A Vision for a Chicago Unified by Rivers

Read the full story at CityLab.

As the Riverwalk enters its final stage, its success has spurred a citywide push to reinvest not only in the Chicago River, but the Des Plains and Calumet rivers as well. Ross Barney consulted with the nonprofit Metropolitan Planning Council on the plan for Great Rivers Chicago, which lays of a vision for transforming all three bodies of water by 2040. CityLab spoke with Ross Barney about the Chicago Riverwalk, and why the city needs to start reclaiming its whole aquatic network.

Environmental Comparison of Biochar and Activated Carbon for Tertiary Wastewater Treatment

Kyle A. Thompson, Kyle K. Shimabuku, Joshua P. Kearns, Detlef R. U. Knappe, R. Scott Summers, and Sherri M. Cook. “Environmental Comparison of Biochar and Activated Carbon for Tertiary Wastewater Treatment.” Environmental Science & Technology 2016 50 (20), 11253-11262. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03239

Abstract: Micropollutants in wastewater present environmental and human health challenges. Powdered activated carbon (PAC) can effectively remove organic micropollutants, but PAC production is energy intensive and expensive. Biochar adsorbents can cost less and sequester carbon; however, net benefits depend on biochar production conditions and treatment capabilities. Here, life cycle assessment was used to compare 10 environmental impacts from the production and use of wood biochar, biosolids biochar, and coal-derived PAC to remove sulfamethoxazole from wastewater. Moderate capacity wood biochar had environmental benefits in four categories (smog, global warming, respiratory effects, noncarcinogenics) linked to energy recovery and carbon sequestration, and environmental impacts worse than PAC in two categories (eutrophication, carcinogenics). Low capacity wood biochar had even larger benefits for global warming, respiratory effects, and noncarcinogenics, but exhibited worse impacts than PAC in five categories due to larger biochar dose requirements to reach the treatment objective. Biosolids biochar had the worst relative environmental performance due to energy use for biosolids drying and the need for supplemental adsorbent. Overall, moderate capacity wood biochar is an environmentally superior alternative to coal-based PAC for micropollutant removal from wastewater, and its use can offset a wastewater facility’s carbon footprint.

A Timeline of the Flint, Mich., Water, Trash and Recycling Crisis

Read the full story from Waste360.

When the officials of Flint, Mich., tapped into the Flint River as a temporary water source in 2014, they weren’t prepared for the crisis that has followed.

How Ford, PepsiCo Plan to Slash Manufacturing Water Use

Read the full story from Environmental Leader.

Manufacturing facilities are often water utilities’ largest customers. They require massive amounts of water for multiple uses including cooling, processes, cleaning, employee sanitation, steam generation and, in some cases, to produce their products.

Within the past week, two corporations in two different sectors, Ford and PepsiCo, have committed to drastically reducing their water use in manufacturing.

Water Infrastructure: Information on Selected Midsize and Large Cities with Declining Populations

Download the document.

EPA estimates water and sewer utilities will need to spend $655 billion over the next 20 years to maintain, upgrade, or replace water infrastructure. Many midsize and large cities that lost a large percentage of their population are struggling to replace their pipes and treatment plants. Without improvements, these cities may be at serious risk of more frequent accidental sewage discharges and lead contamination among other things. Concerned that utility rates are increasingly unaffordable for low-income customers, some utilities are reducing water treatment capacity or decommissioning lines in vacant areas to fit current demands.

Factory farming practices are under scrutiny again in N.C. after disastrous hurricane floods

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

A filthy brown sea, a slurry of mud, debris, chemicals and waste, has overtaken miles of rural counties in North Carolina. Against the drab water, the shiny metal roofs of hog houses are impossible to miss, visible from the air, as are the rectangular and diamond-shaped outlines of massive lagoons constructed just feet away.

When those lagoons are doing their job, the liquid excrement they hold is a deep reddish-pink. Berms and pumps are designed to keep that bacteria-laden sludge from spilling out. But across coastal plain here – home to one of the highest concentrations of hog farms in the country – the lagoons’ content now looks more like the surrounding floodwater.

In a state already reeling from lost lives, homes and livelihoods, the color is evidence of major environmental risks.

Turning Beer Wastewater into Energy Storage Benefits Breweries, Battery Manufacturers

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Beer wastewater can be converted to materials needed to make energy storage cells — a development that researchers say could be a “win-win” for breweries and battery manufacturers.