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2005 Around the U.S


The cost of gold: water worries; A drier and tainted Nevada may be legacy of a Gold Rush

Just outside the chasm of North America's biggest open-pit gold mine there is an immense oasis in the middle of the Nevada desert. This is water pumped from the ground by Barrick Gold of Toronto to keep its vast Goldstrike mine from flooding, as the gold company, the world's third largest, carves a canyon 1,600 feet below the level of northern Nevada's aquifer. Nearly 10 million gallons a day draining away in the driest state in the nation - and the fastest growing one, propelled by the demographic rocket of Las Vegas. Government scientists estimate it could take 200 years or more to replenish the groundwater that it and neighboring mine companies have removed, with little public attention or debate, as they meet soaring consumer demand for jewelry and gold's price tops $500 an ounce. New York Times_ 12/30/05 (logon required)

Shaw, Arkansas, loses bid to develop own water service
The Arkansas Natural Resource Commission has determined that an independent water service in Shaw does not comply with the state's water plan. The community's water board plans to appeal the decision in Saline County Circuit Court, according to Benton attorney Dustin Dyer. Randy Young, Natural Resource Commission executive director, ruled that breaking from Tull and developing Shaw's own water system would be a duplication of services, commission representative Edward Swaim said during Tuesday's appeal hearing in Little Rock. Shaw residents comprise 80 percent of Tull's water users, but have no voice in water matters. Tull currently receives its water from Benton but has signed a contract to begin using Malvern water. The Shaw Community, which is in Saline County, does not want to be tied onto Malvern, which is Hot Spring County. Benton Courier_ 12/15/05

Georgia audit faults spending by two water study groups

State auditors criticized a state-run water study center and a southwest Georgia water council for questionable expenditure of state funds on alcohol, flowers, gifts for lawmakers, travel, expensive meals and Christmas parties. The Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center and the Flint River Regional Water Council engaged in "activities that demonstrated a lack of stewardship of state taxpayer dollars," according to a special report issued Tuesday by the Performance Audit Operations Division of the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts. As a result of the audit, the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission ended its contracts with the two groups July 1. Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP/Macon Telegraph_ 12/21/05

Great Lakes near ecological breakdown: scientists
Stresses from polluted rivers to invasive species threaten to trigger an ecological breakdown in the Great Lakes, a group of scientists hoping to sway U.S. environmental policy said on Thursday.  Seventy-five scientists who study the world's largest collective body of fresh water released their report on the myriad problems that need cleanup or restoration ahead of two key policy announcements next week.  "This is just a critical period for the Great Lakes," Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office, said about next week's announcements.  A task force comprising federal agencies, Congress, local government officials and regional Indian tribes is scheduled to release its much-anticipated final plan for preserving the Great Lakes requested by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004.  The body's preliminary report in July recommended $20 billion in federal, state and private funding over 15 years to upgrade antiquated municipal sewer systems, restore 500,000 acres of wetlands, clean polluted harbors and bays, and pay for other efforts. Reuters_ 12/8/05

Michigan Senate approves oversight of water withdrawals

The Michigan Senate voted unanimously Thursday to give the state oversight of farms, utilities and manufacturers that use large amounts of water — a long-awaited step toward protecting the state’s water resources.  The legislation, approved 36-0, would require new or expanding water users to get permits before withdrawing millions of gallons per day from the Great Lakes and other water sources.  The bill would apply to operations that have developed the capacity to make new withdrawals of more than 5 million gallons of water a day from the Great Lakes and more than 2 million gallons a day from other waterways, or increased withdrawals above those amounts, according to an analysis by the Senate Fiscal Agency.  Detroit Free Press_12/8/05

Add Opinion

Michigan safeguards for water

Although not as strong a package of water protections as Michiganders deserve, bills have emerged from a Senate committee that inch the state forward with new standards and safeguards. The state has almost no defense against overuse of its water now. While that's hardly an everyday happening -- water really is abundant here -- demand will surely grow for the pure, fresh water of the kind so often taken for granted here. Even if it has to move in baby steps, the state must hold on to the ultimate goal of a water use framework that safeguards the Great Lakes, manages disputes in cases of competing uses and preserves premier inland lakes and streams. Opinion_Detroit Free Press 12/8/05

American Rivers opposes more Columbia water for irrigation

Taking more water from the Columbia River system to expand irrigated farming would actually hurt farmers in the state by producing a glut of produce, an environmental group contended Wednesday.  A proposal to devote an additional 1 million acre-feet of water to farming would cost farmers about $70 million a year for 20 years, according to a study for American Rivers conducted by scientists at Texas A&M University.  "This study shows that too much irrigation is bad not only for fish, but for farmers too," said Rob Masonis, Northwest regional director for American Rivers.  Seattle Post Intelligencer_12/8/05

Water agencies recognized for environmental efforts; recipients of Theodore Roosevelt Award announced

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented three water agencies with the water community's most prestigious award for environmental stewardship.  Cucamonga Valley Water District, Contra Costa Water District and Santa Clara Valley Water were named recipients of the 2005 Theodore Roosevelt Environmental Award for Excellence in Natural Resources Management. The awards were presented at ACWA's annual fall conference in San Diego on December 1. Since 1993, ACWA has presented the Theodore Roosevelt Award each year to recognize water agencies for programs that protect natural resources while meeting public needs. Winners are selected in three budget categories.  Press Release_12/1/05

Bureau of Reclamation works with Standing Rock Sioux tribe to avoid Fort Yates, North Dakota water clog like one that left homes without water during Thanksgiving two years ago

The bureau said it is contracting with Adventure Divers of Minot to remove the sediment and continue a reliable water supply to the Fort Yates treatment plant. Silt clogged the intake pipe at Fort Yates on Thanksgiving weekend two years ago, leaving about 850 homes without water for four days. A temporary intake system was built at a cost of nearly $3 million. AP/Grand Forks Herald_ 11/28/05

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack proposes using $50 million in tobacco money for water quality
Vilsack said he’ll ask the Legislature for a $50 million package aimed at cleaning up rivers and lakes in the state, and will include a no-interest loan program for local communities to improve water treatment. The governor said his water quality program is the beginning of a long-term effort to deal with impaired waterways. He offered no price tag or timeline. Key lawmakers are making it clear they have their own plans for spending the tobacco money. AP/Des Moines Register_ 11/28/05

EPA: drinking water at Ohio rest areas contains bacteria

The Ohio Department of Transportation is paying more than $110,000 to improve and better monitor drinking water at three highway rest stops.  The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the rest areas in Portage and Hancock counties have had high levels of bacteria that could harbor other types of pathogens.  The transportation department will be required to conduct monthly tests at the sites and submit reports to the EPA.  The violations were at an eastbound rest stop on Interstate 76 in eastern Portage County and at two Hancock County rest areas on Interstate 75 near Findlay.  NewsNet5.com_11/23/05

Stockton, California leaders approve $172 million Sacramento Delta drinking water project

The project's burgeoning price tag could mean significant water rate increases. But it would also allow the city to grow by about 300,000 residents by the year 2050, according to the city's figures. The project -- originally proposed 30 years ago and resurrected nearly 10 years ago -- entails taking water out of San Joaquin River and piping it 13 miles to a new water treatment plant. The cleaned water would be sent into the city's existing water system. But officials still don't know how they're going to pay for it. Stockton Record_ 11/10/05

Major quake in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could endanger Southern California drinking water supply

In testimony before a joint legislative committee in Sacramento, Lester Snow, director of the Department of Water Resources, said a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in the western delta could tear 30 breaches in the levees that protect water supplies for 22 million Californians and some of the nation's most productive farmland. The resulting delta flooding would shut down water shipments to Southern California cities and San Joaquin Valley croplands, rupture natural gas and oil pipelines and topple electrical transmission towers. It could cost the state more than $30 billion in long-term losses and tens of thousands of jobs. The testimony was the latest warning about the perilous state of the levee system that protects the delta, a maze of reclaimed agricultural islands and waterways that provide nearly two out of three Californians some portion of their water. Los Angeles Times_ 11/2/05 (logon required)

American Water honored for improving Buffalo, New York, water system
American Water, the nation's largest private water company, received an award Tuesday from the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. The group pays tribute each year to public-private partnerships that improve service or reduce costs through innovations. City officials cited numerous achievements in recent years, including an improvement in water quality, automation of customer records, and a labor relations model that has boosted productivity. Buffalo News_ 11/2/05

October, 2005

California water official urges California American Water Co. and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to figure out how to get along

"I would implore you to quit arguing over who said what when," said Arthur Baggett, a member of the state Water Resources Control Board. Baggett was in Salinas to learn about the progress made by various water agencies in Monterey County to resolve a multitude of pending issues. Representatives from four agencies and for Cal Am all presented descriptions of their progress in resolving seawater intrusion problems in the Salinas Valley and phasing out the use of the Carmel River to provide water to the Monterey Peninsula. The rarity of the moment was not lost on Roy Thomas of the Carmel Valley Steelhead Association, who told Baggett that while "collaboration" and cooperation seemed to be a recurring theme among the water groups, "none of these agencies ever talk to each other." After hearing presentations on the issues facing the Carmel River, Baggett hinted that the state board might consider initiating adjudication proceedings to resolve issues on the Monterey Peninsula. Monterey County Herald_ 10/27/05

