News Briefs: Milwaukee Pump Station Shuts Down, 76 Water Mains Break

In this week's news, 76 Milwaukee water mains rupture, a Senate bill supports infrastructure funding, and water utility computers find a new home with first-aid responders.
News Briefs: Milwaukee Pump Station Shuts Down, 76 Water Mains Break

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Milwaukee Water Works utility crews, and even some outside contractors, worked to repair a series of 76 water main breaks last week. The trouble started when an 84-inch water main outside the Texas Avenue Pump Station, which delivers water from Lake Michigan to the Howard Avenue Water Treatment Plant, began leaking. The utility shut the pump station and the plant down, which meant residents throughout Milwaukee were receiving water from the nearby Linnwood Water Treatment Plant. To reach some outlying areas, pressure in the distribution system was increased, which triggered the water main breaks.

The five-year water main break average for Milwaukee is 528 per year. The past week’s problems pushed the city to 660 breaks so far for 2014.

Half of the water main breaks occurred on pipes installed in the 1950s and 1960s, during Milwaukee’s housing boom. Those pipes don’t usually receive the type of pressure that occurred last week.

“It certainly heightens awareness of how aging our infrastructure is, in general,” says Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Carrie Lewis in a FOX6 report.

The source of the original leak has been detected, and the pump station will remain offline until all repairs can be made, which could take up to two weeks.

Source: Journal-Sentinel, WISN, FOX6

Senate Bill Removes Volume Cap on Private Activity Bonds

The National Association of Water Companies is supporting recently passed Senate bill S 2345, which removes the cap on private activity bonds used for drinking water and wastewater treatment projects. The bill is a companion to a House bill introduced earlier this year.

“The removal on bond caps for water projects will bring funding for this vital piece of the nation's infrastructure in line with airports, high-speed rail and solid waste disposal, all of which are currently exempt from existing caps,” says Michael Deane, NAWC executive director.

Source: NAWC press release  

New Jersey American Water Donates Toughbook Computers

Firefighters, emergency-responders and several non-profit organizations will be receiving Toughbook computers, thanks to a new program from New Jersey American Water. The rugged computers, which were used by water utility employees, will find new life as part of the “Toughbooks for Tough Volunteers” program.

“We’re launching Toughbooks for Tough Volunteers to donate computers as tough as the community volunteers who will use them,” says Peter Eschback, director of communications and external affairs, in a press release.

The program is a way to recycle computers that are being replaced as part of a scheduled hardware upgrade.

Source: Market Watch press release

29 Iowa Cities Receive $34 Million in Water-Quality Loans

Iowa’s State Revolving Fund will hand out nearly $34 million in low-cost construction loans for cities and municipalities seeking water-quality improvements. The Des Moines Metro Wastewater Reclamation Authority is slated to receive $13.2 million of those funds for clean water construction. New London, Keokuk, North Liberty, Columbus Junction and Pella will receive loans exceeding $1 million.

Source: Des Moines Register

50-Year Catawba Master Plan Encourages Water Conservation

The Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group, which includes 18 water utilities in North Carolina and Duke Energy, released a 50-year master plan for the Catawba River. The plan pushes consumers to use less water and anticipates that water rates will increase. However, critics of the plan claim that Duke Energy should fall under the same recommendations, especially since it uses almost as much water as the public.

The new plan also concludes that water shortage is further away than first projected. Originally, water shortages were forecasted to occur toward the middle of this century. The new model pushes that estimate out another 40 years to 2105.

Residential water use has already dropped by 25 percent per capita since 2006, and the new plan envisions those numbers dropping by another 18 percent over the next half-century.

Source: Charlotte Observer


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