June Newsline: Orlando’s 5-year wastewater plan; IA sewer grant; Texas invests in wind and more

Orlando plans 5-year wastewater upgrade
Ottumwa, IA awarded grant for sewer project
Texas invests in wind-power future
EPA orders 79 municipalities to improve stormwater management

Thames Water to invest heavily in aging infrastructure
New Jersey American Water seeks new rates, conservation programs
Kansas City to reduce sewer overflows
Piedmont to construct natural gas pipeline
U.S. Steel CEO Surma sees economic recovery
NASA to use HDD for wind power project
Top 50 Latin American infrastructure projects released
Missouri to improve wastewater system
EPRI collaborative aims to improve efficiency of transmission grid
In Memoriam: Keith Wilson, Donald Rees

Orlando plans 5-year wastewater upgrade
In April, the city council of Orlando, FL, considered a Capital Financing Plan that included $10 million per year in funding from the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program to fund a $50 million list of wastewater upgrades during the next five years.

The city’s total wastewater capital improvement plan is $144 million. About 32 percent of the plan would be funded by SRF, while 36 percent would be funded by revenue bonds and the rest would be paid for by cash reserves and future revenue.

The plan, beginning in fiscal year 2010-11 and ending in fiscal year 2014-15, includes:

  • $6.8 million for collections system projects
  • $15 million for lift station projects
  • $3.36 million for underground replacements projects
  • $21.9 million for treatment plant ¬improvements
  • $26.5 million for new biosolids treatment at Iron Bridge treatment plant

The city would use low-interest loans from the state to pay for 16 projects ranging from $500,000 to $11 million in construction costs. The city’s wastewater capacity fees fund, which generates about $20 million a year, would be used to repay the loans. The city has a 107.8 square-mile service area with 783 miles of sewer, 212 pumping stations and three treatment plants with a total capacity of 72.5 million gallons a day.

In 2009, the city approved a new wastewater rate schedule, with proposed annual rate increases ranging from 2.5 percent to 12 percent from 2009 to 2014, increasing the average resident’s bill to $10 per month for the next three years.

Ottumwa, IA awarded grant for sewer project
EPA has awarded $291,000 to Ottumwa, IA, for ongoing construction of a multi-phased combined sewer separation project.

EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said, “Awarding these water infrastructure funds will help prolong the useful life of the existing system. Water infrastructure is a basic necessity to protect community health and prosperity.”

The purpose of the project is to eliminate combined sewer overflows and basement backups for residents on the south side of the Des Moines River in Ottumwa. This area of the city has recorded more than 500 basement backups over a 10-year period.

The project will also reduce the amount of phosphorous entering Oxbow Lake which has been identified as impaired by algae, turbidity and chlordane.

Texas invests in wind-power future
An assessment by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that Texas’ wind power potential is at 6,527,850 gigawatt-hours per year, up from the previously estimated 1,190,000 GWh.

However, many of the wind turbines seen across the plains of West Texas and north to the Panhandle will remain idle.

The reason for this, according to Russel E. Smith, executive director of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA), is that the turbines generate more electricity than the available transmission lines can handle. To keep from overloading the system, they have to turn some of the turbines off during intervals with high winds.
Texas currently has the capacity to generate 10,000 megawatts of energy from the wind, but there are not enough transmission lines available to carry that much electricity.

However, two years ago, the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a plan to construct new transmission lines that will eventually transmit 18,456 megawatts of wind power from West Texas and the Panhandle region to metropolitan areas of the state. The estimated cost of the project is $4.93 billion and it is expected to take four to five years to complete.

EPA orders 79 municipalities to improve stormwater management
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it has sent orders to 79 municipalities in south central Pennsylvania requiring improvements to their Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) programs.

The orders require the cited municipalities to correct problems with their respective MS4 programs and come into compliance with their Clean Water Act permits. MS4s are publicly owned drainage systems, including storm drains, pipes and ditches, designed to collect and convey stormwater runoff in urbanized areas.