Water issue may drown Florida ranch buy

The state's yet-to-be ratified contract to pay $350 million for 74,000 acres of the Babcock Ranch is intentionally mum on how the state will be compensated for the billions of gallons of water Kitson & Partners would be allowed to pump off state-owned land each year. Since July, Kitson has insisted his company would retain ownership of Town and County Utilities Co., the water utility on Babcock, as well as the right to pump water off the rest of the ranch to sell to the town of 48,000 people he plans to build there. He also plans to sell water to Charlotte and Lee counties. The state Department of Environmental Protection is still negotiating how much to charge Kitson for that water through easements he must buy to build pipelines across the 92,000-acre Southwest Florida ranch. But key lawmakers and conservation groups around Florida fear the state could encourage other large landowners to seek similar Babcock-like deals if the state buys land outright without maintaining control of the water. Florida Today_ 10/27/05

California community plans public discussion of water quality alert

The El Dorado Irrigation District board of directors will hold a public meeting Wednesday on last week's water quality alert in El Dorado Hills. The district issued the alert to 9,000 customers Oct. 19 after a water treatment plant operator discovered a chemical mix-up that morning. A truckload of fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning that is often mixed into concrete, had been mistakenly delivered to the plant and then added to the water. Soda ash, a common water treatment chemical used to reduce acidity, should have been used instead. The district lifted the alert Oct. 20, saying that laboratory tests indicated that water from the treatment plant met state health standards, despite the fly ash contamination. At Wednesday's meeting, district staff will give an account of the fly ash incident, and assess the district's response. A public comment session will follow. Sacramento Bee_ 10/24/05

Irrigators: Water loss will damage Colorado's economy, lifestyle

Inevitable water loss to Colorado's Front Range will damage the economy and lifestyle of northeast Colorado, irrigators said Wednesday. At the South Platte Watershed meeting in Sterling, speakers presented ideas about minimizing these effects. The number of acres planted to irrigated crops is already beginning to shrink. Dennis Kaan, director of the Golden Plains extension, said Colorado State University is modeling various scenarios that project results on population and economy. The potential scenarios address the effects if all agricultural acres are removed from irrigation. Realistically, between 29 and 40 percent of the irrigated farmland is projected to lose its water supply, Kaan said. The CSU scenario included several options. These range from having all former irrigated acres converted to grassland; all acres converted to dryland crops; a combinations of the above; or simply being abandoned.  Journal Advocate_10/20/05

Deal subjects airlines to water fines

Must comply with Safe Drinking Water Act

Twenty-four airlines have signed agreements with the government subjecting the carriers to fines of up to $27,500 if they fail to adopt tougher safeguards for monitoring and disinfecting the drinking water served to passengers. The deals with 11 major domestic airlines and 13 smaller airlines are intended to reduce disease-carrying bacteria in drinking water on planes, the Environmental Protection Agency said.  An EPA investigation last year found total coliform bacteria in 15 percent of the 327 airlines the agency reviewed at 19 airports. Total coliform is usually harmless, but it is an indicator that other disease-causing organisms could be in the water.  The administrative order says the airlines have failed to fully comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Failure to comply in the future could mean penalties of up to $27,500 for each violation. While most of its members signed the agreement, the Air Transport Association said drinking water found on airline is generally as safe as the municipal water sources that supply it.  Seattle Post Intelligencer_10/19/05

Congress OKs plans to boost water supply

U.S. House OKs $153.9 million plan to boost Southern California water supply.  It unanimously approved legislation to improve water quality in the Santa Ana River and increase the supply for Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea , is expected to boost the region's water supply by 65.2 billion gallons per year. About $51.8 million will support a water reclamation project in Orange County, while $50 million will be authorized to perform more groundwater desalination in the Chino Basin, increasing the water supply six-fold for Norco, Chino, Chino Hills and Ontario. The bill also authorizes $20 million to develop large-scale wetlands along the Santa Ana River in the Prado Basin; $40 million to develop brine lines to help discard excess water from desalination plants; and $12 million to build a filtration technology research center in Orange County. San Gabriel Valley Tribune_ 10/19/05

Officials to see if tainted water reaching Hudson or drinking supply

'Slightly radioactive' water found underground

Experts will study the contours of the earth and rock beneath the Indian Point nuclear power plants to see if the slightly radioactive water that has been found underground could end up in the public drinking supply or the Hudson River, the plants' owner said. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the plants in Buchanan, said Wednesday that low levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope, have been found in water at the bottom of six sampling wells on the Indian Point property.   Newsday_10/19/05

Huge decisions await on control of California valley water

Determination of whether to disband longtime conservation district needs to be done in a public forum local water wars threaten to turn into turf wars, as they always do in California, as the battle over who controls water in the San Bernardino Valley heats up. With the fate of an obscure agency that handles water conservation hanging in the balance, the issue of managing the region's water supply is so complex, and so important, that any maneuvering needs to be carried out in the open. But so far, a challenge to the continued existence of the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District has been pretty much under the radar.  Opinion_ Sanernardion County Sun 10/5/05

California's Central Valley Water Project sees good start to water year

Ample rain during the past fall and winter allows California’s reservoirs to enter the new rainy season with more water in storage, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Central Valley Project water system.
On Oct. 1, the start of the state’s “water year,” the project’s reservoirs contained about 8.5 million acre-feet of water, some 2.5 million more than a year earlier and well above the 15-year average of 6.6 million acre-feet on Oct. 1.  Central Valley Business Times_10/5/05

California's federal reservoirs show water bounty: Bureau of Reclamation

California's federal reservoirs ended the water year on Sept. 30 with nearly 25 percent more water in storage than the historical average, a sign of the year's bountiful winter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project reservoir system. Reservoirs in the system include Shasta, Whiskeytown, Trinity, New Melones, and Folsom, and, in partnership with the state, San Luis Reservoir. The system held 8.2 million acre-feet at the end of the water year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The 15-year average is 6.6 million acre-feet. The bureau will now transition into flood-control mode, in which reservoirs will be gradually drawn down to capture winter storm runoff. Sacramento Bee_ 10/4/05 (logon required)

Archaeologist wants Colorado site protected from reservoir plan

Evidence of prehistoric campgrounds — one more than 1,300 years old — may be in the path of a proposed reservoir that’s considered a key to providing future drinking water to Colorado Springs. A University of Colorado at Colorado Springs archaeologist says he has uncovered artifacts suggesting three prehistoric “occupations” by ancient nomads at the Jimmy Camp Creek area as early as 665 A.D. To protect the site, Bill Arbogast, the archaeologist who is a research instructor in the UCCS anthropology department, said he will nominate it for listing on the Colorado Register of Historic Places. He’ll submit the paperwork as soon as the city signs off — required because the city owns the land. The site, roughly the size of a football field, is near Jimmy Camp Creek, where Colorado Springs Utilities has proposed a 620-acre reservoir to store drinking water pumped from Pueblo as part of the $2.2 billion Southern Delivery System. Colorado Springs Gazette_ 10/2/05

Authorities investigate break-ins at water tower in east Spokane, Washington and reservoir in Idaho

A water tower in east Spokane and a reservoir across the border in Idaho were both broken into recently, and both water systems were found to be contaminated with coliform bacteria. The intrusions were confirmed Friday by the East Spokane Water District and a member of the Hauser Lake Water Association. Officials do not know if the cases are related, or if the water was contaminated deliberately. Users of both water systems were told to boil their water or drink bottled water. E. coli and other coliform bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and fever. Authorities said they do not believe the cases are related to E.coli contamination earlier in the week in north Spokane or to the discovery of a toxic chemical recently in a well in Colbert, Idaho. AP/Corvallis Gazette-Times_ 10/2/05

Boil water advisory issued near Spokane, Washington after E.coli found

About 4,000 people in 1,300 homes and businesses are affected in Spokane County Water District No. 3, Dan Sander of the state Department of Health drinking water division said Friday. It was not known if anyone had become infected, but health officials urged water district customers with flu-like symptoms to contact their health care providers. A cause of the contamination was not immediately known. AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer_ 10/1/05

National Water Resources Association and Family Farm Alliance weigh helping Montana project

The St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group is trying to get the federal government to spread the cost of rebuilding the St. Mary diversion and come forward with a significant funding contribution. Representatives of the National Water Resources Association and the Family Farm Alliance, two organizations that deal with water issues in Western states, toured the facility Tuesday with Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Blackfeet tribal representatives, a Bureau of Reclamation regional director and working group members. Working group executive director Larry Mires said National Water Resources Association executive vice president Thomas Donnelly and Family Farm Alliance executive director Dan Keppen are trying to decide whether the groups would get involved in the effort to rehabilitate the crumbling system of canals, siphons and drop structures that keeps the Milk River flowing year-round by augmenting its flow with water from the St. Mary River. Havre Daily News_ 9/30/05

Mexico eliminates water debt with U.S. after more than a decade

Mexico sent this week all the water it owes the U.S., eliminating a water debt of more than a decade, said Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a statement. Mexico made water transfers on Sept. 27 to erase a deficit that had grown at one point to as much as 1.5 million acre-feet of water, or 489 billion gallons, Perry said. Mexico had failed to keep up with water transfers to the Rio Grande under a 1944 agreement that outlines how the two countries share the river's water because of a drought across northern Mexico during the 1990s. The Rio Grande acts as a border between Texas and Mexico. Bloomberg_ 9/30/05

California water agency denies job cut plans
But environmentalist says Sacramento Bee story halted regulatory reduction.

