Tips for selecting a good solids-handling pump
May 1, 2009

Gorman-Rupp offers guidance on how to select the right solids-handling pump. Among their recommendations: Select a pump that can be quickly and easily unclogged and one with repair and replacement parts readily available. We think the Gorman-Rupp Super T Series and Ultra V Series pumps meet those standards quite readily. But one item missed in Gorman-Rupp's checklist is to consult with a representative or distributor with the experience to help identify and avoid problems of pumping system design before any equipment is put into place. Our firm has served the water and wastewater industries for more than 30 years, and our people have extensive knowledge that extends beyond the textbooks and operation manuals. A few minutes spent in consultation with us before the project is finished can prevent weeks of hassle and headache later on. Contact us any time you have a system under design and we'll be happy to assist.

How will we afford new water projects?
May 4, 2009

While much of our attention regarding municipal water and wastewater projects has been focused on the provisions of the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" (better known as the "stimulus" bill), the economic climate has changed a different part of the municipal water-project financing picture. Financial analysts are starting to question the long-term stability of municipal bonds, which are a major source of funding for many infrastructure projects in normal times. Some analysts are concerned that cities and towns simply don't have the wherewithal to pay back the money they've borrowed. In some communities, the risk comes from fluctuations in property values -- in Las Vegas, for instance, property values have fallen by double-digit percentages. This causes property-tax receipts to decline, which in turn hurts a community's capacity to pay its bills. In Iowa and Nebraska, the effect is less one of fluctuating property values as it is a question of population shift from small communities to large ones. In Nebraska, for instance, a third of the incorporated towns have lost 10% or more of their respective populations in less than a decade. Over the long term, the importance of finding stable sources of government revenue to fund ongoing infrastructure costs will become more important to our business than ever before.

Engineering professor predicts 50 years to a global water shortage
May 5, 2009

At a conference called "The Future of Water for Food" at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Harvard University engineering professor Peter Rogers was quoted as saying that the world would face freshwater shortages on a scale that could threaten food supplies within the next half-century. Rogers has issued similar warnings elsewhere, including in "Scientific American" last August. The issue is of considerable importance to Nebraska, since agriculture is a large share of the state's economy, and crop production in turn consumes the vast majority of the state's water through irrigation. The conference served as the unveiling for the Global Water Institute, which will be headquartered at UNL.

Among the ways in which water can be preserved is better reuse. We can help you with a variety of water-recycling products, from disinfection systems to sand filters. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Researchers think farms need new air-pollution controls
May 6, 2009

A study into infant mortality around large farming operations suggests that air quality near large farming operations may be hazardous to children's health, and calls for tougher Clean Air Act regulations on the production of noxious gases around those agricultural operations. Livestock waste is identified as the main culprit, since it produces gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.

We can help you with lagoon covers to isolate animal wastes from the surrounding environment and ambient air-quality monitors for measuring air pollution. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Estimate: 20% of private Nebraska water wells are contaminated
May 7, 2009

The suspected contaminants include arsenic, uranium, nitrates, and bacteria. While the first three are beyond the purview of most individual treatment units, bacteria can be killed quite easily with chlorination tablets and ultraviolet disinfection systems. Considering that almost a fifth of all Nebraskans get their water from private wells, the safety of that water is an important public-health issue.

"No toilet, no bride."
May 8, 2009

India's considerable shortage of women (the sex ratio is 12% out of balance at birth) means that women have more leverage than they might've had in the past when it comes to marriage. One of the results is a slogan called "No toilet, no bride", out of which mothers are insisting that their daughters' suitors have indoor plumbing. It's just a small example of how the well-developed municipal wastewater infrastructure we have in the United States is too easily taken for granted.

Iowa's coal-ash pits may need to be lined
May 11, 2009

The state government in Iowa is considering whether to require liners in coal-ash piles to prevent runoff from contaminating rivers and streams, and possibly to help prevent catastrophic failures like the one that spilled a billion gallons of coal waste near Kingston, Tennessee, last December. Iowa has only one nuclear power plant and gets about 80% of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. Because power plants are major users of water, we offer a range of products to serve the energy industry, including the geomembrane liners that may be required by new regulations.

