July Newsline: EPA Rules to Reduce Effects of SSOs, DC Solving CSOs and More–Plus Web Exclusives

EPA to initiate rulemaking to reduce harmful effects of SSOs
D.C. looks for new ways to solve CSOs
Free excavation training site available

Cities awarded EPA grants
Michigan City raided by feds in hunt for enviro crimes
Plastic pipes conference expands scope Web exclusive
AEM “Construction Challenge” winners announced Web exclusive
Pattern Energy raises funds to expand wind energy pipeline Web exclusive
Mayor Ballard steps up push for water, sewer transfer Web exclusive
Kansas City set to reduce sewer overflow Web exclusive
Harris County to receive funds for water/wastewater system upgrades Web exclusive
Pipe demand brings new steel mill Web exclusive
Henkels & McCoy awarded contract Web exclusive
James R. Upton Scholarship winner announced Web exclusive
Natural gas explosions in Texas Web exclusive
In Memoriam Web exclusive

EPA to initiate rulemaking to reduce harmful effects of SSOs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is initiating a rulemaking to better protect the environment and public health from the harmful effects of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and basement backups. In many cities, SSOs and basement backups occur because of blockages, broken pipes and excessive water flowing into the pipes. SSOs present environmental and health problems because they discharge untreated wastewater that contains bacteria, viruses, suspended solids, toxics, trash and other pollutants into waterways. These overflows may also contribute to beach closures, shellfish bed closures, contamination of drinking water supplies and other environmental and health concerns.

Infrastructure issues were discussed at the Coming Together for Clean Water Conference held by EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on April 15. The agency plans to address these issues as part of its efforts to protect public health and revitalize local waterways.

EPA is considering two possible modifications to existing regulations: (1) establishing standard National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit conditions for publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) permits that specifically address sanitary sewer collection systems and SSOs; and (2) clarifying the regulatory framework for applying NPDES permit conditions to municipal satellite collection systems. Municipal satellite collection systems are sanitary sewers owned or operated by a municipality that conveys wastewater to a POTW operated by a different municipality. As a part of this effort, the agency is also considering whether to address long-standing questions about peak wet weather flows at municipal wastewater treatment plants to allow for a holistic, integrated approach to reducing SSOs while at the same time addressing peak flows at POTWs.

D.C. looks for new ways to solve CSOs
The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority is in the process of designing a deep tunnel system to capture and store combined stormwater and sewage for later treatment.

During periods of heavy rain, the system overflows with a mix of untreated stormwater and sewage. The excess pours through outfall points directly into the Anacostia River, Potomac River and Rock Creek. It also overwhelms the advanced wastewater treatment plant at Blue Plains.

A tunnel boring machine may be the answer to the District’s combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Drilling below the city and the Anacostia River could begin as soon as 2011 to create the first of three massive tunnels designed to move urban sewage safely toward the treatment plant and away from D.C.’s rivers.

The tunnels are designed to catch the extra water and release it to the treatment plant. This is one way D.C. can counter the water quality problems from polluted stormwater and meet its requirements under the Clean Water Act.

The District is also upgrading stormwater management in the two-thirds of the city that is not drained by a combined sewer system. In these areas, stormwater and sewage move through completely separate pipes, governed by a federal Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permit.

The District has already spent $140 million to add dams, tide gates and pumping stations that have cut the annual volume of overflow by 40 percent, according to the article. But nearly 2 billion gallons still empty into its rivers each year. The Anacostia receives almost 1.3 billion gallons in an average year, followed by the Potomac with 639 million and Rock Creek with 49 million.

New tunnels will serve about one third of the District’s land area, which is drained by the combined sewer system. The first tunnel will run along the Anacostia, which suffers the greatest amount of overflows and where people still seek edible fish. Each of the tunnels will be approximately 24 feet in diameter, but the Anacostia tunnel-at 13 miles in length-will be the longest.

