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 8, 2011

Friday’s Water News: Dearborn, Michigan to Start $325 Million Sewer Separation Project in January

Posted in Alabama, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia at 6:58 pm by bengann

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Starting in January, the city of Dearborn, Michigan will begin a new $325 million sewer separation project. The work represents the third distinct plan of attack for the massive combined sewage overflow project that has been in the works now for more than three decades.

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The state of Alabama may offer help to debt-laden Jefferson County to prevent the municipality from filing for what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. The county, home to the state’s largest city, Birmingham, has struggled for about three years under the weight of $3.2 billion in sewer debt after a failed bond financing.

Hundreds of fish are dead in Peters Creek after a water main broke beneath the South Park Township, Pennsylvania salt storage, carrying salty water into the creek. The break is most likely due to deterioration in the line.

In Corbin, Kentucky, two businesses out of the four that were damaged in mid-April after heavy rains caused by a sewer overflow have now reopened.

Part of a major road in Fairfax, Virginia has been blocked off due to a water main break that caused a sinkhole.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Crescent City, California
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Williamsburg, Colorado
Wilsonville, Oregon

July 7, 2011

Thursday’s Water News: Northeast Ohio Reaches Consent Decree on $3 Billion, 25-year Fix for Sewers

Posted in Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania at 9:11 pm by bengann

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A federal judge has approved a $3 billion, 25-year deal for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, which includes Cleveland, to reduce the amount of untreated waste that is dumped into local waterways. The agreement reached with the EPA, Department of Justice and Ohio Attorney General’s office promises to reduce discharges of untreated waste from the current level of about 4.5 billion gallons a year to under 500,000 gallons annually by 2036.

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In Alabama, a judge has ruled on the side of Jefferson County in a hearing between the county and the receiver appointed to oversee its sewer system. The receiver John Young wanted to transfer $60 million of the county’s money into an account only he would have control over, but the judge ruled the transfer was illegal under state law.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has issued a warning after the city of Maquoketa discovered untreated wastewater going into the Maquoketa River. Based on flow records, the city estimates 400,000 gallons of untreated wastewater poured into the river before it was discovered.

EPA has released excerpts of responses from Pennsylvania’s six most active Marcellus Shale drillers describing how they plan to deal with their wastewater instead of discharging it through conventional treatment plants.

A water main break late Wednesday night in Lafayette, California was forceful enough to blow surrounding soil into the air and disrupt service for about 100 customers.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Flowery Branch, Georgia
Macomb Township, Michigan
Manchester, Ohio
Umatilla, Oregon

June 20, 2011

Monday’s Water News: Study Finds More Money Needed to Fix Milwaukee Sewers

Posted in Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin at 7:30 pm by bengann

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A task force in Milwaukee finds the city must spend more to repair its aging sewers to reduce the catastrophic effects of extreme storms. Storms last July poured up to 9 inches of rain across much of the Milwaukee area, with some neighborhoods receiving more than 3.5 inches of rain in one hour. The deluge caused millions of dollars’ worth of property damage with more than 9,000 homeowners asked for special flood debris pickup.

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A disinfection system that would help curb the level of E. Coli pumping into the Mississippi River is one step closer to becoming reality in Memphis, Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has issued a draft permit for Memphis to install this disinfection system at two treatment plants. The disinfection system is already in place in most other large cities.

Millions of barrels of salty, toxic wastewater from natural-gas wells in Pennsylvania are coming into Ohio despite efforts to keep it at bay. Unlike Pennsylvania, Ohio’s geology supports brine-injection wells. From January through March, nearly half the brine that went into disposal wells in Ohio came from Pennsylvania and other states.

Due to a rainstorm on Saturday, Portland, Oregon’s combined sewers overflowed into the Willamette River. City officials recommend that the public avoid the river for 48 hours after the rain has stopped.

Hundreds of East Baltimore residents who have been without water since Saturday are expected to have service restored this evening. The initial cause of the disruption, a break in a 20-inch main, was repaired early this morning, but three additional small water service lines also broke when they started allowing water to flow through the repaired main.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Clarksville, Indiana
Hall County, Georgia
Keizer, Oregon
St. Clair County, Michigan

June 15, 2011

Wednesday’s Water News: 25 Percent Rate Hike for Jefferson County (Ala.) Proposed

Posted in Alabama, California, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, West Virginia at 8:29 pm by bengann

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A court-appointed receiver says Jefferson County, Alabama, should raise its sewer rates by 25% in order to help repay bondholders and avoid filing what would be the largest bankruptcy in municipal history. Jefferson County has $3.2 billion in sewer debt. BNY Mellon asked for a receiver for the sewer system when it sued the county in 2008, alleging that county officials had mismanaged the system’s finances while accumulating more than $515 million in payment defaults.

