Apr 10, 2018

Melee With Mother Nature

Bob Crossen writes on the Cape Town water crisis

When I started planning my print coverage for Cape Town, the situation in the coastal city seemingly was dire. The reservoir was expected to fall below 13.5% capacity in April, not far from when this issue would hit your mailbox. But through a concerted effort among all stakeholders in the Cape of Good Hope, the city has likely staved off Day Zero for 2018, as the deadline now sits in its rainy season. 

Agricultural entities tightened their water use, residents followed the prescribed daily allotments and the city’s Think Water campaign has managed the drought better than expected. A smattering of rain also produced a small boost to the reservoir.

But back across the ocean in the Northeastern U.S., rainfall has been a menace. States are seeing the highest flood levels and tides they have seen in years. What was originally one large “bomb cyclone” has become a set of “nor’easters” piling rain and snow on New England communities. East Bridgewater, Mass., received 5.74 in. of rain; Cobleskill, N.Y. measured 29.3 in. of snow; and Barnstable, Mass., recorded 93-mph gusts of wind.

Winter Storm Toby marked the fourth nor’easter storm in March. Projections as of March 20 indicate some areas could receive 10 in. of snow or more, particularly along the Pennsylvania and Maryland border and portions of the New York City Tri-State area, according to The Weather Channel.

And let us not forget the affects of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria last fall. A common theme among all these catastrophes is a clash with climate. Preparing for and handling extreme weather patterns and circumstances has been a regular occasion for water and wastewater treatment plant operators in the past nine months.

In March, I received word from a Virginia facility that had weathered one of the storms without disrupting its operations. The efforts of such operators should not be taken lightly. How operators handle these situations and the preparations leading up to them is paramount to keeping things running smoothly, even if those actions go unnoticed by the general public.

If your plant was affected by these nor’easter storms, please give me a call or send me an email. I’d like to tell your stories, and I’m sure others reading this would like to hear them too. 

About the author

Bob Crossen is managing editor for WWD. Crossen can be reached at bcrossen@sgcmail.com