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N.S. Environment Department changes boil water advisory for parts of Chester
The Canadian Press February 10, 2016
CHESTER, N.S. — Nova Scotia’s Environment Department has changed its boil water advisory for parts of Chester.
The department issued a statement Wednesday saying it has reduced the area that falls under the advisory.
The order remains in place for homes and businesses within the boundaries of the intersections of King and Pleasant streets to Water Lane, and the bottom of South Street to the shore.
The original advisory applied to homes and businesses between Central Street and Water Street, and from Union Street to South Street.
To make sure water is safe, those in the affected area must boil their water for at least one minute before it can be used for drinking, preparing infant formula, making juices or ice cubes, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking or brushing teeth.
Michigan governor plans $360M for Flint, infrastructure
Associated Press, David Eggert February 10, 2016
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday proposed spending hundreds of millions more dollars to address Flint's water crisis from lead contamination and to update pipes there and across the state — a plan that lawmakers from both parties generally welcomed as moving in the right direction with the proper priorities.
Snyder's plan would direct $195 million more toward the Flint emergency and $165 million for statewide infrastructure needs, at least a portion of which could replace lead and copper water lines elsewhere. He said $25 million of the Flint funding would replace 5,000 known old lead lines running from city streets to houses, calling it a "seed investment" until the state has a better handle on just how many of the pipes there are.
The Republican governor cited aging infrastructure as a pressing priority, along with restructuring the troubled Detroit school district and addressing skyrocketing specialty medicine costs.
"These areas merit special attention," Snyder said, in a departure from his typically rosier focus on traditional budget spending. "These are issues that we need to take head-on, in a positive, constructive way, with solutions."
Snyder has apologized for his administration's role in the disastrous lead contamination of Flint's water supply but was met with a few dozen protesters who could be heard chanting throughout his nearly hourlong presentation to GOP-controlled legislative budget committees.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Al Pscholka, a Stevensville Republican, said he was happy to see a more intermediate- to long-term plan for Flint beyond the "stopgap" measures previously approved unanimously by the GOP-controlled Legislature.
The governor and legislators have already directed more than $37 million toward the disaster, including funds for bottled water, filters, testing, health care and other services.
Flint is under a state of emergency until government authorities and independent experts declare the water safe to drink again without filters, which officials have said could happen in the spring. The additional money for Flint also includes $30 million to help residents with two years of water bills, dating to when the water source was switched to the Flint River in 2014 and improperly treated without anti-corrosion chemicals.
Democrats still say Snyder's plan is short of what is needed to fully reimburse the water portion of people's water/sewer bills, and city officials want more to replace old pipes. Snyder said his recommended amount for pipe replacement is a starting point and could grow once a full analysis is done and all the underground service lines are found in the city of nearly 100,000 people.
Flint's water troubles, concerns about other aging water infrastructure and the Detroit school's district dire financial outlook — it needs a $720 million infusion of cash over a decade to avoid bankruptcy, according to Snyder aides — overshadowed a one-time budget surplus and more nuts-and-bolts budget details this year, such as funding for education, municipalities and workforce development.
Snyder, a former accountant who has been keen to fatten the state's savings account, called for shifting $165 million he had planned for the rainy day fund to a new Michigan Infrastructure Fund. A commission he announced in his recent State of the State address would recommend how to prioritize the money.
When a legislator asked about the potential for more federal aid for Flint — Congress is debating the issue — Snyder said: "We could use more help from Washington" but later declined to specify exactly how much.
In Washington, D.C., Flint Mayor Karen Weaver asked President Barack Obama to visit Flint. She spoke after an informational hearing Wednesday on Flint led by Democratic lawmakers.
Lawmakers from both parties have resisted Snyder's plan to shift $72 million a year from the school aid fund to pay down Detroit Public Schools' operating debt, estimated at $1,100 per student, and to launch a new district with better-performing schools. They do not want to affect funding for other districts.
So the governor proposed instead using a portion of Michigan's tobacco settlement, the annual payment the state receives from cigarette manufacturers under a 1998 agreement.
The district, which has been under state emergency financial management for almost seven years, is burdened by debt, falling enrollment, inadequate buildings and low morale among teachers whose recent "sickout" absences have closed schools. Snyder said the city must have a decent school district to continue its recovery after emerging from the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history.
"This is a large national problem. It's an opportunity to help people, and we want to help people," he said. "But we need to find the most cost-efficient ways to do that."
Watch videos and see a photo gallery: http://news.yahoo.com/michigan-governor-plans-360m-flint-infrastructure-080844050.html
Stratford sewage lagoon still discharging bad water into harbour
Nigel Armstrong, The Guardian February 10, 2016
Town hires independent expert to look at why Blue Frog sewage units not able to meet waste water rules
The Town of Stratford's sewage lagoon continues to be a problem, council heard Wednesday.
It has hired an independent waste treatment expert to find out why the town's investment in a system known as the blue frogs is still not working.
Foul odours of rotting sewage from the lagoon are not wafting over the region now, as they had been this past summer. The current problem is government testing of water coming out of the lagoon system into the Charlottetown harbour, says Coun. Gary Clow, chairman of the town's infrastructure committee.
"The waste water treatment facility continues to struggle with ammonia, (total suspended solids) and fecal effluent criteria required by the provincial and federal regulators," said Clow in reading his report to council.
The Charlottetown harbour shell fishery was closed down in June last year after water testing from the Stratford lagoon outflow failed to meet clean water guidelines.