Other Headlines
Clarksville, Indiana residents could see their monthly sewage bills double and their drainage fees rise 15 percent to pay for a $20 million upgrade of the town’s sewage plant and storm drainage system.

Heavy rains today caused Portland, Oregon’s’s combined storm and sanitary sewers to overflow, sending untreated sewage into the Willamette River. The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services warns the public to avoid recreational activities in the river until 48 hours after the rain has stopped.

In California, work is beginning on replacing a mile of main sewer line near the Sonoma County Sanitation District plant, where a sinkhole developed last year when the aging pipe collapsed. The work includes a second pipe that will carry recycled wastewater that will be used for agricultural irrigation. The cost to replace the main is $2.3 million, with economic stimulus money covering the $500,000 cost for the recycled water line.

A precautionary boil water advisory in Beaver, West Virginia caused local restaurants to shutdown their soda machines for most of their lunch rush period.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Clinton, Iowa
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
St. Clair, Michigan
Warrenton, Oregon

I’m off the next few days. Blogging will resume on Monday, June 20

June 3, 2011

Friday’s Water News: Sewer System Improvements to Cost Capital Region (N.Y.) Residents $110M

Posted in Arizona, California, Georgia, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania at 6:55 pm by bengann

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Sewer rates in much of the Capital Region of New York could be rising steadily during the next two decades under a $110 million plan to reduce sewage pollution in the Hudson River. Such overflows occur about 90 times a year in the region when sewer plants, which also handle storm water, are overwhelmed during heavy rains and dump untreated sewage directly into the Hudson.

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In Georgia, the Augusta Utilities Department is using a dog to sniff for raw sewage in order to help detect and eliminate elusive sewage leaks. This spring, the state’s Environmental Protection Division fined the city roughly $45,000 for about 100 sewage spills dating to 2004.

A water main break created a sinkhole that sunk part of the pavement on Thursday at the Taste of Syracuse (N.Y.) was fixed this morning, three hours before the annual celebration of Central New York cuisine opened. The two-foot wide sinkhole opened early Thursday morning less than 200 yards from the stage where music artists are scheduled to perform on Saturday.

Ruscombmanor Township has accepted a $500,000 grant from the state of Pennsylvania to extend an existing sewer line through the township which is expected to cost $1.8 million.

A Georgia Administrative Law Judge has revoked Forsyth County’s permit allowing it to discharge 6 million gallons a day of treated waste water into the Chattahoochee River. In her ruling, Judge Kristin Miller said the permitted discharge would violate state and federal laws because it would result in lower water quality in the Chattahoochee, and the county could more thoroughly treat its waste water and discharge less pollution into the river.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Brookings, Oregon
Dana Point, California
Glendora, California
Tolleson, Arizona

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 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 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

April 8, 2011

Friday’s Water News: Water Main Break in Oceanside (Calif.) Cancels Classes College

Posted in California, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia at 6:17 pm by bengann

Top Story
A water main break in a Oceanside, California parking lot spewed more than 1 million gallons of water and left businesses and homes in the MiraCosta College area without service. A car sank into a hole created by the large leak and had to be towed out. A section of road was closed to traffic until crews could clear away the mud, dirt and debris in the road and the college closed it main campus.

Other Headlines
A plan to harness green technology to help reduce the amount of raw sewage that spills into Buffalo New York’s waterways was unveiled today by an environmental group. The study advocates for both traditional methods of improvements such as expanding sewer system capacity and newer methods such as green design schemes.

A broken pump station in Huntington, West Virginia is releasing millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Ohio River. The time frame for stopping the flow depends is somewhat unknown. The raw sewage will continue to go into the Ohio River for at least four to 24 hours and, under a worst case circumstance, up to a week.

Pennsylvania environmental regulators said Wednesday that they were calling for waste treatment plants and drinking water facilities to increase testing for radioactive pollutants and other contaminants, to see whether they are ending up in rivers because of the growth of natural gas drilling in the state.

Portions of a street in Moundsville, West Virginia are closed because of a leak in a main sewer line on Annadale Avenue. The leak had been going on for quite a while causing the road to slowly sink.

Water and Sewer Rate News
Clive, Iowa
Holly, Michigan
New York, New York
Portland, Oregon

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