California– The Salton Sea continues to shrink, but while the waters recede the problems continue to flood in. The previously submerged lake bed (referred to as “playa”) is creating dust that can be hazardous when it becomes airborne. Officials have created a 10-year plan to address air quality and environmental threats from the Salton Sea. The plan was initially funded by the approval of Proposition 1 in 2014 and an additional voter approved $200 million dollars this past June. Phase one of the plan focuses on creating wetlands and other projects to suppress the dust and create new habitats.
An agreement reached by the California Water Resources Control Board last November painted a shared vision among the state, water agencies and environmental organizations for projects and activities over the next 10 years. The California Department of Water Resources is refining its organizational structure to put new resources and expertise in place to centralize and accelerate the design and implementation of critical dust-suppression and habitat projects. A request for qualifications will be issued before the end of 2018 for a project to create deep habitat on the sea’s southern end to support fish and wildlife.
Washington, D.C.– The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $256 million in 81 projects to improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural areas in 35 states. The recently enacted Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes a significant boost in financial support for water and wastewater projects. It provides $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.2 billion in FY 2017.
The Florida Governmental Utility Authority will receive $12.9 million to purchase the city of Dunnellon’s water and wastewater systems. Currently, the user rates for these systems are among the highest in the area. By funding this utility purchase, user rates will stay at more affordable levels and will allow the authority to complete system improvements. The United Regional Water Cooperative in Illinois will receive $9.2 million to construct a water treatment plant for a newly organized water cooperative near Illiopolis in Logan County. Moore County, N.C., will receive $4.8 million to provide sewer service to the town of Vass. Nearly 40 percent of the town’s residents and businesses use privately-owned septic tanks and drain fields, many of which have exceeded their useful life. The new wastewater collection system will address widespread health and sanitary issues. View all recipients of the Water and Waste Disposal Program here.
Texas– The city of Corpus Christi has been exploring potential sites for a desalination facility to help diversify its water supplies for drought occurrences. The city has applied to obtain a water quality permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The proposed facility would be situated on land off La Quinta Road in Gregory, with a discharge route planned into the La Quinta Channel in Corpus Christi Bay. The desalination plant would not exceed a daily flow average of 19.1 million gallons per day. The proposed facility will output water treated for industrial use. Since the plant will be located near the San Patricio Water Municipal District, the water can be further treated to become drinkable.
According to the Texas Desalination Association, nearly 100 small and intermittent inland desalination facilities across Texas produce 138 million gallons of water per day from the 2.7 billion acre-feet of brackish water in Texas’ aquifers. Brackish water has far less salinity than seawater. The biggest desalination facilities in Texas are the Kay Bailey Hutchinson plant in El Paso, which can produce up to 27.5 million gallons of fresh water daily, and the Southmost Regional Water Authority Desalination Plant, which produces 7.5 million gallons a day for south Texas. According to the Texas Water Development Board, the average cost to produce 1 acre-foot of desalinated water from seawater is projected to range from approximately $800 to about $1,400
New York– The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is hoping to start six waterfront projects with a price tag of $42 million using funds secured years ago from the New York Power Authority. The projects include creating a mixed-use development that could include restaurants, residences and shops where the Memorial Auditorium once stood. The $10 million plan calls for a mixed-use village with period buildings, cobblestone streets and a public square. At a cost of $8 million, the plan also includes turning the Michigan Pier into a public destination by making improvements to the Outer Harbor area south of Wilkeson Pointe.
Another project is to remake the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad line into a 1.6-mile multiuse trail offering natural views of the Buffalo River. The cost would be $7 million. At the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, invest in additional exhibit and event space as well as landscaping and lighting for $7 million. At a cost of $5 million, build a boardwalk and add beach amenities, seating, lighting and upgrade fixtures at the Erie Basin Marina. The final project is to build a pedestrian and bicycle bridge from Silo City to the Outer Harbor over the City Ship Canal at a cost of $5 million. In four-to-six-months, the agency will send out a request for proposals to developers.