Iowa's $455 million attempt to clean the water
May 12, 2009

The Des Moines Register has featured a story on the large amount of money being dedicated to water-quality projects across the state in the near future. One of the main issues highlighted in the story is Iowa's hundreds of unsewered communities -- according to the USDA, we have 739 (out of just 947 municipalities in total). We noted the Legislature's push to fund a revolving-loan program to help install sewer systems at the start of April. As communities install these systems, we anticipate that many of them will find Gorman-Rupp lift stations to be the most reliable and cost-efficient approach to their pumping needs. Gorman-Rupp lift stations are so easy to maintain that we have been able to train operators all over Iowa and Nebraska to service their own pump stations without having to spend thousands of dollars on service calls and expensive repairs. Reliable pumping systems save on labor costs, too, since they require little operator intervention; this helps preserve the precious public resources in many small communities and allows them to focus on other important issues.

Almost 9,000 acres burned in California wildfire
May 13, 2009

A wildfire in California has burned 8700 acres near Santa Barbara, to the northwest of Los Angeles. Several dozen homes have been destroyed by the fire, serving as a reminder of the value of home fire protection pumps and systems. We also serve many fire departments with PTO-driven fire pumps.

You don't know what you've got until it's gone: Water edition
May 14, 2009

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers addressed a Congressional briefing this week to discuss the need for better resilience inside our infrastructure systems. The testimony was related to the need for systems to be capable of "bouncing back" from natural or man-made disasters of the type that now come under the "homeland security" umbrella. We have experienced prime examples of such disasters on several occasions in the recent past, including the loss of the municipal water system at Mason City (Iowa), the flooding of the wastewater treatment plant at Cedar Rapids (Iowa), and the catastrophic sewer failure in Grand Island (Nebraska), all of which occurred in the last 18 months.

One of our greatest advantages to our self-priming pumps from Gorman-Rupp is that they are typically run on V-belt drives, which means that in case of a catastrophic flood, for instance, the pump can be easily returned to service with an off-the-shelf motor, available virtually anywhere. We also specialize in products like portable lift stations to help communities in need of emergency pumping service. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Flash flooding in southern Iowa
May 15, 2009

Large parts of southern Iowa spent a large portion of today under flash flood warnings due to heavy rainfall and a succession of storms that made things unpleasant (and have continued to do so all afternoon). It's a reminder of how things normally operate in the Upper Midwest in April and May, and perhaps as a more compelling reminder to homeowners to check their sump pumps and consider battery-backup sump pump systems if they haven't before. The same storms that produce enough rainfall to overwhelm sump pumps and drainage systems are the same ones that produce high winds and lightning, which can knock out the power to regular sump pumps. It's a cruel irony, but one which backup measures can overcome. Like households, cities need to plan for power outages in storms as well, with systems like engine-backup pump stations.

Infrastructure bills lead to trade retaliation
May 18, 2009

The "Buy American" clauses in the economic-stimulus package passed earlier this year are making for some trade trouble between the United States and trading partners like Canada, according to the Washington Post. The nature of the world economy today is enough to make the "Buy American" clauses a mixed bag all around. Several of our suppliers, like Golden Harvest and Gorman-Rupp manufacture their products in the United States, and always have. But Gorman-Rupp has a Canadian division, and some of the products we sell, like handheld gas monitors for carbon monoxide and other hazardous gases, are manufactured in friendly countries like New Zealand and are protected by patent law. We are pleased, though, that companies like Golden Harvest and Gorman-Rupp are careful to obtain their metals from well-regarded and carefully-managed domestic sources. Quality control of that nature is extremely important.

Consider this spam message that recently arrived in our office inbox:
We wish to confirm you with full cooperate responsibility that we are end seller ready, willing and able to transact and sell the commodities, with the following specifications, terms and condition. Sales and purchases will be based on the following procedures: The product is used Train Rail Scrap with the specification of R50 & R65 as confirmed to the ISRI codes. Manufactured in Russia & Ukraine. The origin is South Africa. Quantity: 360,000 MT (Three Hundred and Sixty Thousand Metric Tons)
Spam messages like the above give us a hint as to where lots of cast iron is coming from today -- and that should be enough make a person think twice about making sure their metal equipment comes from reliable sources. We know where the metals in our gates and pumps come from. Do you?