The Anacostia tunnel is planned to start catching water in 2017, with those for Rock Creek and the Potomac scheduled for 2025.

The estimated cost is at least $2 billion. According to the Water and Sewer Authority, the annual average of 1.3 billion gallons of overflow in the Anacostia will fall to roughly 54 million. The total annual overflow in the District should drop from nearly 2 billion gallons to 138 million.

The District is seeking federal funds to help pay for its stormwater program. But without a significant influx of federal money, ratepayers could see their bill double or triple over the next 15 years.

Free excavation training site available
In an effort to raise awareness among the public, excavators and public officials, Midwest ENERGY Association created a free excavation training site. The site — www.DiggingSafely.com — is a teaching tool offering traditional excavation safety and additional information on working on or near underground infrastructure.

Pre-excavation methods, such as calling “811 Call Before You Dig” and reviewing job specifics help prevent damage caused by unsafe excavation activities.

The training courses provide information on how to recognize and react to abnormal or hazardous conditions in order to make conditions safe.

Cities awarded EPA grants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $194,000 for improvements to the existing storm sewer system in East Prairie, MO.

The agricultural drainage ditch the city of East Prairie developed was enclosed in a large corrugated metal pipe 80 years ago, and that pipe has begun to fail. Since 2006, four sewer collapses have caused flooding within the city. These grant funds will help construct improvements that will apply a lining to 2,000 feet of the existing storm sewer.

The EPA also has awarded $291,000 to Boone, IA, for funding the final phase of a sanitary sewer replacement project. The purpose of this project is to address residential sewer backups that occur during moderate to heavy rainfall by replacing undersized sanitary sewer pipe with larger diameter pipe.

The city of Derby, KS, has been awarded $970,000 by the EPA for improvements to the sewer system. Funds will be used to construct approximately 7,050 feet of 36-inch sewer pipe and 17 manholes.

The existing wastewater system in Hartville, MO, will be upgraded using an EPA grant of $134,000. This grant will help fund the replacement of the existing pump station and sewer line that delivers Hartville’s wastewater to the existing lagoon. Currently, the facilities do not have sufficient capacity, and backups and wastewater overflows occur at the pump station and from manholes along the sewer.

Michigan City raided by feds in hunt for enviro crimes
Agents from state and federal agencies have raided the office of the Michigan City Sanitary District, confiscating documents and computers in their search for evidence of environmental crimes.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Labor has referred a whistleblower complaint against the district to the Indiana attorney general’s office for possible legal action.

The two developments appeared to be related: The Post-Tribune of Merrillville, citing unnamed sources, reported the raid was part of an investigation involving unreported sewer overflows including some into Trail Creek, a major local waterway, and the firing of a whistleblower.

Randall Ashe, a special agent in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement division, said agents from the EPA, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Indiana State Police executed a federal search warrant “for evidence of environmental crimes,” on June 3.

A memorandum from the Michigan City clerk’s office in May 2009 referred to “alleged sewer overflows in Washington Park” and that the city’s utilities committee met to review what had been done to address the problem and whether IDEM was properly notified.

“I can’t tell you if it’s related, but that’s probably good information,” Ashe told the Post-Tribune.

Indiana law mandates that the district report overflows to IDEM and the public. The Post-Tribune reported the violations may have gone unreported from about 2002 through mid-2009.

Former district employee and current City Councilman Ron Meer first contacted the city council, IDEM and the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration about safety problems and unreported overflows in May 2009.

Meer lost his job April 1 after an investigation revealed that he had told state regulators about safety issues at the district and not his bosses.

Meer confirmed that he was involved with two whistleblower cases, one with IOSHA and the other with federal agencies.

Plastic pipes conference expands scope
The Plastic Pipes XV Conference (PPXV) organized by the Plastic Pipes Conference Association (PPCA) will be held Sept. 20-22, in Vancouver, BC, Canada. More than 500 delegates representing 45 countries are anticipated to attend this bi-annual event that is only held in North America every four years. Sessions will be held in a concurrent format giving attendees a choice of topics. More than 100 speakers are expected to present on topics ranging from energy and irrigation, to installation practices and material advancements.

