Category Archives: News

Californians Look Into Recycled Wastewater As Drought Continues

DelPuertoCalifornia farmers are not looking forward to a dry summer ahead, in turn leading to some the lowest water supplies in some time. Desperate farmers are getting creative in looking for new sources of water. One particular idea that is gaining much popularity is a plan to buy used wastewater from other cities by upgrading the Modesto Wastewater Plant. In the city of Modesto alone, citizens produces millions of gallons of wastewater a day through flushing toilets and running faucets. Modesto is very close by some of the driest agricultural areas in the state, so it seems like a plausible solution to those farmers in need of water for their crops. In a few years, that wastewater could flow to farms in the Del Puerto Water District, in what would be the largest urban-to-agriculture water recycling project in the state. Of course the water would be filtered for solids, and treated and disinfected using ultraviolet light. The water will not be up to drinking standards, but could mean the difference between a farmer’s success or failure for this year’s crops.  The city’s wastewater treatment plant is undergoing a $150 million upgrade to meet new water quality requirements. They are calling it the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program. The Del Puerto Water District would construct a six-mile, $100 million pipeline to carry the wastewater from the city to the Delta Mendota Canal, which would then disperse into the district’s farms.

The project would end up costing some farmers about five times as much as usual, but to most, it’s a no-brainer. As of right now, citizens are having to purchase water on the open market. Jim Jasper, who owns Stewart & Jasper Orchards says “Most farmers are internal optimists and I like to be optimistic, but without something like this, the future for my son and grandson and family I don’t know if we can keep our business going.”

Heather Cooley of the Pacific Institute says, “There’s absolutely more potential for recycled water use in California.” According to her analysis, California could be using two to three times more recycled water for many purposes, including urban landscape and golf course irrigation. In coastal cities, it can be very beneficial to recycle wastewater because when untreated waste flows into our oceans, it causes pollution. Conversely, with inland cities, recycled the wastewater is normally released into rivers, removing it from the river could cause a huge negative impact.

Of course the idea is experiencing some opposition. The Westlands Water District, which is the largest irrigation district in the country, is challenging the project because of the possible effects it may have on the San Joaquin River. They argue that since the river is used so much by the region, that minimal standards have been put in place to protect the water quality and also the endangered salmon that live in the river. They would rather see the treated wastewater go into the river instead of recycling it. In addition, some officials with the Turlock Irrigation District say they’d rather see the wastewater used to replenish local groundwater. The City of Turlock relies on groundwater for its water supply, which is discharged into the San Joaquin River after being treated. Calvin Curtain, who is a spokesperson for the Turlock Irrigation District said in an email, “recycled water is the primary source of water available to help achieve groundwater sustainability.”

Currently, other counties in California that are near urban areas, close to farm fields, have adopted the idea of recycled wastewater treatment plants. It only begins to get pricier when the water has to be moved over long distances. There is no one easy fix for Agriculture, and many are having to do their best with what is available to them now, even if that means less water availability to farmers. Most farmers in the Del Puerto Water District see water recycling as a way to survive the future of their crops and also their families’ livelihood. Of course the project still needs a number of permits from both local and state authorities, but if it’s approved, the taps could open up in just a few years.

 

AIHA and IAQA Publish Indoor Air Quality Practitioners Body of Knowledge

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) have come together to produce the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Practitioners Body of Knowledge (BoK). This type of document is the first of it’s kind. The two organizations have been working together for the last year and a half to develop this document. A panel of experts on the subject matter, representing both organizations, helped to create the document. The purpose of the BoK is to highlight the skills and knowledge necessary to practice in the area of Indoor Air Quality.

Donald M. Weekes, CIH, CSP, past president of the IAQA board of directors is quoted by saying “This document will serve as the reference standard for the IAQ field and its practitioners for years to come, and those interested in the field will be able to utilize the BoK as a guideline for their IAQ methods and procedures. It is expected that this BoK will continue to be renewed as needed by both organizations as part of their ongoing cooperative efforts.” (achrnews.com)

The Body of Knowledge begins with general information anyone working in the area of air quality should already possess, and also the application of basic concepts in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Microbiology and Mathematics, as they relate to the practice of indoor air quality. It then moves into the identification of contaminants and stressors in the workplace, as well as reorganization of psychosocial factors that also may affect workers exposed to the area. Furthermore, the Body of Knowledge guides the user to identify potential health effects that are commonly encountered and the need for diagnosis by medical professionals. In addition the user must be able to identify the science of the building as well as the role the heating, ventilation and air conditioning plays into the quality of the air. Then, there are several steps to the assessment the building:  walkthrough inspection, sampling, limitations, corrective actions, and communication. The Body of Knowledge ends with the mitigation of current air quality issues and finally a proactive plan for avoiding potential problems in the future.

