May 31, 2011

Tuesday’s Water News: Report Finds Wrong Studs Led to Massive Water Main Break in Massachusetts

Posted in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington at 9:54 pm by bengann

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A clamp joining two giant water pipes failed last May largely because it was held together by wrong-sized studs, investigators said yesterday in a report on the cause of the massive water main break that cut off clean drinking water to nearly 2 million residents of the Boston area for more than two days.

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In California, a federal judge has found a San Francisco Bay area sanitary district is responsible for 21 illegal sewage spills into a number of creeks and sloughs that drain into the bay. For the spills, the district could be fined up to $975,000 in federal Clean Water Act violations.

Raw sewage spilling into streets and waterways. Rodent droppings in chemical tanks that feed a public water supply. Severe disrepair at water and sewage plants. The complaints and violations at the West Milford (N.J.) Municipal Utilities Authority facilities are numerous and residents want the utility to take action.

Pierce County, Washington is planning a $305 million expansion for its wastewater treatment plant in University Place. Design work is underway with construction planned to take place between 2013 to 2016. Once completed, almost everything at the plant will get an upgrade.

The small community of South Beloit, Illinois faces steep costs in upgrading its sewer system. In addition to a series of Illinois EPA deadlines to replace miles of leaky sewer pipes, which could cost up to $5 million and take several years to complete, pending federal and state regulations on wastewater treatment standards would require the city’s plant, which is already past its design life, to be upgraded or redesigned.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Cumberland, Maryland
Elk Grove, California
New Haven, Indiana
Porterdale, Georgia

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May 20, 2011

Friday’s Water News: Chicago Under Increased Pressure to Stop Sewer Overflows

Posted in California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey at 7:31 pm by bengann

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In recent days, the federal government and environmental groups have increased the pressure on Chicago’s wastewater treatment agency to stop discharging untreated sewage into the Chicago River during storms and to disinfect the treated sewage that makes up 70 percent of the river’s flow.

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Three families are displaced as cleaning crews are mopping up a stinky mess at their homes in Boonton, New Jersey after massive pumps draining raw sewage failed Wednesday night, filling the yards and basements with several feet of waste early Thursday.

EPA is requiring the town of Exeter, New Hampshire  —  as well as other communities along the Great Bay — to reduce nitrogen pollution coming from its plant. The stricter limits will force the town to build a new plant that will cost ratepayers millions. A number of communities along the Great Bay have asked the EPA to delay final permitting for Exeter until a further scientific study is done on the effect of nitrogen pollution specifically on the Squamscott River.

In Davenport, Iowa, the City Commission wants to continue to move forward with its plan to install a sewer collection system and an additional wastewater treatment plant. Its current system can handle 150,000 gallons of wastewater per day, but the projected flow after hooking up eastern Davenport would be 155,000 gallons per day. An additional plant would allow the city to process 375,000 gallons per day.

A water main break in downtown Bangor, Maine that forced the closure of the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building today has been repaired. The federal building, which houses U.S. District Court, the local offices of the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies, was closed all day Friday.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Canton, Georgia
Holly, Michigan
Newton, Massachusetts
Tulare County, California

I am on vacation next week. All new stories will be posted to Water News Update on Tuesday, May 31. Thank you for reading.

May 19, 2011

Thursday’s Water News: Study Says 15 Billion Gallons of Sewer Overflows in Michigan in 2011

Posted in California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania at 9:03 pm by bengann

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A new study by a Michigan trade association shows that almost 15 billion gallons of raw or partially treated sewage has been dumped into the state’s rivers, lakes and streams since the beginning of the year. By far the biggest polluter is Wayne County which has discharges 13.4 billion gallons of raw or partially treated water since the beginning of the year.

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Akron, Ohio and the federal government are getting closer on a $1.3 billion agreement to curtail the city’s overflowing sewers. Funding the first of the sewer projects could cost Akron as much as $120 million over the next two years. That could trigger sewer-rate increases of another 45 percent in 2012 and 40 percent in 2013.

Work to begin decommissioning a sewer plant in Ocala, Florida will not be going forward this year as planned. The city’s Water and Sewer Director asked the City Council to keep the plant on-line for roughly four more years to give him time to learn what, if anything, the city will be required to do to reduce the nutrients of nitrogen and phosphates coming from the city’s sewer plants.

In Pennsylvania, officials in the borough of Sewickley says a $5.5 million upgrade of the borough’s wastewater treatment plant is nearing completion. The project includes an upgrade of several specific areas of the plant and brings it into compliance with state environmental regulations.

The West Campus of Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida has been closed for classes and operations through the weekend because of a water main break.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Bangor, Maine
Hinsdale, Illinois
Lemon Grove, California
Portland, Oregon

May 18, 2011

Wednesday’s Water News: East Bay Municipal Utility District to Pay $210,000 for Violations

Posted in California, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Vermont at 4:07 pm by bengann

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In Oakland, California, the East Bay Municipal Utility District has agreed to pay nearly $210,000 to settle violations for sewage discharges in 2009. The district was cited by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board for three violations: two for high chemical levels and a third for an equipment malfunction that caused the system to overflow and spill sewage.

