May Newsline: Water rate increase for Sacramento, federal money in play for water/sewer upgrades

Water rate increase hits Sacramento region
Charlotte eyes federal money for water/sewer programs
Cellular South expands broadband network in Mississippi
GTI offers DIMP Pipeline Regulation workshop

New approaches needed to build U.S. infrastructure
Study reveals construction equipment theft holds steady
$50B infrastructure projects announced
In Memoriam

Water rate increase hits Sacramento region

Water rates are rising across the Sacramento region as utilities wrestle with the need to upgrade aging facilities. The Sacramento County agency, as part of the Freeport Regional Water Agency, has an expensive capital improvement project under way: a water intake at the Sacramento River, a 17-mile pipeline and a new water treatment plant.

To offset these expenses, businesses and residents that get their water from the Sacramento County Water Agency can expect double-digit rate increases beginning in July.

Faced with declining fees from new construction, the county agency has proposed raising monthly rates for general commercial customers by about 12.5 percent this year and the same amount next year.

Rates for residential customers would increase to 18.7 percent this year for a flat-rate monthly bill and 25.3 percent for a metered customer.

The agency provides water to about 55,000 homes and businesses in south Sacramento and parts of Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova.

Fees from new connections for water service, paid by developers when they received building permits, historically have covered about 50 percent of the water agency’s revenues. But with the construction downturn, revenue from new connections has declined. The water agency projects its revenue needs will grow from $42.7 million in the year ended June 30 to more than $78.9 million in fiscal 2014.

Charlotte eyes federal money for water/sewer programs

Charlotte, NC, city leaders approved applications for more than a dozen water, stormwater and sewer projects that could tap into the federal stimulus funding dollars. Prompted by the area’s growth, the requests include:

  • $30 million to expand reservoirs at the Franklin water plant;
  • $20 million to increase sewer capacity in pipes to the McAlpine Creek plant to prevent spills caused by heavy rains
  • $2.9 million to reduce the amount of drinking water used to cool McAlpine’s pumps;
  • $385,000 to replace McAlpine’s digester pumps;
  • $2.6 million to renovate roofs, windows, walls and storage basins at the Vest water treatment plant;
  • $3.5 million to repair sewer mains and manholes;
  • $1.6 million to improve sewer pumps for the town of Davidson;
  • $1.9 million to clean and reline old water mains;
  • $600,000 to complete a mile of the Beatties Ford Road water main in Huntersville;
  • $565,000 to replace 4,500 feet of a water main along Albemarle Road;
  • $1.7 million to clean up the Wilora and Park Road Park ponds; and
  • $750,000 to recycle water at Revolution Park.

Barry Shearin, utilities chief engineer for Charlotte-Meklenburg Utilities, says the local projects face an uphill climb toward funding approval. The entire state has been allocated $67 million for those types of projects. That’s roughly the total cost for all the projects proposed here.

Cellular South expands broadband network in Mississippi

Cellular South is expanding its third-generation (3G) high-speed wireless mobile broadband services to 26 counties and 78 cities in Mississippi. It is planning 173 new sites across the state and will activate 50 of those sites this year.

Cellular South has invested $350 million in expanding its network in Mississippi, and the new expansion will include locations along the Delta, including Grenada and Washington counties. The company will introduce its 3G network in 78 cities during the second and third quarters of 2009. It currently offers that service in 80 cities and 25 counties in Mississippi. The goal is to reach two out of three Mississippi customers in 29 of the state’s 30 largest cities by the end of 2009.

Cellular South’s 3G network will allow customers to experience faster uploads and downloads when connecting to the Internet and provide access to new services such as video telephony, high-quality music and other multimedia applications.
The expansion could lead to long-term benefits for economic expansion in the state, says Gray Swoope, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

Chip Morgan, executive director of the Delta Council, says many businesses considering relocation or expansion examine the telecommunications infrastructure of communities.
“High-speed wireless data and the services and applications it supports are becoming increasingly important to both residential and business users.”

GTI offers DIMP Pipeline Regulation workshop

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI), the gas industry’s leading research, development, and training organization, is offering a four-day workshop on the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) regulation. The workshop will be held on Aug. 10-14, at the San Ramon Valley Conference Center in San Ramon, CA.

“This is a unique opportunity for executives and senior managers at natural gas utilities to gain a better understanding of the expected DIMP rule from an overview perspective and to begin planning for its implementation,” said Rod Rinholm, executive director, business development and education at GTI. “It also provides middle managers, DIMP managers, and operating personnel responsible for program design and implementation with an in-depth review of the DIMP anticipated rule and guidance for compliance.”

