January Newsline: EPA Cracks Down on Violations; Cat Invests in India; Stimulus Projects At Work


EPA cites 14 municipalities for stormwater violations
Wind farm brings power to California
Tarlton completes historic engineering feat
Caterpillar to invest in India

Recovery Act project funds millions for rural water projects
JPMorgan to pay SEC over $700M in settlement
Stimulus projects begin in Schererville
Pressure pipe developments
IBM to automate DC WASA system
In Memoriam

EPA cites 14 municipalities for stormwater violations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited 14 municipalities in Pennsylvania and Maryland for stormwater violations, nine of which are within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

EPA requires the cited municipalities to correct problems with their respective municipal separate storm sewer (MS4) programs and come into compliance with their state-issued discharge permits. MS4s are publicly owned drainage systems designed to collect and convey stormwater from urbanized areas.

Wind farm brings power to California
Pattern Energy Group LP began construction of its Hatchet Ridge wind project, the first large-scale wind project in California in late 2009. 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 2010.

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.

Tarlton completes historic engineering feat
Tarlton Corp., a St. Louis-based general contracting and construction management firm, completed a historic engineering feat as part of its work on the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District’s Lemay Wastewater Treatment Plant Wet Weather Expansion project. The team installed a temporary diversion around a portion of MSD’s 96-inch influent pipe as part of a multiyear project to increase the district’s peak wet-weather treatment capacity.

Once the temporary piping and a diversion structure were installed, MSD shut down flow to the plant for approximately 90 minutes so workers could remove a cap from an existing riser pipe to allow the influent to flow through the diversion structure. After draining the system of standing water, workers had less than 45 minutes to remove the cap and install a butterfly-shaped STOPPLE plug through a 60-inch opening cut in the existing 96-inch pipe at the tie-in point to force the flow through the diversion piping. They also erected six temporary steel gates in the grit structure to stop water from flowing between tanks.

Tarlton and Haberberger Mechanical Contractors then removed approximately 80 feet of existing pipe and installed new pieces to connect a new structure to the existing influent path, allowing MSD to more accurately measure flow into the plant and control flow into the wet weather expansion under construction. Once the new pipe is laid, another shutdown will be required to remove the plug, reattach the cap on the riser and remove the temporary gates.

Cronin credited all participating firms for “working through the challenges with great cooperation and teamwork.” In addition to MSD and Haberberger, Tarlton’s partners on the project are Black & Veatch, KAI Design & Build and TD Williamson, which installed the STOPPLE plug.

MSD tapped Tarlton in 2007 as general contractor for the $87 million, 30-month Lemay project, which will increase the peak wet-weather treatment capacity of the plant. Tarlton’s work includes tunneling, 12-foot-diameter sewer piping, construction of four primary clarifiers, two grit basins, a primary sludge pump station, grit handling building and numerous cast-in-place vaults, the deepest being 74 feet underground. Completion is scheduled for early 2010.

Caterpillar to invest in India
Caterpillar plans to invest $200 million in India over five years to make construction equipment as demand grows in the second-fastest growing major economy. The company is open to forming joint ventures with local manufacturers as it seeks to boost sales in India, where the government plans to add 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of roads a day, said Richard Lavin, Caterpillar’s group president for the Asia region.

Jim Owens, Caterpillar’s CEO, is trying to position the company to benefit from growth in Asia by 2020 as sales drop at home in the U.S. The revenue share of the Asia-Pacific region is expected grow “aggressively” over the next 10 years, Lavin said. India will award contracts worth 1 trillion rupees ($21 billion) to build about 7,500 miles of roads through June and the government will ease investment rules to boost highway projects, Kamal Nath, Minister for Road Transport and Highways said on Nov. 4. The nation needs $70 billion in investments in the next three to four years to meet its target of laying 4,350 miles of roads each year.

Caterpillar is close to an agreement on an engine-making partnership in India and has received joint-venture offers from equipment makers in China. It plans to extend loans to buyers of bulldozers and excavators in India and is talking to the government for approval for its financing unit.

Recovery Act project funds millions for rural water projects
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in November the selection of $117.3 million in water and environmental project loans and grants that are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Rural communities will reap the benefits as 31 water and wastewater projects get the go-ahead. Altogether, USDA has announced $1.96 billion for water and environmental project loans and grants, benefiting people throughout the country.

The ARRA funding is being administered by USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program, which provides loans and grants to ensure that the necessary investments are made in water and wastewater infrastructure to deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment in rural areas.

Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement. The 17 states awarded are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Vermont.

JPMorgan to pay SEC over $700M in settlement
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $75 million in fines and forfeit $647 million in fees to settle federal regulators’ charges that it made unlawful payments to friends of public officials to win municipal bond business in Jefferson County, AL.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had alleged that JPMorgan and former managing directors Charles LeCroy and Douglas MacFaddin made about $8.2 million in undisclosed payments in 2002 and 2003 to close friends of several Jefferson County commissioners. The money went to local brokerage firms whose principals or employees were friends of the county officials, the SEC said. Starting in July 2002, LeCroy and MacFaddin solicited the county for a $1.4 billion sewer bond deal.

Swayed by the payments, the county commissioners voted to select JPMorgan’s securities division as managing underwriter of the bond offerings and its affiliated bank as swap provider for the transactions, the SEC said. The $5 billion in municipal bond business and interest-rate swap agreements awarded to JPMorgan was the largest such deal in its securities division’s history, according to the SEC.

