New York Rural Water : News

December 17, 2014

NYSDOH Recommends No Fracking

Category: Events, General, Hydrofracking, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 2:00 PM

Here’s the story:

London’s Singing Sewermen Belt Out The Twelve Blockages of Christmas

Category: Events, General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 8:51 AM
London’s singing sewermen belt out ‘The Twelve Blockages of Christmas’
Thames Water’s hardy east London sewermen have released their own, reworded version of the holiday carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to discourage people from washing drain-blocking turkey fat down the drain this holiday season.

December 15, 2014

DiNapoli Releases Report on Environmental Funding in New York State

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 11:38 AM

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has experienced staff cuts and constrained funding since 2003 while its responsibilities have grown, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“DEC’s staff has declined while funding has barely kept pace with inflation and now is projected to decline,”DiNapoli said. “Our natural resources are major assets for the state’s economy and New Yorkers’health and quality of life. We must continue to safeguard these assets.”

DiNapoli’s report, “Environmental Funding in New York State,”examines DEC funding and workforce in the context of its mission. The report also highlights receipts and spending in several of the state’s major dedicated funds for environmental purposes.

DEC is responsible for most of New York’s programs to protect wildlife, natural resources and environmental quality. DEC programs range widely from managing fish and game populations and overseeing the extraction of natural resources to monitoring the discharge of pollutants and hazardous materials and cleaning up contaminated sites.

Since 2003, several new programs have been added to the agency’s list of responsibilities. These include the Brownfield Cleanup Program; the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and the Waste Tire Recycling and Management Act.

DEC spending was $795.3 million in SFY 2003-04 and $1 billion in SFY 2013-14. After adjusting for inflation, DEC spending rose by a total of 1.7 percent over the period examined. Since 2008, funding from state sources is down 15.1 percent. While federal funding has helped fill the gap, those resources are now declining as well. The state Division of the Budget projects that total DEC spending will decline this year and in each of the next three years by a cumulative total of 25.9 percent from the SFY 2013-14 level.

The size of the DEC workforce declined 10.4 percent, from 3,256 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in SFY 2003-04 to 2,917 FTEs in SFY 2013-14. It reached a peak of 3,779 FTEs in SFY 2007-08. Staffing in programs such as enforcement, air and water quality management, and solid and hazardous waste management has experienced significant cuts.

DiNapoli’s report also notes that two of the state’s major funds dedicated to the environment –the Environmental Protection Fund and the Hazardous Waste Oversight and Assistance Account –combined have been subject to sweeps in excess of half a billion dollars to provide general state budget relief in the past.

For a copy of the report visit:

December 9, 2014

What Does “Flushable” Really Mean?

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 4:25 PM

Utilities across the country are delivering the “3 Ps” message to their customers, asking them to flush only the 3 Ps – pee, poop, and toilet paper.  But since many manufacturers and retailers label some wipes and other products “flushable,” NACWA and its utility members are often asked if other products could be safe to flush, and what criteria these products would need to meet to call themselves flushable.

There are no clear answers to these questions yet, but the wastewater industry will be working with the nonwoven fabrics industry starting next year, with the goal of completing new flushability guidelines expected in mid-2016.  There is also an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) workgroup that is currently developing technical specifications for flushable products (see this news article for more information about the ISO workgroup).  The workgroup began earlier this year, and the standards development is expected to take two to three years.

In the meantime, wastewater utility staff have been evaluating how they would like to see “flushable” defined.  The wastewater industry has long considered toilet paper as the benchmark for any product that is labeled as “flushable,” since toilet paper is flushed constantly and utilities do not see it causing pump clogs.   Here are the reasons toilet paper is okay to flush:

  • It rapidly loses strength when it gets wet.
  • It often breaks into pieces during the flushing action of a toilet.
  • It continues to break into pieces or fibers in the conditions normally anticipated in a typical wastewater collection system.
  • It does not require the force of a mechanical device to break it into pieces.
  • It has short fiber lengths that are unlikely to re-rope or entangle with other materials.
  • It does not cause problems in sewers, septic systems, or treatment facilities.
  • It is biodegradable and will not reduce the quality of biosolids

These qualitative properties of toilet paper should apply to any product that calls itself “flushable.” The challenge now is to define these properties quantitatively.  Wastewater experts have been considering both the product properties needed to protect treatment plants, pumps and other equipment, and biosolids quality.  Potential characteristics for wipes and any other product labeled “flushable” include the following:

  • Like toilet paper, the product loses strength rapidly when flushed.
  • The product breaks into pieces in a short period of time under conditions anticipated in a normal wastewater collection or septic system and without the aid of a mechanical device, such as a pump or grinder.
    • The pieces that the product breaks into should be one inch or less in any dimension, since pieces this size typically do not cause problems for pumps and other equipment.
    • The optimum time period for breaking down is still being determined, but it is clear that it needs to be less than 60 minutes since a wipe could reach a pump in that period of time.  Some toilets may only be 10 minutes or less from the pump or septic system.  Additional work is needed to determine if a shorter time period is required for typical collection systems.
  • The product is made of 100% biodegradable fibers, to prevent microscopic or larger pieces from appearing in effluent or biosolids.
  • The product is not buoyant.