Top state water-quality officials say a story in The Bee that said they planned to gut a newly expanded enforcement of polluted farm runoff was based on a misunderstanding. However, the hands-on regulators struggling to implement the first water-quality controls on California's farming empire thought the jobs were being cut. Environmentalists read the order the same way. One said he believes the deep cuts would have materialized but for the Sept. 7 story. The apparent problem was that the State Water Resources Control Board officials had cut farmers too big a break on the cost of enforcing the new rules and had overestimated by a long shot the amount of fees they would collect, the board's administrative services chief disclosed in a memorandum attached to the Aug. 30 order to cut staff. Sacramento Bee_9/29/05

Greensboro runs out of fluoride for city water supply

The City of Greensboro said it stopped adding fluoride to the city water supply in early September after it was unable to buy any from companies that supply the chemical. The chemical has been added to Greensboro's water since the 1960s as a way of preventing tooth decay. Fluoridation of water is a widespread practice across the country. A city news release said that a combination of increased demand for fluoride from California, as well as the withdrawal of one of the three major suppliers of the chemical from the market, had made it impossible for city officials to buy any more. Removing fluoride won't have any affect on the potability of Greensboro's water, and city officials said a two- to three-month interruption of the fluoride supply shouldn't have a noticeable impact on residents' dental health.  The Business Journal_9/29/05

Diminishing water supply threatens E. Washington farmers

Without water, the Columbia Basin region would look like the sagebrush-covered desert it was before farmers and irrigators transformed it into some of the top-producing farmland in the United States.  This region's future is endangered because of its diminishing water supply. Much of the region relies on the vast Odessa sub-area aquifer for its water. But more water is being withdrawn from the aquifer than is being recharged.  Wells in the sub-area are drying up or seeing a significant reduction in output due to the aquifer's dropping water table — as much as 400 feet since the 1960s. In fact, some wells are 2,000 feet deep. Farmers and people in area communities can't afford to continue drilling deeper for water because it's so expensive. The Seattle Times, Opinion_9/29/05

Arizona towns urged to balance growth, water
Arizona communities need to do a better job of balancing growth with water supplies, and state leaders should be prepared to offer those communities whatever help they need, according to a nonpartisan research group that studied the issue. The group, ThinkAZ, concluded that while local leaders may not want to discourage growth, they will face chronic water shortages if they continue to allow development beyond the resources they have available. That may sound obvious, but limited water supplies have rarely stopped growth in the West, said Rita Maguire, president of ThinkAZ and one of the authors of the study.
Arizona Republic_ 9/25/05

For pay toilet company Cemusa Inc., progress is sometimes slow
The Spanish advertising company that is paying more than $1 billion to put toilets, bus shelters and newsstands on New York City streets has never before installed a street toilet in this country, though it has built more than a hundred of them in Spain and Latin America in the past decade. The company, Cemusa Inc., which was picked this week to provide New York with new so-called street furniture, has already won contracts to place toilets in cities like Seville and Rio de Janeiro. But just as New Yorkers have been waiting decades for promised public toilets, progress to install these amenities in some cities has been anything but easy. In New York City, Cemusa is in negotiations to build 20 public toilets, 3,300 bus shelters and 330 newsstands at no cost to the city. In return for paying the city at least $1 billion in fees over 20 years, the company would receive permission to sell advertising on the structures. Cemusa won the highly coveted street project, one of the largest in the city's history, by outbidding four other companies, including industry leaders like JCDecaux and Viacom, both with more experience building street toilets. The contract was highly contested as lawyers and lobbyists promoted their clients. Cemusa spent $96,000 to hire the company of an influential lobbyist and Democratic fund-raiser, Suri Kasirer, to press its case at City Hall. The details of how Cemusa was chosen, as well as its designs for the toilets, bus shelters and newsstands, remain a mystery. City and Cemusa officials, citing the continuing contract talks, have refused to provide more information. New York Times_ 9/23/05 (logon required)

Flouride shortages hit Massachusets town's water treatment program
A national shortage of the fluoride chemical used in the town's water treatment means flouride shipments may not be received for several weeks, according to a report from the Water Division of the Public Works Department.  This shortage has been caused by several factors including a large producer closing its doors and a larger demand from the state of California, which is using this chemical for the first time this year, the report said.   Water Division officials said they are working with area suppliers to find new sources so the flouride treatment program can continue. Even though several weeks of drinking non-fluoridated water will not diminish the dental protection, town water consumers are advised to consult their doctor or dentist so they can make an informed decision whether to use fluoride supplements. Billerica Minuteman_9/22/05

Wyoming rancher says no to methane water

A Powder River Basin cattle rancher is challenging the notion that surface owners can be forced, without legal recourse or monetary compensation, to accept coalbed methane water produced from upstream wells. Groups such as the Powder River Basin Resource Council warn that if the courts rule that coalbed methane water enjoys the same public easement as "waters of the state," it would give a new and dangerous legal precedent of condemnation to the oil and gas industry. Eighth Judicial District Judge Keith G. Kautz heard arguments in Campbell County on Tuesday in Williams Production RMT Co. vs. William P. Maycock II. Kautz is expected to decide by Oct. 19 whether the case will go to trial. At stake is the viability of ranching in the Powder River Basin's semiarid terrain, which has limited capacity for managing coalbed methane water on the surface. Casper Star-Tribune/Billings Gazette_ 9/21/05

Trustees want University of Connecticut to give up water management business

Faced with growing concern after a section of the Fenton River ran dry recently, board Chairman John W. Rowe said the university should seek an outside professional to run the water system. The university, which pumps water from the Fenton and Willimantic rivers to serve its campus, has managed its water system for nearly 100 years because there is no water company in the area. Around Sept. 9, a nearly mile-long section of the Fenton River near UConn's pump stations dried up, causing a fish kill that affected thousands of trout and other fish. Rowe said he would like to hold an organizational meeting soon to hire an outside professional to manage the water operation. A longer-term solution might involve creating a local water utility of some sort, Rowe said. Hartford Courant_ 9/21/05

California's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta levees are in sorry shape and a big earthquake could imperil Southern California drinking water supplies

Water passing through the delta provides drinking water for two out of three Californians and supplies the nation's biggest fruit and vegetable growers. A major quake could interrupt the flow for months, maybe even a year or two. It will cost $1.3 billion in repairs officials say just to bring the delta levee system up to basic standards. The state Department of Water Resources can't even say how many billions more it would cost to protect the levees from earthquakes. Overall, the delta levee system is in far worse shape than the levees that so dramatically failed in New Orleans. Los Angeles Times_ 9/19/05 (logon required)

Plan set to remedy Boston's low ground water
Joint effort tackles threat to buildings

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and state Secretary for Commonwealth Development Douglas I. Foy are set to announce a plan to combat dangerously low ground water levels under billions of dollars worth of Boston real estate. In addition to an agreement among nine city and state agencies to coordinate their efforts, the city wants to require developers of projects of any size to demonstrate that they will not reduce ground water levels and that they will even help boost them. ''It's a historic moment," said Menino, who predicted that new proposals, ''even as small as a patio on a house, will have to go to the BRA for review to see what effect it has on ground water."Menino said adding another Boston Redevelopment Authority requirement will not make the system more cumbersome for developers. ''It's protection, and long overdue."  Boston Globe_9/15/05

PA Governor Rendell announces new clean water funding to improve

community quality of life

Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today a new $50 million environmental funding program that will further his vision for a cleaner, safer Pennsylvania that was the basis for his Growing Greener II initiative. "Clean water is something that many people take for granted," Governor Rendell said. "But streams contaminated by sewer overflow is a real problem for many of our cites and boroughs. Fixing this problem is a major financial burden facing these older, and in many cases economically distressed, communities. Getting raw sewage out of our streets and streams is fundamental for community quality of life. "Providing clean water is critical for our communities and local residents, but it is also important to the success of companies looking to invest and grow in Pennsylvania."  The special program, which was adopted by the PENNVEST board of directors at its meeting today, will offer grant funds to be used for two critical water problems involving wastewater treatment plants - combined sewer overflows that cause stream contamination during heavy rains and excessive nitrogen and phosphorus emissions that are causing nutrient overloads in the Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers and downstream in the Chesapeake Bay.  Press Release_9/14/05

Groton, Massachusetts voters to decide if well can be built in the town's public forest