“The PPCA consists of the Plastics Pipe Institute, PE100+ and PVC4Pipes associations so we are a well-rounded organization that represents interests from all over the world and spans many plastic materials used in piping applications. This year’s event has been expanded to three full days to allow for more of these sessions. At this time, some 110 papers are slated to be presented as well as more than 20 poster presentations,” said Stephen Boros, PPXV committee chair.

Applications in which differing plastics and pipe materials are being utilized and explored will be covered including water, natural gas, plumbing, drainage, mining, industrial and more. Use of plastic piping materials such as polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) and polyamide (PA), as well as thermoplastic composite piping for high pressure applications, will be analyzed during conference events.

The exhibit hall will contain displays with details about the advancements in plastic pipe testing, design and manufacturing.

PPXV will be held in conjunction with the American Gas Association’s Plastics Materials Committee meeting. For more information, visit: www.PPXV.org or email questions to: PPXV@everettreed.com.

AEM “Construction Challenge” winners announced
Twelve student teams from the United States and Canada have won the 2010 AEM Construction Challenge presented by Volvo Construction Equipment during the Global Finals competition of Destination ImagiNation. The competition took place May 26-29 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

This year’s AEM Construction Challenge asked each student team to build a device that effectively delivered construction materials over a barrier to targets they were unable to see, which required innovation, mathematics, and engineering and design skills.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) initiated the AEM Construction Challenge in 2007 as a response to the severe shortage of qualified workers to meet future construction needs. As a sign of its success, Volvo Construction Equipment signed on as the presenting sponsor of the competition.

The event offers a chance for students, teachers, parents and community leaders to learn more about the construction industry and the need for skilled employees to deal with infrastructure problems that include crumbling bridges, overcrowded roadways, and aging water and wastewater systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment in the construction industry is projected to increase by 1.3 million jobs by 2018.

For a list of winners, visit www.aem.org.

Pattern Energy raises funds to expand wind energy pipeline
Pattern Energy Group LP has secured a total of more than $800 million in equity funding from investment funds controlled by Riverstone Holdings LLC, Pattern management and select employees. The fundraising will be used primarily to finance the expansion of Pattern’s development, construction and operating pipeline of wind and renewable energy projects. The financing will also be used for general corporate purposes.

The company has completed investments in wind energy projects exceeding a total of $1 billion in the past nine months. Pattern has 522.4 MW of North American wind projects in operation or under construction. Pattern’s longer-term development pipeline exceeds 4,000 MW, including 2,000 MW of near-term renewable energy projects.

Pattern Energy is currently constructing the St. Joseph Windfarm, a 138 MW wind project located in the southern Manitoba, Canada community of St. Joseph. In Northern California, Pattern is currently constructing Hatchet Ridge Wind, a 101.2 MW wind project. Pattern’s 283.2 MW Gulf Wind project, located on the Gulf Coast in South Texas, is fully operational and produces clean and renewable power equivalent to the annual energy usage of 80,000 Texas homes.

Mayor Ballard steps up push for water, sewer transfer
Vowing not to raise taxes in Indianapolis, IN, Mayor Greg Ballard is pushing for the sale of the city’s sewer and water utilities to Citizens Energy.

The mayor said that the city’s crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes and decaying roads and bridges can’t be fixed unless the City-County Council approves the transfer of the city’s wastewater treatment and water company to Citizens Energy. The transfer is expected to net the city about $425 million in cash, savings and borrowing power.

Because federal stimulus money is involved, the deal must be concluded by the end of 2010. However, the mayor is facing opposition from the council and others on the transfer who believe the sale would put too much control of a public asset in the hands of a private sector. The proposal awaits City-County Council approval when it goes to a full council vote. Results of that meeting were not disclosed as of this writing.

