October Newsline: New England Gets Storm Sewer Complaints; Texas Maps Broadband; Trench Violations Mean Penalties

New England communities face actions to improve storm sewer pollution
Texas to map broadband availability, prioritize federal stimulus funding
Trench violations result in penalties
Fiber network could be deal breaker

Pennsylvania water main gets upgrade
Acoustic technology detects leaks in pipes
Call for papers for Plastic Pipes 2010 Conference
STI/SPFA hosts Webinar training program on steel pipe design

New England communities face actions to improve storm sewer pollution
As part of a new integrated effort to combat illegal sewage connections that can lead to significant water pollution in New England’s waters, EPA recently filed complaints against one New Hampshire and eight Massachusetts communities for failing to meet permit requirements designed to ensure that sewage and other pollutants stay out of storm sewers which drain to local rivers, ponds and coastal waters. As part of this effort, EPA is offering training and other support to communities to help them detect and eliminate illegal sewer connections.

Since 2003, 297 urbanized cities and towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have been subject to an EPA general permit, which sets requirements for reducing pollution discharges from storm sewers. Among other requirements, the communities must produce maps of their storm sewers, pass an ordinance or by-law prohibiting non-stormwater discharges to the storm sewers, and implement a plan to find and remove improper connections to the storm sewers.

The nine communities have failed to meet some or all of these requirements, potentially allowing raw sewage or other pollutants to discharge to their local waters. EPA has filed complaints against the nine communities seeking penalties. The communities and maximum penalties include Plaistow, N.H. ($40,000), and in Massachusetts: Canton ($50,000); Concord ($50,000); Dennis ($50,000); Eastham ($40,000); Gardner ($60,000); Peabody ($70,000); and Winthrop ($70,000). Because Fall River has not responded to a formal information request, EPA is filing a complaint proposing an amount of up to the maximum administrative penalty under the Clean Water Act for this type of case, $177,500. After Fall River furnishes the required information, EPA will refine the penalty amount.

EPA is simultaneously issuing compliance orders to the nine communities requiring each to implement fully a plan to identify and eliminate illegal sewage connections. This includes a requirement to monitor storm water discharges to impaired waters in order to identify the illegal sewage connections.

EPA is simultaneously launching a compliance assistance initiative for cities and towns to give them tools to help identify and eliminate illegal storm sewer connections.
Activities include workshops and webinars; a GPS Unit Training and Loan Program to help communities meet critical sewer outfall mapping requirements; access to the EPA National Stormwater Web Page, which sets out compliance information specifically addressing municipal community storm water compliance needs; and the creation of collaborative partnerships among EPA New England and municipalities to increase awareness of and compliance with stormwater regulations, identify Best Management Practices; and share strategies to achieve compliance on a cost-effective basis.

Texas to map broadband availability, prioritize federal stimulus funding
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced a partnership between the Texas Department of Agriculture and Connected Nation, a national nonprofit, to create a broadband initiative called Connected Texas and to develop a detailed broadband inventory map to better position Texas for competitive funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The map, which will feature the information of participating broadband providers large and small, is expected to serve as a key asset for the state as it prepares for federal stimulus funding to support broadband investment.

The Texas broadband map, which will be a function of Connected Texas, will feature a collaborative, public-private approach to broadband mapping. The map will illustrate broadband service availability at the street level, based on information from all types of providers across Texas, including cable, telephone, wireless Internet service providers, rural cooperatives and municipalities. Most importantly, the broadband map will illustrate the service gaps that remain in rural and other remote locations.

The Texas map will be developed under the leadership of the Texas Department of Agriculture. Through a rigorous system of broadband data collection, GIS analysis, and data verification, Connected Texas’s mapping project will determine where broadband service is currently available to Texas households statewide and, more importantly, the gaps in coverage where households are not served by any broadband provider.

Trench violations result in penalties
The Pipe Line Contractors Association reported that a Missouri based contractor working at a job site in Fort Smith, AR, has been assessed with one willful and nine serious violations of worker safety regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA said the will citation was issued for failing to establish a protective system, such as sloping or benching of the soil or a shoring method to prevent soil collapse, to guard against cave-ins of a seven-foot trench that was not adequately sloped. The agency said five workers were seen in the trench working.

The nine serious violations included failing to provide trench hazard training and failing to ensure that workers had appropriate access to and from trenches.