Groton voters will decide tomorrow night whether to allow an independent water district from West Groton to build a well in the town's public forest, a move that could eventually help the entire town meet its water needs.
Gordon Newell, general manager of the West Groton Water Supply District, said tomorrow evening's pivotal vote gives his district's 520 customers the chance to finally have clear water in their sinks. If the article is rejected, West Groton will have to continue drinking from its current well, a site contaminated with iron and manganese. While harmless, both elements cause discoloration in the water, a problem that has irked the district's customers for years.. Newell said the town is trying to obtain a $1.15 million loan to construct the well, and that West Groton residents can expect to start drinking water from the well by June 2007. Boston Globe_ 9/11/05

New York City Water Board writes off $23 million water bill for leaky customer
The city Water Board has written off more than 95 percent of a $23 million bill owed by one of its biggest debtors — and still hasn't collected the remaining amount. The debtor is the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., a quasi-governmental agency that operates a 300-acre industrial park under a long-term lease with the city. Under a "leak forgiveness program," the board lowered the yard's past-due tab to $1 million. The yard's president, Eric Deutch, said he's prepared to settle for a "significant" figure in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. New York Post/Yahoo.com_ 9/5/05

Massachusetts limits on water use draw fire
As state regulators move to rein in water use to protect fragile watersheds, fast-growing communities south of Boston are feeling caught in a vise -- pressured by surging demand from residential and commercial development on one side, and by impending limits on consumption on the other. The state Department of Environmental Protection wants communities to cut water use to 65 gallons per person daily. The new figure would be a significant reduction for some communities. The statewide average is roughly 69 gallons, according to the state agency. The new policies have spurred concern among town officials and drinking-water suppliers who fear the prospect of lawn watering bans, moratoriums on new water hookups and private wells, and costly infrastructure repairs. Boston Globe_ 9/4/05

Legislators to bar soda in California high schools

California high schools will ban carbonated soda under legislation approved by the state assembly Thursday as part of an effort to combat teen obesity. The bill allows milk, drinks with at least 50 percent fruit or vegetable juice and drinking water without sweetener. It would be phased in from 2007 and take full effect in 2009. The measure needs final approval in the state senate, which already voted in favor of it in May. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilding champion who preaches the need for a healthy diet, has said he would sign the measure. Reuters_ 9/2/05

August, 2005

Board approves agreement guaranteeing Sioux Falls, South Dakota water from the Missouri River

An agreement guaranteeing Missouri River water for Sioux Falls by the year 2012 has been approved by the Lewis and Clark Rural Water System's board. The plan needs only the Sioux Falls City Council's approval before it takes effect. A vote could occur on Sept. 6. The plan spells out how rates will be set and tells how water would be delivered even if federal funding falls short. The new project is slated to serve 15 towns and five rural water systems in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. AP/Aberdeen News_ 8/26/05

Duke Power eyes fees for Catawba River water use in North and South Carolina

Duke Power, breaking with a century-long practice, wants to start charging for the water that municipal systems and industries draw from its Catawba River reservoirs. Customer rates could rise across the 220-mile basin. Water suppliers aren't happy, and they're raising a basic question: Who owns the Catawba? Federal law, and Duke's hydroelectric license, allows utilities to charge for water from their reservoirs. Many in the Southeast do. The fees make up for the lost water that could have made electricity. Duke says its fees wouldn't make money for the company. Instead, it says, the revenue would be doled out to community water-conservation programs. A four-year drought that ended in 2002 brought the roughly 40 cities and industries that pump from the Catawba alarmingly close to a water crisis. Withdrawals are expected to nearly triple over the next half-century. Charlotte Observer_ 8/25/05 (logon required)

Tap water flowing to 2.3 million people in Greater Boston is now dramatically better tasting

Officials say the improved taste is due to a new treatment plant in Marlborough that uses ozone to remove contaminants with a decrease in chlorine. The ozone treatment not only affects taste, it also makes the water safer and cleaner than the stuff Greater Bostonians have been quaffing for generations, said Frederick A. Laskey, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. A 2001 federal appeals court ruling spurred the MWRA to use ozone as a water purifier. The US Environmental Protection Agency had asked the authority to build a more sophisticated water filtration plant to remove contaminants. But the MWRA successfully argued that an ozone system could be built that would make the water safer and cleaner, and cost $180 million less. Boston Globe_ 8/20/05

Study shows saltwater seeping into drinking water supply

Eight million gallons a day

A study shows a source of Hilton Head Island's drinking water is at risk of being contaminated by saltwater during the next 100 years, and state officials are assessing the threat.  A seven-year study conducted by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the U.S. Geological Survey shows about 8 million gallons of saltwater leaks into the underground source every day.  It's still unclear exactly what effect those leaks will have on the area's drinking water, how fast the problem needs to be addressed or how it can be fixed before too much water becomes contaminated.  Dateline Alabama_8/17/05

Cost of New Mexico water project could cause cities to drop out
Three cities and a county have dropped out of a proposed project to bring water to the Clovis-Portales area, and now a Portales official has suggested the other governments meet to make sure the project can continue.  D.K. Shafer of Portales' finance committee is recommending that city officials meet with representatives of the remaining eight governments to see if they want to continue the $300 million project to pipe water from Ute Lake, near Logan.
Tucumcari, San Jon, Logan and Quay County already have withdrawn. In addition, the project's annual service contract has more than tripled to $443,472 in the last year, said Portales officials who met Monday to discuss the project.  ABQJournal_8/16/05

Indiana Public Service Company and water company agree to independent review
Low power lead to boil water advisories

Indiana American Water and NIPSCO officials have agreed to an independent engineering review of how the region's water system is powered, according to Gary Mayor Scott King. The public, King said, "wants a second opinion."

King said he wants to turn his impassioned words during last week's boil water advisory into preventive action.

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and water company officials have agreed to pay for the review, which will identify and recommend solutions to the problems that caused two water treatment plants to lose power on separate occasions in recent weeks. The loss of pressure in the lines led to boil advisories July 18 and 19 and Aug. 2 and 3 that were in effect until officials could determine the lines were not contaminated. King wants proposals from firms that have not worked for NIPSCO or the water company but have the knowledge of water and power systems necessary to evaluate the system.  Northwest Indian News_8/13/05

Troubled Texas water agency names director

Commission that runs treatment plants on border has been under federal scrutiny
A career employee with the International Boundary and Water Commission is being named acting director of the agency, which oversees water issues along the U.S.-Mexican border.  Carlos Merin will replace Arturo Duran, the commission's embattled director when Duran leaves office Aug. 31. Duran told the El Paso Times that the White House had asked for his resignation.  Houston Chronicle_8/11/05

Great Lakes water demand rises

The battle for fresh water from the Great Lakes is expected get worse as aquifers are depleted in the United States.
In a reversal of history, residents of Waukesha, Wis., who have used up much of their mineral-rich water, are looking to Chicagoans for a share from Lake Michigan, which they had shunned a century ago.  The New York Times reported that in 1892, one speculator tried to pipe the Waukesha water to Chicago but the pipe layers were chased away by town residents with pistols, pitchforks and fire hoses.  Authorities who control the Great Lakes are not sure any of it should go to communities like Waukesha, which is 15 miles from the lake's shore but outside of its watershed, the report said.  Science Daily_8/12/05

Most of Kentucky dealing with drought
Bluegrass region is hardest hit

Parts of Kentucky are in a severe drought, threatening crop yields and raising concerns that local officials soon may have to restrict water use.  It is the first time in more than four years that conditions have warranted severe drought status for any section of the state, according to the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture.  Courier Journal_8/12/05

Few safeguards along aqueduct

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been slow beefing up security along the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct to guard the regionally vital water system against terrorism, vandalism and theft, according to an audit of the city-operated utilities agency.  The report by Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst Harvey Rose's auditing team found that nearly $4 million earmarked for security improvements had not been spent and that plans to install electronic monitoring equipment had been moving slow. In addition, auditors voiced concern that the agency's emergency operations plans were not regularly updated.  San Franciso Chronicle_8/11/05

Dozens oppose plan to divert Utah water
Dozens of people from western Utah and Nevada protested at the federal building in Salt Lake City against a proposal to take groundwater from their remote desert region and send it to thirsty, growing Las Vegas.  The protesters contended pumping the water away would devastate their livelihoods and the land.  "We have no surplus water in the Snake Valley," rancher Cecil Garland of Callao said. "The taking of the water means the destruction of the habitat. And the destruction of the habitat is a not-so-subtle form of genocide."  The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to drill wells on the Nevada side of the valley and use a 500-mile pipe network to send the water to Las Vegas.  The proposal calls for a yearly withdrawal of 25,000 acre-feet, and the water authority says studies show as much as 100,000 acre-feet of water is available annually in aquifers under the valley.   Los Angeles Times_8/11/05 log on required

Salt Lake water leaks away
Old pipes, faulty meters cause most of 1.5 billion-gallon waste

A new audit — still in its draft form — shows Salt Lake City, which prides itself as a champion of water conservation, is losing nearly 2.5 billion gallons of water each year.  And while 10 million to 30 million gallons (less than 1 percent) of that is lost through fighting fires and annual system flushing, and another estimated 40 percent (or roughly 1 billion gallons) is lost through illegal or faulty meters, some 1.5 billion gallons of clean, treated, drinkable water is wasted, leaking into the ground through bad pipes and faulty pipe connections.  Deseret News_8/10/05

Santa Clara County Supervisors dump water district

Minutes after reviewing an audit criticizing the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s fiscal practices, county supervisors Tuesday decided to sever official ties with the agency. The county has held financial oversight of the district for 54 years, but supervisors now say they want out of that responsibility.  “I don’t want to be in the business of setting water rates,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage said. “They are elected, just as we are. If they’re not doing the job then voters should take care of that.”  The county has maintained final budget authority over the district since 1951, and has appointed two of the district’s seven-member board since 1969.  The Dispatch_ 8/10/05

Florida water managers approve $450,500 in grants for conservation projects
The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District has approved $450,500 in grants to 14 municipalities and nonprofit organizations to help fund projects that will save almost 240 million gallons of water each year.  That's enough water to meet the needs of a town of 7,800 people each year.  Orlando Business Journal_8/10/05

Wrangling Over Water
Development dreams on the California-Nevada border could dry up and blow away without a reliable source of one of the West's most contested resources.