Water uncertainty becomes more significant than ever
May 19, 2009

A panel discussion at the Field Museum in Chicago last week discussed the importance of the water in the Great Lakes and the Midwest as a whole. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, argued that the very way in which water is priced makes the world's water balance difficult to maintain. The importance of water to agriculture -- and the resulting effects that agriculture has on water -- stands out among the most important issues to bear in mind when these weighty topics are discussed. States like Iowa and Nebraska effectively export lots of water in the form of "virtual water" inside food crops.

National Academy of Engineering says there's no way to fully protect New Orleans
May 20, 2009

The National Academy of Engineering has issued a report which cautions that not only is it impossible to protect New Orleans from future hurricane and flooding disasters by the use of floodwalls and levees, but that the public has been given an unreasonably optimistic impression that the systems put into place since Hurricane Katrina will be enough to protect the city in case of a future disaster. There is, of course, a lot that can be done via the use of massive stormwater pumps that can move half a million gallons of water per minute and massive flood gates to mitigate the impact of an "ordinary" hurricane or flood. But storms like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Camille can overwhelm even extraordinary man-made defenses, and future hurricanes in the region are inevitable.

Water conservation plans are already on the horizon
May 21, 2009

Lincoln residents will be asked to observe voluntary water-conservation measures this summer, starting with limits on outdoor watering. Much of Nebraska is well below normal precipitation for the last month -- which contrasts with the Des Moines area, which is well above normal precipitation of late, and for the year. Municipal water use is a tiny fraction of total water consumption in Nebraska, but the summertime spike in consumption can be extremely significant -- just compare the normal range for Lincoln's water use in May versus July. The difference can easily represent a jump of three times. That's enough to tax even the best-designed water system and the best pumps.

Hurricane season's first suspicious storm is on the doorstep of New Orleans
May 22, 2009

The Atlantic hurricane season, expected to be a nearly-normal one, is about to begin, and there's already a suspicious area of low pressure over the Gulf of Mexico, just outside New Orleans. As hurricane season returns, coastal and near-coastal communities around the country will need to assess their plans for flood controls and disaster relief equipment like portable pumps that will be needed to deliver critical public services like water and sewer service even when normal power supplies are lost. Flood-cleanup pumps are often a popular item in our online store this time of year, as well.

Closed for Memorial Day
May 25, 2009

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Our office is closed for Memorial Day. If you have an emergency, please use our emergency contact form and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

The root cause of last summer's flooding in Iowa
May 26, 2009

The National Weather Service office in Des Moines has prepared a report on the 2008 floods, including extensive details on how they tried to keep the public informed and how their forecasts for river flooding were prepared. But the essence of the flooding is captured with this statement: "The statewide average precipitation from January to June 2008 was 24.47 inches which was 8.13 inches above normal. This became the wettest January to June period on record. Statewide records date back to 1873." When more precipitation falls than at any other time in 135 years, including the run-up to the titanic Floods of 1993, then quite little can be done to keep trouble from happening. The flooding, however, did bring a lot of attention to the need for adequate flood and stormwater management programs, systems, and equipment.

Nebraska gets a little bit of planning money
May 27, 2009

The EPA has released $202,500 to Nebraska for water-quality planning work under the auspices of the Federal infrastructure-stimulus program. That's out of a total of $39 million being awarded nationwide, so Nebraska might be left wondering what it did to get stuck in the doghouse. (Nebraska's share is half of one percent of the total amount being distributed.)

We can help you with products related to water-quality at every step, from producing clean municipal water to managing stormwater to cleaning wastewater so it can be returned to the nation's rivers and streams. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

It's a depression...a tropical one, that is
May 28, 2009

Heavy rains across parts of Iowa and Nebraska this past week have been due to the remnants of a tropical depression that worked its way up from the Gulf of Mexico. Parts of the region west of Des Moines are actually in need of precipitation (according to the drought monitor), though not all of it in one big storm. As places like the Omaha, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids metro areas become more urbanized, the role of stormwater management becomes increasingly important to the protection of both life and property. Permanent structures, like stormwater sewers, levees, and pump stations, as well as temporary interventions like portable dams and portable pumping systems all contribute to the effort.

EPA allocates $24 million to Iowa's Drinking Water SRF
May 29, 2009

The SRF program is the State Revolving Fund, essentially a pool of money used for low-interest-rate loans to communities for upgrades to their municipal water systems. The $24 million infusion comes from the economic-stimulus package passed earlier this year. Iowa has an active SRF program in place, used for both municipal water and wastewater projects.

Past water and wastewater news updates

last revised May 2009