The DIMP workshop, led by a team of LDC and integrity management experts, comprises two modules. Module 1 (Mon-Tues, noon) offers an overview of DIMP and can be attended independently. Module 2, which covers compliance with the DIMP Rule in greater detail, begins on Tuesday afternoon and runs through Friday at noon. Discounts are available for teams of three or more from a single organization. The workshop can also be customized for presentation at on-site facilities.

The proposed DIMP regulation represents one of the most significant additions to federal pipeline regulations since the federal government first began regulating pipeline safety in 1970. The new regulation will require operators of natural gas distribution systems to identify system threats, develop a risk-based integrity management program, and implement mitigation measures. Given the anticipated brief implementation period upon issue of the Final Rule, GTI’s DIMP workshop provides early guidance for understanding and meeting these new requirements.

For more information or to register, visit For information about an onsite workshop, contact Rod Rinholm, executive director, at (847)768-0868 or

New approaches needed to build U.S. infrastructure

If the United States is to build the infrastructure it truly needs for the 21st Century, then new approaches are needed, experts from business, trade associations, labor and the academic world, together with current and former policymakers, recently agreed.

Such experts gathered at the Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure for Global Competitiveness, conference hosted by Iona College and sponsored by Terex Corporation, to explain that the nation needs to re-think the way it plans and invests in infrastructure initiatives, putting politics aside and making “smart” choices that will benefit the nation’s economic well being for the long run.

“Our infrastructure is deteriorating faster than we can keep up with it, let alone dealing with new capacity, and it is seldom tailored to the challenges of today,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. “While problems get more acute, too many politicians will focus on what they don’t want to do and what they’re against, as opposed to what they can do, what they should do and what they will do, and then proceed with programs as they have done for 10 or 20 or 50 years or more. We no longer have that luxury. Luckily, I think there is a perfect storm that is aligning for solutions.”

Andrew Herrmann, chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure, estimates that $2.2 trillion will be needed over five years to bring the nation’s infrastructure “back to a good condition.” He echoed a recurrent theme of the conference saying, “This year’s economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, basically included about $100 billion for infrastructure. And it was an important first step in improving the nation’s infrastructure. While this is a substantial amount, the amount invested should only be seen as a down payment on the sustained investment needed for our infrastructure.”

Keynote speaker Gerard Mooney, general manager of Global Government and Education at IBM, commented that our country has the opportunity to build infrastructure for the future. “I totally believe that the technology is ready to deploy. It’s really about shifting and starting to meld the digital with the physical infrastructure and coming up with new systems. And what that means is that the associations and the people who are responsible for either funding this type of infrastructure, or building it, or advising on it, or planning it, they now have to start thinking about what are the other disciplines we need to bring into the dialogue.”

To view the presentations and full conference transcript visit

Study reveals construction equipment theft holds steady

LoJack Corp. said that the level of equipment theft held steady in 2008 in its eighth annual Construction Equipment Theft Study.

“in todays down economy, construction equipment owners need to take extra precautions to protect their valuable equipment from opportunistic professional thieves who see this as a high reward, low risk form of theft,” said Ronald Waters, LoJack’s president and CEO. “Unfortunately, the real cost of stolen equipment is far more than the value of the item stolen, since business owners typically pay the hefty price tag of business downtime, increases in insurance premiums and contract penalties. Stolen vehicle recovery systems — such as the one offered by LoJack — provide business owners with the protection they need to safeguard their equipment and their business from financial losses due to theft.”

Poor on-site security, easy access to open cabs, one key fits all and lack of product identification numbers/records are all issues that make construction equipment easy targets for professional thieves.

In 2008, LoJack recovered more than $15.5 million in stolen construction equipment. Since entering the construction market in 2000, the company has recovered more than $100 million in LoJack-equipped stolen construction assets, plus the value of other stolen non-LoJack equipped construction equipment police recovered in shop shops and theft rings.

This year’s study once again showed the ongoing role organized crime plays in the problem of construction equipment theft, with law enforcement discovering nine theft rings and chop shops through tracking and recovering stolen equipment with the LoJack System. Through these discoveries, police recovered more than $2 million in additional stolen assets that were not LoJack-equipped.

Overall, LoJack has enabled law enforcement to discover more than 70 theft rings and chop shops since entering the construction market.

