July 25, 2011

Monday’s Water News: Jefferson County (Ala.) to Make Bankruptcy Decision Thursday

Posted in Alabama, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania at 11:49 pm by bengann

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Officials in Jefferson County, Alabama will decide Thursday whether or not to declare bankruptcy, in what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The county has struggled for the last three years under $3.2 billion in sewer bond debt.

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The northbound lanes of a road in the Chicago suburb of Palatine remained closed today because of a gaping, 20-foot sinkhole caused by a sewer line that collapsed following storms on Saturday bringing about flooding and a record amount of rain.

A large water main break in Tulsa, Oklahoma flooded a neighborhood and cut off water service to many in the area near the break.

Residents in Portland, Oregon have been asked to avoid the Fanno Creek Trail after a sewage pipe leak sent out contaminated water throughout the area.

Crews with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District were making repairs today after an eight inch sewer main broke and leaked sewage in South St. Louis County. The broken main is currently leaking into a tributary of Mattese Creek. It’s unknown how much sewage has entered the creek and its tributary.

Water and Sewer Rates
Fredonia, New York
Lincoln, Nebraska
Malden, Massachusetts
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

July 14, 2011

Thursday’s Water News: Jefferson County (Ala.) Near Plan to Settle Its Sewer Debt

Posted in Alabama, California, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York at 6:54 pm by bengann

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After being near the brink of insolvency for nearly three years, Jefferson County, Alabama finally has a plan to settle its $3.2 billion sewer debt and hopefully avoid the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The plan includes a fixed-rate plan with a fixed term, modest sewer rate increases and backed by the state of Alabama’s credit rating.

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Citizens Energy Group will take control of Indianapolis’ water and sewer utilities in about six weeks, following state regulators’ approval of the deal.  Citizens will take over the utilities’ operations and capital projects, as well as $1.5 billion in debt. No immediate rate increases are associated with the deal, although water and sewer rates are expected to increase by triple-digit percentages over the next 15 years to pay for system upgrades.

A 19th-century water main broke this morning in the Manhattan, New York neighborhood of Chelsea flooded a street and left dozens of area residents and businesses without water. The broken 12-inch main was originally installed in the 1870s.

San Benito, California is in the process of undertaking a multi-million dollar project to address its sewer problems. In fact, in a recent study it was found that many manholes need to be repaired and that drainage needs to be improved.

Spencer, Iowa has received a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant for sanitary sewer collection improvements. Expenses for the project will be split nearly 50-50, with the city paying $650,000 of the total cost.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Hayward, California
Middleboro, Massachusetts
Reno, Nevada
Solvang, California

July 13, 2011

Wednesday’s Water News: Boil Water Advisory for Six New Jersey Towns Following Water Main Break

Posted in Arizona, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Wisconsin at 5:46 pm by bengann

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A break in a 30-inch water main in Northern New Jersey has shut down part of U.S. Route 9W and is causing six communities to suffer from loss of water. The communities affected are Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Palisades Park, Englewood, Leonia and Tenafly. Affected residents may have low water pressure or no water, especially those living on upper floors of high-rise buildings.

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Staff at Richmond (Ind.) Sanitary District’s wastewater treatment plant have been working around the clock since Friday to resolve an issue that led suspended solids and E. coli to overload the treatment and filtration process and discharge into the East Fork Whitewater River.

In California, the city of Guadalupe is moving forward with a plan on a $4.75 million project to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. The new system, which features new headworks, a dewatering system and biological treatment system will allow the city to meet state discharge standards.

Work started today on a new sewer line in Lexington, Kentucky which will help address sewer overflow problems in one part of the city. The new 24 inch sewer line will replace a 15 inch line, that was originally built in 1966.

The city of Whitefish, Montana has begun a five- to six-week project to replace and rehabilitate underground sewer mains throughout the city.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Easton, Massachusetts
Plymouth Township, Michigan
Ripon, Wisconsin
Surprise, Arizona

July 12, 2011

Tuesday’s Water News: 40 Million Gallons of Water Spills in Louisville (Ky.) Following Main Break

Posted in California, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri at 9:16 pm by bengann

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Water has finally stopped spilling out of a broken 48-inch water main in Louisville, Kentucky, but not before spewing more than 40 million gallons across the University of Louisville campus and curtailing drinking water to 75,000 residents. Flooding was severe enough to cancel classes at U of L. Meanwhile, hundreds of central Louisville homes and businesses were coping with the temporary loss of water pressure that put them under a boil-water advisory — even as the heat index climbed well past 100 for a second straight day.

