Serious flooding in Tennessee
May 3, 2010

The pictures coming out of Nashville, Tennessee, today remind us of the flooding that hit Cedar Rapids in 2008. Sadly, the Tennessee floods have already caused some loss of human life.

Nashville flooding takes out water plant
May 4, 2010

Nashville, Tennessee, has lost one of its municipal water-treatment plants to serious flooding. Boil advisories are in place, and with the loss of one of the two plants, people are being asked to curtail all but their essential use of water. In addition to causing deaths in the midst of fast-moving floodwaters and a lingering risk to public health by contaminating water supplies and causing sewer backups and overflows, floods like this can also create a dual hazard for fire -- first, by making some locations impassable and thus inaccessible for firefighting equipment, and second by reducing the availability of water for fighting fires.

It's critical that communities prepare in advance for major flooding, especially when there's no immediate risk of disaster on the horizon. Cities need to have lots of portable flood-control pumps on hand and ready for service on a moment's notice, along with sandbags or portable dams for immediate deployment.

UNICEF says water and sanitation are getting less attention than 10 years ago
May 5, 2010

UNICEF has issued a statement decrying the decline in aid to water and sanitation projects, saying that those areas used to get 8% of foreign-aid budgets, and now only get 5%. Access to safe drinking water is one of the most significant factors in improving both the quality of life and economic living standards in developing countries.

Dam safety and maintenance class May 20th
May 6, 2010

The Iowa DNR is offering a workshop about dam safety and maintenance in Atlantic on May 20th. It will draw from a national program for dam safety covering issues like liability, maintenance, and storm emergencies.

We offer sluice gates and tilting weir gates, among many other products used in dams and water-containment systems. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Ethanol market remains tumultuous
May 7, 2010

An ethanol plant in Cambridge, Nebraska, that was built in 2007 was shut down in 2009 because of shrinking profit margins, but is now back in operation under new ownership. It's an example of the rather dramatic rise, fall, and slow recovery of the ethanol industry in Iowa and Nebraska. A similar construction, closure, and subsequent re-opening under new ownership happened at Steamboat Rock, Iowa in December. The wild fluctuations in oil prices and overall energy demand have had a significant impact on demand for ethanol and the costs of its production, which in turn places new pressures on the economies of Midwestern states. The ethanol boom was widely and enthusiastically welcomed, but the bust turned out to be pretty painful, too.

We can help you with products for use in ethanol production. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Farmers shouldn't ignore the EPA
May 10, 2010

The EPA has issued a $26,000 penalty against a northwest Iowa dairy farm that was illegally allowing waste to flow into nearby streams. Unpermitted discharges are prohibited under the rules of the Clean Water Act, and it appears that the EPA is interested in vigorous enforcement of the rules.

We can help you with products like lagoon liners to help keep waste products from farming operations well-contained and safely isolated from natural waterways. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Inspector general takes issue with EPA guidance on perchlorate
May 11, 2010

The EPA's office of inspector general has issued a report contesting the way in which the EPA established guidelines for safe exposure to perchlorate, noting that the risk assessment used an "outdated" method from 1954 to determine whether exposure to perchlorate put human health at risk. The report concludes that perchlorate probably isn't a major health risk unto itself, but needs to be considered as part of an overall batch of risk factors. It was particularly noted that lowering standards for safe levels of exposure from 24.5 ppb to 6 ppb probably wouldn't improve public health. Perchlorate rules are of particular significance to our region considering the widespread exposure to the chemical, particularly in western Iowa and much of Nebraska.

University of Iowa researcher receives award
May 12, 2010

University of Iowa professor Jerald Schnoor has been awarded the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize in water research by the National Water Research Institute, particularly recognizing his work on the use of plants to remove toxic chemicals from the water. That process is known as phytoremediation, and Schnoor literally wrote the book on the subject.

Flash floods in eastern Iowa and western Illinois
May 13, 2010

Flash floods hit Burlington, Iowa, and Geneseo, Illinois after strong storms moved through. Springtime remains the peak season for flash flooding, as well as prime time for sump pump use. It's also an important time for homeowners to check for pipe and gutter damage.

Xenia board hopes to sell out
May 14, 2010

The Fort Dodge Messenger reports that the board of the Xenia Rural Water District wants to sell the system to the Des Moines Water Works for $110.5 million. The district has a large amount of debt and is trying to raise rates to keep up. It's also trying to renegotiate some of its debt to smooth the way for a sale to DMWW. Almost 90% of the system was constructed using long-term debt financing.

Galvanic DO sensor versus optical DO sensors
May 17, 2010

ATI manufactures both galvanic and optical-style dissolved oxygen monitors. The optical type is a recent addition to ATI's lineup; ATI has been manufacturing reliable galvanic-style monitors for years. Thus, they're in a strong position to examine the two types of monitors side-by-side without bias. After ten months of side-by-side testing, they've found that the two monitors perform almost exactly alike. The result itself isn't especially surprising to the factory, though it may come as a surprise to customers who have been "sold" on the notion of improved efficacy from optical sensors. More important than the means of measurement appears to be the effectiveness of the cleaning system used to keep the sensor working, and ATI's unique air-blast Auto Clean system is exceptionally reliable -- and virtually maintenance-free.

We'd be happy to share more information with you about dissolved-oxygen sensors -- just ask!

Grand Island fights groundwater contamination
May 18, 2010

Groundwater contamination caused by a plume of solvents dumped in the 1970s is closing private drinking-water wells in Grand Island, Nebraska. The slow-moving but still-spreading area of contamination is being combated by a system that pumps out groundwater and vaporizes the solvents, but it shows just how long-term the effects of contamination can be. The EPA says the contamination was first discovered in 1999.

Shallow wells can be served by Patterson vertical-turbine pumps. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Strong early start could serve Midwestern farmers well
May 19, 2010

Midwestern farmers got off to a very early start this year, with Iowa corn farmers significantly ahead of last year's planting, and also far ahead of the 5-year average. Lousy, rainy weather has kept them from getting much done over the last week, but the early start means that there's still some opportunity for replanting if it becomes necessary. Agricultural irrigation is by far the biggest category of water use in Nebraska. Irrigation is vastly less significant in Iowa, though water for livestock operations is a major category of Iowa water use.

We can help you with a wide variety of products for farm use, including portable pumps. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

West Des Moines celebrates Public Works Week
May 27, 2010

Our company hometown of West Des Moines, Iowa, is celebrating a weather-delayed Public Works Week event today at the Farmers' Market in Valley Junction. West Des Moines Public Works uses Gorman-Rupp lift stations in several locations throughout the city.

Closed for Memorial Day
May 31, 2010

In honor of Memorial Day, our office will be closed on May 31st. In an emergency, please use our emergency paging form to reach us. If you're looking for a way to give back on this holiday, may we suggest the Fisher House Foundation?

Past water and wastewater news updates

last revised May 2010