If all of these criteria can be defined quantitatively and proven through standardized test procedures, then a product could be labeled “flushable” and should be safe for normal collection systems and treatment plants.  Since there are currently no regulations about labeling a product “flushable,” manufacturers and retailers will need to step up and ensure that only products meeting the criteria are labeled “flushable.”  Products that do not meet the criteria, but that people might be tempted to flush (such a cleaning wipes, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products) should have a prominent “do not flush” logo on the packaging.  An example of a clear logo on the top of a package, where the consumer is likely to see it, is on Kirkland brand baby wipe.


Until all of these things happen, utilities will continue to preach the 3 Ps.

Check out this new way to clean your worst water mains

Category: General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 3:13 PM

ICE PIGGING combines the operational advantages of flushing with the cleaning impact of soft pigging. The Ice Pig is a semi-solid that is pumped like a liquid and flows through changes in diameter, bends and fittings without blockage. ICE PIGGING has a minimum impact on operations. The ice pig is simply pumped into and recovered from a hydrant at each end of the pipe section without excavation or modification to the hydrant.


  • Uses a fraction of the water needed for flushing
  • Requires minimal downtime
  • Requires no excavation
  • Injected and recovered through hydrants without modification
  • Effective removal of sediment, debris and bio-film; superior to flushing
  • Reduces disinfectant demand/improves residual
  • NSF Compliant

ICE PIGGING effectively removes sediments, biofilms and foreign matter in pipes, which in turn improves water quality.

It is suitable for:

  • All pipe materials
  • Mains up to 16 inches diameter and higher for special projects
  • Raw water
  • Potable water
  • Sewer network – solution under development

ICE PIGGING is an effective, sustainable tool when used alone or as part of a holistic distribution system water quality and asset management strategy.

To view some recent footage of ice pigging in action in the Atlanta, follow this link to the WSB Channel 2 News website for footage of one of Utility Service Group’s recent projects: All information above was found at the Utility Service Group web-site at

December 3, 2014

CDC Preparing Ebola Guidance for Wastewater Sector Workers

Category: General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 9:49 AM

NAWC has been working with water associations and public health organizations to obtain reliable and credible information on the fate and transport of the Ebola virus in wastewater collection and drinking water systems in order address the concerns and questions from the water sector and to develop protective precautions.

To that end, we are in contact and in conversation with the CDC and US EPA on the issue of wastewater worker safety and the inactivation of Ebola by wastewater treatment processes.

On Oct. 16, 2014, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—the lead federal agency for Ebola containment and prevention—shared with water sector during a conference call that CDC has prepared and is conducting an internal review of an interim guidance, Interim Guidance for Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Ebola Cases in the United States, that will address basic hygiene practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use and disposal actions that should be taken.

Specifically this guidance will provide protocols for:

  • workers who perform sewer maintenance,
  • construction workers who repair or replace live sewers,
  • plumbers, and
  • workers who clean portable toilets.

CDC plans to expedite their review of this guidance so it can be released as soon as late October. After they release this guidance, they will turn their attention to developing a FAQ or guidance relative to drinking water systems.  Currently there is limited data available, but the best ongoing resource for information is

In the meantime, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has some general guidance available on workplace safety and health related to Ebola at

December 1, 2014

Listening Sessions coming up on 2014 Farm Bill – Please consider Participating

Category: Events, Funding, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 4:14 PM

USDA Rural Development is holding a listening session to hear comments on the 2014 Farm Bill provision that requires the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to encourage private financing of rural water and waste disposal facilities and how it impacts USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant programs. Included in Section 6019 of the Farm Bill, the requirement would:

Maximize the use of loan guarantees to finance eligible projects in rural communities with populations in excess of 5,500;

  • Maximize the use of direct loans to finance projects in cases where there would be a significant impact on rate payers when compared to a loan guarantee;
  • Establish and apply a definition of “material impact” to determine when to maximize loans;
  • Require projects requiring over $500,000 in interim financing to seek private financing; and
  • Determine whether a borrower can refinance with a private lender before RUS funding occurs.

For more information, please refer to the Request for Information (RFI) at (page 66692 of the November 10, 2014 Federal Register), or visit the USDA RUS website here. Written comments may be filed in paper or written format as directed in the RFI.

USDA hopes to hear your thoughts on the implementation of the new Farm Bill Section 6019 provisions affecting RUS funding of water and wastewater projects. This Listening Session will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to address these additional funding options for rural water and waste water systems, which are designed to offer more immediate private investment in rural areas. The details are below.

