December 29, 2010

Top Sewer Overflow Stories of 2010

Posted in California, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin at 9:20 pm by bengann

Here are the top sewer overflow stories for 2010.

1.  Milwaukee had several major sewer overflows in 2010 including in July when a massive amount of sewage poured into lakes and streams after heavy rains hit the area. An estimated 2 billion gallons of sewage spilled during that time. 

2. Kansas City is starting the first phase of a massive 25-year sewer project to cut the overflow of raw sewage from nearly 6.5 billion gallons a year to less than a half billion.  The total cost of the 25-year plan is estimated to be $2.5 billion. It is the biggest public works project in the city’s history.

3. Agencies argued over responsibility for a sewage spill near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California. Over 2.1 million gallons of Mexican sewage leaked into the Tijuana River Valley following a breakdown at several U.S. waste treatment facilities. Agencies responded by dodging responsibility because of jurisdictional questions.

4. During the storms that rained on the San Francisco Bay Area in January, a total of 630,000 gallons of raw sewage spewed into the bay at 47 spots. Even worse, 170 million gallons of partially treated sewage was discharged from three East Bay Municipal Utility District “wet weather” overflow plants.

5. Twenty million gallons of sewage spilled into the Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida in June after a 72-inch sewer pipe burst and deposited raw sewage into the bay.

6. The rapidly rising waters of the Pawtuxet River in Rhode Island caused unprecedented flooding at the West Warwick and Warwick sewage treatment plants in March, shutting down both plants and spreading untreated sewage. Such extensive flood damage of two major sewer plants had never happened before.

7. Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) became so concerned about the City of Charlottesville’s repeated sewage overflow problems that it is demanding the city take immediate action. The DEQ says since July 2008 Charlottesville’s waste system has back-up and dumped sewage into creeks and streams at least 40 times. 

8. The Metropolitan Sewer District in Louisville, Kentucky estimated 4.1 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Ohio River in October because of a gate failure at a pump station. Sewage discharged for about 11 hours from an overflow point in the Ohio River until the spill ceased.

9. 3 million gallons of untreated sewage spilled into Champion Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana in October. The city says the leak was the result of aging sewer pipes. It is estimated that $200 million is needed to update the city’s sewer system.

10. A collapsed sewer line in Sioux City, Iowa wasn’t fixed for a week in March and spilled about one million gallons of untreated wastewater into the Missouri River.  The line break happened when saturated soil slid into a ravine, carrying a section of the pipeline with it.

December 28, 2010

Top Water Main Break Stories of 2010

Posted in DC, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, Texas at 10:27 pm by bengann

Here are the top 10 water main break stories of 2010.

1. 2 million residents of Boston and 29 of its most populous suburbs, were without drinking water for several days in May after a catastrophic rupture of a water main break.

2. A Kansas City, Missouri home looked more like an igloo after a water main break caused water to shoot high in the air where strong winds then blew the water into a resident’s front yard and all over his house.

3. In Washington, D.C., the break of a water main near the National Mall shut down a sizable portion of Constitution Avenue and closed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

4. Residents in a Bozeman, Montana neighborhood watched in dismay from their muddied front lawns after a water main break left behind by 4 million gallons of water. 

5. A water main leak in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota caused a sidewalk to collapse sending a pedestrian about 15 feet down into a sinkhole.

6. Cornell University’s Foundry–which house art studios on campus–was closed until further notice after water from a main break eroded the ground around the building.

7. At least 105 water mains burst during a one week period in early January in Dallas, Texas. On average the city has four or five breaks per day.

8. A 16-inch water main break shot water 20 feet into the air near the Belmont University campus in Nashville, Tennessee.  Five dorms and the campus event center were without water for a period of time.

9. A broken water main shot water dozens of feet into the air in Rockville, Maryland in July. The break was so sever some residents were without drinking water for five days.

10. A water main break in Daytona Beach, Florida has caused a giant car-sized hole in the middle of one of the city’s busiest roads in May. Water was gushing out of the of the pipe and onto the road because the 50 year-old pipe was so old, the valves didn’t work anymore, and crews couldn’t turn the water off to fix the pipe.

December 21, 2010

Tuesday’s Water News: Water Main Break Disrupts Water Service to 5,000 Customers in Michigan

Posted in Georgia, Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming at 7:56 pm by bengann

A water main break in Chelsea, Michigan left 5,000 homes and businesses without water early this morning. Around 700,000 gallons of water was lost, the same amount used on an average winter day.

The state of West Virginia has announced a Water and Waste Disposal Loan of $525,600 for the Town of Poca. The funds will be used to rehabilitate the town’s wastewater collection system portions of which were constructed in the 1950s and are in need of repair.

The borough of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania has a little more than eight months to identify and reroute all illegal sewer discharge into Wabash Creek, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered last week.

In Georgia, DeKalb County has reported more than 15,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into local waterways over the past four days. Last week, the county commission approved $1.35 billion in water and sewer upgrades after the EPA issued a consent decree mandating improvements.

