A quiet spring turns rapidly into a noisy summer
June 1, 2010

With the Memorial Day holiday marking the traditional start of summer, what had been an extraordinarily quiet spring for severe weather in Iowa (with no confirmed tornadoes all spring) has made a rapid U-turn with today's strong storms, dropping at least one tornado in southwest Iowa along with giant hail. Severe weather is a pretty standard experience in our part of the country, and that experience underscores the importance of having backup systems in place for use during severe weather -- whether it's having portable pumps ready and fueled nearby to help control flooding, battery-backup sump pumps capable of handling heavy rains even when the power goes out, or portable lift stations and lift stations with engine backup systems to ensure that a municipal wastewater system can continue to function even if municipal power goes out. A small bit of preparation can make all the difference between a serious disruption to ordinary life and a minor inconvenience.

At the IWPCA convention today
June 2, 2010

We exhibited at the meeting of the Iowa Water Pollution Control Association today in Ames. Among other things, this was the debut for a number of new display features for us, which we think will help us better connect our fine manufacturers to the engineers and operators who need their equipment:

Gongol booth at the IWPCA

Imagine a food crisis affecting the entire population of Michigan
June 3, 2010

A severe drought in western Africa has caused a food crisis large enough to affect 10 million people. A number that large is easy to gloss over without perspective -- but it's equivalent to the population of Michigan. Hunger on that scale is enormous and a massive direct threat to human welfare. As we've learned, it can also turn otherwise peaceful places into incubators for violence and even terrorism, which then can find its way to other parts of the world. The relationship between water and food is sometimes too easy to overlook in wealthy countries, where irrigation equipment can mask the vagaries in nature's behavior. But we are lucky that we have so many tools for producing, moving, treating, and recovering water in agricultural circumstances -- otherwise, we too would face mass-scale hunger during our own occasional droughts.

EPA opens comment period for sanitary sewer overflows
June 4, 2010

The EPA has opened a period for public comments on whether to revise its rules for sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). The agency is soliciting opinions on six questions regarding SSOs, including whether it needs to implement separate permit conditions for certain sewer collection systems (to distinguish them from the municipal wastewater plants they serve), and how the agency should address peak-flow conditions at those publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs).

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst
June 7, 2010

We had an experience this past weekend that illustrates exactly why municipalities have to prepare for the worst, even if they hope for the best. The automated weather station at Lamoni recorded rainfall rates equivalent to 4" per hour falling for up to 15 minutes at a time. That's an incredible amount of rainfall -- certainly more than enough to send storm sewers and pump stations into overdrive. It's the rare, but ever-present, possibility of these storms that makes it important for sewer utilities to have adequate backup protections in place -- whether that's having extra capacity in the wetwell, portable lift stations ready for deployment in case power is lost (which, of course, is more likely during a thunderstorm or an ice storm than at any other time), or to have backup power available at their lift stations, whether that power comes from a power generator or a dedicated engine drive.

ADM wants higher limits for ethanol blends
June 8, 2010

ADM is asking the EPA to consider increasing ethanol limits in gasoline from the current 10% blend to a 12% blend for all cars, and is supporting an ethanol-industry group request to allow 15% blends of ethanol to be sold. The EPA is apparently reluctant to allow a 15% blend to be used, since some parties (including ethanol retailers) are concerned the higher alcohol percentage could damage older cars. Falling corn prices are good for lowering costs at ethanol plants, but they are also fighting against a saturated market for ethanol, which puts pressure on their revenues. Higher percentages of ethanol in gasoline blends would raise the ceiling on demand and allow ethanol producers to expand their production capacity -- something that hasn't been done much for the last few years. Lots of smaller ethanol refineries have been hurt by lower ethanol prices and by tougher competition all around.

We supply lots of products used in ethanol production. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Researchers "surprised" to find more bacteria in bottled water than tap water
June 9, 2010

Researchers in Canada measured bacteria counts in bottled water and in tap water from some sample sources, and found that the bacteria levels in bottled water was in some cases astronomically higher than what was found in typical tap water. Considering the degree to which American and Canadian tap (and bottled) water sources are comparable -- Iowa, for instance, shares most of its drinking water and wastewater standards with Ontario under the Ten States Standards -- this story should serve as yet another nail in the coffin for the idea that bottled water is "safer" than tap water. It may be convenient and portable, but it's really not categorically safer.

