November Newsline: Water industry $127B in 2009; Inergy pipeline update; Tampa sewer rates rising

Water industry projected to be worth $127B in 2009
Inergy moves ahead with natural gas pipeline
Tampa’s sewer rates to rise
Clean Water Act spurs Jeffersonville, IN, to upgrade sewer systems

OSHA requires safe egress from trenches
U.S. construction machinery exports down in 2009
Telecom firm is new telephone provider in Boerne, TX
Enbridge to deliver Canadian oil to U.S. via new pipeline

Water industry projected to be worth $127B in 2009
According to the updated Environmental Business Journal’s ZweigWhite WaterView Report, the U.S. water industry is projected to be worth $127 billion in 2009, a 2.4 percent increase over 2008 figures. The volume of this market is driven by many factors, including an aging infrastructure combined with population growth. The sheer size of the market, coupled with the dire need for more water-related development in many regions of the world, signals enormous opportunity for engineering, construction, environmental consulting, and allied professional services firms.

The fifth edition of EBJ’s WaterView Report series is a comprehensive manual and market research document for the current state and future of the water and wastewater businesses in multiple segments. This 811-page report maps out the water industry by sector, with many market data breakdowns and forecasts, and the latest trends and strategies derived from hundreds of executive interviews.

Inergy moves ahead with natural gas pipeline
After receiving positive feedback from prospective customer, Kansas City-based Inergy LP is planning to build a natural gas pipeline that could cost as much as $425 million.

The company will ask for regulatory approval before the end of the year for a 43-mile pipeline in northeast Pennsylvania. The Marc I pipeline and North-South project will link three main gas pipelines in upstate Pennsylvania and New York. The company expects to complete the project in 2011.

The project would allow Inergy to charge other natural gas companies in the area to transport their product through the Inergy-owned pipelines.

The Marc I project sits on the Marcellus Shale formation, a massive are of mostly untapped natural gas reserves that is among the largest in the United States. It covers large portions of Pennsylvania and New York and borders New Jersey to the northwest, giving it proximity to several large cities.

Tampa’s sewer rates to rise
Tampa City Council members voted to impose a sewer rate increase, which will be staggered over three years beginning in October.

Without the increase, wastewater officials said, increased expenses and rising debt on outstanding bonds would drain the department’s coffers by 2011.

Under the new rates, customers will see a nearly 36 percent increase in the three-year period. An average residential bill which now is $33.60 will increase to about $39.10 in fiscal year 2010. In three years it would be close to $47 a month.

Plans for the additional money are to cover maintenance and repair.

Even with the increases, Tampa will have some of the lowest sewer rates in the Tampa Bay area.

Clean Water Act spurs Jeffersonville, IN, to upgrade sewer systems
The city of Jeffersonville, IN, has agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems that will significantly reduce the city’s longstanding sewage overflows into the Ohio River in a comprehensive Clean Water Act settlement with federal and state government, the Justice Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Indiana.

According to a consent decree filed in September in federal court, the city is required to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate overflows into the Ohio River from its combined sewers by calendar year 2020 or 2025, depending on Jeffersonville’s financial health; implement a plan with specific actions to improve the capacity, management, operation, and maintenance of its sanitary sewer system to eliminate overflows of untreated sewage; and eliminate all discharge points within its sanitary sewer system.

Under this settlement, the city will improve its sewer system to minimize, and in many cases, eliminate those overflows at a cost likely between $100 and $150 million.

In addition to improving its sewer system, Jeffersonville has agreed to pay the United States a civil penalty of $49,500 and the state of Indiana a civil penalty of $8,250, provided that Jeffersonville implements two environmental projects identified in the settlement that are designed to improve water quality in the city at a cost of more than $248,000.

Located on the north bank of the Ohio River, directly across the river from Louisville, KY, Jeffersonville has a population of approximately 30,000. Of Jeffersonville’s total sewer area, 15 percent is served by combined sewers while 85 percent is served by separate sanitary sewers. The combined sewers are located in the older, downtown portion of Jeffersonville and lack sufficient capacity to transport all of the combined sewage that it receives to the city’s wastewater treatment plant during rainfall events. As a result, Jeffersonville commonly discharges the combination of sewage and storm water through one or more of its 13 combined sewer overflow outfalls that discharge to the Ohio River.

A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at

OSHA requires safe egress from trenches
In an interpretation letter posted July 27, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration advised employers that employees working in trenches must be able to exit safely at all times, whether by a ladder, stairway, ramp or other means.

OSHA was responding to a question from a contractor who asked if he could remove ladders during trenching activities under a specified scenario. The company said in some cases, having a ladder in a trench box makes it difficult to provide employees with enough room to work safely while installing underground pipelines. The company asked OSHA if the ladder could be removed once employees used it to enter the trench box and kept near the exit point just outside the box, then two safety-trained workers would remain outside the exit point to lower the ladder in the event of an emergency ore when workers need to leave the trench. It was stressed that the two workers outside would be in constant communications with the workers inside the trench until the ladder was removed.