Urbanized areas contain large portions of impervious surfaces such as roads, rooftops and parking lots that channel stormwater directly into local streams, rivers and other water bodies. Improperly managed stormwater runoff from urbanized areas can damage streams, cause significant erosion and carry excessive nutrients, sediment, toxic metals, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants downstream.

Thames Water to invest heavily in aging infrastructure
Thames Water, Britain’s biggest water and sewerage firm, recently awarded contracts for up to £1.2 billion (US $1.8 billion) of essential work to improve and maintain London and the Thames Valley’s ageing water pipes, sewers and other facilities over the next five years.

Martin Baggs, Thames Water’s chief executive, said: “In our continued drive to be more efficient for our 13 million customers, we’ve completely changed the way we do our work. Instead of letting numerous small contracts to lots of providers, we’re working with leading organizations to deliver the ‘base load’ of our investment program for the next five years.

“This new approach has changed the way our contractors have bid for the work: they’ve formed joint ventures, each containing the required specialists. The way we’ve structured these programs of work will also allow our contractors to plan further ahead and give them greater incentives to be efficient on cost and time.
“Our operational performance is better than ever right now – best-ever water quality, best-ever sewage works compliance and leakage down 24 per cent in the past four years. Our new approach will help us build on these standards of excellence over the next five years.”

Contract work includes:
• continuing to replace London’s worn-out Victorian water mains;
• upgrading sewers to protect customers’ homes from sewer flooding;
• improving water and sewage treatment works; and
• extending water and sewerage networks to accommodate future population growth.

New Jersey American Water seeks new rates, conservation programs
New Jersey American Water announced that it has filed for new rates with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which will increase the average customer’s monthly water bill by $7.10 or 23 cents per day. As part of this rate filing, the company has proposed implementing innovative residential water conservation programs, expanding assistance to low income customers, and creating new rate structures that would encourage conservation and generate economic activity in New Jersey.

Since its last rate filing, New Jersey American Water has spent approximately $251million in capital improvements, replacing miles of aging water mains, and upgrading its water treatment facilities, storage tanks, wells and pumping stations to improve water quality, service reliability and fire protection. The cost of increased expenses such as labor, fuel, energy, taxes and property and liability insurance are part of the company’s rate request.

To increase understanding among its customers about the value of water, New Jersey American Water has added a conservation component to its rate filing. An outgrowth of the company’s “Save Blue, Save Green” (save water, save money) initiative, the proposed conservation program includes:
• A do-it-yourself online water audit tool to help customers identify ways to use water more efficiently based on their water-use habits.
• A rebate program to encourage customers to purchase water-saving appliances and fixtures
• Web-based tools for customer education, and ease of obtaining and submitting rebate applications and purchasing water-saver kits

Additionally, the company will focus conservation efforts to help customers – who are eligible for New Jersey American Water’s Low Income Payment Program (LIPP) – save water. Those customers could receive a comprehensive telephone audit of water use and potential savings opportunities; free water-saving retrofit kits; discounted leak repairs and plumbing; and plumbing assistance to install water-efficient devices.

Another aspect of the program would tie conservation to a tiered rate structure. A proposed pilot program for residential customers in portions of Monmouth County would implement a three-tier increasing block water rate structure on a seasonal basis from May through September. The less water customers use, the less they would pay. The first block applies to the first 4,000 gallons per month, the second block applies to the next 6,000 gallons per month, and the third block applies to usage above 10,000 gallons per month. The cost per gallon would increase with each rate block. The typical New Jersey residential household uses 7,000 gallons of water each month. This program would allow New Jersey American Water to send the appropriate pricing signals to customers regarding their water usage, as well as determine whether these price signals have an impact on customer usage.

