Monday, March 27, 2023

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Mobilizing Georgia voters in a non-election year is crucial for voting rights groups, Philadelphians over 50 will play a major role in the mayoral primary, and the EPA is finalizing a new air quality rule.

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Michigan becomes the first state in decades to repeal a "right to work" law, death penalty opponents say President Biden is not keeping campaign promises to halt federal executions, and more states move to weaken child labor protection laws.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Des Moines Weighs $50 Million Water-Quality Improvement

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023   

City water leaders in Des Moines are considering a $50 million plan to use Mother Nature as a giant water filter to remove nitrates from the city's drinking water.

While they occur naturally, nitrates can be hazardous if consumed in large amounts. They have posed health problems in the Midwest for decades, partly the result of fertilizer and manure runoff into groundwater, which eventually makes it into tap water.

Ted Corrigan, CEO and general manager of Des Moines Water Works, said they are considering a process thousands of years old to remove nitrates, by drilling radial collector wells into the bedrock near the Des Moines River, and then allowing the ground to do the work.

"The time that it takes for the water to move through the ground helps clean it up a little," Corrigan explained. "It's literally filtered through 30, 40, 50 feet of sand."

He pointed out the radial collector wells would be an addition to the current mechanical methods Des Moines already uses to remove nitrates, which cost about $10,000 a day every time they run. The wells can filter about 25 million gallons of water a day.

The city relies on the Des Moines River for most of its drinking water, but its nitrate levels spike in the winter. Corrigan noted water in the collector wells could also be stored for use when the river water exceeds safe drinking standards. He added the stored water would also help meet the demands of a growing population.

"You know, we keep kind of chasing this problem," Corrigan observed. "As we grow, we put more tools in the toolbox. Radial collector wells are kind of another tool that we can use to source low-nitrate water. It's another option for us to implement, to meet growing demands and maintain water quality."

He emphasized Des Moines awaits a report from the U.S. Geological Survey this spring before digging its wells.


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