WaterWorks News: Jackson main breakages, stimulus at work in Kennebunkport, Alaska water quality improvement projects and more

Winter storms bring woes to crumbling pipes
The recent winter months brought about 150 water main breaks to the city of Jackson, MS. Some of the cities’ 100-year old pipes that are made of pit cast iron became brittle and were prone to breakage when the ground shifted due to the freezing temperatures, many of which are buried in clay.

Jackson’s City Council has plans to discuss a resolution to ask the state legislature for money to begin replacing its crumbling waterlines. The cost could be anywhere from $72 million to $300 million, according to Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.

Windfall stimulus funds for Kennebunkport water pipe replacement
In Kennebunkport, ME, a 10,000-foot long water pipe replacement project is slated for this year. The Maine Drinking Water Program received four times the amount of money from the EPA this year because of stimulus funds. The $2 million-plus project will to begin around March 1.

Normally, a project of this size would take five or six years to complete because of the cost involved. Stimulus funds changed that this year. Originally, there was only $40 million available to the 162 water utilities in the state, however, contractors were able to bring in those projects early ahead of time and under budget, making it possible for the district to receive the funds.

The district’s crew will replace the old 10-inch metal piping, much of which was installed between 1895 and 1910, with 16-inch plastic pipes.

Alaska awarded $40M for water quality improvement projects
To address the chronic water quality problems and provide jobs to rural residents, communities across rural Alaska will receive $49 million through the Rural Alaska Village Grant Program. Alaska also received $16 million in October 2009 for rural water projects from the Village Grant Program, bringing the total to $65 million.

Saxman, a predominantly Native community located near Ketchikan, uses a water system that does not meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. About $2.3 million in Federal funds will be provided to construct a new water treatment plant, bury water mains, build sewer collection mains and decommission the old water treatment plant. A new water treatment plant and backwash lagoon will also be built in Ouzinke, on Kodiak Island.

Fort Yukon, in interior Alaska, will receive almost $5.7 million to replace crib boxes and septic tanks that have failed because of permafrost conditions. The tanks, which leak into the ground, will be replaced with sewer mains, service lines and a lift station. Meanwhile, Kotzebue will receive almost $6 million to replace lift stations, water mains and to stop erosion at the reservoir, and Kasigluk will receive $6.3 million to construct a water and sewer system. Residents of the latter community haul water to their homes and dispose of waste in buckets.

Central Florida welcomes stimulus boost
Envisors, Winter Haven, FL, recently assisted in obtaining over $5 million in federal economic stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for several clients. The ARRA funding that was obtained includes 85 percent grant funding and 15 percent low interest (2.8 percent) loan financing to construct water infrastructure projects for the cities of Haines City and Sebring. The city of Lake Hamilton received notification shortly after that their initial application was approved after being denied because the project didn’t involve a public health problem. But Envisors was tracking the stimulus spending and saw that many projects came in at less than the original estimate. That’s because construction companies struggling to find work kept their bids low. In order to obtain the ARRA funding, Envisors achieved shovel-ready status, including surveying, design, and permitting services, for the projects within a short two-month timeframe. The projects are as follows:

  • City of Haines City Northeast Water Main Expansion: Construction of approximately 6.4 miles of new 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 14-inch water main
  • City of Haines City Ground Storage Reservoir Improvements: Construction of two new 500,000 gallon ground storage reservoirs
  • City of Sebring Sparta Road Area Water Main Improvements: Construction of approximately 4.5 miles of new 12-inch water main
  • City of Lake Hamilton Main Street to U.S. 27 Water Main Improvements: Construction of new water lines at Sixth and Main streets to terminate approximately 0.75 miles below U.S. 27 at Palm Avenue.

Texas gets funds for new 179-mile water pipeline
As reported in the Star-Telegram, the Tarrant Regional Water District has received $101.6 million in financial assistance from the Texas Water Development Board to help with the design and planning of a 179-mile pipeline that will bring more water from East Texas to the Metroplex.

The $1.9 billion pipeline is a joint project with Dallas Water Utilities. It would run from Lake Palestine to Benbrook Lake and add 197 million gallons a day for the water district. Tarrant Regional already has two pipelines bringing water from the Cedar Creek and Richland Chambers reservoirs in East Texas.

For Dallas, the pipeline would connect the city with Lake Palestine for the first time and add 150 million gallons per day.