Toughened by a life of just getting by, John and Judy Leikam say they'll believe change is coming to their desolate patch of scorched desert only when bulldozers begin to plow it under.  "Yep," Judy said, "we're out in the middle of nowhere."  But, suddenly, nowhere is awfully attractive to builders. In recent months, three developers have quietly floated proposals that together would transform barren Charleston View into a city of 150,000 — an hour's drive from the Las Vegas Strip. Unlike the federal lands surrounding Las Vegas, the property here is privately owned and available for development.  Los Angeles Times_ 8/7/05


New Jersey American Water wins New Jersey Business and Industry Award For Excellence
New Jersey American Water is proud to announce that the Company has won the 2005 Award for Excellence in the Environmental Quality category from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.  New Jersey American Water earned the award for its Eastern Reinforcement Transmission Main Project.  The project, built in several phases, includes over 7 miles of water main and allows New Jersey American Water to maintain a reliable supply as demand grows in the Company's Northern New Jersey service area. Forbes_8/5/05

Report criticizes federal water subsidies to California growers

'Double Dipping' alleged to $243.8 million

A national environmental group critical of farm subsidies said Tuesday that more than 1,200 Central Valley farms received federally subsidized water to grow subsidized crops in 2002.  The Environmental Working Group called the practice "double dipping" that cost taxpayers $243.8 million.  The group singled out cotton and rice growers in its analysis. It said the two crops used more than 25 percent of the federally subsidized water available from the Central Valley Project in 2002 and accounted for 92 percent of the crop subsidies received that year by CVP farms.  Sacramento Bee_8/3/05

Opinion: Who should pay the price for California water treatment upgrades?
Imposing tougher standards for arsenic in water might be necessary, but the state and federal regulators shouldn't expect small water districts and their customers to foot the entire bill.  While only 5.5 percent of municipalities nationwide will have to treat their water to meet the standard, California will require all its cities to do so.  It's unfair to expect entities such as the Indian Wells Valley Water District to come up with millions of dollars for treatment plants. Nor is it right to expect residents in rural communities such as Ridgecrest to come up with the money. The Daily Independent Editorial Board _ 8/3/05

Tempers, water levels rise in Deltona, Fla.

Pollutants and prior agreements hold flood gates on Lake Doyle.

Although an earlier request was rejected, Deltona officials are again pressuring the St. Johns River Water Management District for permission to draw down Lake Doyle at the bottom of the Lake Theresa Basin.  "We're just a few inches below where we were after the hurricanes last year," Dr. Richard Hayes said. "We're gonna have a lot more water over the next few weeks and if we get a storm, it's gonna be a disaster."  Hayes, who lives on Lake Butler, is among a growing chorus of residents demanding action, but officials at the district insist the city must stick to an earlier agreement before flood relief is granted.  A permit issued in July called for construction of a brick and mortar plug to prevent water from Lake Theresa Basin, a series of lakes including Doyle and Butler, from draining untreated into Lake Monroe. The permit also says a series of drainage basins first must be built to reduce pollutants in those waters eventually headed for Lake Monroe.  The Daytona Beach News_8/3/05

Reusing wastewater a possible way to stretch Colorado water supply
Building more dams isn't the only way to keep up with Colorado's growing demand for more water. Wastewater can be reused.  And recycled wastewater should be a part of Colorado’s water supply, said Russell George, director of the state’s natural resources department. The water is not up to drinking-water standards, but it is clean enough to water lawns, green belts and playing fields.  “There’s a place for recycled wastewater in Colorado’s future,” said George, who spoke on Friday at the closing of the 30th annual Colorado Water Workshop at Western State College in Gunnison. “To me, reuse is exactly what we need to do.” George said that recycling will be one of the things the Statewide Water Supply Initiative will look at.  Durango Herald Online_ 7/31/05

State water demand to rise 40% by 2030, study says

New home development law ensures water for residents
California's thirst for water will jump by 40% over the next 25 years at current rates, with much of the water going for landscaping in the hot, dry inland valleys that will see the bulk of the population growth, according to a new study.  The nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California plotted future use from current water consumption, population growth estimates and demographic projections in the study released Wednesday. Fourteen million more people will be using 232 gallons per person per day by 2030, at the current pace.  But the institute says conservation, water planning and recycling can help meet the demand as the West struggles with water shortages.  The institute found that a 2001 state law is working well. The law requires developers to demonstrate in advance that they have lined up enough water for new residents before they start building homes.   The Los Angeles Times_7/28/05  Log on required

Draining Lake Powell not an option, federal water officials say

Decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam and draining Lake Powell is not an option for managing the Colorado River during years of drought, federal officials said.  "Our direction from Congress has been, 'Don't study that,'" Terry Fulp, Bureau of Reclamation Lower Colorado area manager, said of a proposal by a Moab, Utah-based environmental advocacy group.  Millions of gallons of water lost to evaporation could be saved by removing the dam in Page, Ariz., the Living Rivers group said in a report outlined for bureau officials.  A 1922 agreement allocating Colorado River water does not specify how it should be shared during drought. San Diego Union_7/2605

Dallas-Fort Worth water proposals face fierce opposition
When Texas Instruments Inc. first pondered building a $3 billion, semiconductor manufacturing complex in Richardson several years ago, the Fortune 100 company wanted assurances that the wholesale water supplier had sufficient supplies to slake its thirsty chip plant. TI was assured that it did. Now, though, those days may be gone. Rapid population growth and a new, state-mandated water planning process have moved water to the region's front burner again.  MSNBC_7/24/05

White County Ga. seeking funds for cleaner water

coliform,E.coli and lead found in wells

Andy Allen uses tap water only to flush toilets and wash her clothes since she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a chronic illness affecting the lungs, from her exposure to the toxins in her water.  "We've had many people who got cancer and the children have been sick, too," she said. "We had people from Emory (University) come out and look at our community's health situation. You just never realize how sick bad water can make you."  Allen and her 34 neighbors in the Bean Creek Community of White County have had to use containers of water for more than a year now because the wells in their community tested positive for extremely high levels of coliform, E. coli and lead.  

Gainesville Times_7/24/05

Florida solution: Build ponds to hold more water

The last time Florida was this wet, there were fewer than 6 million Floridians.  Fast forward 50 years. The population has nearly tripled -- to 16 million, bringing more pavement and subdivisions, leaving a lot less ground to hold or soak up the rain.  Now some of the state's leading stormwater engineers say the rules for designing new developments and managing storm water aren't considering the overall impacts of all that building. In one recent statewide meeting, one engineer called the rules a "joke."  The Daytonona Beach News_7/24/05

State officials concerned over secret water negotiations

Colorado officials expressed concern Wednesday over a deal being negotiated between the Denver Water Board and Colorado River water providers, saying the decision to exclude the state and other major players could scuttle any agreements reached between the Front Range and Western Slope.  Western Slope water providers said they have been negotiating with the Denver Water Board since May over a proposal that would guarantee future water supplies for the Front Range in return for guaranteed protection for agricultural, recreational and municipal water use. The proposed deal was drafted by water providers and users from Eagle, Grand, Mesa and Summit counties, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, Vail Resorts and other Western Slope players.  Both sides have refused to disclose details of the proposed agreement. 

