Massive ice storm knocks out water supplies in some places
February 2, 2009

The massive ice storm that worked its way across much of the country -- especially just south and east of our area -- also managed to knock out water supplies in many places, since electricity is used to drive most water-treatment pumping systems. This incident echoes similar problems that occurred with other ice storms in December 2008, March 2007, and February 2007. Individual ice storms may be unpredictable, but it's highly probable that they will occur often enough -- and with sufficient severity -- that water and wastewater treatment systems should consider the value of lift stations and booster stations with engine backup systems and portable automatic pumping stations. Natural disasters like floods and ice storms put a heavy strain on public-works crews as it is, and these automatic systems allow essential services like water and sewer to continue operating without diverting away precious staffing resources.

Could a "Buy American" clause derail the infrastructure stimulus package?
February 3, 2009

The economic-stimulus package working its way through Congress right now could be derailed by a "Buy American" clause that could lead to retaliation by some of America's largest trading partners. We represent a diverse range of manufacturers, most of them American. And it should be noted that these American manufacturers, like Gorman-Rupp, Golden Harvest, ATI, and Environetics, are able to compete on a global scale, often exporting their American-made goods all around the world. But some other products, like some of our handheld gas-detection monitors or our nano-bubble lagoon-oxygen systems, can only be obtained from overseas due to patent protections. America has many great manufacturers that have successfully innovated and grown internationally and offer worldwide sales representation because they are better than their competitors.

A simpler ammonia monitor arrives
February 4, 2009

One of the water-quality parameters that we expect to receive more attention from state regulators in our area over the coming years is the presence of ammonia, which is one of the major results of the nitrogen cycle in wastewater. ATI has developed a cost-effective ammonia monitor, which we are pleased to offer to our customers. Please feel free to request more information on ammonia monitors and we'll be happy to help.

Congress takes an interest in sewer overflows
February 5, 2009

Representative Timothy Bishop (D-NY) has introduced HR 753 in the US House of Representatives, a resolution to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control act to require wastewater systems and sewer agencies to notify the public within 24 hours of a sewer overflow and create a complete database of sewer overflows for public review. The need for quick responses to sewer overflows is part of the reason for a recent surge in interest in our portable lift stations, which can be used to provide automatic, unattended operation at sites where wastewater pump stations have failed due to mechanical problems or loss of power.

Change to one-call rules proposed for Nebraska
February 6, 2009

"One-call" systems like the services in Iowa and Nebraska offer excavators a simple way to request locating services for buried utilities like water mains, sewers, and electrical and telephone cables. A proposal (LB272) before the Nebraska legislature would exempt the state's sanitary and improvement districts (SIDs) from participating in the one-call service there. The bill's author says their participation isn't really needed, since sewer lines are generally buried deeper than anything else. But the utility council of the Nebraska AWWA has come out against the proposal, arguing in part that excavators need to know about any potential conflict -- not just because they might interfere with the sewers, but because the very act of installing the sewers in the first place left behind a different soil profile above the sewers than in the surrounding areas.

Sludge spill contaminates Illinois river
February 9, 2009

The Des Plaines River was temporarily closed after a 65,000-gallon spill from an oil-sludge holding tank at a plant in Joliet. Only about 6,000 gallons of the sludge appear to have reached the river, but some wildlife were lost to the spill.

We can help you with products for emergency spill control, including portable spill-containment berms and emergency baffling systems to control the spread of oil and other pollutants in water. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Tornado season makes an early arrival in Oklahoma
February 10, 2009

Oklahoma is even more susceptible to tornadoes than Iowa and Nebraska, but we're in the northern reaches of Tornado Alley, so today's tornado outbreak in Oklahoma City serves as a reminder that we need to be prepared for tornado season, which is just around the corner. Beyond the ordinary precautions everyone should take (and of which we'll be reminded during Severe Weather Awareness Week), professionals serving the water and wastewater industry need to keep in mind the importance of having portable pumps on hand for emergency use, as well as the value of portable lift stations and other equipment that can be used to keep essential public services like water and sewer service working effectively, even when natural disasters cut off power supplies.

Platte West plant wins engineering award
February 11, 2009

Omaha's Platte West Water Treatment Plant, which was designed by HDR and constructed by Alberici, has been awarded the Grand Award from the Nebraska chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies. A main component of the Platte West plant is the huge pump room, which provides pressure to the system through the use of Patterson horizontal split-case pumps.

Warmup leads to flooding
February 12, 2009

This week's warm weather has led to some minor flooding problems in Des Moines, Cherokee, Fort Dodge, and in Scott County. We'll undoubtedly return to additional winter weather, since normal lows remain below freezing until March in the Upper Midwest. And that will mean more winter precipitation, which will in turn will eventually melt and run into streams and rivers again. We offer a variety of stormwater-related products to help mitigate the effects of springtime flooding, as well as sump pumps for home protection.

Stimulus bill, if passed, will include almost $1.4 billion for rural water
February 13, 2009

The agreement reached by the House/Senate conference committee includes $1.38 billion for loans and grants for water and sewer service in rural areas. The amount is intended to help leverage almost $4 billion in projects. Another $6 billion are included for the state revolving fund programs, which fund water and wastewater projects. We offer a range of products used in rural water and wastewater systems, including pumps and booster stations for clean water, and grinders and lift stations for wastewater.