Pesticide applicators now being recruited to help protect water
June 10, 2010

The Iowa DNR is working on developing a permit process for pesticide applicators to ensure that their work complies with Federal laws that may require some of them to have NPDES permits. NPDES is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, and it's the way in which the Federal government regulates most water pollution under the rules of the Clean Water Act. The DNR will be holding a meeting on June 29th to discuss the process with applicators. Interestingly, the rules won't apply to applicators of crop pesticides, but instead mainly for those who apply to control aquatic weeds, algae, and mosquitoes.

Iowa DNR plans training course for wastewater engineers
June 11, 2010

The Iowa DNR is offering a course for wastewater design engineers covering the implementation of the state's new antidegradation rules on June 28th in Johnston.

Great news for Lincoln: The water supply is in good shape
June 14, 2010

Lincoln has had perhaps the state's most visible struggle with water supplies as Nebraska has dealt with drought conditions that lasted for the better part of the last decade. As the largest population cluster west of Omaha, and located just a few miles east of the state's heavily-irrigated heartland, Lincoln has observed a wide range of voluntary and mandatory restrictions on water use for the last few years. But at long last, the mayor there has declared that the water supply is in such abundance that residents won't even be asked to observe designated watering-day schedules for the foreseeable future.

Municipal water supplies consume a tiny fraction of total freshwater use in Nebraska -- irrigation uses 27 times more. But in urban areas, the municipal supply usually draws from a small number of concentrated wells, which makes conservation and efficient use essential. Without safe drinking water supplies, a modern city simply cannot function.

Flash flooding in eastern Iowa
June 15, 2010

Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Davenport, and other parts of eastern Iowa are under flash flood warnings today as a result of heavy rainfall falling on top of saturated ground. Reports of serious street flooding in Iowa City, as much as 10" of rain over roads in Ottumwa, and a tornado yesterday have all come in, and there's plenty of reason for concern that more flooding could come if any additional rain falls, though there is some optimism that the weather will be dry for at least a few more days. A similarly serious situation is happening in Oklahoma City. Handling stormwater is a major challenge for civil engineers, incorporating the need for sewers, pump stations, solids screenings, and monitoring. Eastern Iowa is still recovering from catastrophic river flooding two years ago.

Awful flooding in eastern Nebraska
June 16, 2010

Eastern Iowa has been dealing with flash flooding this week, and now eastern Nebraska is being hit with major flooding as well. Norfolk has been hit by major flooding, resulting in mandatory evacuations and at least one bridge collapse. We've heard from Todd Boling, the water pollution control plant manager at Norfolk, that the Elkhorn River there exceeded the previous record flood stage from 1949 by more than a foot. We of course offer our best wishes to those who are affected by the flooding and who are working tirelessly to keep their communities safe from disaster. We have been advised that at least one community downstream has been using some of our portable flood-control pumps to pump seepage back over their levees.

Flooding continues in Iowa and Nebraska
June 21, 2010

The ground is thoroughly saturated across most of the Upper Midwest, and with wave after wave of heavy rain falling, we're seeing quite a lot of river flooding and even flash flooding throughout our service area. A small area just east of Lincoln has been pummeled by nearly 5" of rain in the last 24 hours. We've received a lot of rain over the last seven days, and Des Moines is about 6" above normal precipitation for the year so far -- a good 40% above normal.

With the heavy rainfall, a number of communities have been forced to conduct bypass pumping of their sewer systems. Gorman-Rupp's Silent Pump is an excellent choice for automated bypass pumping that doesn't require manual operation. The Silent Pump and other trailer-mounted Gorman-Rupp trash pumps are also well-equipped to handle flood-control needs as well.

