February Newsline: EPA, MSD water talks continue; White House Jobs Summit pushes water division project and more

EPA, MSD continue talks over water violations; White House Jobs Summit inspires new push for water diversion project; EPA releases guidance to better manage stormwater; Qwest, Level 3 telecoms spends less; Report says wireless,telecom in transition;Latin American insiders forecast 2010 economic outlook; One-year anniversary of River Road Break; AUCSC offers underground corrosion training course; Alyeska considers shifting pipeline jobs away from unions; Dawn Gateway pipeline project withdraws NED application; In Memoriam

EPA, MSD continue talks over water violations
The Business Courier of Cincinnati revealed in an article that in the latest settlement proposal between the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and U.S. EPA, the cost to revive a buried creek in South Fairmount isn’t clear, but the cost not to do it would be $244 million.

The EPA claims the city’s centuries-old sewer system violates the Clean Water Act. The problem is the sharing of pipes among storm and sanitary sewers, which overflow in heavy rain, polluting local creeks and streams.

The parties reached a consent decree in 2004, but MSD has since claimed it can’t afford the $3 billion in upgrades originally proposed. The latest plan still awaits final regulatory approval and the assent of a federal judge.

The article further states that in ongoing settlement talks, MSD has pushed for green alternatives, including wetlands restoration, to the massive mix of treatment plants and storage tunnels favored by regulators. The latest plan, conditionally approved by regulators in June 2009, calls for $1.2 billion in sewer upgrades by 2018 – a price that includes a $244 million underground storage tunnel to capture storm water runoff from the “Lick Run” watershed.

Lick Run was a Mill Creek tributary that followed the path of Queen City Avenue until it was channeled into a sewer pipe and buried. That pipe carries an estimated 800 million gallons of storm water to the Mill Creek each year and it’s one of the biggest overflow contributors in the system.

MSD Director Tony Parrott thinks it’s possible that re-establishing Lick Run in a 1.5 mile stretch west of Mill Creek would divert hundreds of millions of gallons of storm water away from sewers and into a more natural setting, where the water is absorbed by plants and dirt.

White House Jobs Summit inspires new push for water diversion project
At the White House Jobs Summit held in December 2009, discussion led to plans to re-launch a decades-old, large-scale water diversion project. The project has the potential to create thousands of new jobs, bring massive sums of fresh water to the southwestern U.S., potentially irrigate thousands of acres of arid land, increase planetary respiration to counter global warming, and yield a massive abundance of clean hydro-electric power.

The “North American Water and Power Alliance” (NAWAPA) was developed by the Ralph Parsons Engineering Company of Southern California in the early 1970s. Extensive engineering studies were done to establish the feasibility of diverting fresh water from powerful northern-flowing rivers in Alaska and Northern Canada southward through the Rockies into the southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico. Seen as a major “Work Projects Administration (WPA)”-style undertaking, NAWAPA would create thousands of jobs at all skill levels and yield enormous beneficial results.

Nicholas F. Benton, president of Benton Communications Inc., said he intends to launch a non-profit educational and promotional effort to remind official Washington, D.C. policy makers of NAWAPA.

In January 1966, at the instigation of the late U.S. Senator Frank E. Moss (D-Utah), a “Western Water” subcommittee of the Senate Public Works committee produced a study on NAWAPA in its various aspects, and held a series of sub-committee hearings. Moss left the Senate in 1976, but teamed with Benton in the early 1980s in an independent effort to revive interest.

Noting that large-scale water diversion projects have played a major role in turning the U.S. into the economic powerhouse of the world, Benton said that another feasible large-scale diversion project involves diverting water from the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Lake Chad basin, where water could then be pumped eastward and westward across the breadth of the entire Sahel. He said French engineering studies were produced in the last century, but he has been unable to locate them.

EPA releases guidance to better manage stormwater
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued guidance to help federal agencies minimize the impact of federal development projects on nearby water bodies. The guidance is being issued in response to a change in law and an Executive Order signed by President Obama, which calls upon all federal agencies to lead by example to address a wide range of environmental issues, including stormwater runoff.

EPA worked closely with other federal agencies to develop this document, which provides background information, key definitions, case studies and guidance on meeting the new requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Under the new requirements, federal agencies must minimize stormwater runoff from federal development projects to protect water resources. Federal agencies can comply using a variety of stormwater management practices often referred to as “green infrastructure” or “low impact development” practices, including reducing impervious surfaces, using vegetative practices, using porous pavements and installing green roofs.
EPA is using sustainable techniques for reducing the effects of stormwater runoff at its facilities, such as installing a 3,000 square foot green roof as well as using rain gardens and cisterns to capture and reuse stormwater.