Other Headlines
Last weekend’s rainfall in Saginaw, Michigan caused close to 73 million gallons of partially treated sewage to spill into the Saginaw River.

New court records allege the water company which operated Gary, Indiana’s sanitary district for ten years continued breaking environmental law for years, though they had been advised as early as 2003 their process violated the Clean Water Act. Despite the warnings, chlorine tampering continued until October 2008, when federal agents raided the sanitary district, prosecutors allege.

Turning over operation the city of Batavia, Ohio’s water and sewer systems to Clermont County could save its residents millions of dollars and reduce pollution to a scenic river.  If the city doesn’t make such a switch it could cost more than $6 million for needed upgrades. That equates to $10,000 for each household and business.

More than 12 hours after a water main break was reported in Indianapolis, the break was repaired and traffic was flowing again, but not before the repair work snarled traffic during heavy morning and lunch traffic.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Baltimore, Maryland
Bennington, Vermont
Queens, New York
Waverly, Ohio

May 17, 2011

Tuesday’s Water News: Wall at Treatment Plant Collapses Causing a 600,000 Gallon Sewage Spill

Posted in Alabama, California, DC, Illinois, Missouri, New York at 6:52 pm by bengann

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Nearly 600,000 gallons of partially treated sewage was released after a 15-foot-high, 100-foot-long concrete wall collapsed at a wastewater treatment plant in Binghamton, New York. Much of the escaped sludge poured into Fuller Hollow Creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River located just feet from the wall. The plant serves 10 municipalities and Binghamton University.

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In Washington, D.C., officials broke ground today on an expansion of the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. The to $1.4 billion, three-year effort to reduce pollution is just the latest step for DC Water. In the fall, they plan to start work on a $2.6 billion effort to reduce sewage overflows by updating sewers built before the Civil War.

A new $404 million Combined Sewer Overflow Facility in Brooklyn, New York will prevent up to 50 million gallons of combined sewer overflows during heavy rain from being discharged into Paerdegat Basin, a 1.25 mile channel that is connected to Jamaica Bay.

The city of Morris, Illinois — as required by the Illinois EPA — will spend about $5.8 million in Tax Increment Financing funds and Water and Sewer funds on a long-term control plan to eliminate any overflow from sanitary sewers.

A $2 billion overhaul project to improve the Kansas City’s aging sewer system got under way on Monday. The project is anticipated to take more than a year to complete, and is the first project of its kind to be tested. City officials said the cost of the project will be shared with residents through increased sewer rates.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Auburn, Alabama
Clarendon Hills, Illinois
Lemon Grove, California
Port Angeles, California

May 16, 2011

Monday’s Water News: Water Main Break Snarls Traffic for Beach-Bound Motorists

Posted in California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina at 5:20 pm by bengann

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Some people expecting to go to the beach yesterday were instead treated to a day stuck in traffic, after a ruptured water main shut down U.S. 98 eastbound in Gulf Breeze, Florida on Sunday morning, causing a day-long traffic snarl that stretched as far as downtown Pensacola.

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The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says about 1 million gallons of untreated sewage has flowed into Steele Creek because of a sewage line break. Steele Creek merges into Sugar Creek, which eventually feeds into the Catawba River.

The City Council in Winnebago, Minnesota has decided to move forward with a sanitary sewer project.  The total cost of the project will be nearly half a million dollars, with 28 connections being impacted by the new project, 24 of them businesses.

The borough of Freeport, Pennsylvania wants the state to declare its multimillion-dollar storm sewer solutions too costly for customers. The state could grant extensions to the project until government funding is found to reduce the burden, which could take from six to 12 years.

EPA has presented a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund award to Missoula County, Montana for water system improvements to the Lewis and Clark Subdivision. In 2009, Missoula County was awarded $572,400 in economic stimulus funding to provide reliable water to residents in the subdivision, a low-income neighborhood.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Brooktrails, California
Massena, New York
Northville, Michigan
Novato, California

May 6, 2011

Friday’s Water News: Citrus County (Fla.) Beach Closed After High Bacterial Count in Water

Posted in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee at 7:35 pm by bengann

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In Florida, the Citrus County Parks and Recreation Division have put up the no swimming signs at the Ft. Island Gulf Beach Park after the county Environmental Health Department found high bacterial counts in the most recent water samples. The beach had been open to swimming for a month up until Thursday, after having been closed to swimming for a number of consecutive weeks prior to that.

Other Headlines
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s plan to ax a $750,000 grant appropriation aimed at helping the town of Brady replace its ailing water system has officials there grappling over what to do next.

