KRWA E-News for June 29, 2020
06/29/2020 - Weekly KRWA E-News
Salina Entities Approve Settlement
Salina’s decades-long battle to secure funding for contamination cleanup at the former Schilling Air Force Base took a major step toward the finish line last week. Salina Public Entities — made up of the city of Salina, Salina USD 305 public schools, the Salina Airport Authority and Kansas State University — unanimously approved and signed a consent decree for which the U.S. Government agrees to pay $65.9 million for remediation of contamination plumes from the military installment that closed in 1965. The entities learned in the 1990s that a plume of pollution, primarily the solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE, is in the soil and groundwater and is moving toward city water wells. The water wells are not in immediate danger of contamination, but the plume should be contained and eliminated as soon as practical. During negotiations, which concluded with mediation in January, Salina Public Entities agreed to perform the remediation work, with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment providing regulatory oversight. [source]
Wastewater Study Finds Coronavirus Arrived in Italy by Mid-December
A study by Italy’s National Institute of Health has found that the new coronavirus was in circulation in wastewater in the northern cities of Milan and Turin in December 2019, at least two months before the virus was known to have spread locally in the population. The study, released earlier this month, was based on 40 water samples collected as part of regular checks from sewage treatment plants in northern Italy from October 2019 to February 2020. It showed the virus that causes COVID-19 in Dec. 18 samples from Milan and Turin, while earlier samples were negative. “This research can contribute to understanding the beginning of the circulation of the virus in Italy,” the institute said in a statement. The research has so far not linked any confirmed cases to the virus’ earlier presence, but researchers have proposed using the system to monitor the presence of the new coronavirus in water systems in a bid to help identify any possible new outbreaks. A pilot monitoring system will launch next month in tourist destinations, in preparation for wider monitoring ahead of a possible new spike in contagion next fall, the institute said. Similar studies have been undertaken in France, Australia and the United States. [source]
Governor Kelly Recommends Kansas Stay in Phase 3 of “Ad Astra” Plan
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly last week recommended that communities wait a little bit longer before moving to the next phase of reopening as coronavirus cases increase. The “Phase Out” stage of Kelly’s Ad Astra reopening plan was set to begin June 22, but Kelly and KDHE are now advising communities to stay in Phase 3 for at least two more weeks. The main difference is that Phase 3 limits mass gatherings to no more than 45 people. The “Phase Out” stage merely urges social distancing but doesn’t limit the size of crowds. The ultimate decision, though, rests with local officials. “Though many Kansans and communities have been social distancing, wearing masks, and working hard over the past few weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus, we have unfortunately seen an increase in disease spread,” Kelly said in a news release. [source]
Kansas Starts Spending $1B In Coronavirus Aid, But Leaders Differ On Where It's Needed Most
Kansas officials are working to distribute $1 billion of federal aid to help cope with the fallout caused by the coronavirus. Governor Laura Kelly and the legislative leaders that make up the State Finance Council are targeting local governments with the first $400 million going toward health care needs, like county health departments, protective equipment or other coronavirus-related costs. Local governments can also choose to use first-round funding to help businesses pay for unemployment costs. The second round will focus on the economy, with investments meant to stimulate growth in the wake of thousands of Kansans losing their jobs since March. The initial plans propose infrastructure improvements that can help boost teleworking and telemedicine, plus workforce development in needed sectors like health care. The last round will be aimed at avoiding or limiting a second wave of COVID-19 infections in the fall — without the major economic and health impacts of the initial wave. Kansas received $1.25 billion in federal aid through the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund. Johnson and Sedgwick counties, the state’s two biggest, directly received more than $200 million, leaving the rest for state officials to distribute. [source]
NRWA Issues Call to Action
Rural America needs investment now in water and wastewater infrastructure for coronavirus relief. Small and rural communities have done their part to meet the public’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic by maintaining and restoring customer access to water services, regardless of ability to pay. NRWA estimates small water and wastewater systems will lose $998 million in revenue due to customer nonpayment alone. This lost revenue will never be recovered by utilities and does not include emergency operational costs. As such, the National Rural Water Association is advocating for additional tools from USDA Rural Utilities Services to address this crisis and help foster economic development and public health protection. Read NRWA’s call to action to learn more about the importance of this request.
Roundup Maker to Pay $10 Billion to Settle Cancer Suits
Bayer, the world’s largest seed and pesticide maker, last week agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of U.S. claims that its popular weedkiller Roundup causes cancer. Bayer still faces at least 25,000 additional claims from plaintiffs who have not agreed to be part of the settlement. Part of the $1.25 billion will be used to establish an independent expert panel to resolve two critical questions about glyphosate: Does it cause cancer, and if so, what is the minimum dosage or exposure level that is dangerous? If the panel concludes that glyphosate is a carcinogen, Bayer will not be able to argue otherwise in future cases — and if the experts reach the opposite conclusion, the class action’s lawyers will be similarly bound. Bayer, a German company, inherited the legal morass when it bought Roundup’s manufacturer, Monsanto, for $63 billion in June 2018. It has repeatedly maintained that Roundup is safe. [source]
Reduction in drought coverage was depicted by the U.S. Drought Monitor in areas receiving significant precipitation during the previous week, most notably central Kansas. Severe (D2) and extreme (D3) drought designations remain for many other locations including southwest Kansas, as well as southern Colorado, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles and eastern New Mexico. Conditions also appear to be deteriorating in eastern Kansas, where the Abnormally Dry (D0) designation was expanded this week. The dry conditions and higher than normal water use have led at least one eastern Kansas community to implement stage one of their water conservation plan, a water watch, encouraging residents to conserve water. Since June 14, Gardner's water demand has gone above the water watch trigger point in five occasions according to city staff.
Current U.S. Drought Monitor maps for:
Arkansas River Basin, High Plains Region, North-Central Region, Southern Plains Region and State of Kansas
E-News is compiled and edited by Ken Kopp, KRWA. Subscribe to this weekly newsletter by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject "subscribe krwa e-news."