Kansas City set to reduce sewer overflow
Kansas City, MO, will begin the first phase of a massive project to relieve flooding that spills sewer and stormwater into surrounding creeks and basements.

The 25-year sewer project is expected to cut the overflow of raw sewage from nearly 6.5 billion gallons a year to less than half a billion. The improvements will include separating sewer and storm water pipes, adding larger pipes, rerouting flows and building tunnels.

The project will cost around $2.5 billion. Customers will see rate increased to help pay for the maintenance – the first such increase started in May.

Harris County to receive funds for water/wastewater system upgrades
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved a loan for $5,000,000 from the Texas Water Development Fund to Texas’ Harris County Water Control and Improvement District No. 21 to finance water and wastewater system improvements.

The funds will be used to relocate and improve three lift stations, install new pumps at the wastewater treatment plant influent lift station and replace approximately 23,500 linear feet of water line.

Pipe demand brings new steel mill
The Marcellus Shale gas and oil development is being credited with stimulating the first new steel mill in Youngstown, OH, in decades. The V&M Star Mill will cost $650 million and will be built to supply small diameter steel pipe for the Marcellus Shale exploration. Initial production at the mill will be 650,000 tonnes (715,000 tons) annually, with the capacity of 500,000 tonnes (550,000 tons). U.S taxes on Chinese steel contributed to the decision to build the new mill in Ohio.

Henkels & McCoy awarded contract
Henkels & McCoy Inc. has been awarded a contract by Energy Transfers Partners to install approximately 78 miles of 42-inch pipeline in Panola County, TX, and Caddo, DeSoto, Red River and Bienville Parishes, LA. Headquarters in unknown at this time. The superintendents are Nick Walters and Gary Harbison. The starting date was June 1.

James R. Upton Scholarship winner announced
The Distribution Contractors Association’s (DCA) board of directors authorized $4,000 annually for a period of five years, for the purpose of providing scholarship opportunities for students of the Cherokee Nation, in memory of former DCA Managing Director James R. Upton.

The James R. Upton Scholarship is awarded by Cherokee Nation Education Corp., a tribally chartered non-profit corporation, with the mission to provide education assistance to Cherokee citizens and to revitalize the language, culture and history of the Cherokee people.

This year’s winner was Meaghan Williams, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation based in Oklahoma. Williams is supporting the rank of the salutatorian at Sequoyah High School and is participating in concurrent enrollment at Northeastern State University. She also is involved in countless community service activities and hopes with more education to be able to come back and work as a linguist to help the Cherokee Nation.

Natural gas explosions in Texas
Two people were killed and three others were injured June 8 in a natural gas pipeline explosion in a remote part of the Panhandle. The five men were moving clay from a pit near the pipeline when a bulldozer struck it, causing the explosion.

Lipscomb County Sheriff James Robertson said one of the injured people was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Oklahoma City. Two others working near the explosion had injuries not considered life-threatening.

The blast near the small town of Darrouzett, a few miles from the Oklahoma border, is the second natural gas line explosion in Texas in two days. A line exploded near Cleburne, southwest of Dallas, on June 7 as utility workers were digging in the area. The operator of the auger boring machine was killed and at least seven more people were injured.

Authorities said workers with C&H Power Line Construction Services of Dewey, OK, were boring a hole for a power line pole when an auger hit a 36-inch natural gas transmission line.

The pipeline is owned by Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners. The line traverses the state and carries natural gas under high pressure.

Officials with OSHA and the Texas Railroad Commission are investigation the explosion.

In Memoriam
Nick Beffer, formerly with H.C. Price Co., died June 8 in Broken Arrow, OK, after a long illness. He was 81. Beffer is survived by his wife Margaret; sons Nick Jr., Tony and Joe; daughters Vicki and Cathy; 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Donations may be made to the National Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org or to the Oklahoma/Arkansas Alzheimer’s Chapter at 6465 South Yale, Ste. 312, Tulsa, OK 74136.

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