Topic: Drinking Water


California snowpack at drought-busting level

Excerpt: Runoff from the overall Sierra snowpack, which provides arid California with a third of its water in a good year, stood at the highest level since 1995 for this point in the year, California’s Department of Water Resources said.

Excerpt: Back-to-back-to-back storms in January that each dropped a hurricane’s worth of water have put the state at 108 percent of its normal rain and snow for the whole year, said Michael Dettinger, a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s with two months still left in the rainy season.

Excerpt: Given this year’s wealth of rain and snow, some farmers and city governments are urging the state to provide them with more water. That would mean cutting back on water the state allows to flow to the Pacific Ocean, to benefit struggling native species whose numbers have dwindled in the drought.

Conservation groups, meanwhile, say the state hasn’t gone far enough to cut agricultural and urban water use, especially as warming temperatures from climate change threatens the cycle of snowfall and melt.

Arizona's Water Future

Excerpt: This report provides immediate actions and longer term solutions for addressing Lake Mead’s falling water levels and for ensuring that Arizona’s agriculture, cities, Indian tribes, economy, and environment thrive in a future with less water.

Excerpt: In this report, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) presents an analysis of the problem and recommendations for a number of policies and actions directed at Arizona’s impending Colorado River water shortage over the next decade. These immediate actions and longer term plans will help address Lake Mead’s falling water levels in ways that can protect groundwater and still allow Arizona’s agriculture, cities, Indian tribes, economy, and environment to thrive in a future with less water.

Toilet to tap water treatment may soon be legal in Arizona

Excerpt: Once mocked as "toilet to tap", the practice of directly treating wastewater for drinking could be legal in Arizona by the end of this year.

Excerpt: “Water reuse’s time has come. It’s a large theme taking place across the U.S. and the world,” Tucson Water Director Tim Thomure told a state water recycling committee this week in Phoenix.

Excerpt: Direct potable reuse involves piping wastewater from a conventional sewage treatment plant to another, more technologically advanced plant that treats the water to drinking quality. A reverse osmosis plant, which runs wastewater through membranes for treatment, is one of several technologies available.

Excerpt: Drought is a key factor driving many states to consider direct potable reuse. In Arizona, a bigger factor may be that ADEQ is now revising what Graf calls its “pretty aged” overall water reuse regulations, unchanged since 2001. Water utilities want the direct reuse approved now because it may be years before the rules are revised again.

Arizona wastewater into beer

Excerpt: Something new will be brewing in Arizona next summer. The Southwest Water Campus has won a $250,000 grant to ease Arizonans into drinking reclaimed wastewater by first turning it into beer.

Excerpt: The group, which includes Tucson Water, the town of Marana, the University of Arizona, Carollo Engineers, CH2M, Clean Water Services and Water Reuse, was announced on Thursday as the winner of this year’s Water Innovation Challenge. Southwest Water Campus is a coalition of water utilities and service companies led by the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department.

Nestle plans $35 million plant to bottle water in Phoenix

Excerpt: The plant is projected to fill 264 million half-liter bottles in its first year, or almost 35 million gallons.

That's more than enough water to supply 200 Phoenix households for a year. The plant is expected to create 40-50 jobs.

Excerpt: Phoenix officials say the city tap-water supply is secure for years — maybe decades — despite regional drought, and they're eager to put more of it to use attracting manufacturing jobs like Nestle's.

Excerpt: "It's certainly ironic to some degree to have a water-bottling plant in one of the driest cities in the country," Sierra Club Arizona director Sandy Bahr said.

Quagga mire: Invading mussels

Excerpt: A tiny European shellfish whose larvae are swarming the Colorado River and connected water bodies has colonized reservoirs and canals in the hills around the Phoenix area.

Excerpt: Quagga mussels were first introduced in this country by an accidental release from a tanker’s ballast water into the Great Lakes back in the 1980s. They have expanded rapidly through the Southwest since their discovery at Lake Mead nine years ago.

Excerpt: Across the Southwest, the invaders are changing business for water providers. In Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Water Authority had to add pipes to mix ammonia and chlorine at its new, billion-dollar deepwater intake in Lake Mead, killing veligers before they enter the system.

The annual cost for chemicals is about $50,000, a spokesman said.

Lake Mead water levels

Excerpt: Federal forecasters expect the lake to stay in record territory and continue to drop through the end of June, when it could dip as low as 1,073 feet above sea level. After that, the reservoir should begin to inch back up as Lake Powell delivers more water downstream. This should give record keepers time to update their ledgers before next April, when the water level will likely to enter historic territory once again.

