New York Rural Water : News

April 22, 2014

USDA Rural Development Celebrates Earth Day

Category: Events, Funding, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 1:49 PM

USDA Rural Development Celebrates Earth Day by Supporting Water Quality Projects in 40 States and Puerto Rico


2014 Farm Bill Enables Record USDA Investments in Rural Water Systems

   WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today celebrated Earth Day by announcing record support for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment.

   “Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow,” Vilsack said.  “I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water infrastructure projects like these.  I am especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing water systems.”

   Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems.  Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program. 

   Also noteworthy this year are USDA’s accomplishments to help communities with the greatest needs.  Sixteen of the Earth Day projects are in areas of persistent poverty.  Twenty-nine are in communities served by USDA’s “StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.”  StrikeForce is a USDA initiative to reduce poverty by increasing investments in rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships with community leaders, businesses, foundations and other groups that are working to combat poverty.

   Climate change in particular is putting more stress on municipal water systems.  Many areas around the country have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, declines in snowpack, intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. All of these are placing fiscal strains on communities – causing them to make more frequent (and often more expensive) repairs and upgrades.

   Among projects funded this year, the city of McCrory, Ark., is receiving $2.1 million to build a water treatment facility and two water supply wells, and refurbish its two water storage tanks.  The improvements will reduce high manganese and iron levels in the water supply to provide safe drinking water to McCrory’s nearly 800 residents.

April 21, 2014

Drug Enforcement Administration to Collect Prescription Drugs

Category: Events, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:41 AM
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will conduct a nationwide prescription drug collection on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Collections will be held at many locations around New York and are the best way to dispose of unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

In addition to the DEA collection on April 26, other collections are scheduled in many New York counties and many are available more often than the DEA collection. Visit DEC’s Household Drug Collection Schedule webpage for more information.

For more information about drugs in our water, visit DEC’s Drugs in New York’s Waters webpage.

April 18, 2014

Home Depot Hosts Water Conservation Workshops

Category: Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 8:30 AM

The Home Depot Hosts Water Conservation Workshops Nationwide. On Saturday, April 26, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m, The Home Depot will host free Water Conservation Workshops at all of its 1,977 U.S. stores. This is a nationwide effort to educate and empower residents across the country to improve water efficiency inside and outside the home. The announcement of the workshops is one of several measures the company is taking to assist homeowners where many face water restrictions due to current dry conditions.

Workshops will cover water-saving home improvement projects which help conserve the most water, including replacing fixtures with more efficient U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense labeled toilets, showerheads, and faucets. Workshops will also include outdoor water-saving options, such as installing drip irrigation, rotary nozzle or dual-spray sprinklers, and WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers. In 2013, customers of The Home Depot saved 42.5 billion gallons of water through the purchase of WaterSense labeled products.

Local community organizations are invited to call their local stores to get involved. Residents are encouraged to attend and learn more about water-efficient solutions they can implement at home. Details and registration information can be found

April 10, 2014

New York State’s Tap Water Taste Contest (TWTC)

Category: Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 8:20 AM

The New York State Tap Water Taste Contest (TWTC) is an excellent way to promote awareness of the value of water to the public, your customers. Below is a link to a tentative schedule for the Local TWTC.

 If you wish to participate and have questions on bringing your samples, please refer to the contact person in your area.

 This is an event where water systems from across the State of New York join together for a friendly competition. Please stay tuned for more information to follow. Brought to you by the Water and Wastewater Education and Outreach Committee (WWEOC).

April 9, 2014

EPA Releases Guide to Help Water Utilities Adopt Sustainable Practices

Category: General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:27 AM

 On April 3, EPA released a guide for water utilities on sustainable and effective practices. Developed with extensive input from utility leaders and states, this document will help water sector utilities of all sizes adopt proven and sustainable practices over time to better serve communities across the nation. The practices in the document are organized around a series of attributes of effectively managed utilities endorsed by EPA and leading water professional associations.

 And here’s the link:

April 4, 2014

Concrete-Dissolving Bacteria are Destroying Our Nation’s Sewers

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 8:52 AM

Underground in places nobody likes to look, bacteria are doing terrible things to our sewage pipes. The concrete pipes that carry our waste are literally dissolving away, forcing engineers into a messy, expensive battle against tiny microbes.

“The veins of our cities are in serious trouble, and they’re in serious trouble because of corrosion, and this corrosion has been unanticipated and it’s accelerating,” said Mark Hernandez at a symposium on the microbiology of the built environment in Washington DC yesterday. Hernandez is a civil engineer, but he’s meeting with microbiologists because this problem is bacterial. Essentially, it’s an infection of the nation’s sewage system.

The sewer as a microbial ecosystem

Here’s what’s going on. One set of microbes emits hydrogen sulfide, the gas that is also responsible for raw sewage’s unpleasant smell. This gas fills the empty space between the top of the pipe and the water flow. Another set of microbes living in this headspace turns hydrogen sulfide to sulfuric acid, which eats away at concrete, leaving behind gypsum, the powdery stuff you find in drywall.
“Essentially what we’re ending up with is wet drywall,” said Hernandez. This is one reason the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our wastewater infrastructure a D grade.
The current solution is to put plastic liners into the concrete pipes, a process that is almost as expensive as digging them up entirely. But if the problem is microbial, perhaps the solution is, too?