Stimulus plan puts biggest construction shares into roads and schools, not water
February 16, 2009

The economic-stimulus package just approved by Congress (and slated for Presidential approval tomorrow) appears to contain about $40 million for water projects in Nebraska, a far smaller figure than the $235.6 million budgeted for highway construction. Iowa is scheduled to get about $78 million for water projects, compared to just over $358 million for highways. The total stimulus package involves $787 billion in new spending and tax cuts, which makes it the equivalent of about 30% of a normal Federal budget. We look forward to serving many of the municipal water and wastewater projects in Iowa and Nebraska over the coming months.

Oil slick creates international incident
February 17, 2009

An oil slick off the coast of Ireland appears to have been created by a pair of Russian ships that were refueling nearby. The Russian Navy denies responsibility, but that doesn't change the size of the spill. Oil spills of all types and sizes create hazards require the quick attention of the water industry. Oil can kill wildlife and damage coastal plants, but it can also create a risk to human health if it finds its way into drinking-water supplies. Because most oil will float on water, it can often be contained through the use of emergency baffle curtain systems, but it's much better if those spills can be prevented in the first place. High-quality, well-maintained fuel-transfer pumps can help reduce the risk of spills -- and when the fuel transfer takes place on land, spill-containment berms can help prevent contaminants from reaching rivers and watersheds.

Gorman-Rupp sets record in 2008
February 18, 2009

Gorman-Rupp continues to grow, and the pump manufacturer set a record for pump sales in 2008. Gorman-Rupp lift stations are found all over Iowa and Nebraska, and we have sold portable pumps and other small pumps from our online store all over the United States.

Flood recovery continues, almost a year later
February 19, 2009

Eastern Iowa is still recovering from the tremendous flooding of the summer of 2008. The damage is still evident in parts of Cedar Rapids, but some good news has come about in Cedar Falls, where the Cedar Falls Utilities are almost back in their main facilities, after having been pushed out by floodwaters from the Cedar River (which sits just a stone's throw away). As spring approaches, communities across Iowa need to prepare for the possibility of new flooding with stormwater controls like flap gates and backup pumping systems, and homeowners ought to check their sump pumps. Those looking to make an investment in protecting their homes may wish to consider the value of battery-backup sump pumps.

New dams and detention basins in store for Omaha metro
February 20, 2009

The Papillion Creek Watershed Partnership, an organization made up of local governments and natural-resource districts in the Omaha metro area, has unveiled its latest set of plans for watershed development and stormwater management for the next 30 years. Their recommendations include 27 new detention basins (for protection of water quality and retention of high stormwater flows), as well as the construction of seven new dams over the next few years. Stormwater detention and treatment has become increasingly important to local governments as Federal regulatory attention to the volume and quality of stormwater runoff has increased.

We can help you with many types of stormwater-control products, including geomembrane liners for detention basins and tanks for stormwater detention around construction sites, as well as stormwater pumping stations and water-quality sensors and monitors. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Recognition for an Iowa water charity
February 23, 2009

The Pure Water for All Foundation, a group set up by Washington (Iowa) water superintendent John Hays, has received some attention from the Des Moines Register. Hays and his charity produce water-treatment systems suitable for use in developing countries where access to chlorine is limited and usually very expensive. While the Western world generally takes its clean, safe drinking water for granted, the World Health Organization estimates that a billion people have no safe drinking water. Safe drinking water is the cornerstone of public health, and an essential element in improving human longevity. Modern public-water disinfection only began in the United States in 1908.

Keokuk negotiates with EPA over storm sewer separation
February 24, 2009

The city of Keokuk, Iowa, is trying to convince the EPA that a mandated separation of the city's storm sewers from its sanitary sewers is too expensive a project for the community of 12,000 people to undertake. The project is expected to cost $60 million over two decades. Clinton, Des Moines, and Ottumwa are among the other Iowa communities being required to make similar separation projects a priority.

We can help you with gates, pumps, samplers, flowmeters, and water-quality sensors, among many other products needed for stormwater management. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Governors want reforms to infrastructure funding
February 25, 2009

The National Governors Association has issued a report called, "An Infrastructure Vision for the 21st Century". In the report, which relies heavily upon the infrastructure report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which has for years been warning of the need for considerable new investment in the nation's infrastructure. The governors' report particularly highlights the need for sustainable funding for infrastructure. While most of the states welcome the infrastructure funding in the new Federal stimulus bill, the fact that a single large outlay can be made and still only be a first step reveals just how difficult the funding situation is. Special financing programs, like an available lease-to-own option for Gorman-Rupp lift stations, may help some communities where infrastructure-improvement needs outstrip the existing capacity to pay.

Explosive gases kill 74 in China
February 26, 2009

An explosion in a Chinese coal mine has killed 74 people. Coal mines, like underground valve vaults, sewers, and portions of some wastewater treatment plants, are especially dangerous because they are confined spaces in which hazardous gases tend to accumulate. It is the persistent risk of explosion or asphyxiation in these sites that makes above-ground lift stations vastly safer than their submersible alternatives. Every site -- industrial, municipal, agricultural, or commercial -- that houses hazardous and/or explosive gases like hydrogen sulfide, methane, and carbon monoxide needs toxic-gas detection equipment to help ensure the safety of the people who work there.

'Tis the season of extra chlorine
February 27, 2009

Water-treatment plants like Omaha's Florence WTP are adding a little extra chlorine to their water to help maintain necessary disinfection quality as smow melts and makes its way into the rivers and streams that serve many of America's municipal water systems. The Florence plant uses clearwell baffles from Environetics in its chlorination process to help ensure that the water spends the necessary time in contact with the chlorine elements to provide safe disinfection.

Past water and wastewater news updates

last revised February 2009