December Newsline: Climate change costs, U.S. export performance and more

Report estimates climate change adaptation costs, impacts to utilities
Birmingham mayor found guilty
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
EPA stormwater rulings
Wind farm to bring power to California
Correction
In Memoriam

Report estimates climate change adaptation costs, impacts to utilities
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the Association of the Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) released a report recently detailing the impacts climate change can have on wastewater and drinking water utilities and estimating the adaptation costs for these critical facilities to be between $448 billion and $944 billion through 2050. The associations, which represent the nation’s public wastewater and drinking water agencies, urged Congress and the Obama administration to recognize that climate change is fundamentally about water and to implement policies that will help utilities take timely actions to adapt.
Climate change impacts to wastewater and drinking water utilities, which provide critical economic, public health, and environmental benefits, include sea level rise and extreme flooding that can inundate and incapacitate treatment facilities; water quality degradation and increased treatment requirements; water scarcity and the need to develop new drinking water supplies; and lower flows in drought conditions that can affect the operation of treatment facilities.

Adaptation strategies involve integrating aspects of the constructed and natural water cycle through “water portfolio management” that provides utilities flexibility to craft sustainable approaches to suit their specific needs. Water conservation, new water conveyance and storage, desalination, and wastewater reuse are options to help utilities adapt. In addition, green infrastructure solutions that mimic the natural environment can be used to address stormwater flows at a lower cost while providing the ancillary benefits of providing habitat, recharging aquifers, and enhancing water quality.

For more information, visit: www.nacwa.org and www.amwa.net.

Birmingham mayor found guilty
Larry Langford, former mayor of the city of Birmingham, AL, and a former Jefferson County commissioner, has been found guilty in his federal bribery trial.

Langford’s career spans 32 years beginning as an award-winning television journalist and as mayor of Fairfield, before becoming mayor of Birmingham where he was the driving force behind VisionLand amusement park.

Key to the trial was the testimony of Montgomery investment banker William Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre. Both pleaded guilty in the case and testified that Langford received bribes from them that amounted to $236,000 in money, clothes and jewelry. In return, jurors heard, Langford ensured that Blount’s investment bank, Blount Parrish & Co., was included in Jefferson County bond deals and interest-rate swaps that reaped the firm $7.1 million. The work was part of Jefferson County’s sewer/water rehabilitation program as mandated by a consent decree from the EPA.

In 2007, Langford was investigated by the SEC on corruption charges. In 2008, a lawsuit was filed against him for illegally accepting $156,000 in cash and benefits.

On Dec. 1, 2008, Langford, along with Blount and LaPierre, was arrested by the FBI on a 101-count indictment alleging conspiracy, bribery, fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns in connection with a long-running bribery scheme. His public corruption trial ended on Oct. 28, 2009 with convictions on 60 counts, and resulted in his automatic removal from office. He plans to appeal the verdict as he remains free awaiting sentencing and faces up to 805 years in prison.

Langford’s conviction triggers a change in the leadership of Birmingham. Under the Mayor-Council Act, City Council President Carole Smitherman immediately became interim mayor once the guilty verdict was read.

The county’s debt, including sewer, school and other bonds, rose by about $1 billion under Langford, and has now risen to about $5 billion. The county is facing bankruptcy because of bonds and swaps sold to investors that raised money for repairing and expanding an outdated sewer system.

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.

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.

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 bp/d 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.

EPA stormwater rulings
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on extending the 2008 stormwater construction general permit by one year to June 30, 2011. The permit applies only where EPA is the permitting authority, which is in five states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Idaho and Alaska); Washington, D.C.; most territories; and most Indian country lands.
The permit regulates the discharge of stormwater from construction sites that disturb one acre or more of land, and from smaller sites that are part of a larger, common plan of development. The permit requires construction site operators to comply with stormwater discharge requirements that are intended to prevent sediment loss, soil erosion and other pollution issues at active construction sites.
The extension of the 2008 permit is needed to allow the agency sufficient time to coordinate a revised permit with a second effort that is underway to establish national clean water standards, known as an effluent limitation guideline, for the construction and development industry by Dec. 1, 2009. The public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed extension to the permit after publication in the Federal Register.

Wind farm to bring power to California
Pattern Energy Group LP will commence construction of its Hatchet Ridge wind project, the first large-scale wind project to begin construction this year in California. The 101.2-MW Hatchet Ridge project, developed by Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc., will be located on a portion of Hatchet Mountain near the town of Burney in Shasta County, CA. RES America Construction Inc. will construct the project, which will consist of 44 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines. The project is expected to finish construction and reach commercial operation before the end of next year.

Hatchet Ridge will generate power for nearly 44,000 California homes annually. Pacific Gas and Electric Company will purchase the power, including the renewable attributes, under a 15-year power purchase agreement.

In addition, Hatchet Ridge will create approximately 100 to 200 construction jobs over the next year and 6 to 8 permanent jobs during operations. There will also be an economic ripple effect in the area from the purchases of goods and services for the wind farm and increased business for service industries.

Correction
In the June 2009 issue of Underground Construction, an article from Dr. Erez Allouche of the Trenchless Technology Center at Louisiana Tech University, misidentified a product. The sentence referring to Copon Hycote 169 should have read: “Commercially available products include Copon Hycote 169 HB (the U.S. version is named Scotckote 269).” We regret the error.

In Memoriam
Loy Sterling Clark, 92, passed away July 8 at his home in Beaverton, OR. A businessman who made his fortune without a college degree, Clark was a noted pioneer in the pipeline construction industry in Oregon. After gaining experience in the industry, Clark formed Loy Clark Pipeline in 1956 in Oregon, with just 12 employees. At its peak, more than 350 employees worked at LCP, including three generations of family members. In 1999, LCP was sold to MDU, but Clark continued to work at the company until his retirement in 2006.

Clark is preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Marie; and a daughter, Anita. He is survived by his brother, Bob; children, Ronald and Debra; and their families that include eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Bill Creel died at his home in Bartlesville, OK, on Oct 19. He began his first job with H. C. Price Company at the age of 16 as a truck swamper in North Dakota. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, he moved to New Orleans to continue work with Price.

In 1963, he opened the office of Price International in London. Creel was responsible for building many of the world’s largest pipelines in the Middle East, Alaska and Australia. In 1975, he was named senior vice president of H. C. Price, and in 1976 he was named president of the National Association of Pipe Coating Applicators. He retired from Price in 1979.

Creel is survived by his wife Caro; brother Don; son William and daughter Kathleen; and several grandchildren. Contributions may be made to: The William G. Creel Fund for Adult Day Care Scholarships for ElderCare, Washington County ElderCare, 1223 Swan Drive, Bartlesville, OK 74006; or St. John’s Catholic School, 121 E. 8th Street, Bartlesville, OK 74003.

Curtis Howard Allen, 67, of Laurel, MS, died Oct. 22 at his residence. Allen was a regional sales manager for Baroid-Halliburton Company. He received an engineering degree from Mississippi State University. Allen is survived by his wife Eva Ann; sons Jerry and David; daughters Joan, Patty, Heather and Beth; and nine grandchildren. Donations may be made to: Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, 2990 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 300C, Los Angeles, CA 90064.

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