The town spent $1.8 million two years ago to buy the blue frog system, what it said was a temporary move until an estimated $15 million could be found for a longer-term solution, like its own treatment plant.
The only other option would be piping Stratford waste over to Charlottetown's treatment plant, and negotiations are now underway to see if that is possible, said Clow.
Blue frog is the brand name for the system because of the bright blue colour of air bubbler units that float on top of the lagoon. Combined with curtains under the water, the overall system is supposed to mimic a full-size treatment plant.
The town has fully paid for its blue frog units, so there is no money to hold back for them failing to meet expectations said Clow.
The town and the company, however, are working co-operatively trying to find out what is wrong, he said.
"The system is working in other places, but there is just something wrong here, likely some small problem," he said.
The town recently paid to replace and upgrade ultraviolet light disinfection units in the system to see if that helps, said Clow.
Now the independent expert will weigh in with an assessment.
"With this review we can find out what can be done to keep the facility in compliance (with waste water regulations)," said Clow. "It's a great system, but there is just something happening there that is not 100 per cent.
"There is a fix, we just have to find it."
The blue frog company is co-operating because it needs endorsements for its product, he said.
"They sell all over the world and certainly right now if someone came and asked if we would recommended it, I would have to say it's questionable," said Clow. "They are not working the way they said it would. We are not happy."
Water expert rejects explanation on Flint corrosion control
The Canadian Press February 10, 2016
Environmental engineer Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Sept. 3 comment by Howard Croft, the former Flint public works director, was "a hindsight explanation" that came shortly after Edwards and his associates went public with warnings that the city's drinking water was dangerous. The river already had sufficient levels of phosphates to nourish bacteria and adding more would have had no effect on them, he said.
"It's very obvious this is a contrived explanation after the fact and it makes no sense," Edwards said.
Flint stopped using treated water from Detroit and switched to the Flint River in 2014 to save money when the city was under state emergency financial management, an interim measure while a new pipeline to Lake Huron is built. The failure to deploy corrosion controls after the switch is considered a catastrophic mistake that enabled lead to leach from aging pipes and reach some homes.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has acknowledged instructing Flint not to use corrosion controls, based on a misreading of federal regulations.
In his email to numerous state and local officials, Croft said a different concern had been identified.
As the city water plant was designed to begin treating river water, "optimization for lead was addressed and discussed" with an engineering firm and the DEQ, Croft wrote. "It was determined that having more data was advisable prior to the commitment of a specific optimization method. Most chemicals used in this process are phosphate based and phosphate can be a 'food' for bacteria.
"We have performed over one hundred and sixty lead tests throughout the city since switching over to the Flint River and remain within the EPA standards."
The Associated Press obtained the email from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Croft did not elaborate on the type of bacteria that anti-corrosive phosphates could promote. His email also didn't say who ultimately decided against using corrosion control chemicals. Without them, the river's highly corrosive water scraped lead from pipes and fixtures for more than a year.
If consumed, lead can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities. Flint has since moved back to the Detroit system. Officials hope anti-corrosion chemicals will recoat the pipes so the water is safe to drink without filters within months.
Edwards told the AP that when his research team sampled Flint drinking water in April 2015, it contained enough phosphate to feed bacteria even though extra phosphates hadn't been added to inhibit corrosion during the previous year. The system's pipes still had residual coating of phosphates from the years when they carried water from Detroit, which used corrosion controls, he said.
"This is a hindsight explanation," Edwards said. "People figured out there was no corrosion control, that children had been lead poisoned, that we were finding very high lead in the water in late August, and people (were) asking questions — 'Why aren't you doing something about this?'"
Croft did not return an email message seeking comment. A DEQ official did not respond to a message seeking comment about whether bacteria had been a concern or discussed with Flint officials.
Croft's Sept. 3 email made no reference to what has been the most frequently mentioned explanation for the decision on corrosion control: The DEQ told city officials that a federal rule on lead and copper pollution required first testing the river water for two six-month periods to determine whether controls were needed. In a Dec. 29 letter to Gov. Rick Snyder, a task force he appointed to investigate the Flint water crisis faulted the DEQ for a "single-minded legalistic" reading of the federal rule.
In an Aug. 31 email obtained by the AP, city utilities administrator Mike Glasgow told Croft that the DEQ had only recently advised adding phosphate as a corrosion inhibitor.
"We originally had this chemical in the design, but the DEQ did not mandate it from the start, they informed us to wait and see the results of our lead and copper to determine if this was necessary," Glasgow wrote. He made no reference to bacteria.
Federal regulators say Michigan officials ignored the EPA's advice to treat Flint water for corrosion-causing elements last year and delayed for months before telling the public about the health risks. State officials say the EPA shares blame for not expressing sufficient urgency.
"We are currently designing an optimization plan with the engineering firm that will be presented to the DEQ and upon approval we expect to have it implemented by January 2016," Croft wrote in his email, adding that according to the DEQ, some cities have taken years to devise such a plan.
Follow John Flesher on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JohnFlesher
John Flesher, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan forecasts below-normal spring run-off due to mild winter
The Canadian Press February 9, 2016
REGINA — Saskatchewan forecasters say the warm, dry winter will likely mean a below-normal spring run-off.
The Water Security Agency says most of the province is looking at a below-normal snow pack for this time of year.
Some areas in east central Saskatchewan had more water on the landscape than normal before the winter and should expect near normal run-off.
Most reservoirs and dugouts went into winter at near normal levels and surface water supplies are expected to be adequate this year.
The agency warns it is still early and conditions could change in the coming weeks.
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