The water district, which supplies water to 11 counties, hopes to have a contract with Dallas Water Utilities by March.

The design phase will continue through 2013, with construction set to start in 2014, said David Marshall, engineering services director.

The Tarrant district hopes to have the added capacity by 2018, when new supplies will be needed.

At the time of this release, the district had not received the water development funds. The financial aid is in the form of a loan with some of the interest and principal payments deferred and the rest repaid at a lower interest rate, an official said.

Water theft prevention in California
California American Water is on the lookout for instances of water theft, a crime that often occurs when water is taken from a fire hydrant without the required authorizations. In conjunction with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, California American Water hosted a briefing for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department covering topics including: the mechanics of water theft; what to look for in the field; and how the company is working to prevent individuals from stealing water.

Contractors who need to use water from a fire hydrant for any project are required to apply for and obtain a hydrant meter from California American Water. Applications are available at California American Water’s local office in Newbury Park, located at 2439 West Hillcrest Drive, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Once an application is approved, California American Water will issue a portable water meter, which ensures that any water taken from a fire hydrant will be measured and billed.

California American Water wants people to understand that taking water from an unmetered source, including fire hydrants, without the appropriate tools and approval is against the law. Unless they are with the fire department, hydrants are off-limits without prior authorization.

All of California American Water’s field staff have been trained to investigate fire hydrant use. When company representatives find a hydrant connection without a meter, they are trained to notify local law enforcement.

California American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water, provides water and/or wastewater services to more than 600,000 people. California American Water’s Ventura service district includes approximately 20,000 households and businesses, thereby supplying water to approximately 60,000 people in the cities of Camarillo, Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks.

PPI offers new engineering design tool
It is now easier to design and write high-density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) into a specification or respond to an RFP for a buried potable water system by using a new guide developed by the Plastics Pipe Institute Inc. (PPI). Issued in December 2009, Model Specification MS-3/2009 provides design engineers, public works directors and others, including city officials, with an easy to follow template that includes authoritative references that can be included in a design, an RFP or other documentation for a project.

“To prepare a specification or to fulfill an RFP for a buried potable water project, the proper facts must be collected and included,” stated Tony Radoszewski, executive director of the PPI. “This model spec contains that information as well as many references to other standards that can be used in support of a project.”

MS-3/2009 is available as a free download at the PPI website, www.plasticpipe.org, by clicking on the “Literature” tab and selecting “Model Specifications.” The document includes sections on system design parameters, pressure class charts, pipe, fittings, joining methods and installation.

We designed this latest model spec to be an easy to understand technical document,” Radoszewski said. “A layperson can read and understand it in just a few minutes. And it provides supporting references and the industry standards that could be required.

“The document came about because we have had engineers and officials, such as mayors of cities, city council members and others, ask for an overview that would explain what is required for the use of HDPE pipe in a typical potable water system,” he continued. “They realize that old metal and cast iron pipes are cracking and costing untold water losses, and HDPE provides the economical and practical solution. This model spec gives them the knowledge to make an informed decision for a viable, long-lasting solution for fixing the quickly failing underground infrastructure.”

WSSC marks one-year anniversary of River Road break
In December 2009, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) marked the one-year anniversary of the River Road water main break by highlighting the state-of-the-art technology the Commission is using to try to prevent future large main breaks.

On Dec. 23, 2008, at approximately 7:55 a.m., a 66-inch water main transporting 150,000 gallons of water a minute burst near the 8500 block of River Road, instantly turning the roadway into a river and trapping several drivers in their cars. Thanks to the efforts of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, a potential tragedy was averted. Video of the break played around the world and River Road was closed for eight days while repairs were conducted.

WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson and Chief Engineer Gary Gumm were joined by Pure Technologies President Mark Holley to explain and demonstrate what WSSC has been doing to help prevent future River Roads through the implementation of its large main inspection program.

The program uses “SmartBall” technology, where a high-tech microphone inserted into large mains to find leaks while they are in service carrying water; visual inspections by staff physically inside the mains; “P-Wave” electromagnetic monitoring to pinpoint weaknesses; and acoustic fiber optic monitoring to warn WSSC of distressed areas well in advance of future breaks.

A total of 21.9 miles of large mains has been equipped with acoustic fiber optic monitoring, with 12.9 additional miles slated for inspection and acoustic fiber optic installation in 2010.

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