This document will definitely prove helpful for all those in the field of Industrial Hygiene or other fields closely related as it gives the reader a pretty thorough outline of steps to ensure workers are provided with a safe workplace. Armstrong Forensic Laboratory employs a Certified Industrial Hygienist who is very experienced with site assessment, sampling, consulting and much more. If you are in need of such services, call us at (800) 644-4175 or (817) 275-2691 locally to speak with one of our experts. Below is a link to the news article summarizing the Body of Knowledge, as well as a link to download the document itself.

(1) AIHA – IAQA Body of Knowledge

(2) News Article Summarizing AIHA – IAQA Body of Knowledge

New Insurance Fraud Law In Minnesota

Minnesota lawmakers passed a bill Sunday that makes the punishment for insurance fraud harsher. The new insurance fraud law is intended to put a stop to fraud rings and would impose large civil fines to bankrupt fraudsters.

Minnesota Insurance Fraud Law

New Minnesota Law Stiffens Penalties for Insurance Fraud

In June 2015, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill passed by the legislature to take a stronger stance against insurance fraud, which has been a major problem in many parts of the state. Under the new legislation, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has the authority to initiate civil investigations and potentially impose civil fines on perpetrators of insurance fraud without having to wait for the conclusion of time-intensive criminal prosecutions. Insurance fraud costs U.S. taxpayers approximately $30 billion each year, and Minnesota residents are all too familiar with the spread of this problem.

Common Types of Insurance Fraud

The typical schemes of insurance fraud involve staged or planned vehicle wrecks with the purpose of obtaining a claim payout from the insurance company for the manufactured damage. Insurance can also involve any type of falsification of documents in reporting a claim. For instance, if someone purposefully reports insured property as stolen when it actually wasn’t, this is a type of insurance fraud and will be penalized according to the amount involved in the fraudulent claim. People also commit insurance fraud by choosing not to report outside sources of payment for property damaged in an accident in their claim. These people are essentially seeking a double recovery and hope to pocket the amount of the fraudulent claim paid out by the insurance company. Medical providers can also participate in fraudulent insurance schemes by falsifying reports of the value or nature of medical services provided to an alleged victim of an accident. This can occur with or without the knowing participation of the allegedly injured accident victim and can involve substantial sums of money per fraudulent claim.

Minnesota’s Problems with Insurance Fraud

Organized insurance fraud in Minnesota has been on the rise. In fact, Minnesota is one of the fastest-growing states in the country for fraudulent insurance claims. In 2014 alone, the number of staged car accidents and bogus medical insurance claims in Minnesota rose by 22%. Bringing false claims against insurers is a substantial source of income for criminal enterprises, and it has serious consequences for law abiding citizens. The Insurance Federation of Minnesota estimates that insurance fraud in Minnesota costs the average family more than $1,400 per year in higher premiums and other associated costs. This is a significant drain on the entire insurance system, and there have been active lobbying efforts for some time to bring harsher penalties to deter the criminal activity that has driven up the costs for innocent drivers.

How the New Insurance Fraud Law Will Deter Insurance Fraud

Because of the notoriously weak enforcement system against insurance fraudsters in Minnesota, the state attracted a slew of fraudsters and criminal enterprises hoping to stay under the radar. This lead to the drastic increase in fraudulent insurance claims in Minnesota in recent years. The state prosecutes insurance fraud claims as theft and imposes fines and penalties accordingly. The more money fraudulently paid out fThe new insurance fraud law imposes steep civil fines and penalties for perpetrators of insurance fraud. In addition, the new insurance fraud law cracks down on medical providers who are found to be providing services fraudulently. Those doctors may now be denied payment from insurance companies.

It remains to be seen what effect the new insurance fraud law will have on the amount of fraudulent insurance claims in Minnesota. From the perspective of the insurance companies, the legislation is a big step in the right direction for deterring fraudulent claims and sending a message to criminal enterprises that Minnesota is tough on fraud.