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To Study a Problem That’s Everywhere, They’re Getting Creative

Dimitri Deheyn’s lab has become a hub of novel research on the microfibers found in our waterways and even the air we breathe.

Three years ago, Dimitri Deheyn noticed intensely blue stringy shapes as he examined jellyfish samples through a microscope in his marine biology lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

Community Thanks Desalination Plant Workers For Sacrifice

Expressions of gratitude and support have poured in from a grateful community to the ten volunteers sheltering in place at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County. As people learned about their effort to maintain plant operations and keep the water flowing during the COVID-19 pandemic, residents responded by expressing their heartful thanks through messages, photos and artwork.

“The Desal Plant employees were overwhelmed with the community support they have received,” said Jessica Jones, Poseidon Water director of communications. “They read and enjoyed every message, photo, and drawing.  The support was just the boost in morale that they needed to finish out their 21-days onsite.”

California Gets Widespread Rain, Snow from Spring Storm

Snow and rain fell Monday on California as spring delivered the kind of stormy weather that was missing most of the winter.

Utility Workers, the Forgotten Heroes of this Pandemic

We’re grateful for nurses, doctors, physician assistants, respiratory therapists and so many others in the medical field. We’re also grateful for people who work in grocery stores, the restaurants delivering and offering curbside food, and all the delivery workers bringing packages to those of us self-quarantining or social distancing at home. When sending up thanks for all these people, many of us forget another critical job that must go on during the COVID-19 pandemic: utility workers who keep our water clean and flowing and our lights — and laptops — on.

How utility workers are doing their jobs in a much different world

Austin Energy is one utility that agreed to speak with 3p. We reached out to the company to find out what it had instituted in the face of COVID-19. The utility activated an Incident Command System at the beginning of March and formed a “Pandemic Planning Team” that meets virtually every day. Almost 70 percent of AE’s staff are teleworking and the rest, including line workers and some call center staff, have to report to job sites as essential personnel. Those essential workers have a daily temperature screening, observe social distancing where possible, and sanitize equipment regularly. Fortunately for these workers, so far Austin is not a hot spot.

The same cannot be said for New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. Utility workers there face a starker reality. As of publication, Con Edison, the utility serving the city, has 170 confirmed cases and three deaths with about half of its personnel working remotely. Likewise, throughout the state, utilities are feeling the pressure.

For example, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the grid operator for New York state, has some essential staff living at control centers outside Albany in response to the shelter-in-place guidance at operation hubs from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Likewise, 200 National Grid personnel are living on-site and will be replaced by a second set of 200 after a month, continuing to cycle as long as necessary.

Water utilities face the same hurdles, as well as additional challenges. There are a lot more water utilities across the country than electric utilities, and many of them are very small, some with staff in the single digits. Further, some utilities have to deal with keeping water systems going when people are flushing disinfecting wipes down the toilet, clogging up sewer lines. As with the case of the power generation sector, utility workers who staff water systems across the U.S. are also sheltering in place to ensure continued, reliable service.

California Poised to Ban Sportfishing in Some Areas. Rural Towns Worried About Coronavirus Spread

California is poised to close the spring sportfishing season in some counties in response to worries that anglers will spread COVID-19 to rural communities.

Removing the Novel Coronavirus from the Water Cycle

Scientists know that coronaviruses, including the SARS-CoV-19 virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, can remain infectious for days — or even longer — in sewage and drinking water.

Two researchers, Haizhou Liu, an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the University of California, Riverside; and Professor Vincenzo Naddeo, director of the Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division at the University of Salerno, have called for more testing to determine whether water treatment methods are effective in killing SARS-CoV-19 and coronaviruses in general.

The virus can be transported in microscopic water droplets, or aerosols, which enter the air through evaporation or spray, the researchers wrote in an editorial for Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, a leading environmental journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need for a careful evaluation of the fate and control of this contagious virus in the environment,” Liu said. “Environmental engineers like us are well positioned to apply our expertise to address these needs with international collaborations to protect public health.”

American Water Continues Project Work Amid Coronavirus Woes

American Water Works announced that its subsidiary, Illinois American Water will continue with planned infrastructure projects across its service areas amid the novel coronavirus threat. Infrastructure maintenance and upgrades at regular intervals are quite essential to ensure potable water and wastewater services to customers.

Illinois American Water provides water and wastewater services to 1.3 million people in its service territories. Per World Health Organization, washing hands with soap at regular intervals and maintaining social distancing are crucial measures to avoid the infection.

Construction in Mission Trails Regional Park to Improve Infrastructure

When Mission Trails Regional Park reopens and visitors return, they may notice an increase in construction traffic and activities in and near the western portion of the park as the San Diego County Water Authority improves a portion of its regional water delivery system.

The Water Authority has begun work to construct a new underground reservoir and flow control facility. The facilities are part of the Mission Trails Project, a suite of projects that mostly were completed in late 2010 to improve regional water infrastructure. Completed components include the construction of a pipeline tunnel, demolition of most above-ground vent stacks in the park, and construction of a stabilized crossing at the San Diego River.

The new underground flow regulatory structure, or covered reservoir, will help regulate untreated water flows in the regional water delivery system. It will hold up to 5 million gallons of water. The reservoir will be covered with soil and vegetation, except for several above-ground access hatches and vents that will allow for air movement in and out of the reservoir. A new flow control facility and pipeline interconnections will also be constructed as part of this project. Pre-construction work to prepare the site has already started. The project construction is scheduled to begin in March and end in early 2022.

Construction vehicles will use Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Calle de Vida, Portobelo Drive, and Antigua Boulevard to access work areas in the park. Some trails leading to the site in the western portion of the park will be closed. For instance, the trail that begins at the intersection of Calle de Vida and Colina Dorada Drive will be closed to allow large construction vehicles and traffic to safely pass through the park. Additionally, parking at the eastern end of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard will be limited to accommodate project field offices and equipment staging.

For more information about either project, go to, call the toll-free project information line at 877-682-9283, ext. 7004, or email .


Here’s the Latest Count of Suspected Bases with Toxic “Forever Chemicals” in the Water

There are nearly 700 military installations with either confirmed or suspected ground water contamination caused by fire-fighting foam using in vehicle and aircraft mishaps, according to new data released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group.

Cancer-linked per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS, have been confirmed at 328 sites, according to Pentagon data analyzed by EWG. and are suspected on about 350 more Defense Department installations and sites.

“DoD officials have understood the risks of AFFF since at least the early 1970′s, when the Navy and Air Force did their own studies on the toxicity of PFAS in fish, and the early 1980s when the Air Force conducted its own animal studies,” Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, told reporters in a phone conference on Thursday.

Los Angeles County’s Water Supply Analysis of Development Stands

Los Angeles County can move forward on plans to develop 2,000 acres along the Santa Clara River without conducting a new assessment of the project’s impact on local water supply, a California appeals court ruled.