And there's flooding on the other side of the globe, too
June 22, 2010

We've been dealing with serious flooding problems throughout the Upper Midwest over the last couple of weeks, and it turns out that we share this fate with people living in China -- though the Chinese are suffering on a much greater magnitude. Flooding in southern China has killed 132 people and displaced an estimated 800,000. To put that in perspective, the flooding has displaced more people than live in an entire Congressional district -- like Nebraska's 3rd Congressional District, which includes virtually every Nebraskan living west of Lincoln. It can be pretty astonishing to consider the magnitude of the human impact of flooding like on that scale. It serves as a testament to the quality of America's engineers and its civil-works infrastructure that we can experience serious flooding without incurring a similar human cost.

We can help you with a wide range of products for floodwater and stormwater control, including sluice gates and radial gates for use in dams. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Half a foot of rain in 24 hours
June 23, 2010

The radar estimates from the National Weather Service suggest that a portion of north-central Iowa, centered roughly on Clarion, has received more than 6" of rain in the last 24 hours. Wright County has declared a state of emergency as a result of the rain. That's an incredible volume of rain, and while it feels like rain and flooding have dominated our thoughts lately, remarkable weather has been the main story across much of the north-central part of the United States lately.

We are prepared to assist our local communities with products for flood control and recovery, including bypass pumps and portable dams. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Devastating flooding in Brazil, too
June 24, 2010

On top of the terrible flooding that's occurred in Iowa and Nebraska over the last few days, we've heard terrible stories of flooding displacing thousands of people in China as well, and now we're finding out about almost 100,000 people being left homeless in Brazil, along with dozens of deaths and at least a thousand people missing. Every one of those stories is a heartbreak. We can only hope that the painful losses lead to a rededication of efforts to better manage stormwater -- and to make the necessary investments to ensure sustainable protection of the land and waterways in order to protect human life.

Sizing a household well pump
June 28, 2010

We receive lots of inquiries daily from people looking for help with equipment. We recently received the following question:
How do we determine the model and size we need for domestic water system on a well?
Most well sizing is performed by taking account of the number of faucets, showerheads, toilets, and other water-using fixtures in a household. The state of Maryland offers a pretty useful chart of standard water use for different fittings. Keep in mind that several fittings may be in use at the same time (i.e., someone may be taking a shower while the dishwasher and clothes washer are both running), so it would be valuable to estimate the total flow required based upon what you expect peak usage to be.

Also, you may wish to consider using a water-storage tank of some sort. Some people will do this so they can install a smaller pump, but simply leave it operating for longer periods of time. Most water use takes place first thing in the morning, and secondarily when people arrive home in the evening. By installing a tank, you could use very low-demand periods during the overnight hours and while people are away at work and school during the day to re-fill the tank.

Once you've calculated the flow requirements, you can calculate the amount of pressure required, using our helpful guide to pump application.

We offer a wide range of submersible pumps and domestic water-pressure booster pumps for these kinds of applications, as well as tablet feeder systems for chlorinating water, UV disinfection units, and water-storage tank.

Bypass pumping during serious floods
June 29, 2010

The news is dominated right now by stories of serious flooding -- some of it on a record-setting or near-record scale. The Saylorville Dam is set to be overtopped within the next day or so, as huge amounts of runoff have come downstream through the Des Moines River basin.

This has created a widespread need for bypass pumping, either to keep floodwaters from entering inhabited areas or to keep sewer systems from backing up into homes and businesses.

One of the best developments in bypass pumping came along when Gorman-Rupp introduced the Silent Pump arrangement about a decade ago. This self-enclosed, sound-attenuated system allows for the bypass of hundreds of gallons of water (floodwater and sewage included alike) every minute, but with nearly silent operation so as not to interrupt life nearby.

The totally-enclosed arrangement also discourages vandalism and theft, and the quiet operation helps ensure that no needless attention is paid to the operation.

The Silent Pump includes a pump and engine, a massive fuel reservoir, and a completely automatic system for operating the pump, so that valuable public-works employees can spend their time doing more important work than just babysitting the pump.

If you'd like to know more, please visit our Silent Pump page or call us at 515-223-4144 and ask for details. We have a wide range of bypass pumping options available that go well beyond just the Silent Pump.

Past water and wastewater news updates

last revised June 2010