Stormwater runoff in urban and suburban areas is one of the leading sources of water pollution in the United States. Runoff can cause increased flooding and erosion and more pollution to surface waters.

Qwest, Level 3 telecoms spends less
Qwest Communications International Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc. generating less revenue in 2009 than in 2008, and each has cut jobs in recent months.

The loss of land-line use is the biggest factor in decreased revenue that will continue into 2010.

Denver-based Qwest spent about $400 million annually in recent years connecting service to new homes across its 14-state territory. They don’t expect to spend less than $100 million this year due to a sluggish new home real estate market. This calculates into reduced expenses, but it also cuts into revenue from connection fees and monthly services.

Qwest has taken other measures to alleviate the loss that includes: cut jobs and froze wages in 2009 and will freeze non-union worker salaries in 2010; sent domestic information technology work to a subsidiary in India; and dropped unfavorable wholesale contracts to provide data and voice capacity to businesses and other large customers.

The company plans to start paying off about $2.6 billion in debt in late 2010.
Qwest also is open to participating, as either a buyer or seller, in a merger-and-acquisition.

Level 3, the Broomfield-based provider of wholesale broadband access and services for large customers, won its biggest contract ever in 2009. In a 10-year deal, Level 3 will manage Spanish telecom Telefonica’s U.S. broadband traffic linking Spanish-language web surfers in Latin America and Europe.
However, its revenue dropped nearly 13 percent year-over-year through three quarters, to $2.8 billion, as media companies and other telecoms grew conservative about buying broadband capacity outside their own networks.

Report says wireless,telecom in transition
The State of the Industry 2010 report is the first in a series of reports by telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan that includes his thoughts on the changing telecommunications industry and changing competition.

Kagan says that over the next few years, the industry will continue to transform. New leaders will emerge and old leaders will struggle as well-known brands and strategies are be updated.

This report looks at wireless and telephone companies and their competitors, as well as networks and handset makers. Included are industry groups like telephone, wireless and cellular, cable television, IPTV, Internet, and much more.

It takes a close look at many companies: what they are doing right and wrong and what is the next big threat they face.

For more information about this report, visit jeffkagan.com/REPORTStateOfTheIndustry2010.htm.

Latin American insiders forecast 2010 economic outlook
The year 2010 promises to be one of economic progress and new business opportunities in Latin America. That’s the latest forecast from some of the leading law firms in Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

U.S. trade with Latin American countries totals some $600 billion a year, and the region’s role in the overall global economy is gaining ground. China now does more than $100 billion in trade with Central and South American countries – up 20 times from just a decade ago. At the same time, China is also making substantial sovereign wealth investments in the region’s energy resources, as well as other infrastructure.

“Latin America has successfully weathered the economic storms of the past year”, said José Luis Vittor, partner in the global law firm McDermott Will & Emery, which sponsored a two-day Latin America Forum, bringing together some of the top players in the legal and business community to focus on outlook, policy, and opportunities in Latin American markets today.

“Because Latin America has been largely insulated from the impact of the global recession in the past two years, there should be even more opportunities for such economic development in the coming year,” said Vittor, who coordinated the Forum program.

China isn’t the only country taking interest. Korea, Vietnam, Russia and India are among many other countries now targeting Latin America as an investment and development target.

Intra-regional outbound investment from Brazil and Mexico is also a growing force. The conventional and renewable energy sectors also give Latin America opportunities to gain new ground, especially with many countries now enacting new regulations with mandates to boost renewable energy resources in their local energy matrix.

The public-private partnership process is moving forward at a faster pace in Latin America than in the U.S. and countries in the region still require private investment as there is a growing demand for infrastructure development and investment in the Americas.

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.

AUCSC offers underground corrosion training course
The 55th annual Appalachian Underground Corrosion Short Course (AUCSC 2010) will be held May 18-20 at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV.

The AUCSC offers over 100 hours of basic, intermediate and advanced training. Attendees will receive technical information about the causes and prevention of corrosion on underground structures. A total of 1.6 CEUs can be earned and applied towards NACE Recertification and Professional Development hours.

Advance registration for the entire AUCSC 2010 program is $110 and $140 on-site. For more information or to register, visit www.aucsc.com.

