Scottish Water workers may go on strike
December 1, 2008

Several hundred employees of Scotland's water agency have gone on strike and are threatening to do so again if they don't get a pay raise soon. In the US, most public drinking water is supplied by local municipal agencies, and the labor problem of the moment has nothing to do with union action, but rather with a dwindling supply of skilled employees.

The looming shortage of water professionals is one of the reasons our low-maintenance lift stations are so popular. We emphasize the use of products throughout our range that are easy to maintain, and by doing so, we help communities find ways to do more with fewer resources. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Tougher water regulations may be ahead
December 2, 2008

Environmental groups pushing for tougher regulations like a more stringent Clean Water Act may have the help of a friendly White House for the next four years. The water industry is very heavily driven by government policy -- perhaps more so than in many other sectors -- since water is a common resource shared among many parties whose interests are not always well-aligned. At the moment, a lot of emphasis is being placed on the use of infrastructure spending as a way to stimulate the economy. These factors are likely to come together to make the water and wastewater industry an unusually active one for the foreseeable future.

How to pay for $2.5 billion in infrastructure
December 3, 2008

The Metropolitan Utilities District in Omaha is about to vote on a 5% rate increase to help pay for $2.5 billion in improvements to water mains and sewers. The need for funding to maintain the nation's water and wastewater infrastructure remains large.

Water taxes - a hot issue in Nebraska
December 4, 2008

The Nebraska Supreme Court has just heard Garey et al. v. Nebraska DNR et al., in which a group of landowners have sued a batch of Nebraska environmental agencies and NRDs over taxes applied to help the state fund its compliance with the Republican River Compact with Colorado and Kansas. Interstate water disputes are growing in prominence as water becomes ever more important to everything from ethanol and biodiesel production to cooling data centers.

Iowa DNR seeks comments on new water-quality rules
December 5, 2008

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comments on its proposed new standards for water quality in the state's rivers and streams. The new standards create four tiers of quality, and the condensed version is that water-quality standards are about to become much tougher for many parts of the state if the new rules are approved.

We anticipate that many municipal wastewater treatment plants in Iowa will need to upgrade their systems in order to comply with the new rules, and we invite them (and their customers) to contact us with questions.

If an infrastructure program comes, water should be a top priority
December 8, 2008

The President-elect has announced his interest in a massive package of Federally-funded infrastructure projects, calling it his number-one priority coming into office. Billions of dollars could be spent immediately to upgrade outdated water and wastewater plants and related infrastructure, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. And they're certainly right -- much of the nation's water and wastewater infrastructure was constructed in the middle 1970s, with a 30-year design life.

To see what goes into these kinds of projects, take a look at our schematic layout of a modern wastewater treatment plant. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

The long-term value of infrastructure investment
December 9, 2008

A case can be made for a new infrastructure-investment program, though not as a short-term way to boost employment. Instead, infrastructure-investment projects are valuable as tools for ensuring that the rest of the economy can grow. Sewers and dams and bridges aren't particularly sexy, but they make it possible for the rest of the economy to function. Many Iowa towns still recovering from massive summertime flood damage can especially attest to the importance of having functional infrastructure investments in place.

From sewage lift stations to clean-water booster stations to the gates that control flood waters, please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Public-works "Christmas lists" being written
December 10, 2008

In case the President-elect's proposal for a national infrastructure-spending package comes to fruition, towns like Grand Island and Hastings are preparing Christmas-style wish lists of projects they'd like to undertake if new funding becomes available. It's no surprise that projects like wastewater treatment improvements and new bridges are among the items being listed. Popular Mechanics magazine says that water issues should be the top priority under any infrastructure plan. The need for funds just to comply with EPA regulations on stormwater and sanitary sewer separation is significant. Cities like Des Moines and Omaha are being told to spend on pump stations and sewer-separation gates, and in order to do so, they will either need to raise fees locally or rely upon assistance from the Federal government.

Nebraska expects $43 million for water projects if stimulus plan goes through
December 11, 2008

Nebraska's state regulators are hoping to get $33 million for wastewater and $10 million for drinking water projects if an economic-stimulus package including funds for infrastructure investment goes through.

We can help you with water and wastewater projects in Iowa and Nebraska, and our online store serves the entire country. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Neighboring states approve new water-quality projects
December 12, 2008

The results of November's elections included a new $5.5 billion package for water and soil conservation in Minnesota and the elimination of a $20 million annual limit on stormwater-control spending in Missouri. We often see the results of new legislation in neighboring states affecting what happens in Iowa and Nebraska, so we will in particular be watching for new stormwater issues to gain prominence in Iowa and Nebraska over the next few years.

New England ice storm makes the case for pump stations with backup power
December 15, 2008

Consider this recipe for trouble: An ice storm in New England has disrupted electrical power supplies to 400,000 homes and businesses. Because of the ice and the fallen power lines, the roads are unsafe for travel. People are stuck at home and cannot go out for supplies -- yet they still need clean water and still use things like showers, toilets, and sinks. Most clean-water booster pump stations and sewage lift stations are run on electricity. If the power goes out, the pump stations do, too -- which means they have to rely upon either portable gas- or diesel-driven pumps, expensive generator backup systems, or internal power backups. We have helped several communities install lift stations with built-in engine backup units. They tend to cost less than their equivalents using generator backups, and they can operate without the on-site intervention required with portable engine-driven backups.

