Water conservation

Casper buys chemicals for water treatment from global supplier hit by polar vortex and ransomware attack

Water extracted from the North Platte River is sent at an early stage of treatment to the Central Wyoming Regional Water Treatment Plant. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. – Citizens of the Casper area have been urged to conserve water not because of a problem with any of the infrastructure in the central Wyoming regional water supply system, but because of problems in a manufacturing plant that produces ferric chloride used to treat water.

Mayor Steve Freel said at the Casper city council meeting on Tuesday, July 20 that the central Wyoming regional water supply system had ferric chloride available and the situation in the Casper area was not a problem. “water crisis“.

“Nothing has happened to our [water treatment] plant, ”said Feel. He said citizens are urged to limit the amount of water they use so that the central Wyoming regional water supply system can conserve their current supply of ferric chloride until the problem occurs. supply is resolved. “We try to keep the amount we have on hand. … This is why we asked the public to reduce watering.

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The town of Casper purchases ferric chloride from Brenntag Pacific, a major global distributor of chemicals. City council approved $ 191,452.92 in payments to Brenntag at its meeting on Tuesday, an amount higher than usual. At its May 18 meeting, for example, the board approved $ 30,764.80 in payments to Brenntag as indicated in the invoices and complaints section of the board’s working file.

While the city says the problem is due to equipment failure at a chemical manufacturing plant, Brenntag has had to deal with various disruptions to its supply chain in recent months.

In March, the Independent Commodity Intelligence Service wrote that Brenntag, like others in the industry, experienced significant production shutdowns as a result of February’s polar vortex.

“Global chemical supply chains are under intense pressure due to the polar storm in the Gulf of the United States, which destroyed a significant part of the production capacity there, and the lingering problems of shortages. shipping containers and road transportation delays, ”CIHI said in March. “The supply crisis has led to record prices and panic buying by some consumer industries which are desperate to maintain security of supply.”

Brenntag CEO Christian Kohlpaintner told ICIS in March that he expected the disruption to shipping logistics to last at least until the third quarter of 2021, which began in July.

“Logistics costs and container prices are skyrocketing three to four times and we don’t see any relief in the next one or two quarters,” Kohlpaintner said. “It’s the route from China to Europe, but it’s the same everywhere – colleagues in Asia have spoken to shipping companies who have indicated it will last until the third quarter.”

“Today, it is not the price of the product that is decisive, it is the availability of the product that is decisive. We must behave very responsibly in times of scarcity and maintain market supply, to meet our contractual obligations. “

Brenntag was also affected by a data breach after a hacking incident in April, according to BleepingComputer. The company was faced with a ransomware attack from ransomware operators DarkSide which targeted the North American division of the company.

“Brenntag confirmed the ransomware attack in an emailed statement sent to BleepingComputer on May 13, saying that he disconnected all affected systems from the network after the incident was discovered to contain the threat,” he said. writes BleepingComputer. “Data exfiltrated by DarkSide attackers includes” social security number, date of birth, driver’s license number and some medical information. “

Brenntag paid “$ 4.4 million to DarkSide for a decryptor and to stop the ransomware gang from disclosing the stolen data,” according to BleepingComputer.

The town of Casper says the central Wyoming regional water supply system requires people to conserve water so they can treat enough water to meet high summer demand. The chemical is used to treat surface water drawn from the North Platte River, one of two water sources in the central Wyoming regional water supply system. The other source is groundwater.

Ferric chloride enables the facility to treat an additional 18 million gallons of water per day needed to meet the water demand from lawn irrigation during the summer months.

During the summer months, 70% of the water produced is taken from the North Platte River, with the remaining 30% supplied from the groundwater source. Groundwater is pumped from the alluvial aquifer of the North Platte River via 29 wells.

“The plant can certainly provide the area with sufficient drinking water,” Beth Andress, public information officer for the town of Casper, said in a press release Friday. “The problem is really with irrigation and increasing the use of this business.”

The disruption in supply is expected to continue until mid-August.

Areas served by RWS include:

  • Casper’s town
  • Mile-Hi Improvement District
  • Salt Creek JPB (Midwest and Edgerton)
  • Wardwell Water and Sewer District (Wardwell and Bar Nunn)
  • Pioneer district of water and sewers
  • Poisonous Spider Upgrade Quarter
  • 33 mile road improvement and service district
  • Sandy Lake Estate Improvement District
  • Lakeview Service and Improvement District

The conservation demand does not apply to those who use wells or raw water for their water source, the city says.

“Right now we don’t want to put restrictions on watering lawns,” Andress said. “We believe our water users will help us conserve.”

The water conservation practices of landscape experts include:

• Dramatically reduce the amount of water used for irrigation – just enough to prevent browning.

• Water lawns and gardens during cooler hours. Refrain from watering from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Avoid watering in windy weather.

• Repair leaks in sprinkler systems.

• For trees, water with a hose and slowly move the hose around the trunk. New trees should be watered 2-3 times per week and established trees 2-3 times per month.

• Do not allow water to pool or run along gutters or alleys.

• Use a hose nozzle with automatic shut-off when washing vehicles.

• Use a broom instead of water to clean hard surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways.

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