September Newsline: PA invests in water; US-Mexico sewage scuffle; heavy equipment theme park opens

September 2010 Vol. 65 No. 9

Stormwater model to inform regulators on future development projects
North Carolina State University researchers have developed a computer model that will accurately predict stormwater pollution impacts from proposed real-estate developments — allowing regulators to make informed decisions about which development projects can be approved without endangering water quality. The model could serve as a blueprint for similar efforts across the country.

"The model is designed to evaluate the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus found in stormwater runoff from residential and commercial developments — particularly runoff from a completed project, not a site that is under construction," says Dr. Bill Hunt, an associate professor and extension specialist of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State who helped develop the model. "To comply with regional water-quality regulations, cities and counties have to account for nutrient loads," Hunt says, "but the existing tools are antiquated and aren't giving us sufficiently accurate data."

The researchers developed the model using chemical, physical and land-use data specific to North Carolina and surrounding states. This allowed them to account for regional conditions, which will improve the model's accuracy. "Because the model uses regional data, it could be modified easily for use east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and adjoining states," Hunt says.

State and local government officials, as well as developers, can plug proposed development plans into the model and get an accurate estimate of the level of nutrients that would likely be included in stormwater runoff from the completed development site. This would give officials key data that they can use to determine whether a proposed development project should be allowed to move forward or require additional stormwater treatment.

Georgia city to issue $50 million in bonds for upgrades Web exclusive!
In Georgia, the Macon Water Authority (MWA) has approved the refinancing of $14.2 million in bonds and the eventual sale of $50 million more. The new bonds will pay for a long list of improvements to the authority’s water distribution system, sewers, replacement of a sewer line that collapsed under the Macon levee last year, and more.

Among the projects the new bonds will finance are an estimated $17.2 million in water system improvements and $32.5 million in sewer system and sewage treatment improvements.