The Casper Star_Tribune_7/21/05

EPA warns Colorado water quality division is understaffed

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has warned that Colorado’s water quality regulators are significantly understaffed and could be slow in putting new rules into effect.  Too few staffers are available to help with complex rules, resulting “in many unnecessary violations” of two new regulations on proper treatment at drinking water plants, the report said.  The water quality division oversees 2,099 drinking water systems and 2,418 cities and industries that discharge pollution into waterways.  Vail Daily News _7/18/05

Edwardsville, Illinois voluntarily cuts water use by 1 million gallons

Officials implemented Phase 1 of the city's water conservation plan after the driest June in 10 years, calling for voluntary restrictions. City residents, the village of Glen Carbon, SIUE, the Northeast Central Water District, and thousands of customers who do not reside within the city boundaries, voluntarily cut back on water use. Edwardsville Intelligencer_ 7/6/05

California Water Service Company (Cal Water) contributes $10,000 as Selma, California's share of a regional water management plan

The plan is spearheaded by the Kings River Conservation District (KRCD). Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Lujan had said he hoped Cal Water would be a benefactor in the cost since Selma is one of the few municipalities which doesn't run its own water system. The regional management plan would in-part study the issue of declining groundwater levels; which is where Cal Water draws it's water from. Selma, Ca. Enterprise_ 7/5/05

Justice: Court needs expert on West's water law

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor once suggested a qualification for her replacement that had nothing to do with gender or political philosophy: expertise in Western water law.  "We have to find someone to put on the court who understands Western water, especially after I leave," O'Connor said, according to U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo. 

Denver Post_ 7/2/05

New Yorkers advised to boil tap water

A rare citywide warning

City officials warned sick and frail New Yorkers to boil their tap water until noon Friday, July 1 after muddy runoff into one of the city's reservoirs caused a glitch in purifying drinking water.  Infants, the elderly and pregnant women also should avoid drinking tap water, and should consider using boiled or bottled water for brushing their teeth, Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said.  Frieden rejected the notion that city officials should have issued the warning sooner, since monitors first detected the tainted water Wednesday evening at the Kensico Reservoir, about 15 miles north of the city.  New York Daily News_7/1/05

June, 2005

Arizona's rural growth taxing water supplies

Unchecked development threat-ens to overwhelm rural Arizona's limited water resources, leaving entire communities vulnerable to shortages and rivers at risk of running dry.  Rural Arizona's population, which doubled to more than 1 million people in the past 25 years, is projected to grow by an additional 500,000 in the next 25 years. The result is a soaring thirst for a finite supply of groundwater.  At the heart of the problem are weak state laws that fuel development but offer little help to deal with its consequences. Those laws are allowing thousands of homes to be built with no guarantee of water. In contrast, such guarantees are required in urban areas.  The Arizona Republic_6/25/05 Log On Required

Indio, California to cap availability of water during fire season; Developers most affected

The construction community will be asked to turn in water meters, cease using city water on new development projects, and find alternative water sources. No new water meters will be issued for construction. If the 80 developers affected by the change cannot access water through other methods, they can apply for an exception prior to July 1. If accepted, the meter would be restricted to no more than 350 gallons per minute. Residents will be asked to voluntarily conserve water. The restriction will be in effect through Oct. 31. Desert Sun_ 6/25/05

Los Angeles public school officials in five-year, $26 million deal with Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. for water, juice and other drinks--but not soda pop

Los Angeles school officials banned the sale of soft drinks three years ago to its 747,000 students. The deal will help reverse revenue losses suffered by the nation's second-largest public school district, the district said in a statement. Pepsi Bottling will provide drinks that adhere to the district's "healthy beverage" guidelines, including Aquafina water, Dole juices, and Gatorade sports drinks. The Los Angeles Unified School District was among the first school districts in the nation to ban junk food in an effort to combat growing concerns about the roughly 15 percent of U.S. children and adolescents who are overweight or obese. Reuters_ 6/15/05

Water safety tops list for EPA chief Stephen L. Johnson

Johnson predicted that safeguarding the country's water supply — from terrorists and pollutants — would be one of the pressing environmental concerns of the 21st century. Johnson, the first scientist to head the Environmental Protection Agency, said in addition to helping the Department of Homeland Security protect the water supply, he wanted to find economically viable solutions for the 10% of Americans whose drinking water was not healthy. He also spoke of helping cities and municipalities improve aging water treatment facilities. Los Angeles Times_ 6/9/05 (logon required)

American Water Works Association offers benchmarking to help utilities improve performance

AWWA will introduce its benchmarking program at ACE05, in San Francisco, CA, June 12-16, with the release of its anticipated new publication, Benchmarking Performance Indicators for Water and Wastewater Utilities, and a free forum to help utilities use the new information. Benchmarking allows water and wastewater utilities to compare themselves to similar utilities in key operational and management areas. Measuring performance against the industry is the first step in overall improvement. The Benchmarking report is the result of a survey of more than 200 utilities, with basic statistics and analysis for each of the 22 indicators. The report also includes analyses and discussion based on geographic location, type of operations (water, wastewater, combined), and population served. AWWA_ 6/7/05

Junk food and soda face expulsion from N.J. schools

Beginning with the 2007-08 academic year, new rules will ban all drinks except lowfat milk, water and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices from elementary schools. The policy is more relaxed for middle and high school students, allowing some sales of flavored iced teas and sports drinks. Soda and candy will be allowed sold only after school, though the rules will not affect children who bring their own food. Private schools that supply students with federally funded meals also will have to follow the rules. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/6/05

Board delays Montana Coal Bed Methane (CBM) water restrictions

A decision on whether the state should consider new restrictions on what can be done with water pumped from coal-bed methane wells will not be made until late July.  The state Board of Environmental Review unanimously decided to delay until its July 29 meeting any action on new regulations proposed by a coalition of conservation and ranching interests from southeastern Montana. Members said they wanted more time to study the proposal that surfaced just two and one-half weeks ago.  The Northern Plains Resource Council, along with 15 other groups and ranchers, want requirements that water removed from the wells to be pumped back into the ground to replenish aquifers or, if that is not technically possible, to be treated before being discharged into rivers or streams for irrigation. Jackson Hole Star Tribune_6/6/05

Contaminated water sickens more than 50 at Oregon church camp
The camp's water treatment system, which draws water from the North Yamhilll River, may have been overwhelmed by surface water run-off caused by recent heavy rainfall, said Dr. Mel Kohn, state epidemiologist. Lab tests confirmed the water was contaminated not only with E. coli O157 but also campylobacter, both of which cause diarrhea. No food items have been implicated. Campers at the Christian outdoor school camp were exposed May 17 to 20, and included six students and an adult chaperone from Eugene Christian School. The camp is planning to upgrade its drinking water treatment system. The Register-Guard_ 6/1/05

May, 2005

Kentucky tries to stop human waste in streams

Four years after Kentucky began a crackdown on straight pipes — so-called because they carry sewage straight from homes to creeks — stretches of the Cumberland River and many other streams are still so foul that swimming is off-limits. The crackdown is a collaboration between the state of Kentucky and a government-sponsored environmental group called PRIDE. State inspectors issue citations for code violations, and then PRIDE dispenses federal grant money to help poor homeowners and communities fix the problems, which are so bad that the Environmental Protection Agency says some Kentuckians are living in Third World conditions. The EPA estimates the cost of eliminating straight pipes in eastern Kentucky at $300 million. Dealing with failing septic systems could bring the cost to $1 billion. So far, the federal government has funneled $106 million into eastern Kentucky through PRIDE to stop the flow of human waste directly into streams. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/31/05

Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) unveils plan for state's water future

The document, titled No Time to Waste: A Blueprint for California Water, was presented to the Schwarzenegger Administration at the opening session of the Association's annual statewide spring conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. Key recommendations include improving the existing water conveyance system in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta; evaluating long-term threats to Delta levees and pursuing actions to reduce risks to the state's water supply and the environment; developing additional groundwater and surface water storage; and supporting and funding local efforts to expand recycled water use, water use efficiency and desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater. Press Release_ 5/4/05

It's National Drinking Water Week

May 1-7, 2005 This week, on the streets of San Francisco and Denver, the American Water Works Association is distributing water bottles highlighting the following reasons to fill up on tap water: 1. Free refills at participating faucets ...

Press Release_ 5/1/05

April, 2005

Austin, Texas worries its water quality will be hurt by bill pending in state legislature
City officials say Austin has some of the highest water quality standards in the state, which are meant to protect the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs. But city officials say the standards that protect Austin water may be in danger from SB 1858, which would give the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality governing authority on statewide water quality issues. If the bill became law, city officials say it's unclear whether their local water quality standards would still apply. News8_ 4/30/05

Duke Power may charge Charlotte and other North Carolina cities for water drawn from the Catawba River

Right now, there is no charge for the water. But the energy company, which is preparing to renew its license to control the Catawba, is considering a fee to make up for years of drought. Although a final decision is months away, there has already been some sharp opposition from Charlotte city leaders. Duke Power is the only energy company on the Catawba River that does not charge municipalities for water. News14_ 4/28/05

Alabama senators lift objections to John Paul Woodley Jr. as assistant secretary of the Army for civil works

Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said they were lifting the "hold" that had stalled Woodley's nomination for nearly two weeks after being assured that Georgia will not get favorable treatment in a water dispute involving Alabama, Florida and Georgia. It was unclear when Woodley would get a confirmation vote in the Senate. Woodley sent a letter promising to keep in place decades-old regulations governing water sharing in the three states. Alabama lawmakers were concerned that the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to make an update that would benefit Georgia because of the tremendous growth around Atlanta. At issue is whether Atlanta draws too much water from Lake Lanier, costing Alabama and Florida communities downstream the Chattahoochee River their fair share. AP/North County Times_ 4/27/05