Alyeska considers shifting pipeline jobs away from unions
The Anchorage Daily News reported that in a series of major cost-cutting decisions, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said it is finalizing new agreements with contractors that could shift hundreds of trans-Alaska pipeline jobs away from unions.

The company said it is trying to become a leaner operation because the amount of oil flowing through the 800-mile pipeline is declining. Alyeska said it is slashing its spending by 15 percent this year to $600 million.

Alyeska is owned by BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries and Chevron.

Dawn Gateway pipeline project withdraws NED application
Dawn Gateway Pipeline LP withdrew its applications with the National Energy Board (NEB) and will work to advance the project under Ontario Energy Board (OEB) jurisdiction.

In a recent decision by the Ontario Energy Board, the board asserted regulatory jurisdiction over the Ontario based elements of the proposed Dawn Gateway Pipeline.

The targeted in-service date of the Dawn Gateway project is still for Nov. 1, 2010.

In Memoriam
Dr. Henry Liu, president of Freight Pipeline Company in Columbia, MO, passed away Dec. 1, 2009 after a fatal car crash. He was an advocate for underground freight transportation through research and development as a pioneer in the field.

Dr. Liu earned both doctorate and masters degrees in Civil Engineering from the Colorado State University and a bachelor degree in Agricultural Engineering (Hydraulics) from the National Taiwan University. He had more than 37 years experience in teaching, research and development experience in civil engineering, specifically serving the pipeline and underground infrastructure industry.
Dr. Liu was emeritus professor of civil engineering and founder and past director of the Capsule Pipeline Research Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He authored three books and more than 50 journal research papers and more than 150 conference papers. He was a recipient of major research grants (totaling more than six million dollars) from federal, state and private agencies, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. He was a patent holder for more than 13 inventions.

Dr. Liu was a recipient of many awards, especially the prestigious Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award in 1992. He organized and chaired many national and international conferences, short courses and was a frequent invited and keynote speaker for professional events. He was founder and chair of International Society for Underground Freight Transportation (ISUFT).

He developed the Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline (PCP) technology.

Dr. Liu was a Life Member and Fellow of ASCE with his most notable work achieved as a member of the Pipeline Division. He was a frequent contributor to the annual Pipeline Division’s conferences and workshops serving as committee member, session chair, reviewer and speaker. He was vice chair of the Pipeline Research Committee and associate editor of the new ASCE Journal of Pipeline Systems Engineering and Practice (JPS).

He recently received the national Purpose Prize given to social entrepreneurs who use their encore careers to advance society. His fly ash brick was noted as one of the best inventions of 2007 by both Time Magazine and Popular Science.

Donations can be made to the Citizens for Underground Freight Transportation care of Susie Liu at 2601 Maguire Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201.

Lorne Jerome Stoppler
, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada passed away on Dec.20. 2009 in Scottsdale, AZ. Stoppler began his pipeline career in Canada as a welder. He formed Mid West Construction in Edmonton in the 1980s and sold it in the early 1990s. Subsequently, he revived U.S. Pipeline Contractors and later became an investor in R. B. Somerville and Rockford Corporation.

Stoppler is survived by his wife Deborah; four children, Sherry Lynn, Laura Lee, Dori Anne and Christopher; and eight grandchildren.

Memorial services were held in December in both Scottsdale, AZ and in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Pipe Line Contractors Association honorary member H. F. (Hank) Mogg died Dec. 6, 2009 at the age of 91 in Titusville, FL, after a long battle with muscular dystrophy. Mogg became an honorary member of the PLCA in 1984. He served as a member of the PLCA board of directors from 1977-1982 and was treasurer in 1977 and vice president in 1981.

Mogg started his career in the pipeline industry in 1936 as a welder helper. From 1942 to 1947, he and his brother-in-law, Harold Fluharty, subcontracted their welding services on various pipelines for H. L. Gentry, Anderson Brother and MidWestern. In 1955, Mogg joined Bechtel Corp. as a general superintendent where he helped build the original TransCanada Pipeline and Westcoast Transmission Natural Gas System. He joined Ohio Pipe Line Construction in 1964 to serve as vice president and general manager. In 1966, Mogg acquired ownership of Welded Construction Co., which became one of the major pipeline contractors in the U.S.

Mogg is survived by his wife Claudine; sister Bertha; sons Richard and James; and several grandchildren and great granddaughters. Donations can be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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