing conditions. 

To read the entire article please click the following line.

May 28, 2014

EPA Hosting Webcast Series to Raise Awareness about Harmful Algal Blooms

Category: Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 2:52 PM

On May 29, 2014, EPA will host a webcast on public engagement opportunities to address harmful algal blooms entitled, “The Role of Citizen Scientists in Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring and Response”.  This webcast is the beginning of a series with a discussion of involvement with volunteer monitoring initiatives, and how people can get involved in a project to monitor for potentially toxic algal species and collect meaningful data from their local, state, or federal agency.

This webcast series is a part of a broader outreach effort that aims to focus public attention on HABs, which are associated with nutrient pollution.

To register, visit

War on Fog

Category: General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 9:35 AM

Follow along as we examine solutions to the challenge of fats, oils and grease in the country’s sewer lines and treatment plant works

Fats, oils and grease continue to plague sewer systems across the country by reducing sewer line capacity, clogging sewer lines and gumming up wastewater treatment plant works.
“FOG has been a problem in this country since Colonel George A. Waring Jr. built the first separated sewer line in Memphis, Tenn., circa 1880,” says Steve Tilson, president of Tilson & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in wastewater collection system operations and training. “Everyone’s trying to reach the goal of FOG-free sewer lines, but there is no single solution that will handle every FOG problem.”
Part of the reason is that the fats, oils and greases that make up FOG are distinct, entering the sewer system from different sources and possessing unique chemical makeups.
Related: Case Study: Best Crew for the Job  “Animal fats and tallows are generally introduced from manufacturing or rendering facilities and can harden in pipes over time, limiting sewer capacity and impacting sewer component longevity,” Tilson says. “FOG can be introduced from residential users and food service establishments. No single description will cover all of the sources.”
Source control
The best strategy for reducing FOG problems remains source control, through a combination of mechanical separators, and regulatory and educational efforts.
Related: Cover Story: SEWER: Open to Suggestion

While community outreach and education takes many forms, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is currently quantifying the effects of education on FOG, which was implicated in approximately 60 percent of confirmed sewer backups in the city last year.
In 2013, the DEP collaborated with the New York City Housing Authority to target one housing development with an educational program outlining the impact of FOG on sewers, and proper disposal of grease and used cooking oil.
“Grease has been identified to the public as a major bad actor,” says Jim Roberts, New York’s deputy commissioner for water and sewer operations. “By measuring levels of grease buildup in those sewers where the outreach was conducted and comparing that to grease buildup in a similar sewer without the program, we’ll be able to tell if our outreach program is working.”
Related: “Facing Challenges as a Team” – Evansville, Indiana – December 2012 MSW Video Profile  

Some communities require that food service establishments and other related industries employ interceptors to separate FOG at those sources, but many do not. Few communities address the issue of high-density housing that can also be a significant source of FOG in a sewer system. Tilson recommends that communities consider changing building codes for high-density housing construction to include communal FOG interceptors to reduce costly sewer issues.
“Source control is a major component of industry best practices,” Tilson says. “Encouraging source control nips the problem before it can become a threat to property and public health. As an added value, FOG can be used for a large number of purposes, from biodiesel to industrial detergents.”
Temporary solutions
           While additives such as degreasers, emulsifiers, enzymes and bacteria can temporarily break down FOG deposits, they’re only a temporary solution, says Tilson. 

“They’re spot treatments that will break down FOG or liquefy it long enough to move it further down the sewer line, or into the treatment plant,” he says.
There doesn’t appear to be any one additive that will permanently dissolve FOG to a state where these elements won’t recombine and replicate the problem further down the pipe.           
             A FOG control study completed at California’s Orange County Sanitation District in 2006 by Environmental Engineering & Contracting Inc. compared several sewer line-applied and food service establishment-applied additives among other approaches. While a few of the treatments showed some promise in certain applications, no single treatment was rated clearly superior to a well-maintained grease interceptor or thorough cleaning followed by CCTV monitoring.
In fact, in many systems the use of enzymes, emulsifiers and grease gobbling bacteria by businesses is now illegal. “You can disrupt a sewage treatment plant by shifting its pH or introducing the wrong enzyme or bacteria,” Tilson says.
Mechanical solutions
Time-honored mechanical solutions for FOG problems include jetters and rodders using a variety of attachments designed to remove FOG buildup.
Pigging — sending a scrubbing device through a force main — can also offer relief. Ice pigging, a newer technology, employs a saltwater ice slurry to scour the inside of FOG-coated force mains.
Problem behind the problem
John Shaffer, president of EEC, the company that conducted the Orange County study, has also noted that FOG problems are often the most obvious and immediate symptom of some other problem.
FOG may collect in some areas because of poor pipe cleaning and maintenance, pipe defects, pipe sags or root problems.
Tilson says, “Due to this, the only effective means of dealing with FOG in sewers is source control coupled with an effective preventive maintenance program.” 

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