Excerpt: Should Lake Mead start 2016 below the 1,075 mark, it will trigger the first federal shortage declaration on the Colorado and prompt Nevada and Arizona to cut back on the amount of water they take from the river.

Current projections call for the lake to remain just above that all-important shortage line on Jan. 1 of both 2016 and 2017, but those forecasts assume average or better snow accumulations in the mountains that feed the Colorado River — something that’s happened only three times in the past 15 years.

Epcor plans to buy Arizona water utility

Excerpt: The City of Edmonton-owned company%u2019s wholly owned subsidiary, Epcor Water (USA) Inc., said Tuesday it has reached an agreement with GWR Global Water Resources Corp. to acquire the assets and operations of the Willow Valley Water Company for about $2.5 million. The deal is subject to adjustments and regulatory approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Excerpt: Epcor is now the largest private, regulated water utility in Arizona and New Mexico. It provides water and waste water service to about 200,000 customer connections across 22 communities and seven counties.

Williams water woes looking up

Excerpt: Last week’s winter storm helped rescue the city of Williams from the Stage 4 water restrictions the city has been living with for more than a year.

Excerpt: But the recent rain and snow was a big boost to the city’s reservoirs, which now hold a 16-month supply of water based on peak summer demand. Those surface water supplies are the basis for water restrictions, according to city code.

Excerpt: Between the end of December and this week, Dogtown Lake, the city’s biggest reservoir, grew from 119 million gallons to 191 million gallons and is now 56 percent full. Cataract Lake, another reservoir, more than doubled in size, from 45 million gallons to 98 million gallons and is now 72 percent full. Buckskinner Lake is now completely full. Santa Fe Dam and Kaibab Lake, which were so low they were untreatable, also filled up considerably.

Worst Drought in 1,000 Years Predicted

Excerpt: Large parts of the U.S. are in for a drought of epic proportions in the second half of this century, scientists warn in a new study that provides the highest degree of certainty yet on the impact of global warming on water supplies in the region.

Excerpt: That's because rising temperatures spurred by the greenhouse effect result in more evaporation and less precipitation for the region, which is already relatively dry.

Excerpt: "Over the past year, water managers and the public have started paying more attention to the possibility of a megadrought," said Painter. "Water demand has passed supply in some areas. Throwing 30 years of drought on top of that means we're going to have to change the way we live out here."

City of El Paso to wean itself from river water

Excerpt: Coming in 2018 is perhaps the most dramatic step yet. The utility will begin reusing the water that runs out one of the city's four wastewater-treatment plants.

"We want to prepare for the real possibility that there will be no river water at all," said water utility spokeswoman Christina Montoya.

Excerpt: They think the climate in the river basin might be returning to historical norms after a few abnormally wet decades. Man-made global warming, which almost all climate scientists believe is happening, would only make the scarcity worse, they say.

Excerpt: The water is not appreciably different when it comes back out of water-utility wells, but for some, its trip through the ground might supply the "gap in time and space and imagination" that Fishman mentioned in the book.

As the water leaves the plant, however, it smells and tastes just like the water that comes out of any kitchen faucet in El Paso. No sudden cramps or urgent calls to the bathroom follow in the hours after drinking it.

Water utility officials say water from the Bustamante plant in the city's Southeast will be at least as clean as that coming from Hervey or the city's other water plants and will be among the cleanest drinking water available.

Arizona's drinking-water needs will force trade-offs

Excerpt: Meeting the drinking-water needs of Arizona’s future population will force residents to live with trade-offs. But as more people move here and are born here, they may not have a choice, state officials say.

Excerpt: Instead of pushing big water projects, the state should look at reducing water demand and seriously consider whether the growth envisioned in the report is achievable, desirable or sustainable, the Sierra Club said.

Excerpt: The water study was not an academic exercise — it was designed to spur action, said Lacey, the state water director. The agency hopes for broader public participation in water issues than anytime since Arizona’s landmark Groundwater Management Act passed in 1980, he said.

Australia: Dodgy water samples

Excerpt: The Lock the Gate organisation says water samples taken from a Metgasco holding pond were found to contain high levels of a range of heavy metals.

Excerpt: "Thirteen substances above the allowable limits in the drinking water guidelines" she said.
"Ten of these were above the allowable safe limits for freshwater ecosystems, including metals such as aluminium which was detected at 440 times drinking water standards, and lead which was measured at seven times drinking water standards."

Excerpt: "The levels of aluminium in those samples were 800 times the allowable environmental limit... if we've got these heavy metals ending up in the local waterways, then you have impacts on aquatic organisms.
"So really, these sorts of substances shouldn't be allowed to make their way into any of our environmental water.