An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Orange County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Recycling biosolids to make sustainable bricks

How can you recycle the world’s stockpiles of treated sewage sludge and boost sustainability in the construction industry, all at the same time? Turn those biosolids into bricks.

Biosolids are a by-product of the wastewater treatment process that can be used as fertiliser, in land rehabilitation or as a construction material.

Around 30% of the world’s biosolids are stockpiled or sent to landfill, using up valuable land and potentially emitting greenhouse gases, creating an environmental challenge.

Now a team at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, has demonstrated that fired-clay bricks incorporating biosolids could be a sustainable solution for both the wastewater treatment and brickmaking industries.

Published this month in the journal Buildings, the research showed how making biosolids bricks only required around half the energy of conventional bricks.

As well as being cheaper to produce, the biosolids bricks also had a lower thermal conductivity, transferring less heat to potentially give buildings higher environmental performance.

The EU produces over 9 million tonnes of biosolids a year, while the United States produces about 7.1 million tonnes. In Australia, 327,000 tonnes of biosolids are produced annually.

The study found there was a significant opportunity to create a new beneficial reuse market - bricks.

Herbicide Application on Lake Holden (DOT canal only), 1/16

lake aerial view

The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 1/16/19. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage Hydrilla in the lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:

• DO NOT IRRIGATE LANDSCAPE/ORNAMENTAL PLANTS FOR 30 DAYS
• THERE ARE NO RESTRICTIONS ON TURF IRRIGATION.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

These restrictions apply only to the areas outlined in pink on the image at left:

Herbicide Application on Lake Holden (North West shoreline plot), 1/16

lake aerial viewThe Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 1/16/19. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage Hydrilla in the lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS
• DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
• DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 2 DAYS.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

These restrictions only apply to the areas shown in green on the image at left.

Herbicide Application on Lake Sawyer (East canals only), 1/18

OCAlerts logo
The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 1/18/19. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage Hydrilla in the canals.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:
• DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
• DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 5 DAYS.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

Herbicide Application on Lake Lovely, 1/15

OCAlerts logoThe Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 1/15/19. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage hydrilla in the lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

Gov. DeSantis announces sweeping fixes meant to clean up Florida's water woes

Two days after he took office, Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled sweeping measures to clean up Florida’s troubled waters Thursday, including spending $2.5 billion and launching more aggressive policies to address algae choking Lake Okeechobee and polluting the state’s coasts.

The newly minted governor, who angered environmentalists on the campaign trail by dismissing climate change as a significant threat, also promised to establish a resiliency office to address looming dangers.

“The people of Florida wanted to see action and this was action that was requested regardless of your party,” DeSantis said in a morning briefing at a Florida Gulf Coast University field station in Bonita Springs, north of Naples. “This is something that can unite all Floridians.”

DeSantis also ordered construction sped up on a 17,000-acre Everglades reservoir in farm fields south of the lake and said he would work with federal officials to end polluted discharges.

“I’d like to see no discharges,” he said. “We’re working with the White House and as difficult as it is, working with the Army Corps [of Engineers] to mitigate that.”

The new governor also promised to appoint a chief science officer so “we’re doing sound science making sure we’re getting ahead of the curve on these issues.”

Hurricane preparedness casualty of federal government shutdown

Weather models are not being updated and training sessions might be canceled during the budget standoff

The U.S. government’s partial shutdown is in its third week, and the pinch of the protracted standoff over funding for a wall along the country’s border with Mexico is starting to be felt—not only by workers missing paychecks, but also in terms of important science that is not getting done.

About 800,000 workers have either been furloughed or, if their jobs are deemed essential to protecting lives and property, are working without pay across dozens of shuttered agencies and departments. These include several that do significant scientific work such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—the parent agency of the National Weather Service. Although day-to-day forecasting operations continue at the NWS, key improvements to weather models have been put on pause. Data needed for research projects may be inaccessible; and if the shutdown continues much longer, preparedness training will be canceled for emergency managers in coastal communities looking warily ahead to the coming hurricane season after the devastating storms of recent years.