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The city of Taunton, Massachusetts’ aging sewer infrastructure is getting a major upgrade, as workers are in the midst of a project to repair and replace failing pipes across the city. In fact yesterday, workers replaced a 111-year-old clay pipe. The work is part of a larger project to prevent the city’s sewer system from overflowing into the Taunton River.

Two broken water mains in Fort Lauderdale occurred miles apart today and caused a huge mess on the streets and in the water. City officials are stumped regarding the cause of the two pipe ruptures, but they speculate the high temperatures may have caused the pipes to burst.

Crews with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District are cleaning up and making repairs after a sewer line broke and leaked sewage in north St. Louis County.

A break in a wastewater main in Milford, Iowa has sent untreated sewage spilling into West Lake Okoboji. Residents have been advised to keep their children and pets away from the shoreline and out of the water for the next 48 hours.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Bay City, Michigan
Tulare County, California
Yuba City, California

July 11, 2011

Monday’s Water News: Advisory Issued for Beach in Bellingham, Washington

Posted in California, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin at 5:14 pm by bengann

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In Washington, a beach advisory has been posted for Wildcat Cove in Larrabee State Park because tests have consistently shown increased levels of fecal bacteria that exceed federal standards for clean water. Sewage spills or leaks were the biggest culprits in Washington state in 2010, causing 67 percent of beach closing and advisory days.

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The city of Jerome, Idaho needs a plan that will convince the EPA it’s doing everything necessary to get its wastewater treatment plant up to snuff following sewer overflow problems tied to the dairy industry. Without a plan in place, the city stands a stronger chance of a lawsuit and steep EPA fines. The city’s initial estimates put the necessary work on the plant at $3.25 million.

The public disclosure that Rialto, California’s water system needs $42 million in upgrades and renovations is symptomatic of a national trend that civil engineers have long called alarming. Needed upgrades to its water and sewer system will have to be paid for through rate increases. Rialto has not raised its wastewater rates in 10 years and water rates in seven years.

For the Milwaukee (Wisc.) Metropolitan Sewer District is planning to install new, smaller screens to remove debris, trash and plastic containers from wastewater flowing into the Jones Island sewage treatment plant, as well as other upgrades at the 25-year-old preliminary treatment facility, the project is estimated to cost $14.9 million.

Water was restored to the 30 homes in Winchester, Massachusetts last night which were impacted by a water main break. Although the water is back on the Department of Public Works needed to come out today to clean the streets of mud and make needed repairs to the road.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Fredonia, New York
Hayward, California
McLean, Virginia

July 5, 2011

Tuesday’s Water News: Stormwater Contamination Increasing Shut Down of Connecticut Beaches

Posted in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington at 5:00 pm by bengann

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Connecticut’s coastal beaches in 2010 had to be shut down twice as often as in recent years between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Stormwater contamination was the cause 66 percent of the time a beach had to be closed.

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A state circuit court judge has set a Wednesday hearing on a request to transfer about $60 million from the Jefferson County sewer system to a corporation set up by the court-appointed receiver in charge of the system. The matter is separate from a demand made last month by the court-appointed for $75 million that the county has in reserves.

Ascension Parish, Louisiana has received more than $5 million in federal hurricane recovery money to consolidate and upgrade rural sewer services. The funding will be used to buy 14 acres of rights of way and allow parish government to build lift stations to consolidate sewer services in unincorporated areas of the parish.

The state of Ohio is set to make $1 million this year from treating wastewater from natural gas drilling sites in Pennsylvania. The amount of wastewater Ohio accepted from out-of-state drillers has jumped, in part because Pennsylvania officials this year increased pressure on drillers to keep fracking waste out of surface water.

A broken water main caused a mess in a Los Angeles neighborhood Sunday afternoon. About a half-dozen homes in Sherman Oaks were affected, including one that had its swimming pool filled with mud.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
Hobart, Wisconsin
Newburyport, Massachusetts
Polk City, Iowa

June 30, 2011

Thursday’s Water News: St. Louis Agrees with EPA to $4.7 Billion, 23-Year Plan to Upgrade Sewers

Posted in California, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota at 6:40 pm by bengann

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Sewer bills are in line for big increases in St. Louis (Mo.) to cover a $4.7 billion, 23-year plan to stop sewage from bubbling into the area’s rivers and stream. The plan is part a consent decree reached with EPA. St. Louis is one of many older urban areas that face the common problem of sewer overflows, mainly because of combined sewer systems dating to the 19th century.

