Water and wastewater operators heard details about activity by regulators at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during one of the presentations at the Water and Wastewater Conference for the Southwest District, held recently at the Monett City Park Casino and hosted by the Monett Utilities Department.
Jacques Martineau, a drinking water specialist with the DNR's southwest regional office in Springfield, said the southwest office is now fully staffed again. Teams will begin inspecting all 160 community water systems in the region by Dec. 1.
Martineau advised all the operators to look at their last reports and address any concerns cited, since the inspectors will exam the reports prior to arrival.
To help communities address chronic water leaks and significant water loss between the wells and meters, DNR purchased a $30,000 leak detection equipment system. Wayne Roderman, with the Missouri Rural Water Association, will be traveling to towns to identify leaks. Martineau said visits will be prioritized, with the highest priority going to towns with the greatest water loss.
In his presentation, Martineau showed pictures of the laboratory where water samples are tested. He showed photos of the lab technicians and described the process involved. Martineau stressed that with hundreds of samples moving through the lab daily, technicians do not have time to translate poor handwriting or sort through incomplete paperwork. Failure to get samples processed often results from poorly submitted material.
Training for operators will cost more with the decision in April to switch to the manual used by Sacramento State University. In the past, trainers could use any manual. The comprehensive quality and organization of the Sacramento manual prompted the switch, but also bears the higher cost of the different volume at $50.
Martineau said new regulations are expected from the federal Environmental Protection Agency over lead and copper content in water.
The major new initiative at DNR has been implementation of "Our Missouri Waters Initiative" from DNR director Sara Parker Pauley, focusing on the 66 watersheds in Missouri. One of the earliest mapping strategies dating back to the Louisiana Purchase has been to map territory by its water sources and run-off areas.
Martineau said Missouri is now catching up to other states by developing a management system for every watershed. Three different watersheds have been added in the past year, including Spring River in southwest Missouri. Valerie Robinson Gates oversees the Spring River review from the Springfield office.
"At the present time, watershed management is focusing on monitoring," Martineau said. "Policies are being developed and regulations may be introduced next year."
Martineau reminded operators that they have to report situations where water pressure drops below 20 pounds per square inch to DNR. The pressure drop may be a result of maintenance action, but reports are required.
"I am an operator who works as a regulator," Martineau said. "We are advocates for the public."