December 19, 2011: USEPA Water Headlines; 2011: Colorado River Supply

1202 USEPADecember 19, 2011: USEPA Water Headlines.

1) EPA Extends Comment Period for the Proposed CAFO Rule

On October 21, 2011, EPA published a proposed rule that would require concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) to submit basic operational information to the Agency. EPA received requests from the public for additional time to submit comments, and is extending the public comment period to January 19, 2012. EPA proposed the rule in order to more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health.

For information on the proposed rule, visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/aforule.cfm.

2) Success Spotlight: Fosdic Lake, Texas–Educating Residents and Collecting Household Hazardous Waste Items Reduces Pollutants in Fosdic Lake

EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 319 Program provides funding for restoration of nonpoint source-impaired water bodies. Success stories are posted at: http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/success319/. This week’s success spotlight shines on Fosdic Lake, Texas.

In 1995, the Texas Department of State Health Services banned the possession of fish taken from Fosdic Lake in Fort Worth because of high concentrations of potentially-harmful chemicals in fish tissue. As a result, Texas added Fosdic Lake to the state’s list of impaired waters. In 2000, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and EPA approved a total maximum daily load for Fosdic Lake to address pollutants in fish tissue. Local, state and federal agencies coordinated data collection and education and outreach efforts in the city of Fort Worth to reduce the inflow of harmful chemicals into area lakes. Recent monitoring shows that the pollutant levels in fish from Fosdic Lake have diminished sufficiently to allow for their safe consumption, prompting the state to lift the fish possession ban in 2007.

December 19, 2011. Circle of Blue. Federal Water Tap, December 19: Less Money, More Problems. Colorado River

The Bureau of Reclamation and several state water agencies are conducting a multi-year study of water supply and demand in the Colorado River Basin. According to projections, demand will exceed supply by nearly 25 percent by 2060. The bureau is canvassing the public for ideas about how to rebalance the curves.

December 18, 1913: Atlanta Public Health; 1913: Fox River Pollution

1218 Atlanta Public HealthDecember 18, 1913: Municipal Journal article—Organizing Public Health Service. “Like most other municipal departments which have developed from small beginnings, the boards of public health in most of our cities are in need of reorganization, not only within themselves but in their relations to other departments of the city government generally. Several cities have employed experts in this line of business to make a survey of the public health situation and recommend improvements therein. One of the latest reports resulting from such a survey is that recently made to the Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta, Ga., by Franz Schneider, Jr., of the Russell Sage Foundation.

It does not appear from this report that conditions at Atlanta were found to be either very much better or very much worse than those in the majority of our reasonably well-governed cities. It is found, for instance, that a large part of the energy of and appropriation made to the Board of Health is used in street cleaning and garbage disposal, which have a comparatively small effect upon the health of the community—a condition that can be found in a great many cities.”

Commentary: Vestiges of the miasma theory of disease lasted well into the 2oth century. Removing bad smells by cleaning streets did nothing to reduce the incidence of disease. If the money used to clean streets had been spent on treating the water supply, many lives could have been saved in the U.S.

Reference: Municipal Journal. 1913. 35:25, 828 and 833.

1218 Fox River PollutionDecember 18, 1913: Municipal Journal article—To Prevent Fox River Pollution. “Geneva, Ill.-Acting under authority conferred at the last session of the legislature, the State Rivers and Lakes Commission has ordered officials of the cities of Batavia, Aurora, Geneva, Elgin and St. Charles to take immediate steps to prevent the pollution of Fox river by sewage and factory wastes. The five cities were given until April 7, 1914, to prepare plans and specifications for filtration or sewage disposal plants or otherwise prepare to discontinue the emptying of sewage into the river. The Fox river cases are the first of the sort to be acted upon by the commission. Similar action will be taken in numerous other cities located along Illinois rivers or lakes if complaints are made and substantiated. Lake Forest and other North Shore cities that have complained of lake water pollution by factories are expected to take their grievances to the commission. Witnesses before the commission testified that during low water periods the Fox river was polluted to such an extent as to he a serious menace to the health of 200,000 inhabitants of the Fox river valley. It was also shown that thousands of tons of ice were taken from the river every year and sold in these cities and in Chicago. Another objection to the emptying of sewage into the river was the fact that fish were unable to survive.” Commentary: River commissions in several states were beginning to take action against the grossest pollution problems in the early part of the 20th century.

December 17, 1914: Small Sewage Treatment Plant

1217 Imhoff TankDecember 17, 1914: Municipal Journal article—Small Sewage Treatment Plant. “The Home for the Indigent of Delaware County, Pa., is located in Middletown Township, near the village of Lima, and on the main highway leading from Media to West Chester, Pa. There are usually about 125 inmates the home, although during the winter months the number runs higher. With employees, etc., the number of persons contributing to the sewer system will average about 140.

The sewage flow varies considerably on different days. When the laundry is being operated, the total daily flow to about 10,000 gallons, 60 per cent of which runs off in about 6 hours. On all other days, the total flow amounts to about 4,000 gallons.

The plant consists of an Imhoff tank, dosing chamber, percolating filter, secondary tank and sand filter, as shown on the general plan. Both the sewer system and treatment plant operate by gravity….