Detroit had $4.6 billion of water and sewers bonds lowered by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited the utilities’ risk from interest-rate swaps and lean financial flexibility. Moody’s said debt service coverage on the bonds has diminished amid the economic slump that has hit the Detroit area and because of large payments it may face to cancel interest- rate swaps.

Stimulus Spotlight
It’s the end of the line for the stimulus spotlight feature that we started on April 28, 2009. With economic stimulus funding for water and sewer projects coming to an end it’s time to retire stimulus spotlight. 

Sewer Rate News
Belgrade, Montana
Casper, Wyoming
Colleyville, Texas
Pooler, Georgia

This is the last regular post for the year. We will have best of posts on Tuesday, December 28 and Wednesday, December 29. Happy Holidays.

December 20, 2010

Monday’s Water News: Study Finds Probable Carcinogen in Tap Water of 31 U.S. Cities

Posted in Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, National, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin at 8:31 pm by bengann

Residents in at least 31 U.S. cities could be drinking tap water contaminated with the harmful chemical hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, according to a report released today by the non-profit Environmental Working Group. The EPA has classified hexavalent chromium as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” and the new study may eventually lead to a national drinking water standard for the chemical.

Construction has begun on a hard-rock stormwater overflow and relief sewer tunnel 180 feet below the surface in Columbus, Ohio. The nearly 4.5-mile-long tunnel has a 20-foot diameter and will further limit combined sewer overflows into the Olentangy and Scioto rivers.

A major water main break this afternoon in Gloucester, Massachusetts cut off water supply to about 70 percent of the city. Schools in the city will be closed tomorrow because of the disruption in service and residents will likely remain under a boil-water order until Wednesday.

The city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire is taking the first step to secure funding for a massive overhaul of its wastewater systems.  The city wants to borrow $3 million for a preliminary sewer plant upgrade. The cost is at a tenth of the expected funding needed for the treatment plant upgrades mentioned in the city’s master plan.

Stimulus Spotlight
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has decided to delay a $280 million municipal bond sale until next year, due to volatile conditions in the municipal bond market. The district had planned to sell $280 million in Build America Bonds — an economic stimulus program — but the bond market has been in turmoil with the BAB  program ending on December 31.

Sewer Rate News
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Kalispell, Montana
Verona, Wisconsin

December 17, 2010

Friday’s Water News: Pittsburgh Area Road Reopens After Water Main Breaks

Posted in Illinois, National, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia at 7:35 pm by bengann

Five water mains broke this morning in various parts of Pittsburgh’s Northern suburbs (known as North Hills), including one that closed a major road and delayed the opening of a shopping mall for about an hour-and-a-half on a bustling shopping day. The closing of the major road meant no one could use the two ramps leading to the shopping mall or gain access to other businesses on the road.

The Weirton Sanitary Board and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection are about 16 months apart on their timelines for a major overhaul to the city’s aging sewer system. The massive upgrade is the result of a March discovery that 7 to 8 percent of the city’s untreated sewage had been flowing into the Ohio River through an outfall.

In Oregon, Clackamas County commissioners have unanimously approved a $3.2 million contract to install the second phase of a public sanitary sewer system in the North Clackamas Revitalization Area. The project is funded through a loan from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s clean water state revolving fund. The project was also awarded $4 million federal stimulus money, which helped pay for the first phase of construction.

Stimulus Spotlight
House members on Thursday night voted 277 to 148 to approve an $858 billion tax package that contains few bond-related provisions and no extension of the Build America Bond program, which was included in the economic stimulus and helped finance infrastructure construction–including for water and sewer systems. The bill was signed into law today by President Obama.

Incoming House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) plans to introduce a “reincarnation” of the Build America Bond program in the next Congress set to expire at the end of the year.

Sewer Rate News
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Clarksburg, West Virginia
Galena, Illinois
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania

December 16, 2010

Thursday’s Water News: Water Main Break Causes Sinkhole, Detours in Wichita

Posted in California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio at 9:48 pm by bengann

A water main break early this morning on a major commercial street in Wichita, Kansas caused a big sinkhole and a major headache for drivers, businesses and residents. Water and mud gushed into the streets before the water service to the area was shut off. Officials said they expect to have all service restored sometime Friday.

In Salisbury, Maryland, the Wicomico River has been completely closed to fishing and sports due to a sewer main break which cracked at the Fitzwater Pump Station sending about 10,000 gallons of sewage into the river.

Harrison County, Indiana is seeking federal assistance for a new $2.1 million sewer project.  The project calls for enlarging a wastewater treatment plant, installing three pumping stations and more than 24,000 feet of sewer lines.

The Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District is expected to sign an agreement  that will bring water and sewer services to the Ohio 161/37 corridor in Newark, Ohio.

Stimulus Spotlight
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the supplier of drinking water for about half of the state’s population, plans to sell $250 million in Build America Bonds today to fund its capital plan.

Sewer Rate News
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Hamilton County, Ohio
Richmond, Kentucky
Sacramento, California

December 15, 2010

Wednesday’s Water News: New York Community Must Spend $5.4M to Upgrade Wastewater System

Posted in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin at 7:52 pm by bengann

The city of Ogdensburg, New York is facing $5.4 million in improvement projects to its wastewater collection system to bring it into compliance with federal and state regulations. The long-term control plan calls for several projects to help the city become compliant with combined sewer overflow policies and to bring it from a 75 percent to a 90 percent capture rate.

