Blog  /  May 2018  /  Q1 2018 Regional Roundup: Part 2/3

Blog Post Teaser

This blog series examines major trends and newsworthy events that occurred in the US water industry during the first quarter of 2018.  The second part of the series focuses on activity within the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and South regions of the US.  Check back for part three of the series, which will cover the Midwest/Great Lakes and Central Plains regions, as well as grant and funding information related to the US water industry.

 

NORTHEAST

The Northeast region consists of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

  • The Northeast region generated the largest proportion, 21 percent, of the nation’s demand for installation and maintenance projects in the first quarter of 2018.   Within the region, New York and Connecticut accounted for half of the Northeast’s demand for this type of work, which included numerous requests to install, maintain, clean, or repair water mains, sewer lines, wastewater pumping stations, and various stormwater drainage structures.
  • During the first quarter of 2018, the Town of Colebrook received approval for the first grant from a New Hampshire state trust fund for water infrastructure upgrades.  The trust fund’s money comes from the state’s $236 million settlement with Exxon Mobil in 2015 over contamination from MtBE, a gasoline additive.  The $1.15 million grant will be used to replace aging, leaky water mains and connecting service lines throughout Colebrook, as well as to purchase smart water meters that will allow customers to track their water use in real time. 
  • In late February 2018, researchers at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University released the results of a study regarding levels of pharmaceutical compounds within the Hudson River.  The study tested water samples taken from 72 spots along the river during May and June 2016.  Within those samples, researchers were able to identify 16 different pharmaceutical compounds – including antibiotics and drugs to treat ulcers and epilepsy – with the highest concentrations found near sewage outfalls.  Currently, there are no state federal regulations that set standards for pharmaceuticals in water.
  • Also, in late February 2018, the Suffolk County Water Authority became the first supplier in New York to receive state approval to utilize a new technology to remove 1,4-dioxane – a possible carcinogen that is not federally regulated – from drinking water.  Specifically, the technology uses ultraviolet light and an oxidizer to break down the man-made chemical.  This approval serves as a large step forward in solving the 1,4-dioxane contamination issue and opens the door to setting safer drinking water standards.

 

MID-ATLANTIC

The Mid-Atlantic region consists of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

  • The largest demand for water quality, treatment, and remediation projects in the country occurred in the Mid-Atlantic region in the first quarter of 2018.  The majority of these projects were located in Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, and included requests for various brownfield site recovery, soil remediation, and mine reclamation activities.
  • During the first quarter of 2018, the Hampton Roads Sanitation District announced the development of the Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow, or SWIFT, an innovative program created to address multiple regional environmental challenges through managed aquifer recharge.  The ambitious program aims to provide advanced treatment to over 100 million gallons per day of secondary effluent.  The treated “SWIFT Water” will then be injected into the Potomac Aquifer System in an effort to restore declining water levels in the aquifer and reduce nutrient discharges into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • According to a new study, it is estimated that around 130 gallons of treated drinking water are lost in New Jersey each day, due to aging, leaky pipes.  In response, a state task force approved a report in January 2018 urging state legislature to develop a new grant program – financed by $400 million in bonds – in order to start critical upgrades to New Jersey’s complex network of deteriorating water infrastructure as failure to do so could result in an unreliable supply of safe drinking water, among other issues.
  • In January 2018, a new Duke University study found that high levels of radioactivity have persisted in stream sediments at three disposal sites in Pennsylvania.  These study results come more than seven years after state officials requested restrictions on the disposal of radium-laden fracking wastewater into surface waters.  Under current state regulations, this type of contamination – conventional, or non-fracked, oil and gas wastewater – can still be treated and discharged into local streams.
  • During 2018, Delaware lawmakers are expected to consider House Bill 270, a legislation that would add a surcharge of up to $40 or $80 to residents’ personal income taxes in order to fund projects designed to improve the state’s water quality.  It is projected that the legislation’s surcharge would bring in around $20 million per year, an amount that would help cover the cost of much-needed upgrades to water and wastewater systems.

 

SOUTH

The South region consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 

  • During the first quarter of 2018, the South yielded the largest proportion, 46 percent, of the nation’s demand for projects related to source water management.  Within the region, Florida accounted for nearly two-thirds of the South’s source-water related requests, which were primarily focused on monitoring surface water quality, constructing new water wells, and rehabilitating or replacing existing water wells.
  • As of early January 2018, Louisiana was formulating rules for buying and selling water pollution credits, meaning those having a difficult time meeting water quality standards may soon have the opportunity to buy their way into compliance.  Specifically, the state is creating a water quality credit trading program that would allow farms, factories, or sewer plants to offset their pollution by purchasing credits from a complying entity that has reduced its output.   In addition to Louisiana, Maryland and Minnesota are also currently developing similar programs, while Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina have had water quality credit trading programs in place for years.
  • In late January 2018, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam appointed a committee to develop a statewide plan for future water availablity in the state.  The plan, called TN H2O, will contain an assessment of Tennessee’s current water resources, as well as recommendations to ensure an abundance of water for the state’s future population.  The committee is comprised of leaders from federal, state, and local governments; academia; industry; environmental advocacy groups; and public utilities.
  • In early February 2018, a team of researchers at Georgia College developed a kaolin-based solution capable of removing a range of bacteria from drinking water.  The researchers believe the solution could hold various possibilities for water treatment throughout the world.  The team is conducting additional research, funded with a $32,000 grant from industrial mineral company IMERYS, to determine if kaolin can also be used to remove viruses from drinking water and wastewater.
  • Additionally, in February 2018, the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) received a $740,000 grant from the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory that will focus on reducing the cost and improving the efficiency of industrial water treatment.  The grant will support UK CAER’s wastewater research program, which is developing cost-effective and practical technologies that will reduce and manage wastewater, and in turn, benefit and strengthen Kentucky’s companies and industrial sector.

 

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