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Rising Waters, Rising Threat: How Climate Change Endangers America’s Neglected Wastewater Infrastructure

December 22, 2014 Comments off

Rising Waters, Rising Threat: How Climate Change Endangers America’s Neglected Wastewater Infrastructure
Source: Center for American Progress

The second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy recalls the tragic loss of 117 lives across eight states, evoking images of flooded streets, power outages, and stranded communities. The storm also caused significant damage away from news cameras—underground and offshore—to wastewater infrastructure. Sandy’s powerful rainfall and record-setting storm surge overwhelmed wastewater systems throughout coastal New York and New Jersey, resulting in the overflow of almost 11 billion gallons of raw sewage into the stricken region’s streets, rivers, and coastal waters. This was enough untreated effluent to fill the Empire State Building 14 times.

Unfortunately, wastewater overflow is not unique to superstorms or to the East Coast. As climate change strains aging sewer systems around the country through increasingly severe weather and sea-level rise, the resilience of wastewater infrastructure is becoming a critical public and environmental health issue for communities and municipal and state governments.

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Value of connectivity: Facebook and Deloitte look at the economic and social benefits of expanding internet access

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Value of connectivity: Facebook and Deloitte look at the economic and social benefits of expanding internet access
Source: Deloitte and Facebook

Extending the opportunities that the internet can bring is critical to accelerating economic and social growth in developing economies, while enabling the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

Facebook has launched a global partnership, Internet.org, with the goal of making internet access available and affordable to all. They have commissioned Deloitte to examine the ways in which extending access can change economies and societies in developing countries and what benefits this would generate on a number of economic and social dimensions.

The findings suggest that if developing countries could bridge the gap in internet penetration to reach levels developed economies enjoy today, they would experience large increases in GDP growth and productivity and improvements in health conditions and education opportunities. This provides a clear potential to reduce poverty and promote long run economic and social development. The study finds that extending internet access in Africa, Latin America, India and South and East Asia to levels seen in developed countries today would deliver numerous benefits:

  • Long run productivity could be enhanced by as much as 25% in these developing economies.
  • The resulting economic activity could generate $2.2 trillion in additional GDP, a 72% increase in the GDP growth rate, and more than 140 million new jobs.
  • Personal incomes would increase by up to $600 per person a year, thus lifting 160 million people out of extreme poverty.
  • Evidence on the link between health literacy and mortality rates suggests that internet access could save 2.5 million people and 250,000 children.
  • 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients could increase their life expectancy thanks to better monitoring and adherence to treatment.
    Another 640 million children may be able to access the internet and the wealth of information it makes available while they study.

CRS — Allocation of Wastewater Treatment Assistance: Formula and Other Changes (October 30, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Allocation of Wastewater Treatment Assistance: Formula and Other Changes (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Congress established a statutory formula governing distribution of financial aid for municipal wastewater treatment in the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. Since then, Congress has modified the formula and incorporated other eligibility changes five times. Federal funds are provided to states through annual appropriations according to the statutory formula to assist local governments in constructing wastewater treatment projects in compliance with federal standards. The most recent formula change, enacted in 1987, continues to apply to distribution of federal grants to capitalize state revolving loan funds (SRFs) for similar activities.

The current state-by-state allotment is a complex formulation consisting basically of two elements, state population and “need.” The latter refers to states’ estimates of capital costs for wastewater projects necessary for compliance with the act. Surveys of funding needs have been done since the 1960s and became an element of distributing CWA funds in 1972. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in consultation with states has prepared 15 clean water needs surveys since then (the most recent was released in 2010) to provide information to policymakers on the nation’s total funding needs, as well as needs for certain types of projects.

Exergy and the City: The Technology and Sociology of Power (Failure)

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Exergy and the City: The Technology and Sociology of Power (Failure)
Source: Journal of Urban Technology

Blackouts—the total loss of electrical power—serve as a reminder of how dependent the modern world and particularly urban areas have become on electricity and the appliances it powers. To understand them we consider the critical nature of electrical infrastructure. In order to provide general patterns from specific cases, a large number of blackouts have been analyzed. Irrespective of cause, they display similar effects. These include measurable economic losses and less easily quantified social costs. We discuss financial damage, food safety, crime, transport, and problems caused by diesel generators. This is more than just a record of past failures; blackouts are dress rehearsals for the future in which they will appear with greater frequency and severity. While energy cannot be destroyed, exergy—the available energy within a system—can be. Exergy is concerned with energy within an “environment;” in this case a city. The bottom line is simple: no matter how “smart” a city may be, it becomes “dumb” when the power goes out.

Antimicrobial Resistance : Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations

December 15, 2014 Comments off

Antimicrobial Resistance : Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations(PDF)
Source: Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (UK)

The Review has published its first paper, Antimicrobial Resistance: Tackling a Crisis for the Health and Wealth of Nations on December 11 at a launch event hosted by its Chair, Jim O’Neill, in London. In this report we explain why failing to tackle drug-resistant infections will cause 10 million deaths a year and cost up to US$ 100 trillion a year by 2050.

ASTHO Announces Release of 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index™

December 15, 2014 Comments off

ASTHO Announces Release of 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index™
Source: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and CDC

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and more than 35 development partners, released today the 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index™ (NHSPI™), which measures and advances the nation’s readiness to protect people during a health emergency or disaster. The 2014 Index includes updated data and new content, especially in the areas of healthcare delivery and environmental health.

The 2014 national result,7.4 on a scale of 10, suggests that substantial health security preparedness capability exists across the nation with progress to sustain and build upon. It also suggests significant work still needs to be done. As with 2013 findings, 2014 areas of relative strength include Countermeasure Management, Incident & Information Management, and Health Security Surveillance. Areas suggesting need for greater development include the new domain of Environmental & Occupational Health, and Healthcare Delivery (previously Surge Management) and Community Planning & Engagement.

New Study Shows Increase in Raw Milk-Associated Outbreaks

December 14, 2014 Comments off

New Study Shows Increase in Raw Milk-Associated Outbreaks
Source: Emerging Infectious Diseases (CDC)

A study published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal shows that the average annual number of outbreaks due to drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk more than quadrupled since the last similar study – from an average of three outbreaks per year during 1993-2006 to 13 per year during 2007-2012. Overall, there were 81 outbreaks in 26 states from 2007 to 2012. The outbreaks, which accounted for about 5 percent of all foodborne outbreaks with a known food source, sickened nearly 1,000 people and sent 73 to the hospital. More than 80 percent of the outbreaks occurred in states where selling raw milk was legal.

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