The Wall Street bank did not admit or deny the SEC allegations in agreeing to pay a $25 million civil fine and a $50 million payment to the county, and to forfeit $647 million in termination fees it claims the county owes from the canceled swap agreements.

In a civil lawsuit, the SEC also accused LeCroy and MacFaddin of securities law violations. The agency is seeking unspecified restitution from them. They plan to contest the charges.

The SEC alleged that JPMorgan, LeCroy and MacFaddin made about $8 million in undisclosed payments to close friends of several Jefferson County commissioners. Starting in July 2002, LeCroy and MacFaddin solicited the county for a $1.4 billion sewer bond deal.

JPMorgan failed to disclose any of the unlawful payments or conflicts of interest in the bond offering documents, but passed on the cost of the payments by charging the county higher interest rates on the swap transactions, according to the SEC.

New York-based JPMorgan said in a statement it has since discontinued its municipal swap-exchange business. The settlement with the SEC “does not impair any outstanding Jefferson County bonds and JPMorgan continues to work to achieve a responsible restructuring of Jefferson County’s financial affairs,” the statement said.

The SEC last year charged former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford and two others for undisclosed payments to Langford related to municipal bond offerings and swap agreement transactions made while he was president of the Jefferson County Commission. On Oct. 28, Langford was found guilty in the related criminal case on 60 counts of bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion.(See related story in Underground Construction, December issue, pg. 5.).

Retail investors increasingly participate in the municipal bond market, seeking safe investments with reliable returns. The financial crisis and tight credit have made it more difficult for some municipal securities deemed higher risk to be sold.

Stimulus projects begin in Schererville
Stimulus money has worked its way to Schererville, IN, where several town projects are under way.

The town’s wastewater treatment plant is the site where the bulk of upcoming shovel-ready infrastructure projects will take place.

The cost of the shovel-ready projects will total about $13.5 million. A $2.5 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a low-interest $6.7 million loan through the State Revolving Fund Loan Program will help defray the cost. Cash on hand combined with a $2.18 monthly sewer rate increase to Schererville sewer customers and a 20 percent contribution from the St. John Utility Board S which is allotted 20 percent use of the plant S also will pay for the projects.

Schererville is one of the first communities in Indiana to receive its stimulus and SRF funding.

The upgrades and improvements include an anaerobic digester, aerobic digester, aeration tanks and head works, such as pumps. The town also will begin the second phase of the southeast side sewer interceptor project, which will reduce overflow problems in the southeast portion of the town’s sanitary system.

Pressure pipe developments
During the AMI conference, Plastic Pressure Pipes 2009, held in Cologne, Germany on Oct. 5-7, 2009, the figures for this HDPE pressure pipes were discussed as they relate to the global market. It was determined that HDPE pressure pipes will grow from 4010 kT in 2008 to 4992 kT in 2013, according to SABIC. HDPE pipes have advantages over traditional materials in burst and sliplining and are gaining market share. The major geographic regions using this type of pipe are Europe, Northeast Asia and North America. The main growth in Europe will be in PE100 materials in Central, Eastern, Russia and the CIS states.

Pressure pipes are used in critical applications like water and gas, and performance standards are constantly being improved. At the same time there are economic factors driving down costs. The plastics pipe industry and its suppliers are coordinating efforts to produce high quality, standardised, safe products.

To learn more about what types of plastic pipes are being used around the globe, contact Dr. Sally Humphreys, business development manager, Applied Market Information Ltd. at sh@amiplastics.com.

IBM to automate DC WASA system
IBM and the District of Columbia Water & Sewer Authority (DC WASA) are working together to modernize the management of the aging water and sewer infrastructure hidden beneath the nation’s capital. The sprawling infrastructure includes hundreds of thousands of assets such as water distribution pipes, valves, public fire hydrants, collection pipes, manholes and water meters.

IBM’s Global Business Services and Research arms have started a new collaboration with DC WASA to integrate advanced analytics with asset management software from IBM and a mapping application from ESRI, an IBM Business Partner. The availability of real time, map-based information and geo-analytics will help DC WASA engineers identify potential problems before they occur. This can be done by analyzing data and uncovering patterns related to weather conditions, water use and hundreds of other variables.

The new preventative measures, including converting to automated meter readers, have substantially reduced billing-related customer calls. A future benefit of the project is that it will enable dispatchers to deploy crews based on where they are working and what areas need service, streamlining the workload and improving the customer experience.
DC WASA uses IBM’s asset management software to manage: all the wastewater treatment equipment, the water and sewer infrastructure at the Departments of Water and Sewer Services, the water quality issues maintained by the Water Quality Division, and for permit plan reviews and developer permitting.

DC WASA’s overall Enterprise Asset Management System is a combination of IBM Tivoli Maximo Enterprise Asset Management software and ESRI ArcGIS enterprise GIS (Geographic Information System) software.

In Memoriam
Reuben Leines died of cardiac arrest in Florida at the age of 86. Leines founded Minnesota Limited Inc. in 1966. He served as a member of the Distribution Contractors Association (DCA) board of directors from 1987-1989. He is the father of DCA Past President Christopher Leines

Leines was a World War II veteran and a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in engineering. He is survived by his wife, Joyce; seven children, Linda, Greg, Paulette, Karla, Sheila, Sally, Christopher and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A service celebrating Leines’ life will be held on Nov. 28, at Saron Lutheran Church in Big Lake, MN. Cards and condolences may be sent to: Joyce Leines, 24632 165th St., Big Lake, MN 55309.

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