The rate filing includes a provision to incentivize new businesses to invest in New Jersey, both creating jobs and stimulating the state’s economy. With the proposed Economic Development Rate, New Jersey American Water will offer lower rates for a set period of time to new commercial or industrial customers who establish their business within the company’s service territory. This concept is similar to economic development tariffs used by other New Jersey utilities. The company will work with state agencies and other utilities to package and create proposals that will stimulate economic growth and jobs.
Rates will remain unchanged until this request undergoes extensive public scrutiny by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, and an Administrative Law Judge. This scrutiny will include numerous interrogatories, public hearings and evidentiary hearings. This process, based on prior requests, can take a minimum of nine months.

The increased rates proposed in the rate petition are a request only. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities will make the final decision regarding the actual percent of increase.

Kansas City to reduce sewer overflows
After a year of negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency to address Kansas City’s polluted rivers and streams and sewer overflows, council members agreed to move ahead with plans for a $2.5 billion overhaul of its aging sewer system. The settlement allows a 25-year implementation schedule for the city’s sewer overflow control plan.

The longer schedule will allow the city to spread out the costs over more years, helping to alleviate the impact on Kansas City’s sewer rate payers.

The project will involve both the installation of huge tunnels and new sewer pipes, along with green solutions — environmentally progressive, natural landscaping approaches designed to improve water quality.

Piedmont to construct natural gas pipeline
Piedmont Natural Gas announced an agreement with Progress Energy Carolinas to provide natural gas delivery service to the electric utility’s power generation facility to be built at its existing Sutton site near Wilmington, NC. Piedmont will construct approximately 133 miles of transmission pipeline and install 23,000 horsepower of new compression facilities to serve the new 620 MW combined cycle Sutton plant.

Piedmont’s capital investment in the pipeline and compression facilities is estimated at $217 million. Subject to approval by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Piedmont will begin construction of the new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities early in 2011 and be ready for service in June 2013.

U.S. Steel CEO Surma sees economic recovery
Delivering the keynote address to an audience of more than 1,000 people during the second day of the Association of Iron and Steel Technology conference in Pittsburgh, U.S. Steel CEO John Surma spoke about the future and the direction in which he sees the steel industry heading after a dismal 18 months. Surma sees signs of the economic recovery, though it is anticipated to take longer than historic cycles. The fact that the United States has a wealth of natural resources will allow the steel industry to return to normal levels without the burden or expense of importing the materials needed to produce steel.

NASA to use HDD for wind power project
A Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from alternative energy sources that would be capable of generating up to 10 gigawatt-hours (GWh/year) of electricity per year at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, located in eastern Virginia.

The project will involve the construction of two 2-megawatt utility-scale wind turbines on Wallops Island, which would be capable of generating approximately 10 GWh/year. In addition, up to five 2.4-kilowatt residential wind turbines would be installed at the main base and mainland.

Each wind turbine will be connected to the existing Wallops Island electrical distribution system using underground power collection lines. These power lines will be constructed using HDD to avoid affecting wetlands in the area.

Completion of the project is expected to take approximately six months.

Top 50 Latin American infrastructure projects released
CG/LA Infrastructure LLC, the world leader in strategic infrastructure project identification and development, announced the release of its Top 50 Infrastructure Projects in Latin America 2010. The total estimated value of the projects is $76 billion, with the potential to create over 1 million new jobs in the region.

According to Norman F. Anderson, president/CEO of CG/LA, these projects are critical to Latin America’s future: “The region is moving towards a public leadership model of infrastructure investment, with very dynamic participation from the private sector – increasingly we see improved performance from the public sector, which is creating much higher levels of private sector participation.” Under this new model, sectors that should particularly benefit include mass transit (both urban and interurban), as well as water and wastewater.

Missouri to improve wastewater system
EPA has awarded $970,000 to Gravois Mills, MO, for improvements to its existing wastewater system to provide sewer service to 360 households.

The project will eliminate individual on-site systems that pollute surface and ground water with disease-causing organisms, inadequately treated organic matter, and excessive levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. Eliminating these pollutants will improve water quality and help protect public health and aquatic life.

The Gravois Arm Sewer District in Gravois Mills was formed in 2002 to provide sewer service in an area near the Gravois Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks in Morgan County. The district has about 3,300 homes, 100 businesses and a population of about 3,800.