Late Tuesday evening, two water main breaks sprung up on a Fayetteville, North Carolina street, causing part of the street to be shut down until further notice.

With more than 15 sewer overflows ranging from a few gallons to millions of gallons in the past few years, the Board of Public Works in Holland, Michigan is looking at upgrading many of its lift stations after a reliability study exposed problems.

Stimulus Spotlight
In Kane County, Illinois, two subdivisions plagued by flooding will get their problems fixed, while other local communities will get their sewer and water projects paid for, after the Kane County Board issued $16 million in stimulus-backed Build America Bonds yesterday.

Federal stimulus money enabled the state of Wisconsin to provide $83.5 million in financial help to communities to upgrade their drinking water supply systems, more than doubling the number of communities typically assisted in a year, according to a recently released report on public water supplies’ performance.

Sewer Rate News
Etna, Ohio
Lavalette, West Virginia
Lemoyne, Pennsylvania
North Webster, Indiana

December 14, 2010

Tuesday’s Water News: San Diego County Strip Mall Flooded by Water Main Break

Posted in California, Illinois, Michigan, National, South Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming at 12:03 pm by bengann

Several businesses in a San Diego County strip mall were cleaning up their flooded stores yesterday following an early morning water main break. The break occurred in Solana Beach under a pet store set to open today, and due to the flooding is pushing back its grand opening at least several weeks.

In Washington, heavy rains over last weekend caused sewage to overflow into the Port Angeles harbor. According to local officials, the four combined sewer overflow outfalls in Port Angeles discharged approximately 15 million gallons of a mixture of stormwater and raw sewage into the harbor.

The city of Naperville, Illinois expects construction for a sanitary sewer project to last two weeks but should be finished by Christmas.  The project is part of the city’s long-term capital improvement plan to maintain its sanitary sewer infrastructure.

Officials in Alpine Township, Michigan are moving closer to approving a $2.29 million sewer project which they hope will qualify for state funding.

Stimulus Spotlight
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) is proposing what may be a last-ditch effort to extend the Build America Bonds program as part of legislation being considered by the Senate to continue the 2001 and 2003 income-tax cuts. The program has provided billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements, including water and sewer projects, but Republicans have made it clear that they oppose extending the Build America program.

Sewer Rate News
Casper, Wyoming
McHenry, Illinois
Pickens, South Carolina
Wausau, Wisconsin

December 13, 2010

Monday’s Water News: Home Freezes Over in Kansas City After Water Main Break

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:57 pm by bengann

A Kansas City, Missouri home looked more like an igloo this weekend after a water main break caused water to shoot high in the air where strong winds then blew the water into a resident’s front yard and all over his house. The affected  homeowner had to use spray de-icer, and a propane torch to melt the ice on his front lock just to get inside his house.

Several Minnesota lawmakers say additional funding is needed for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, which will serve rural communities in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota. The water system is now under construction, but at its current funding level, it won’t be finished for 38 years.

In Texas, the city of Lubbock has already spent millions of dollars on sewer improvements and is looking to spend even more. The city is building a new wastewater treatment plant in the Southeast portion of the city and is considering construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in the Northwest part of the city.

Stimulus Spotlight
Communities in California, Florida and New York will issue Build America Bonds this week to help fund construction of water and sewer projects. The program is schedule to end on December 31.

Hamlin County, West Virginia’s wastewater treatment project is moving towards its third phase. The current second phase of the project is nearing completion, having been funded with economic stimulus funding.

Sewer Rate News
Anchorage, Alaska
Dallas, Texas
Malvern, Arkansas
Prescott, Arizona

December 10, 2010

Friday’s Water News: $2.2 Million Sewer Project to Begin Soon in St. Louis

Posted in California, National, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington at 8:16 pm by bengann

In St. Louis, construction will begin soon on a major storm sewer project to ease basement backups and flooding. The new sewer will convey storm water through a storm-sewer system to the River des Peres, relieving existing combined sewers. The project is estimated to cost $2.2 million.

A broken water main flooded roads and parking lots in Auburn, Washington causing residents in the area of the break to have no or low water pressure.

Construction will begin soon on an $18 million sewer plant project in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

Stimulus Spotlight
The U.S. Senate has kept a continuation of the Build America Bond program out of a bill to extend income-tax cuts made in 2001 and 2003, according to the latest draft of the legislation. The federal subsidy for debt to finance public works projects–including water and sewer projects–isn’t among changes made to win support for the measure.

In New York, the Monroe County Water Authority has approved issuing $94.5 million in 30-year taxable bonds to help finance ongoing construction of a new water treatment plant in the town of Webster. Authority officials estimate the issuance of taxable Build America Bonds rather than non-taxable bonds will save the authority between $10 million and $30 million.

Sewer Rate News
Altoona, Pennsylvania
Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sacramento, California

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