The plant has now been in operation for about one year and has given perfect satisfaction. No odors are noticeable at any portion of the plant. The sewage is kept in a fresh state and is passed through the plant as rapidly as consistent with the degree of purification necessary.

The Imhoff tank has fully demonstrated its value even in an installation as small as this. The incoming sewage is kept fresh and free from the “blown up” sludge, so common in both plain settling tanks and septic tanks. At a recent inspection by the authors, the vents were covered with scum about 6 inches thick and considerable gas was being produced and given off. This gas was entirely inodorous and inflammable, which substantiated the claim of the inventor.”

Reference: Mebus, P.E. and F.R. Berlin. 1914. “Small Sewage Treatment Plant.” Municipal Journal. 37:25(December 17, 1914): 877-9.

1217 General Plan for Small Sewage Treatment plant

December 16, 1974: Safe Drinking Water Act Signed into Law

1216 Safe Drinking Water Act signed into lawDecember 16, 1974: Safe Drinking Water Act signed into law by President Ford. “The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the principal federal law in the United States intended to ensure safe drinking water for the public. Pursuant to the act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to set standards for drinking water quality and oversee all states, localities, and water suppliers who implement these standards.

SDWA applies to every public water system in the United States. There are currently more than 150,000 public water systems providing water to almost all Americans at some time in their lives. These water systems must be analyzed by third-party analytical laboratories. The Act does not cover private wells [or bottled water].”

To ensure that drinking water is safe, SDWA sets up multiple barriers against pollution. These barriers include: source water protection, treatment, distribution system integrity, and public information. Public water systems are responsible for ensuring that contaminants in tap water do not exceed the standards. Water systems treat the water, and must test their water frequently for specified contaminants and report the results to states. If a water system is not meeting these standards, it is the water supplier’s responsibility to notify its customers. Many water suppliers now are also required to prepare annual reports for their customers. The public is responsible for helping local water suppliers to set priorities, make decisions on funding and system improvements, and establish programs to protect drinking water sources. Water systems across the nation rely on citizen advisory committees, rate boards, volunteers, and civic leaders to actively protect this resource in every community in America.”

 

December 15, 1989: Cabool, Missouri Outbreak; 1909: Water Quality Stories; 1909: Filtration Definitions

E. coli O157:H7

E. coli O157:H7

December 15, 1989: Cabool, Missouri outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. “Case patients were residents of or visitors to Burdine Township [adjacent to Cabool, Missouri] with bloody diarrhea or diarrhea and abdominal cramps occurring between 15 December 1989 and 20 January 1990…. Among the 243 case patients, 86 had bloody stools, 32 were hospitalized, 4 died, and 2 had the hemolytic uremic syndrome. In the case-control study, no food was associated with illness, but ill persons had drunk more municipal water than had controls (P = 0.04). The survey showed that, during the peak of the outbreak, bloody diarrhea was 18.2 times more likely to occur in persons living inside the city and using municipal water than in persons living outside the city and using private well water (P = 0.001). Shortly before the peak of the outbreak, 45 water meters were replaced, and two water mains ruptured. The number of new cases declined rapidly after residents were ordered to boil water and after chlorination of the water supply. This was the largest outbreak of ECO157 infections [at the time], the first due to a multiply resistant organism, and the first shown to be transmitted by water.”

Commentary: One of the largest outbreaks of waterborne disease in the U.S. in modern times. E. coli O157:H7 was just being recognized as a waterborne pathogen. A significant outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada in 2000 was caused by the same pathogen.

References: Swerdlow, D.L. et al. 1992. “A waterborne outbreak in Missouri of Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with bloody diarrhea and death.” Ann Intern Med.117(10):(Nov 15): 812-9.

Geldreich, E.E., et al. 1992. “Searching for a water supply connection in the Cabool, Missouri disease outbreak of Escherichia coli 0157:H7.” Water Research. 26:8 1127-37.

December 15, 1909: Municipal Journal and Engineer articles about water supply and water quality in the early 20th century.

Well Water is Cause of Typhoid Epidemic. Concordia, Kan.-The source of typhoid infection in this city has been located in the well water that has been used by the people in the infected block. All of the families in which a case of the fever has developed have been using well water for drinking purposes. The doctors attending the cases are of the opinion that the city water is free from typhoid fever germs.

Tannic Acid in City Water. Knoxville, Tenn.-.Members of the Knoxville Water Commission are somewhat disturbed over the impurities now found in the Tennessee river water owing largely to the refuse of a tannery which .is being poured into the French Broad river at Newport. At times the water coming out of the French Broad is almost black, owing to the tannic acid. This is killing the fish in the river and it is thought the water with this impurity in it is deleterious to health….Local sportsmen, who are interested in the preservation of the game fish in the river, have also taken the matter up. Commentary: This is an early concern about surface water quality that was not related to human health.

