February 2022 Vol. 77 No. 2



New Jersey Announces $1 Billion Water Infrastructure Plan 

New Jersey unveiled initial plans for $1 billion in federal funds for new drinking and wastewater infrastructure over the next five years. 

The new cash infusion is “exciting,” and amounts to a “once-in-a-generation” investment, said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, though it’s just a fraction of the estimated $30 billion in new pipes, equipment and other improvements the state needs. 

The infusion stems from the $1 trillion November legislation President Joe Biden signed into law. The federal funds will be dispersed over time, with about $170 million slated for this year, state environmental officials said.  

A series of stakeholder meetings that began in late January are aimed at coming up with what officials called the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan, which will determine how the money would be spent. 


$40 Million Fine Proposed for Gas Pipeline Builder After Drilling Mud Spill 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has proposed a $40 million fine against Energy Transfer stemming from a spill of 2 million gallons of drilling mud, some of which seeped into a protected wetland while drilling under an Ohio river four years ago. 

The action follows a FERC-proposed $20 million fine against the company last March over the destruction of a historic farmhouse that stood in the path of its Rover Pipeline project.  Energy Transfer denied FERC’s claim that it used diesel fuel and other toxic materials while drilling beneath the Tuscarawas River in northern Ohio’s Stark County.  

Energy Transfer and its Rover Pipeline subsidiary completed the $4.3 billion twin-pipeline project in 2018 to carry natural gas from Appalachian shale fields to Canada and states in the Midwest and the South. The 700-mile pipeline crosses much of Ohio and stretches from Michigan to West Virginia. 


MasTec Acquires Henkels & McCoy 

MasTec announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Henkels & McCoy Group—one of the largest U.S. private electrical power transmission and distribution utility services firm and the 14th largest U.S. specialty contractor.   

The $600 million transaction includes $420 million in cash, including repayment of Henkels’ debt, plus approximately 2 million shares of MasTec common stock. MasTec said the deal fits its long-term strategy of expanding into the fast-growing electric utility services market with incremental recurring master service agreement revenue.   

Founded in 1923, Henkels has been in operation for more than 98 years, with approximately $1.5 billion in fiscal 2021 revenue primarily with long tenured relationships across a diverse customer base and operations across the United States.  


Illinois Court Vacates Approval of DAPL Expansion 

The legal challenges to Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) continued in January as an Illinois appellate court vacated a state commission’s approval of a capacity expansion. 

DAPL already completed an expansion in August that raised the capacity of the crude oil pipeline to 750,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 570,000.  The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) had also approved a planned expansion that would increase its capacity to 1.1 MMbpd. 

As part of its review, the ICC considered the public need for the DAPL expansion, but the appellate court said it wrongly interpreted “the public” to mean the world, not the United States. It also found that the commission should have found opponents’ evidence of operator Sunoco’s prior safety and environmental violations relevant to its determination. 


ASTM Releases New Standard for Cleaning VCP 

ASTM International has published “Standard Practice for Cleaning of Vitrified Clay Sanitary Sewer Pipelines,” the first standard ever for cleaning municipal sanitary sewer lines, it said. 

The new standard (ASTM C1920-21) works in accord with EPA guidelines and CMOM on reducing overflows and defines the Standard Operating Procedure for cleaning sewer pipelines, ASTM said, adding that it will help to ensure system owners and contract managers that their pipelines are restored to a minimum of 95% of operational design capacity. 

Scheduled cleaning increases the service life of any sewer while ensuring that design capacity is maintained. Vitrified Clay is the only pipe material that has this type of standard. 


Judge: Lawsuit Can Proceed Against Flint Water Contractor  

A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit accusing engineering firm Veolia North America of not doing enough to stop the flow of lead-contaminated water in Flint in 2015. 

Veolia owed residents a “legal duty of care” in 2015 when it was hired to analyze Flint’s water quality, nearly a year after state-appointed managers began using the Flint River, U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said. Her decision means the case will go to trial or be settled unless an appeals court intervenes. 

The water was not treated to reduce corrosion and, as a result, lead leached from old plumbing. Four families are suing Veolia, which did not participate in a recent $626 million settlement with Flint residents that was mostly paid by the state. 

Veolia argued that it included corrosion control in recommendations to the city. It said it had a $40,000 short-term assignment that focused on problems created by a cancer-causing contaminant. Almost all recommendations and warnings to Flint “were ignored and not implemented,” Veolia said on its website. 


Flint water criminal cases move slowly in court 

A year after unprecedented charges against a former Michigan governor, the Flint water prosecution of Rick Snyder and eight others is moving slowly, bogged down by disputes over millions of documents and even whether some cases were filed in the proper court, the Associated Press reported. 