When the Upper Hocking Wastewater Treatment Plant begins pumping sludge this summer, it will mark the end of a $50 million construction project on what officials in  Lancaster, Ohio have called the largest public works project in the city’s history.

An estimated 100,000 gallons of sewage spilled into Jump and Run Creek in Harnett County, North Carolina on Thursday after a force main break.

In Pennsylvania, several Bucks County municipalities and water authorities will receive state grants totaling $9.8 million to help pay for various water and sewer projects.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Bend, Oregon
Columbia, Tennessee
Louisville, Kentucky
Newburgh, Indiana

This blog will not be updated next week as I will be at the 2011 NUCA Washington Summit. Regular posts will return Monday, May 16.

May 5, 2011

Thursday’s Water News: Palm Beach, Broward Losing 33 Million Gallons of Water Per Day

Posted in California, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia at 9:07 pm by bengann

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The utilities that supply water to South Florida residents are losing more than 33 million gallons every day — all while users are being asked to cut back lawn watering in the name of conservation. The lost water is costing area cities hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and fixing the problems will cost millions.

Other Headlines
A $15 million project to upgrade the wastewater collection system at the naval base in Guam is nearly one-third complete, bringing the island’s largest military base closer to its updated targets for capacity and reliability at the Apra Harbor Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The sewer system in Minnewaukan, North Dakota, was inundated Wednesday evening – for the second time in a week – by floodwaters from the growing Devils Lake.

In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) has awarded $7.5 million in three grants for wastewater projects in Lycoming County. The grants are awarded through the CFA’s H2O PA Program, which provides grants to independent agencies, municipalities or municipal authorities for the construction of drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer projects or to help repair, rehabilitate or remove high-hazard unsafe dams.

The Valley Falls Public Service District in West Virginia has announced it is shutting water off due to some Morgan County residents after a water main break.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Clarkston, Washington
Coon Rapids, Minnesota
Cupertino, California
Kauai, Hawaii

May 4, 2011

Wednesday’s Water News: Oceanside (Calif.) Could be Fined $10 Million for December Sewage Spill

Posted in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia at 7:58 pm by bengann

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Oceanside, California could face a fine of up to $10 million for a huge sewage spill which released nearly 5.4 million gallons of untreated sewage into Buena Vista Creek last December from a broken pipe. Initially city officials reported only 180,000 gallons were released into the environmentally sensitive creek. The city could be fined as much as $10 million for the incident.

Other Headlines
As part of a consent order negotiated with Georgia Environmental Protection Division, the city of Augusta will adopt a five-year program of preventive maintenance of underground sanitary sewer lines, instead of simply treating backups when they occur.

With no end in sight to Chicago’s chronic water pollution problems, environmental groups filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to stop the routine dumping of human and industrial waste into the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The complaint comes as the federal and state EPA and the Department of Justice inch closer to a legal deal intended to address the pollution problems.

Officials in Shepherdstown, West Virginia have started the process to increase capacity and decrease sewer overflows by renovating and upgrading its wastewater treatment facility at a cost of $9.6 million. The project will double the capacity of the treatment plant to 800,000 gallons and is being financed mostly from a low-interest loan through the SRF.

In Florida, a break yesterday in a 48-inch water main in Miami-Dade County caused flooding to local homes and business, stranded an empty school bus and has closed streets while repairs are being made.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Graham, North Carolina
Lathrop, California
Milpitas, California
Waynesboro, Virginia

May 3, 2011

Tuesday’s Water News: Massachusetts to Borrow Another $100M for Water System Improvements

Posted in Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin at 12:50 pm by bengann

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The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which is already saddled with nearly $6 billion in debt, is planning to borrow an additional $100 million to pay for capital improvements to its delivery and storage network in the months ahead. Moody’s Investor Services says much of the authority’s borrowing has been used to finance more than $7 billion in water-system upgrades, but warned that its debt-service obligations will see a “sizable peak” at the end of this decade.

Other Headlines
Town officials in St. Johnsbury, Vermont have broken ground on a $5.3 million project to replace water and sewer infrastructure on St. Johnsbury’s south side. The south side effort is the third phase of the four-phase, $15 million infrastructure project, funded largely by federal stimulus money.

The city of Klamath Falls will enter into a $1 million revolving fund loan agreement with the state of Oregon to lay the foundation for future loans needed to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant. The agreement barely makes a dent into the $40 million it needs to completely upgrade its wastewater treatment plant.

The preliminary cost estimate for damage to public infrastructure in Saranac Lake, New York caused by flooding of Lake Flower and the Saranac River over the past week is in the $5 million range.

In Rockville, Maryland, a sewer line break between Rockville and Garrett Park caused delays for MARC train riders on all Brunswick Line trains into Washington, D.C. this morning.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Ellsworth, Wisconsin
Jerome, Idaho
Holden, Massachusetts
Knoxville, Tennessee

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