Concrete-Dissolving Bacteria Are Destroying Our Nation's Sewers


Photo of concrete cubes placed in sewage pipes via Mark Hernandez
When Hernandez and his team sequenced bacteria living in the headspace of different pipes, they found only three or four species-an extremely remarkable lack of diversity. With so few actual problematic microbes, there could be a wayto  just target them specifically with some type of antibiotic or even bacteria-infecting viruses.
The solution they settled on was shotcrete-a type of concrete that can be sprayed onto the inside of pipes-embedded with small amounts of charcoal and bacteria-killing metals like chrome. As the acid ate through this concrete, metal would be released. Based on Hernandez’s tests, this concrete did hold up better against sewage microbes-suggesting a promising solution to corrosion.

Designing water pipes for-rather than against-bacteria

But gatherings of microbiologists can be funny things these days. With the technological ability to sequence bacterial samples from every table top, belly button, and shoe, we’ve come to understand that everything is covered in millions of bacteria-mostly unknown, mostly benign, some even beneficial. Instead of just trying to kill the few harmful ones, perhaps we can build environments that encourage the growth of others, which then keep out the bad ones-an ecological and architecture version of prebiotics.
That was the premise of a talk at the same symposium by Amy Pruden, a professor of civili engineering at Virginia Tech. If sewers are the veins of our cities, than drinking water pipes are the arteries. Pruden talked about how the very design of our drinking water system could be prebiotic to encourage the growth of good microbes and discourage the ones that cause disease. There are, after all, an estimated 10 to 100 million free-floating organisms in every quart of drinking water. “We can’t continue to fool ourselves that drinking water is sterile,” she said.
Like all research into how prebiotics, especially in a context outside of the human gut, it’s still very conceptual. But there are so many factors that can be designed or engineered to manage the microbiome of the water system: chlorine or chloramine as disinfectant, plumbing configuration, pipe material, temperature of the water heater, and on and on.
It helps to think of the whole water system-from drinking water to waste water-as one interconnected microbial ecosystem. The chemicals that we add in every stage affect the ecosystem, whether it’s the chlorine to disinfect drinking water, the antibiotics flushed down the toilet, or the metals that might protect our concrete pipes. And it’s important because we then rely on those microbes to treat out sewage . Sewage treatment plants? They’re basically a series of tanks that let bacteria do the work of breaking down our waste. In laying down miles of water pipes, we’ve created an entire microbial ecosystem under our feet.



New York to Introduce “First Responder” License Plates

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 8:25 AM

The new plates are designed to make it easier to recognize emergency response vehicles during storms or other emergency situations. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the vehicle must either be owned or controlled and registered in the name of the agency or locality in order to be eligible for the new plate.

The plates have a white background with a red banner and have the letters “EM” on them for Emergency Management.

For additional information on plate availability and use, contact the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services at (518) 242-5202.

April 2, 2014

EPA’s Waters of US/Wetlands Rule

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 8:49 AM

On March 25, 2014, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) released their long-awaited proposed rule to clarify regulation under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands.  According to EPA, “Determining Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands because confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.  For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity.”

The proposed definitions of waters will apply to all Clean Water Act programs.  It 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.  Specially, the proposed rule clarifies that under the Clean Water Act:

  • Most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected
  • Wetlands near rivers and streams are protected
  • Other types of waters may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is or is not significant.

The proposed rule will be open for public comments for 90 days.  A copy of the rule and instructions for commenting are available on EPA’s homepage.

Policy Alert – Buy American Provisions for SRFs

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 8:48 AM

On March 20, 2014, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a guidance document to  assist drinking water and wastewater utilities implement the “Buy American” provisions of the fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill for the Clean Water (CWSRF) and Drinking Water (DWSRF) State Revolving Funds.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-76) includes an “American Iron and Steel (AIS)” requirement that requires CWSRF and DWSRF assistance recipients to use iron and steel products that are produced in the U.S. for projects for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public water system or treatment works if the project is funded through an assistance agreement executed beginning January 17, 2014, (enactment of the Act), through the end of fiscal year 2014.  The appropriation language sets forth certain circumstances under which EPA may waive American Iron and Steel requirements.  Furthermore, the act exempts projects where engineering specifications and plans were approved by a state agency prior to January 17, 2014.

For further information on specific act requirements please consult the EPA guidance:  American Iron and Steel (AIS) Requirement Guidance.  The EPA’s guidance on AIS requirements includes specific instructions for communities interested in applying for a waiver.

A waiver may be provide if EPA determines that (1) applying these requirements would be inconsistent with the public interest; (2) iron and steel products are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality; or (3) inclusion of iron and steel products produced in the United States will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.  EPA has released “Nationwide waiver”, and “De Minimis waiver” guidance documents.

March 25, 2014

Lake Ontario Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative

Category: General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 8:33 AM
NYS DEC has developed a new webpage with information about the Lake Ontario Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI). The webpage has a preliminary progress report from the 2013 CSMI assessment of Lake Ontario and a link to photographs from the 2013 assessment.

Each year, U.S. and Canadian organizations assess one of the Great Lakes as part of the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative. The information collected supports Great Lakes management programs. CSMI assessments took place in Lake Ontario in 2003, 2008 and 2013. The 2013 assessment focused on improving the understanding of nutrient loading, transport and cycling in the lake.

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