Washington DC Update from Gary

February 4th, 2018 | Posted by IPIA Admin in Uncategorized
Smart Meters Get Noticed as Private Water Utilities Plug Leaks. The water industry isn't waiting on the White House’s plans to plug the nation’s leaking, crumbling water mains, pipes, and collection systems. Private companies are blazing a path for small- and medium-sized cities that lack the access and resources to install smart meters that efficiently identify water main breaks and leaks at the household level while they wait for President Donald Trump to release full details of his infrastructure plan. Smart meters—which can be as much as 10 times the cost of $20 analog meters—installed outside homes and businesses relay real-time water usage data directly to the municipalities, or in some instances to the phones of homeowners. Knowing how much water is used daily allows the municipality or a homeowner to spot leaks and take steps to conserve water. For instance, a SUEZ Water environmental division entered into a formal arrangement Jan. 19 with St. Louis-based Aclara Technologies to supply smart meters to small and medium-sized cities, which would save money by identifying water leaks earlier. Every day, nearly 6 billion gallons of treated drinking water are lost due to leaking pipes and 240,000 water mains break each year, according to the EPA. SUEZ has had similar success with Greensboro, Md., and has already lined up contracts with four other small- to medium-sized municipalities that are eager to acquire tried and tested technologies. Smart meters could graduate and get even smarter. One type of meter, which is about to hit the market this year, takes monitoring a step further by identifying the source of leaks as well.

Tap Water Is Getting Saltier, and the Reason Is Winter. Officials in Minnesota know ice and snow, and they are becoming increasingly wary of the amount of salt that is used to combat the winter elements. The state has a program that truck drivers who spread the salt aiming to minimize the amount of road salt that ends up in the state's waterways, where it can harm fish and contaminate drinking water supplies. Minnesota realized that, while salt may prevent some car crashes or sidewalk slips, it also causes serious environmental problems when it washes off into the state's famed 10,000 lakes. And it's not just dead fish that the state was worried about. Saltier water is more corrosive and can cause metals to leach from the pipes that bring water into people's homes. In places with older infrastructure, where pipes are often made of lead—places like Minnesota, for example—that's a big problem. That trend is significantly amplified in water near urban areas, where chloride levels have nearly doubled since 1992. Road salt runoff is far from the only source of chloride in water — mining waste also is a contributor, as well as the slow but never-ending weatherization of buildings. Road salt is unique, however, because it's almost always applied to an impervious surface, which practically guarantees that it will wind up in waterways. Utilities can address this at their treatment plans, but only to a certain extent. When there is a lot of snowfall, there is large swings in the river chemistry which can make for a challenging job at the treatment plant.

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