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Strictest targets pledged to tackle England sewage discharges

Strictest targets pledged to tackle England sewage discharges

Science
The government has published a plan to reduce sewage discharges into England's rivers and the sea, promising the "strictest targets ever".Water firms will have to deliver the "largest infrastructure programme in water company history", it says.Last week pollution warnings were in place on nearly 50 beaches after heavy rainfall led to water companies discharging untreated sewage.The Liberal Democrats branded the new plan a "cruel joke".They said consumers would pay for "the mess made by water companies".Water companies discharged untreated sewage into rivers in England more than 400,000 times in 2020, according to official figures.The Liberal Democrats called the government's targets "flimsy", predicting they would still allow 325,000 sewage dumps a year in 2030. French anger at UK sewage d...
Colleges combating coronavirus turn to stinky savior: sewage

Colleges combating coronavirus turn to stinky savior: sewage

Technology
SALT LAKE CITY -- Days after he crossed the country to start college, Ryan Schmutz received a text message from Utah State University: COVID-19 had been detected at his dorm.Within 10 minutes, he dropped the crepes he was making and was whisked away by bus to a testing site.“We didn’t even know they were testing,” said Schmutz, who is 18 and from Omaha, Nebraska. “It all really happened fast.”Schmutz was one of about 300 students quarantined to their rooms last week, but not because of sickness reports or positive tests. Instead, the warning bells came from the sewage.Colleges across the nation — from New Mexico to Tennessee, Michigan to New York — are turning tests of waste into a public health tool. The work comes as institutions hunt for ways to keep campuses open despite vulnerabilitie...
Coronavirus: Testing sewage an ‘easy win’

Coronavirus: Testing sewage an ‘easy win’

Science
A sewage-based coronavirus test could be an "easy win" that would pick up infection spikes up to 10 days earlier than with existing medical-based tests.Scientists led by UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology are working on a standardised test to "count" the amount of coronavirus in a wastewater sample."The earlier you find [a signal], the earlier an intervention can happen," says lead researcher Dr Andrew Singer. "That means lives will be made much more liveable in the current crisis."Mapping infection through the sewers A network of scientists from universities including Newcastle, Bangor and Edinburgh have already teamed up with local water companies to collect samples of untreated sewage from treatment plants; the first stage ...

Concerns rise over tainted sewage sludge spread on croplands

Technology
For more than 20 years, the eastern Michigan town of Lapeer sent leftover sludge from its sewage treatment plant to area farms, supplying them with high-quality, free fertilizer while avoiding the expense of disposal elsewhere. But state inspectors ordered a halt to the practice in 2017 after learning the material was laced with one of the potentially harmful chemicals known collectively as PFAS, which are turning up in drinking water and some foods across the U.S. Now, the city of 8,800 expects to pay about $ 3 million to have the waste treated at another facility and the leftover solids shipped to a landfill. Testing has found elevated PFAS levels in just one field where the sludge was spread, but farmers have lost an economical fertilizer source and hope more contamination doesn't tur...

California beach closes after Mexico sewage flows north

Health
The entire shoreline of a Southern California city is closed to swimmers after sewage-contaminated runoff flowed into California from Mexico's Tijuana River. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the San Diego County Department of Environment Health issued the order Sunday, expanding the closure that has been in place for months for part of the Imperial Beach coast. Officials say more than 110 million gallons (416 million liters) of toxic storm water has flowed north from Mexico since April. The closure will be in place until testing shows the water is safe. California and the cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista sued the Trump administration last year over the recurring toxic flows from Mexico. The lawsuit seeks to force the U.S. government to upgrade the collection system that diverts...