EPRI collaborative aims to improve efficiency of transmission grid
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) launched an industry-wide “transmission efficiency” demonstration collaborative with a group of utilities and transmission system operators that will compile and analyze performance data from transmission lines, substations and grid operations to assess the cost, benefit and technical criteria for implementing efficiency measures.

More than 20 organizations and proposed 33 transmission demonstration projects (see link below) will be providing data, and EPRI is actively recruiting more utilities and system operators to participate. The results will serve as a blueprint that will help improve the efficiency of the existing transmission system and the future bulk power network.

The collaborative is an outgrowth of efforts by EPRI, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and transmission owners and operators to implement various technical designs that can facilitate more efficiency in the transmission system.

“The lessons learned by demonstrating real-life examples of transmission efficiency will help the industry to meet the Department of Energy’s goal of improving grid efficiency by 40 percent by 2030,” said FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. “This would deliver the twin benefits of increasing supply while reducing emissions.”

EPRI estimates a 40 percent improvement in grid efficiency would result in a savings of 54 terawatt hours, enough electricity to power 4.8 million homes in the United States.

“We cannot build transmission lines and substations the same way we did years ago,” said Mike Heyeck, senior vice president of American Electric Power and Chairman of EPRI’s Transmission Executive Committee. “We must fully incorporate life-cycle efficiencies into planning, engineering, and procurement for the grid of our energy future.”

The initiative follows five meetings by key stakeholders in the United States and one in Poland in 2009 that identified the best practices and the technology improvements necessary to bolster bulk power efficiency. The international part of the collaborative will be launched June 2 in Madrid, Spain.

More information on the project demonstrations can be found here.

In Memoriam
Keith R. Wilson
, 73, died on March 24 of an abdominal aortic aneurism. Wilson was the founder and president of Audio Supply, Mundelein, IL. The company is now owned and operated by his daughter, Cathleen.

Wilson, a successful businessman, was a mechanical engineer and very well-known in the field of sound systems. He began his career at Bell & Howell and then at Shure Brothers Inc. before founding his own companies, Foster Sound and then Audio Supply. He designed the WMS-1B wireless system used in underground boring and drilling to prevent expensive gas, water and sewer line hits.

He was preceded in death by his parents, E.R. Wilson and Carol C. Evans; a brother, David; and also his son, Scott. He is survived by Mary Lou, his wife of 54 years; daughters, Cathleen and Patricia; son, Glenn; and several granddaughters and great-granddaughters.

Memorial contributions can be to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Keith R. Wilson Memorial, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614 or online at www.lpzoo.com.

Donald Frank Rees passed away on April 18 at the age of 91. An acclaimed engineer and businessperson, Rees was a pioneer of the trenchless industry for his many innovative engineering achievements.

After serving in WWII, Rees joined his father’s road surfacing business. Not long after, he expanded the business by taking public works underground as well as at street level. Under his guidance, the company developed innovative methods of restoring old, and in some cases bomb-damaged, sewage systems. Traditional repair techniques were used to dig up roads, causing delay and disruption. So Rees and his colleagues developed ‘No-Dig’ tunneling techniques based on the Rees Mini-Tunnel. They also pioneered the use of close circuit television cameras in subterranean investigations. As a leader in its field, the company’s services and products were sought after not only across the UK and the Channel Islands, but in the United States, South America and Southeast Asia.

As one of the people responsible for coining the word “No-Dig”, Rees helped found the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT). He worked to establish the ISTT’s future, serving as an ISTT Guarantor for nearly 20 years, submitting thought-provoking contributions long after retiring to Portugal.

Rees served as a liveryman and later Master of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, a Fellow of the Institution of Public Health Engineers and a Companion of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has garnered several industrial awards, including Design Council Awards for the Mini-Tunnel and CCTV Camera System, the Queen´s Award for Industry and an OBE for his services to British exports.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Mary. His six sons and their families survive Reese, including 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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