Agriprocessors bankruptcy could cost Postville millions
December 16, 2008

The city of Postville, Iowa, built a wastewater treatment plant to help the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant meet regulatory compliance. But the company is going to bankruptcy court and is already behind on payments to the city for the use of the plant. If the company goes under, then Postville may be forced to pay back the balance on the Federal loan it used to build the plant, but without the revenues it anticipated receiving to cover the bill.

Taking pride in our work
December 17, 2008

One of the reasons we have had such a long and solid relationship with the Gorman-Rupp Company is that their pumps and packaged pumping stations are built by people who have pride in their work and who are invested in the long-term quality of the products they build. Gorman-Rupp helps build that sort of corporate culture in part through its generous 74-year-old profit-sharing plan and its employee stock-ownership plan. As a result, the people working at Gorman-Rupp have an unusual amount of incentive to ensure that the company serves its customers right.

Fully appropriated, from border to border
December 18, 2008

The Platte River is now officially designated as "fully appropriated" or "over-appropriated" from one side of Nebraska to the other. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources just made the preliminary designation, and with the new designation, most of Nebraska is now designated as using most of its natural water resources. Municipal water systems are still likely to be allowed to drill replacement wells, but agricultural and industrial water users may find themselves restricted.

The new QCEC QLS quick-lift sampler
December 19, 2008

QCEC has a helpful description of their new QLS/Quick Lift Sampler that does a fine job of detailing how the new sampler system self-calibrates. We offer a wide range of samplers from QCEC, and they are available in the sampler section of our online store.

Bad weather slows levee repair work across Iowa
December 22, 2008

The Rock Island District of the US Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to complete 38 levees and other flood-control projects in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, after this past summer's historic flooding damaged many flood protection systems. But of those 38, only three are finished. Bad weather, including the early and cold start to winter, has been part of the problem, but funding and administrative delays were also involved. Nationwide, the Corps says that dozens of levees in important locations nationwide would not be expected to stand up to flooding. Many of the projects here in Iowa will cost millions of dollars and take some time to complete.

We have been and will continue to be involved in a wide range of flood-control projects, with equipment ranging from portable flood-cleanup pumps to permanent stormwater pumping stations, from flood-control gates to the geotextiles that hold levees together. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Arbitrator caps claims Kansas can put on damages from water dispute with Nebraska
December 23, 2008

An arbitrator has handed down a preliminary ruling that Kansas can only seek payment for the damages it actually has suffered from Nebraska's over-use of the Republican River allotment (if any can be shown), and is not eligible to place a claim on what Nebraska may have gained from the use. If arbitration fails, though, the case could go to the US Supreme Court. The damages, in either case, could start at $31 million.

We can help you with tools for farm use and irrigation as well as water conservation. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

PTFE diffusers win in head-to-head tests
December 24, 2008

A Texas wastewater plant tested SSI's PTFE diffusers as replacements for conventional ceramic-type aeration disc diffusers and, not surprisingly, found the PTFE to be not only cost-efficient but highly effective as well. SSI's PTFE-coated diffusers have pleased several clients in our area as well, showing themselves to be very low-maintenance.

Merry Christmas
December 25, 2008

We wish a Merry Christmas to all. Our office will be closed on Christmas Day and on December 26th.

Office closed today
December 26, 2008

Our office is closed today for the Christmas holiday. We wish you the best of season's greetings, and we will be open again on Monday. In an emergency, you may call our office at 515-223-4144 and we will try to return your call as soon as possible.

Stimulus package could be here by this time next month
December 29, 2008

The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration expects to see a $850 billion economic-stimulus package waiting for the incoming President when he takes office on January 20th. The package will almost certainly include a considerable share for environmental protection and infrastructure improvements, which suggests that municipal water and wastewater projects could get a boost in the new year. Congress will convene on January 6th.

Fire strains municipal water system
December 30, 2008

The north-Iowa town of Lake Park taxed its municipal water system to the limit during a fire on Sunday, as twelve fire departments fought a fire that destroyed three buildings in the downtown block. While we often talk about municipal water treatment and distribution as a reliable system for protecting public health, a reliable water supply is also essential to preserving public safety. Fortunately, the firefighters at Lake Park had access to lake water, which is commonly drawn using PTO-driven fire pumps.

Boil order in Creston
December 31, 2008

The Iowa DNR has issued a boiling advisory for Creston due to a high level of turbidity created by a clarification problem. Since the Creston water treatment plant also serves much of the Southern Iowa Rural Water Association with its water, SIRWA customers in many places are being advised to boil their water before consumption as well. The advisory is likely to remain in place for a few days, since the clarifiers need to be cleared out and the distribution system flushed before the water will be approved for direct consumption.

We can help you with water-treatment products, including turbidity monitors. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Past water and wastewater news updates

last revised December 2008