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The city of Sioux Falls (S.D.) has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit filed after its storm and sanitary sewer systems failed in 2004 and hundreds of homes flooded. The settlement creates a fund of $1.95 million that, if approved by a court, will allow about 160 people to recoup some of their losses.

Today the city of San Diego launched an $11.8 million water purification demonstration project to test the feasibility of turning wastewater into drinking water. The city relies almost exclusively on water imported from the Colorado River and the Sacrament-San Joaquin River Delta — increasingly expensive sources over which San Diego has little control.

In Idaho, a regional wastewater plant to serve both Hansen and Kimberly came one step closer to fruition after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded the project a $25,000 grant.

The failure of one of two water mains in Humphrey, Nebraska left the town’s residents without water for about two hours while stopgap repairs were accomplished.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Midland, Michigan
Nortonville, Kentucky
Scituate, Massachusetts

I’m taking Friday off. Enjoy your 4th of July weekend. We’ll post again on Tuesday, July 5.

June 27, 2011

Monday’s Water News: Public Health Warning Issued in Pensacola After 2.2M Gallon Sewage Spill

Posted in Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia at 11:28 pm by bengann

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A public health warning is in effect for the waters near the University of West Florida after 2.2 million gallons of raw sewage spilled from a nearby sewer main into the surrounding wetlands. “This illustrates the problems we are facing to address our crumbling infrastructure and we are doing that; obviously not fast enough,” said Emerald Coast Utilities Authority board member Lois Beson. “This is a regrettable occurrence, but we will be diligent in finding all of these problem areas and fixing them.”

Other Headlines
Pollution in Illinois waterways has improved dramatically but state and federal environmental officials say it’s still not good enough, and that too many cities still have antiquated sewer systems that route sewage and storm water through the same pipes, causing them to overflow during heavy rains. EPA has ordered cities to submit plans by the end of September for how they will limit overflows to no more than four per year or capture 85 percent of the volume when the systems do overflow.

The New Jersey State Environmental Commissioner expects the state legislature to approve $44 million in funding for stormwater projects aimed at restoring Barnegat Bay.

The City of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania  has moved one step closer to pursuing a $9.4 million loan to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The city would be responsible for 50 percent of the loan’s cost, with the other municipalities that receive sewer service from the city picking up the other half.

On Saturday and again on Sunday, a water main break at Kansas City International Airport has shut down water supply to part of Terminal A and slowed traffic near the terminal.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Fall River, Massachusetts
Falls Church, Virginia
Spring Hill, Tennessee
Tega Cay, South Carolina

June 7, 2011

Tuesday’s Water News: IRS Investigating Jefferson County’s (Ala.) Tax-Exempt Sewer Bonds

Posted in Alaska, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia at 2:34 pm by bengann

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In Alabama, Jefferson County says the Internal Revenue Service is investigating the tax-free status of sewer bonds that have landed the state’s largest county on the brink of bankruptcy. The county is in default on its sewer bonds, after the spending on a $1 billion project more than tripled and complex Wall Street interest rate swaps backfired.

Other Headlines
An issue with the sewer system could mean big trouble for a popular Northern Kentucky nightspot,  because it has been discovered the restaurant is no longer tied into the sewer system, meaning that their waste was being discharged into the Ohio River.

A $4.7 million project to upgrade the town’ of Wilton, Maine’s sewer system was approved by voters at the town meeting last night. To pay for the project, the town’s 995 sewer customers will pay an added $240 per year over the next 29 years on their sewer bills.

The longtime settling of a concrete vault is being blamed for the collapse of a sewer line along Route 37 in Toms River, New Jersey yesterday, which caused a sinkhole that shut down the right eastbound lane of the roadway until after midnight.

A water main break in the area of Peabody, Massachusetts left about 15 houses and a strip mall without water for about five hours yesterday.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Bay City, Michigan
Burlingame, California
Canon City, Colorado
Vienna, Virginia

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

Top Story
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.

Other Headlines
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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