Snyder is charged with willful neglect of duty arising from decisions to switch Flint’s water supply to the Flint River in 2014-15 without treating it to reduce the corrosive effect on aging urban pipes. Lead contaminated the system, a disastrous result for community. 

Snyder’s name was the biggest in the indictments announced by the attorney general’s office in January 2021, although he’s facing misdemeanors while other senior members from his administration are dealing with more serious charges. 


Enbridge to Expand Gas Pipeline for Transport to Texas LNG Brownsville 

Texas LNG Brownsville, a subsidiary of Glenfarne Group and Enbridge, have agreed to the expansion of the Valley Crossing Pipeline (VCP) to deliver about 720 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas to Texas LNG’s export facility for a term of at least 20 years. 

VCP consists of a 160-mile 42- and 48-inch diameter pipeline originating at Agua Dulce, a major Texas gas hub, and extending to the Port of Brownsville. A 10-mile lateral will be built to extend the pipeline to Texas LNG’s facility, along with the addition of compression facilities on the existing pipeline. 

VCP’s pipeline header at Agua Dulce, a growing gas pricing and transportation hub in south Texas, interconnects with ten major gas pipeline systems, providing access to gas from the Permian and other areas with a total receipt capacity of more than 7 Bcf/d. Compression facilities at Agua Dulce will use electric motors that can be powered by renewable energy. 

Texas LNG is developing a 4 million tons per annum LNG export terminal in the Port of Brownsville, South Texas. 


MVP Preparing to Weld Final 20 Miles, Targeting Summer 2022 In-Service  

The total project work for Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is nearly 94 percent complete, and on track for a summer startup after state agencies approved construction permits in January. 

MVP, which is owned by Equitrans Midstream, NextEra Energy, Consolidated Edison, AltaGas and RGC Resources Inc., is a $6 billion project spanning about 303 miles across West Virginia and Virginia which should deliver up to 2 Bcf/d of natural gas. 

MVP’s originally estimated in-service date was in late 2018, but setbacks including legal challenges from states and environmental groups have delayed the in-service date multiple times. In January 2021, MVP abandoned plans to use a blanket permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would have allowed the project to cross all streams and wetlands along its route from West Virginia to Virginia. 

With approximately 20 miles of pipeline welding remaining, Mountain Valley’s total project work is nearly 94 percent complete, which includes 55 percent of the right-of-way fully restored, and the project continues to target a summer 2022 full in-service date, its developers said. 


Harvest Midstream Signs Agreement to Acquire Arrowhead ST Holdings 

Harvest Midstream announced the signing of a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the remaining interest in Arrowhead ST Holdings, LLC from its joint venture partner. Harvest is already the operator of ASTH and a 25% owner of the joint venture. 

ASTH, a fully integrated Eagle Ford midstream business, spans the most active areas of the Eagle Ford. The system delivers to numerous crude export docks and into Flint Hills Corpus Christi and Valero Three Rivers refineries. This is part of Harvest’s ongoing efforts to expand its suite of crude oil transportation and logistics services for upstream and downstream customers. 

The ASTH system includes about 515 miles of pipeline with a total throughput capacity of 380,000 bpd. The system is a key link between the Eagle Ford Basin producers and Corpus Christi, the leading crude export market in the United States.  


US Navy Complies with Order to Drain Tank System 

Reversing its earlier opposition, the U.S. Navy has agreed to comply with Hawaii’s order to remove fuel from an underground storage tank facility near Pearl Harbor that was blamed for contaminating drinking water, officials said. 

Rear Adm. Blake Converse said during a U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing in January that the Navy was making preparations to defuel the facility. 

“The Navy caused this problem, we own it and we’re going to fix it,” said Converse, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. 

The Navy’s water system serves some 93,000 people in residential homes, offices, elementary schools and businesses in and around Pearl Harbor. 


Louisiana City Installing Automated Water Meters 

The city of Lake Charles, La., is planning to provide 35,000 utility customers with automated water meters over the next 16-18 months, resulting in what its utility manager said will be “the most advanced metering system on the Gulf Coast,  
The American Press reported.  

Mayor Nic Hunter said the new meters will provide customers with more accurate water bills and remove the need for meter readers — important in light of current staff shortages that have led to customer dissatisfaction overestimated water usage. Hunter said the meters also will allow the city to quickly identify water leaks and reduce water waste. 

City Utilities Manager Kevin Heise said the new water meters have a 30-year battery life. 

Sustainability Partners will supply and install the new water meters in an effort mostly funded by $2 million the city received from the federal stimulus package passed last year, the American Rescue Plan Act. The city council also approved a $2-$3 monthly water bill increase per household to help fund the meters. 

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