OSHA answered that this scenario would not constitute a safe egress and would not comply with federal law. The agency added that the complexity of such a system would make it inherently more susceptible to failure than a simple requirement to have a ladder or similar means of exit in place in the trench.

U.S. construction machinery exports down in 2009
U.S. construction machinery exports dropped 36 percent during the first half of 2009, with $6.4 billion shipped to global markets compared to $10.1 billion at mid-year 2008, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

The AEM off-road equipment manufacturing trade group consolidates U.S. Commerce Dept. data with other sources into global trend reports for members.

All world regions recorded double-digit declines in construction equipment exports for the first half of 2009, led by Europe and Canada.

  • Exports declined 53 percent to Europe for a total $777 million, and dropped 45 percent to Canada for a total $1.8 billion.
  • Exports to Asia decreased 30 percent to $939 million.
  • Exports to Central America dropped 21 percent to $662 million, with a lesser decline to South America – minus 14 percent for a total $1.2 billion.
  • Australia/Oceania’s export purchases decreased 42 percent to $497 million, while Africa took delivery of $528 million worth of construction equipment, a 24-percent drop.

“U.S. exports of construction equipment began to erode in third quarter 2008 with the worsening global recession. We’re an export-intensive industry and the continuing decline is especially detrimental since we’re also experiencing steep cuts in domestic business,” said Al Cervero, AEM senior vice president.

“The U.S government has been using various economic stimulus measures to jump-start the economy. The economic stimulus package has fallen short for construction machinery manufacturers. But, free trade increases exports and stimulates the economy. It helps keep American manufacturers in business, providing American jobs and economic resources to communities, states and the nation.”

AEM is urging Congress to pass the free-trade agreements already completed, and to leave NAFTA alone, Cervero said. “Other nations are joining in free trade agreements with each other and we are being left behind,” he added.

“We also need to get our roads and bridges and other infrastructure in good condition so we can move goods to market more efficiently. China and many other nations realize the connection and are spending much more on infrastructure than we are – China’s 9 percent of GDP for example compared to 0.93 percent for the U.S. We need to be sure U.S. manufacturers have access to business around the world, as other nations ramp up their infrastructure funding to better compete on a global scale,” Cervero said.

Telecom firm is new telephone provider in Boerne, TX
GVTC Communications is the winning bidder to supply telephone service to the city of Boerne, TX. The agreement calls for GVTC to connect city governmental offices with 18 phone lines. The phone service is being delivered through GVTC’s fiber-to-the-premises network. GVTC recently completed a project to connect the entire Boerne business district with fiber optics communications, making Boerne one of the few cities in the nation to have this type of network.

The telephone cooperative initiated a program to put fiber connections in the downtown area two years ago at a cost of about $1 million. That effort has proven to be so successful that the network will be expanded later this year to encompass a business park and some other areas along the Interstate 10 access road just north of downtown Boerne — which is located northwest of San Antonio.

The additional expansion of fiber to the north will cost about $50,000. The cost is significantly less than the initial roll-out of fiber in the downtown area because all of the electronic components that are needed have already been purchased, he says.

GVTC is in the midst of a five-year, $35 million fiber-optic expansion to more than 16,500 properties throughout its coverage area. The project is expected to be complete by 2012.
The Boerne expansion is outside of GVTC’s original coverage area and is considered a competitive initiative by the telephone co-operative.

Smithson Valley-based GVTC serves rural residents living in the Texas Hill Country. It markets voice, high-speed Internet, digital cable television and home security monitoring services on behalf of 32,000 members.

GVTC was formed in 1951 and is now the largest telephone cooperative in the state, with more than 32,000 members in 11 counties.

Enbridge to deliver Canadian oil to U.S. via new pipeline
On August 20, the United States approved Enbridge Inc.’s $3.3 billion Alberta Clipper pipeline project, granting the project, which will deliver Canadian oil to U.S. refineries a presidential permit, and causing an upset with some environmental groups. The U.S. State Department said that allowing construction of the 450,000 barrel per day line serves U.S. interests by adding secure oil supplies from outside the OPEC nations at a time when political tensions in some producing regions threaten to interfere with oil shipments.

Enbridge hope to have the 1,600-kilometer (992 mile) line up and running by mid-2010 and said it expects to begin construction soon, creating more than 3,000 U.S. jobs.

The August issue of Underground Construction, pg. 12, names CNH as the manufacturer of the Case 400 Series 3 skid steers. Case Construction is the brand name of this product and should have been listed as Case. Please see the correct product listing in this issue on page 58 in New Products.

Also, on page 33 in the June issue of Underground Construction, the Pipe Selection Chart incorrectly names Amitech USA as the pipe manufacturer. The company changed its name to US Composite Pipe and should have been listed as such. The pipe information for US Composite is correct.

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