Fiber network could be deal breaker
Recently, a local Delaware County, OH, official stated that the key to continuing economic growth for the county could lie in fiber optic wire, which can deliver information faster over the Internet than broadband services.

In many cases it is the “deal breaker” when a company is considering two sites, and one has fiber optic service available and the other doesn’t, said Gus Comstock, the county’s economic development director.

In May, Motorists Insurance Group disclosed plans to build a $14-million, 18,000-square-foot data center in New Albany, OH, rather than Delaware, he said. One of the main reasons was New Albany has a fiber optic system in place and Delaware doesn’t.

The article further states that county commissioners took action after their July 16 meeting by accepting bids to build the Delaware Super Highway, including business development in Liberty Township, by passing a resolution “declaring the intent … to proceed with the bidding, installing and operating a fiber optic network.”

In attendance at the meeting was Delaware Mayor Windell Wheeler, who spoke in support of the resolution on behalf of the city.

“We are finding many companies want to come into the city and county, and for them fiber optics is just as important as water, sewer, gas, telephone and electricity,” he said. The city failed to attract a company with “65 well-paying jobs” because the city could not offer fiber optics.

Pennsylvania water main gets upgrade
Pennsylvania American Water recently completed construction to replace an aging water main in West Lawn to improve service reliability for residents and increase water flows for firefighting. The company installed nearly 600 feet of new 12-inch ductile iron pipe along Woodside Avenue between Noble Street and West Wyomissing Blvd. The estimated cost of the upgrades is approximately $250,000.

“This project will replace aging pipe and fire hydrants that date as far back as the 1930s,” said Brian Hassinger, Pennsylvania American Water manager of field operations, southeast region. “With this investment, we are rehabilitating the water infrastructure to ensure that our customers receive quality, reliable water service for years to come.”

Acoustic technology detects leaks in pipes
Using new technology to listen for clues in its pipes, New Jersey American Water is able to determine where significant problems could arise in its water system, sometimes before the break can occur in the water main.

The new technology uses the Internet to continuously transmit data from permanent acoustic monitors that aid in proactive leak detection. New Jersey American Water technicians equipped with additional electronic devices, use computer software to processes the digital signals and analyze the sound, and time of travel of the sound generated by a leak to accurately calculate its location.

Acoustic leak detection technology can help save millions of gallons of water. In February, a system control room operator noticed that the average daily flow of water servicing a section of Bridgewater, NJ, had jumped from about 550,000 gallons per day to more than 840,000 gallons per day. Using the new acoustic leak detection technology, New Jersey technicians found seven water main breaks. Repairs were made and the average daily flow of water went back to normal.

Call for papers for Plastic Pipes 2010 Conference
The Plastic Pipes Conference Association is now accepting abstracts for its Plastic Pipes XV Conference that will be held on Sept. 20-22, 2010 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The deadline for abstract submission is Oct. 31, 2009.

The conference will feature more than 100 presentations during three days in the areas of sustainability, conservation, energy, water, plumbing, drainage, mining, industrial and irrigation. Plastic piping materials such as polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), and others will be covered during the conference.

In addition to the technical sessions, Plastic Pipes XV will also feature exhibits showcasing the latest developments in plastic piping systems testing, design and manufacturing. PPXV will be held in conjunction with the American Gas Association’s Plastics Materials Committee meeting.

Additional information including a downloadable abstract submission form and sponsorship opportunities can be found at: www.PPXV.org. Or send your questions to: PPXV@everettreed.com.

STI/SPFA hosts Webinar training program on steel pipe design
The Steel Tank Institute/Steel Plate Fabricators Association (STI/SPFA) is hosting a 90 minute Webinar training program on the design of steel pipe, Nov. 13 from 10-11:30 a.m. The program will be presented by independent consultant, Dennis Dechant, P.E. and industry expert, Dr. Reynolds Watkins, P.E., professor emeritus from Utah State University.

The Webinar will provide information on the design of the pipe/soil system, which includes a detailed discussion of the design of steel pipe and a thorough discussion of the related soil mechanics.

This Webinar is best suited for design and specifying engineers, utility system owners and contractors who are interested in an advance study of steel pipe design.

In addition, STI/SPFA is now offering Continuing Education Units (CEU) accreditation through Arizona State University.

Registration for specifying engineers and contractors is $150 and $125 for utility system owners. Groups of six or more from the same facility save $25 per person.

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