California's Department of Water Resources releases public review draft of state Water Plan to meet water needs through 2030

For the first time, the Water Plan includes a short- and long-term strategy, and details 25 actions, such as water conservation and recycling, conjunctive management and groundwater storage, surface storage and conveyance, system reoperation and water transfers, and desalination. It includes strategies to protect water quality, restore the environment, and improve watershed and floodplain management. Public hearings begin in June and the final Water Plan Update 2005 will be released this fall. It's the eighth update since the DWR published the first California Water Plan in 1957. Press Release_ 4/14/05

Access the Water Plan

Study: Many marathon runners drink too much water

As many as one in eight marathon runners may risk falling ill by drinking too much water during races, researchers said in a study released days before the Boston Marathon. A study of 488 competitors at the 2002 Boston Marathon published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine concluded that 13 percent probably consumed so much fluid that their blood salt levels fell dangerously low -- a condition known as hyponatremia. One of the runners that year, 28-year-old Cynthia Lucero, died of hyponatremia four miles from the finish line. Race organizers have since mounted an educational campaign to warn runners about the dangers of excessive drinking. The 26-mile Boston race, due to be run on Monday, is the world's oldest annually contested marathon. Reuters_ 4/13/05

Montana Senate OKs perpetual funding to clean up contaminated water seeping from abandoned goldmines in the Little Rockey Mountains

On an 42-8 vote, senators endorsed a trust fund fed by a tax on mining companies to permanently finance the water-treatment operation beginning in 2018 when money posted by the former owners of the mines runs out. The account is expected to reach $19 million by the time interest earnings must be tapped for the water treatment at the mines near Zortman and Landusky, on the southern edge of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. The open-pit mines were operated by Pegasus Gold Inc. from 1979 to 1998, when the company filed for bankruptcy. The mines, which used cyanide to leach gold from the rock, cover 1,189 permitted acres. "The water is worse than terrible," said Sen. Sam Kitzenberg, R-Glasgow. AP/Billings Gazette_ 4/11/05

New Jersey water main break disrupts service to tens of thousands

About 160,000 customers of New Jersey American Water Co., formerly known as Elizabethtown Water Co., were without water or had low water pressure for about five hours as a result of the break, spokeswoman Maureen Duffy said. The water outage began when a 48-inch-diameter pipe running parallel to the Raritan River broke at 4:30 p.m., sending water gushing into the river and crews scrambling to repair the damage. "It's a biggie," said a Somerville police dispatcher. Star-Ledger_ 4/9/05

U.S. State Department report assails U.S. border water chief

Management of a U.S. commission that oversees water issues along the Mexican border has been so deficient that the agency may not be able to meet its basic mission, according to a State Department report. The commission says the department is just trying to take it over. The 60-page report by the State Department's inspector general's office examined Arturo Duran's 15-month tenure as head of the El Paso-based U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission. The commission, often referred to by its initials, USIBWC, operates wastewater treatment plants and a drinkable-water treatment plant. It also oversees the operation of a Mexican wastewater treatment plant. The Mexican government runs a companion commission in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 4/7/05

North Smithfield, Rhode Island, Water Authority may be disbanded

Town Councilor Edward F. Yazbak called the Water Authority an impediment to plans for the town to regionalize its water system with Woonsocket. It would require petitioning the General Assembly to repeal the bill passed July 21, 1993. A proposed resolution says the town "is desirous of beginning negotiations with the city of Woonsocket in a regionalized water system" and the "Water Authority could impede said regional water system plan." Woonsocket Call_ 4/3/05

March, 2005

Arkansas House committee kills bill to allow development in protected watershed that's the main source of drinking water for the central part of the state

Chuck Nestrud, attorney for developer Deltic Timber, said he felt the action put an end to the company's legislative efforts to resolve its dispute with Central Arkansas Water over development at Lake Maumelle. Central Arkansas Water says swimming and boating has been prohibited on the manmade lake to protect the quality of the water, and Deltic's plan to build homes within a mile of the drinking water intake system could pollute the lake. Deltic has said it can develop the area in a way that would not endanger the drinking-water system. AP/Log Cabin Democrat_ 3/23/05

Mexico transfers millions of gallons of water to Texas

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials said Mexico has repaid half of the water owed to the United States. Mexico transferred the rights to more than 210,000 acre-feet of water at the Amistad International Reservoir to U.S. control last weekend. Mexico still owes the United States another 295,000 acre-feet of water. Mexico is delivering the water as part the settlement reached March 10 between the U.S. and Mexican governments and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. San Antonio Business Journal_ 3/22/05

Feature: Mexico to issue U.S. water debt payments

For 12 years, Mexico prayed for rain, hoping the water it owed the United States would pour from parched skies over the Rio Grande Basin. Those downpours finally came, washing away most of a water debt that has enraged farmers in southern Texas and tested President Vicente Fox's relationship with the Bush administration. At its height in 2002, the debt reached 489 billion gallons — more than half the capacity of the Hoover Dam. Under the 1944 treaty, Mexico promised to send the United States an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water annually from six Rio Grande tributaries. In return, America ships south 1.5 million acre-feet from the Colorado River. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/17/05

Salt water poisoned thousands of acres of agricultural land in California's Central Valley but U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is negotiating irrigation contracts for years to come

Some see the loss or agricultural land as an opportunity to free up the water for other uses. Instead, irrigation districts are quietly renegotiating contracts with the federal government that lock in — for at least 25 more years — control over the same amount of subsidized water they've received for 40 years. What it amounts to, critics say, is a government giveaway, guaranteeing the districts a stream of profits for decades to come — perhaps even after the land involved is no longer farmed. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/16/05

National Ground Water Association urges nation's well owners to get annual inspections

The EPA suggests that you test your water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, the EPA recommends that you test for these also. Local experts can tell you about possible impurities in your area. Press Release_ 3/14/05

Homeowners in a rural Kentucky neighborhood try to create one of the state's smallest water systems, and find out it's more complicated than laying water lines and installing meters

The 23 families in a Harlan County neighborhood were informed by the Kentucky Division of Water that the Gilley Hollow Water District doesn't meet state regulations because it doesn't have a licensed manager to do water sampling, a violation that is punishable by a $25,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Community members searching for a solution to their dilemma have asked the Cumberland City Council to annex their homes and operate the water system. AP/Lexington Herald-Leader_ 3/14/05

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces settlement of dispute with Mexico over water

Rice was in Mexico City to lay the groundwork for a March 23 summit between Mexican President Vicente Fox, President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. The leaders are expected to tackle issues such as immigration, border security and possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The water accord puts an end to several years of cross-border sniping, especially from Texas farmers who accused Mexicans of hogging water in violation of terms of a 1944 treaty governing water distribution from the Rio Grande and other rivers. Los Angeles Times/San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/11/05

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice upbeat on Mexico water, cautious on migration

Rice said she hoped to see "great progress" on a dispute with Mexico over water-sharing agreements but was cautious about chances for a guest worker program ahead of a visit to Mexico. Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico gives the United States water from the Rio Grande River and the United States provides Mexico water from the Colorado River. Good rains have allowed Mexico to cut its water debt in half to about 720,000 acre feet, according to a U.S. official. Washington is pushing Mexico to eliminate the debt entirely. Reuters_ 3/9/05

U.S. infrastructure, including drinking water and wastewater treatment, deteriorating, report finds

U.S. roads, bridges, sewers and dams are crumbling and need a $1.6 trillion overhaul but prospects for improvement are grim, the American Society of Civil Engineers said. The group's first report since 2001 looked at 15 categories of public infrastructure, assigning each a letter grade. Overall, the nation's infrastructure received a D, down from a D+ four years ago. The nation's drinking water system alone needed a public investment of $11 billion a year to replace facilities, comply with regulations and meet future needs. But federal funding reached less than 10 percent of this amount. As a result, aging wastewater systems were discharging billions of gallons of untreated sewage into surface waters each year, the report said. Reuters_ 3/9/05

Read the report

Kentucky Senate OKs $7 million for water, sewer projects in state's northern areas

The House put in just over $4 million for local projects, but the Senate topped that with an additional $6.5 million in water and sewer projects. Senate leaders restored funding for the projects in counties represented by four House Democratic lawmakers who voted against the governor's tax plan. House leadership agreed to cut water and sewer projects for those lawmakers' districts as punishment for not voting for the plan. Three of the four House lawmakers represented areas in Northern Kentucky. Kentucky Post_ 3/2/05

February, 2005

Editorial:  Welcome to Iowa, state of dirty water

Fish kills, nitrate in drinking water are a few examples highlighting why Iowa must get serious about cleaning up its streams, rivers and lakes.  Des Moines Register_2/27/05

International water judged in four categories at W.Va. contest
Canadians do well

The key to a winning water is one that is refreshing, that is equally pure and tastes alive and crisp.  Using those guidelines, more than 115 entries from throughout the world were judged in the four water categories of municipal, purified, bottled noncarbonated and sparkling. And the winners are.... The Herald Mail_2/27/05