Eric Blake, a forecaster with the NWS’s National Hurricane Center in Miami spoke with Scientific American about the shutdown’s impact on the NWS and its employees (in his capacity as the National Weather Service Employees Organization union steward at the center).

Federal government spending $100 million to study desalination

The Trump administration is hoping to reinvigorate a technology long dismissed as too expensive or energy-intensive to help solve a water crisis that has seen drought grip swaths of the American West, sparking deadly wildfires and legal battles over supply.

The Energy Department last month declared that it's spending $100 million over the next five years to create a research and development hub on desalination, a process that converts seawater and brackish inland water into freshwater.

Announced roughly five years after Congress appropriated the funds under the Obama administration, the planned hub comes as once-periodic water shortages have become perennial, if not ever-present, in American communities, forcing policymakers to rethink how residents get freshwater – and reconsider technologies they'd once shelved.

The investment is widely seen in the research field as a moonshot effort, the best attempt yet to jump-start the kind of advancements that would make the elusive process energy-efficient and cost-effective and make a resource out of vast unusable deposits like the saltwater that covers two-thirds of the earth's surface.

"The significance can't be understated. Something like this has been a long time coming," says Jonathan Brant, associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Wyoming.

"We're faced with a real water crisis, and the main solution to that is going to be able to tap – in an environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable way – saline water sources."

Desalination is costly and enormously energy intensive: Israel and Australia – two of the driest nations on Earth – are by far the world leaders in desalination, largely by necessity. While Israel draws more than half of its water from desalination plants – and more than 85 percent of its municipal water overall is reused – desalination plants in the U.S. provide less than 0.002 percent of the water consum

Senate panel briefed on septic tanks’ contribution to algae outbreak

Septic tanks are one of the primary triggers for toxic algae blooms throughout the state, the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee was told Wednesday.

A presentation was given by Dr. Brian Lapointe, who has worked as a research professor at Florida Atlantic University and has studied water quality in the state for decades.

He has previously produced work, funded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, showing that septic tanks are a large contributor to the pollution that allows algae blooms to spawn in Florida’s waterways.

“I personally consider this the most important and urgent issue facing our state,” Lapointe said.

That runs counter, however, to many environmental groups who put the blame mostly on phosphorus from fertilizer runoff from sugar farms.

Green PLACE Eagle Scout project benefits Lake Lucie Preserve

As a project manager at Orange County Government's Capital Projects, Roan Waterbury knew an Eagle Scout volunteer project could greatly benefit local residents and would be a way for his sons, Thomas and Ryan, to give back to their community. He contacted Beth Jackson, Environmental Program Supervisor for EPD's Green PLACE (Park Land Acquisition for Conservation and Environmental Protection) and she had the perfect project in mind.

Green PLACE is a County initiative to preserve, enhance and restore environmentally sensitive lands. "Our plan is to open the Lake Lucie Conservation Area for public access and enjoyment and we needed to install picnic areas, benches and horse hitching posts," Jackson said. The brothers, Thomas and Ryan Waterbury, successfully completed their projects and were awarded the rank of Eagle Scout on April 12, 2018, and May 24, 2018, respectively.

According to Jackson, Thomas and Ryan, who were both 17 when they completed their projects, did a fantastic job putting together project plans and getting their teams in place to complete the tasks. The Waterbury brothers said the project allowed them to give back to the community they call home. "I was thankful there was work to be done and that I could assist in making this conservation area a nice place for residents to visit," Thomas said. "Over the years in scouting you learn about different outdoor activities and becoming part of something bigger than yourself. This project was a culmination of that." Ryan shared those sentiments. "The fact I was able to help essentially make a trail was amazing," he said. "It's a great relief and an honor that I can be an example of what scouting can and should be."