Event: Public Input on New Water Infrastructure Farm Bill Provisions

Date: December 10, 2014

Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST

Where: U.S. Department of Agriculture

South Building, Room 5141-South

1400 Independence Ave SW

Washington, DC 20250

We can accommodate call-in attendees; please RSVP to receive the call-in number.

ENTRANCE: South Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Wing 4. Please allow additional time to get through security.

Please RSVP by 5pm  December 8, 2014. Please email your RSVP to  Please indicate in your RSVP if you require a call-in number.

Because of security procedures, we request that you check in with security at the 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Wing 4 entrance by 12:45 pm.  Please present a valid form of identification. Street parking is very limited. The closest metro is Smithsonian Metro Station.

Information on the listening session is available at

If you have any questions, please email

November 24, 2014

Applications for Smart Growth Grants

Category: Events, Funding, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:49 AM

Applications Being Accepted for Adirondack and Catskill Smart Growth Implementation Grants:Adirondack Park and Catskill Park communities and organizations can now apply for $800,000 in Environmental Protection Fund grants for smart growth projects. $400,000 is dedicated to each of the Parks. Grants will support implementation of key projects, actions and strategies identified in local plans developed by Park communities in pursuit of smart growth. Eligible project activities include, but are not limited to: improvement of community water or sanitation infrastructure; and watershed management, protection of stream corridors and stormwater management with green infrastructure.

To view the two separate official Requests for Application and to apply, visit the NYS Grants Gateway. The deadline for both applications is 2:00 PM, January 30, 2015.

Water Sampling Could Confirm Toxic Concerns

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:43 AM

Two Ithaca-based scientists are paddling from Cayuga Lake to Albany, testing water for plastics pollution from microbeads.

Christian Shaw and Gordon Middleton, who attended Cornell, have formed Plastic Tides, a not-for-profit aimed at raising awareness of water pollution.  We caught up with them on the Clyde River, just after they’d gone under the Thruway bridge at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.

“The beads act as a sponge for chemicals,’ says Middleton, ‘thus concentrating them in a little carrier, a bead. Some fish eats the bead, you catch the fish and next thing you know, you’re eating a toxic chemical.”

The beads can come from plastic bottles–tossed as trash–which break up and degrade when buffeted by water.  And, of more concern, microfiber beads are part of some consumer products, including facial scrubs, shampoos and soaps, toothpaste, eyeliners, lip gloss, even deodorant.  These products are designed to be washed down a drain, and many wastewater treatment plants cannot ‘catch’ the tiny beads (about the size of a printed period), so they end up in the water systems where they float, and may be ingested by waterfowl or fish, putting them into the food chain.

The Plastic Tides team collected water samples and footage of plastic pollution in the Atlantic this past summer, in a ten-day trip around Bermuda.    Now, they’re working closer to home.  “The science is there for the Great Lakes,” says Shaw (sampling has confirmed microbeads in Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie). “But going thru the heart of Upstate New York and showing people this is your back yard…are you going to let these companies keep polluting your back yard like this?”

The water samples the team is collecting will be analyzed at a lab at SUNY Fredonia.  It’s expected there will be a legislative push in New York in 2015, to ban companies from using microbeads (suggested alternatives include apricot shells and cocoa beans, which degrade).

The team hopes to reach Albany by the middle of next week (that’s also when the canal locks close for the season) and in addition to water sampling, they’re also raising awareness of microbeads through social media campaigns (solar panels on their paddleboards help in recharging phones and cameras).

November 21, 2014

Guidance on Ebola for Workers handling Untreated Sewage

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 3:10 PM

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its “Interim Guidance for Managers and Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Individuals with Ebola in the United States.” This interim guidance is intended for workers who handle untreated sewage that comes from hospitals, medical facilities, and other facilities with confirmed individuals with Ebola. It provides recommendations on the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used and proper hygiene for the safe handling of untreated sewage that may contain Ebola virus. The CDC indicates the interim guidance can be used to reduce the workers’ risk of exposure to infectious agents including Ebola virus when working with untreated sewage.

Key Points:

Ebola virus is more fragile than many enteric viruses that cause diarrheal disease or hepatitis.

  • The envelope that covers Ebola makes it more susceptible to environmental stresses and to chemical germicides than non-enveloped viruses, such as hepatitis A, poliovirus, and norovirus.
  • Use PPE to protect broken skin and mucous membranes and properly use the PPE, including how to put it on and take it off.
  • Develop and fully implement routine protocols that ensure workers are protected against potential exposures (i.e., prevent contact with broken skin, eyes, nose or mouth) when handling untreated sewage.
  • Ensure all workers always practice good personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing to reduce potential exposures to any of the pathogens in sewage.
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