Proposed Tunnel Profile

Proposed Tunnel Profile

Water Tunnel Under New York City. New York, N. Y.-The Board of Estimates has adopted plans for building a $30,000,000 tunnel in solid rock under Manhattan Island to distribute the water supply from the Catskill system, The report of a committee of engineers to whom the matter has been referred was that the original pipe line plan would cost $10,000,000, whereas the new tunnel plan would cost $25,000,000 or more. However, there is estimated to be a saving in the cost of connecting mains amounting to 50 per cent. The tunnel is to be 17 ½, miles long beginning at Hill View Reservoir, north of the New York City line at an elevation of -20, where the diameter will be 17 ½, feet. Through the city the elevation will range from -140 to -600, according to the solidity of the rock through which it goes. Under the East River, where the tunnel crosses to Brooklyn, the diameter will be 11 feet.

Commentary: This was the first of three tunnels built by New York City for water supply—a unique and impressive engineering marvel.

Will Try Chemical Purification. Hartford, Conn.-Engineer E. M. Peck of the Water Department has been authorized by the Board to conduct experiments in the chemical purification of river water, to see if it can be made safe for use in the lower part of the city, should the supply in the reservoirs fail. This is the chemical treatment used at Harrisburg, which city the engineer, President Henry Roberts and Secretary Fred D. Berry recently visited.

Commentary: Dr. John L. Leal was hired by the city to conduct these studies. He presented his findings to the water department on March 28, 1910.

Reference: Municipal Journal and Engineer. 1909. 27:24(December 15, 1909): 896-7.

Slow Sand Filters At Portsmouth, UK 1927

Slow Sand Filters At Portsmouth, UK 1927

December 15, 1909: Municipal Journal and Engineer article–Mechanical Water Filtration. “There are two general classes of water filtration. In one of these a large part of the purification is performed by bacteria, the process involving a slow passage of the water through sand or a similar fine-grained mass [slow sand filtration]. In this there is practically no pressure head, but the water simply trickles through the interstices, although in a greater or less time a collection of mud and fibrous and other organic matter collects on the surface and a slight head of water is necessary for forcing the water to be purified through this material. This was the method of purification originally adopted in England, and is sometimes called the English method.

In mechanical filtration [rapid sand filtration or granular media filtration] the water is passed under greater pressure and at much higher rates of speed through sand or similar material, and the purification is entirely one of straining. Owing to the high speed, however, and the absence of any mat on the surface, it is found necessary to introduce a coagulant into the water before it reaches the filter. This coagulant collects together the suspended matters in the water, including a large percentage of the bacteria, and the suspended matter thus coagulated is strained out by the filter….

The mechanical filters were apparently so named because of the entirely mechanical nature of the purification as distinguished from bacteriological, and because of the fact that the entire apparatus was, in effect, a mechanism of iron and steel, while the English filters consisted of outdoor beds of sand simply retained by earthen banks or stone walls.”

Reference: “Mechanical Water Filtration.” 1909. Municipal Journal and Engineer, 27:24(December 15, 1909): 893.

December 14, 1928: Sewage treatment plant at Boonton; 1853: Founding of Compagnie Générale des Eaux

Boonton Dam and Spillway

Boonton Dam and Spillway

December 14, 1928: Start of operation of sewage treatment plant at Boonton Reservoir. “In 1925, a trunk sewer intercepting the wastes from Dover, Boonton and smaller habitations in New Jersey on the Rockaway River was completed. Continuing to confound and delay water and sewer development in the watershed, the Morris Canal figured into the final plan for sewers. The alignment for the intercepting sewer included part of the right-of-way for the Morris Canal and the canal had to be abandoned before the sewer could be completed. At about the same time, a sewage treatment plant at Boonton was finished. The plant employed the trickling filter method of sewage treatment followed by sand filtration and chlorination of the plant’s effluent. Because of a number of delays, the sewage treatment plant was not put into operation until December 14, 1928.”

Reference: McGuire, Michael J. 2013. The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives. Denver, CO:American Water Works Association, Chapter 11.

Imperial Decree from Napoleon III Establishing Compagnie Generale des Eaux

Imperial Decree from Napoleon III Establishing Compagnie Generale des Eaux

December 14, 1853: Founding of Compagnie Générale des Eaux (now Veolia). “Compagnie Générale des Eaux is founded and obtains its first public service concession to supply water to the city of Lyons. On the initiative of Napoleon III and throughout the entire Second Empire, the creation of private companies to operate the urban water systems opens the way for modernization and enhances the quality of life in towns and cities. Count Henri Siméon embodies this dynamism when he founds the Compagnie Générale des Eaux in 1853: ‘In the new times ahead, be certain, sirs, that millions will be allotted to the supply of water, just as millions were allocated to railways previously.’

December 13, 1899: Death of Julius W. Adams

1018 Julius W AdamsDecember 13, 1899: Julius W. Adams dies. Julius Walker Adams was a noted civil engineer who planned the sewer system for Brooklyn, New York. He was also one of the first engineers who conceived the idea of building the Brooklyn Bridge. For several years he was Consulting Engineer of the Board of City Works, Brooklyn, and also consulted on the distribution of water in New York City. He found time to edit Engineering News and was President of the American Society of Civil Engineers from 1874-5. Adams was the last surviving member of the twelve founders of ASCE. He was a member of the New York Academy of Science and of the Association for the Advancement of Science.