The study also revealed that newer equipment on the job site is the most common theft target because of higher resale value. The types of equipment most frequently stolen are (in order):

  1. Backhoe loaders/skip loaders/wheel loaders/track loaders
  2. Light utility/work trucks and trailers
  3. Generators/air compressors/welders
  4. Skid-steers
  5. Forklifts/scissor lifts

These equipment types represented more than 75 percent of all construction equipment recoveries documented by LoJack in 2008. A full 66 percent of the equipment stolen and recovered was five years old or less and 72 percent was recovered in 24 hours or less after being reported to the police.

Based on LoJack’s recovery data, the following are the top states with the highest occurrence of equipment theft in 2008:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. Nevada
  5. Arizona
  6. Georgia
  7. New Jersey
  8. New York
  9. Illinois
  10. Maryland

The report also indicated that construction theft is a local issue. In 97 percent of the cases, the stolen equipment was recovered in the same state in which the theft was reported. It was either in a storage facility or in use at another local job site. Unlike auto theft, which has a higher incidence in major cities around the country, construction theft is not confined to city streets and urban areas. Rather, it often occurs in suburban areas where construction activity has been high.

LoJack makes these suggestions on how to protect equipment and businesses from the costly problem of theft: keep good records; label all equipment; keep accurate inventory records; register equipment with National Equipment Register (NER); focus on physical site security; use theft deterrents and proven recovery systems; use immobilization devices such as wheel locks, fuel shut-offs or ignition locks; consider installing battery-disconnect switches; and use a proven tracking/recovery system that offers time-tested tracking technology.

$50B infrastructure projects announced

The 7th Annual Latin American Leadership Forum announced the top 50 infrastructure projects in Latin America, which were presented by project developers from throughout the Americas on April 27-29, in Houston, TX. Total project value exceeds $50 billion, across 10 infrastructure sectors, with total job creation of two million jobs per year. VIPs from around the region participated, including the governor of São Paulo, Brazil, and the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority.

“What we are seeing is an explosion of infrastructure project opportunities in the region,” according to Norman F. Anderson, president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure, the Leadership Forum organizer. “The public and private sectors throughout the region are making a serious decision to double the level of infrastructure investment, and build their way out of the crisis.” The 500+ executives participating in the Forum included executives from leading oil and gas firms, including Pemex and Petrobras, along with global engineering/construction and technology/equipment firms.

Project selections are based on two fundamental criteria: They must present specific business opportunities over the next 3-12 months; and must be critical to the country or region’s competitiveness. The 10 critical infrastructure sectors are:

  • Strategic/Transformational – $10.17 billion, including the $5.2 billion Panama Canal Expansion, presented by Alberto Aleman Zubieta, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority;
  • Electricity Generation – $11.63 billion, including CFE’s cogeneration projects in Mexico (Salamanca Plant) and Brazil’s CPFL investment program;
  • Oil & Gas – $14.73 billion. Including the $3.5 billion PEMEX Chicontepec exploration project, and exploration opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and Guatemala;
  • New Generation – $316 million. Including more than $500 million in wind opportunities in Mexico, and additional projects from the Dominican Republic;
  • Water & Wastewater Treatment – $1.319 billion. Including major wastewater treatment projects in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Brazil;
  • Urban Mass Transit – $3.21 billion. Including major projects from Mexico, San Jose’s Metropolitan Electric Train (Costa Rica) and Brazil’s World Cup projects;
  • Ports & Logistics – $2.27 billion. Including the development of Mexico’s Multimodal Corridor covering the entire extension Mazatlan – Durango – Matamoros;
  • Highways – $4.78 billion. Including two $1.5 billion highway concessions from Brazil and Mexico, and two concessions from the Dominican Republic;
  • Digital Infrastructure/Smart Grid – $654 million; including a complete electrical transmission system expansion in Guatemala; and
  • Tourism – $1.39 billion. Including the Huatulco Project in Mexico.

In Memoriam: Nelson Ealey

Nelson Ealey, vice president and general manager of Tramac Corp. passed away on March 16 at home, at the age of 58.

After a career in the insurance business, Ealey joined Tramac as a consultant in 1989, helping set up a new and modern information system. He held several positions within Tramac as controller, vice president of finance and administration, sales manager and vice-president of sales.

When Ingersoll Rand purchased most of Tramac’s assets, Ealey assisted in the transition, and then he returned to Tramac to lead the company’s Boom and Attachment business.

Ealey is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Ginger; two daughters, Jennifer and Katie and her husband, Andy; a granddaughter, Noelle; two brothers and one sister.

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