Bartlesville, Oklahoma could tap Kaw Lake for added drinking water

Bartlesville officials began researching alternative water sources after the area went through a water shortage in spring 2002. Currently, the primary water source for the Bartlesville area is Hulah Lake. Some water from the city-owned Hudson Lake is also used. KOCO Channel 5_ 2/21/05

Officials say Phoenix, Arizona boil-water scare for 1.5 million residents could have been averted

A preliminary city audit also concluded that there were breakdowns in communications and procedure leading to the Water Services Department's Jan. 25 decision to issue a boil-water advisory. The advisory was issued without consultation with the City Manager's Office or the Maricopa County health department when it became obvious that the city wouldn't be able to clean the water leaving the Val Vista Water Treatment Plant well enough to meet federal drinking water standards because of high sediment levels, or turbidity. Tests ultimately proved that Phoenix residents never received water that was unsafe, but questions lingered about how the city handled the incident and whether it is prepared to deal with a full-scale emergency. Arizona Republic_ 2/16/05 (logon required)

Hawaiian water official quits in protest

The top administrator of Hawaii's Water Commission quit Wednesday after refusing to support legislation she believes would kill the agency that environmentalists see as a guardian against overdevelopment.  Star Bulletin_2/12/05

Water call issued on North Platte

Wyoming has imposed restrictions on the North Platte River and its tributaries in order to fill the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's reservoirs along the river.  The call issued by the State Engineer's Office means upstream irrigators with rights to the river water that are junior to Pathfinder Reservoir's 1904 water rights are prohibited from using water until the call is lifted, or up until May 1, whichever comes first. Irrigators between Pathfinder and Guernsey Reservoir with rights junior to Guernsey's 1923 water right also are prohibited from using water.  Billings Gazette_ 2/12/05

Phoenix, Arizona, water system troubles not new; Officials dispute complaints made in the past by feds, state

Federal and state investigators have issued scores of violations against the city over the past decade and filed suit for chemical infractions, contamination levels, inadequate monitoring and reporting failures. City officials acknowledged the violations but attribute them more to paperwork technicalities than water-safety issues. The latest situation also led to the reassignment of Water Services Director Mike Gritzuk, who held the post for 16 years. He remains on the city staff and is a national player on water issues. Among his positions: president of the national WateReuse Association, director of the American Water Works Association, board member of the Arizona Water & Pollution Control Association and member of the EPA's National Drinking Water Advisory Council. Arizona Republic_ 2/4/05 (logon required)

Chico, California fraternity pledge died of water poisoning; Forced drinking can disastrously dilute blood's salt content

Matthew Carrington, 21, of Pleasant Hill, Ca., had a heart attack and died during "Hell Week," authorities said, as he was in the final stage of a monthslong process to rush Chi Tau fraternity -- a rowdy house that had been expelled from California State University Chico in 2002 for repeated violence and alcohol violations. Water bingeing is becoming an increasingly common hazing ritual, especially inside rogue frat houses such as Chi Tau, said Hank Nuwer of Indiana, a national expert on hazing and author of four books on the topic. Forced water consumption and heavy exercise are known to dilute the salt content of blood to the point where it interferes with brain, heart and muscle function. Without enough sodium, the brain swells and victims can suffer fatal comas. San Francisco Chronicle_ 2/4/05

City council subcommittee to begin investigation ofg Phoenix, Arizona water-contamination scare

Last month the city's 1.5 million residents were warned to boil drinking water for a day and a half, forcing some buisinesses to close and sending worried residents in search of bottled water. The subcommittee, led by Councilman Claude Mattox, is to find out what city workers knew about the sediment levels in the water, the potential health risks it posed and when they knew it. City Manager Frank Fairbanks has relieved Water Services Director Mike Gritzuk of his job responsibilities and appointed a new manager to head the department. Arizona Republic_ 2/1/05 (logon required)

January, 2005

U.S. water experts to meet in San Francisco

The city's Public Utilities Commission said it would host the world's largest conference on drinking water and global water issues. The 124th American Water Works Association's annual conference and exposition will be held June 12-16 at Moscone Center. The association, based in Denver, is the world's largest organization dedicated to providing safe drinking water. More than 100 sessions and 500 exhibits will be presented on water quality, conservation, security, growing infrastructure needs and desalination. San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/27/05

1.4 million in Phoenix, Arizoma, warned to boil drinking water or use bottled water because of storm-related problems at treatment plants

Muddy water stirred up by recent storms was flowing into one of the city's two operating water treatment plants, reducing the output of that plant, officials said. Two other treatment plants were shut down for maintenance, and the fifth was closed because it was flooded by the storms, leaving only one of the city's five water treatment plants producing at full capacity. Mayor Phil Gordon said initial tests showed the water was safe. He said the recommendation to boil the water was a precaution until final test results become available Wednesday. AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer_ 1/25/05

Drinking water on airliners taking a turn for the worse: EPA

About one in six airliners in the latest round of tests conducted in November and December had drinking water that failed to meet federal safety standards, the EPA said. Similar tests in August and September showed the water in one in eight aircraft testing positive for coliform bacteria. The coliform bacteria -- usually harmless itself but an indicator of the possible presence of other harmful organisms -- was found in the planes ranging from small commuter aircraft to jumbo jets. None had E. coli bacteria, which can cause gastrointestinal illness. Detroit Free Press_ 1/20/05

Lake Erie's South Bass Island, where 1,400 tourists were sickened last summer, plans $5.2 million expansion of water system

State health officials believe the gastrointestinal illnesses were caused by malfunctioning septic systems that contaminated more than 40 private wells that served some of the island's inns, wineries and bars. The illnesses were a blow to tourism on the island, which draws about 500,000 annually. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/19/05

More than 2,000 residents return to Southern California neighborhood evacuated after Prado Dam scare

About 840 homes were evacuated as a precaution early Friday when water began seeping through the dam's earthen extension and authorities released millions of gallons into the Santa Ana River to relieve pressure. Officials began allowing residents home later that day, but said a possible flooding threat remained. The Army Corps of Engineers, which operates and oversees the dam, said there was never any danger. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/18/05

Seepage through Southern Callifornia's Prado Dam stops but thousands urged to evacuate homes through weekend; Storms swamp Midwest

Although a mandatory evacuation was canceled, people were being urged to stay away from homes and a mobile home park until Monday afternoon while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released millions of gallons of water to relieve pressure on the 64-year-old Prado Dam. The storms that saturated California also drenched the Midwest, and rivers in parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio were still above flood stage Saturday. The Ohio River had earlier flooded riverbank roads and homes in parts of West Virginia. The National Weather Service said the Ohio River would crest at Smithland, Kentucky Tuesday at 8 feet above flood stage, a day earlier and one foot lower than previously expected. Workers stacked thousands of sandbags to reinforce a temporary levee protecting the town. Governors of Ohio and Indiana declared emergencies in flood areas earlier in the week, and on Friday Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels asked President Bush to declare at least 64 counties a major federal disaster area. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/15/05

800 homes evacuated below Southern California's Prado Dam

Water from the record rainfall this season has reached the top of the dam and officials were starting to release the excess that was causing a heavy flow downstream in Orange County's Santa Ana River. Authorities gave differing accounts of whether or not the dam was damaged. But an official for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the dam, said this morning that "the seepage has been stabilized." He said the damage did not amount to a leak. Prado Dam, built in 1941, is a flood control and water conservation project for Orange County and controls nearly all of the 2,450-mile watershed, the largest in Southern California.  Los Angeles Times_ 1/14/05 (logon required)

Cornell study urges water conservation on farms

States like California, Colorado, Texas and Nebraska are going to have to make some major changes
A growing population coupled with diminishing fresh water supplies should force major changes in the way the world's farmers water their crops in the coming decades, a recent study recommends. Since agriculture uses about 70 percent of the world's fresh water every year, farming should be the focus of intense conservation efforts, accoring to David Pimentel, a professor at Cornell University and primary author of the study published in the October issue of the journal BioScience.  AP_1/9/05

Weak EL Nino to affect weather for next three months

It will mean cooler and wetter weather in part of the U.S. South and drier conditions in some areas of Indonesia, Africa and Australia, U.S. government weather forecasters said. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in its latest winter weather outlook that El Nino would also bring warmer-than-average temperatures to the U.S. West and northern Plains.  Reuters_ 1/6/05

Cash makes Birmingham, Alabama Water Works Board prime job

It pays far more than similar boards in the state's other large cities. From January through December of 2004, the five members of the Water Works board together were paid more than $161,000 in meeting pay and travel expenses. That's $97,755 in meeting pay and $51,585 in travel, Water Works records show. Members receive $285 for every meeting they attend. So in general, the more meetings the board members go to, the more money they get. In addition to regularly scheduled board meetings, the members receive pay for committee meetings and "director's meetings," which can include everything from field trips with school groups to meetings with lawyers or bond underwriters. Birmingham, Alabama, News_ 1/2/05 (logon required)


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