Clean Water Weekly, February 13-27

Top News

National: On February 14, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2013 (WIFIA). The bill would create jobs by helping local communities upgrade or replace aging and damaged water and sewer systems,  a press release from the Senator’s office said.  Low cost financing would save homeowners and businesses money and put construction workers back on the job as repairs and new projects are accelerated. WIFIA would create a financial mechanism within the EPA to provide access to lower-cost capital for investments in water infrastructure.

National: President Barack Obama would almost double spending on the U.S. infrastructure over the next six years and would pour $350 billion into a jobs plan while reducing the budgets of most other domestic agencies. This blueprint for fiscal 2013 budget, released February 13 would spend $467 billion on highway, bridge and mass transit projects through 2018, but for the third straight year, cut Environmental Protection Agency spending by $105 million, by trimming funding for water grants to U.S. states and Superfund clean-up programs.

National: Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) announced that he will introduce legislation creating the Office of Infrastructure Investment and the American Infrastructure Fund. “Within the next month, I intend to introduce a bill that will create a large scale infrastructure funding capability that can rebuild our aging infrastructure, position the United States to compete globally in the 21st century, and create jobs,” Delaney said in a February 11 press release.

National: Repairing U.S. water infrastructure is becoming increasingly expensive and options for funding upgrades to sewers, storm drains and drinking water systems are under threat, the National League of Cities told a congressional hearing on February 15. Costs for the repairs run into the hundreds of billions of dollars, with federal estimates of needed drinking water system upgrades at $334.8 billion and updating wastewater and stormwater management infrastructure at $298.1 billion over 20 years. Read the testimony.

Failing Infrastructure

Ohio: A major water line from an Athens city reservoir ruptured February 26, flooding streets in the area and nearly draining the 1-million gallon reservoir. City officials said water was being diverted from the treatment plant to replenish the reservoir. City utility officials issued a shortage alert and asked residents to conserve water. The upper campus of Ohio University was without water. Hot water was turned off throughout campus to conserve water, but classes continued.

Georgia: Roughly 20,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Knights Creek in Lowndes County on February 21. One resident who lives near the creek said “it smelled awful.” The spill was eventually contained. Officials said the drinking water supply is not contaminated, but the residents should avoid any contact with creek water for at least 7 days.

California: Water from a broken metal water pipe damaged homes and apartments, and forced closure of Nimitz Boulevard near Lindbergh Field on Sunday, February 17. Signs of the massive water main break, which opened up a sinkhole, were still evident by Sunday afternoon. Mud lines on cars parked in the neighborhood showed how high the water got. “They were actually kayaking back and forth on the street here,” said one resident.

New York: A water main break closed sections of streets in Syracuse’s popular Armory Square entertainment and retail district. The rupture occurred Tuesday morning, February 19, in the middle of Armory Square, home to restaurants, taverns and shops near downtown Syracuse. The intersection of Franklin and Walton streets was flooded by several inches of water.

Connecticut:  Around 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, February 22, crews from MDC responded to a water main break in the area of Main Street at Westland Street in Hartford. The eight inch water main, which dates back to 1901, suffered a break effecting nine multi-family homes and three businesses.

California:  Bus shuttles were running on February 20 on the Powell-Mason cable car line due to a water main break in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority. The cable car line will not run due to a water main break that occurred at 5:35 a.m.

Indiana: Crews were working on February 20 to fix a water main break at 34th Street and Lafayette Avenue. All lanes at the intersection were closed for about 5 hours, according to the Indianapolis Water Authority. Due to the cold temperature, the water over the road turned  into ice.

New Mexico: A water main break in northeast Albuquerque on Thursday, February 19 knocked out water to thousands of  residents. The water main was repaired and service restored after a series of setbacks Friday morning.  Albuquerque Water says there are still some repairs needed.

Maryland: Facing more than 1,000 water main breaks a year, Baltimore, Md., officials are making sure that individual projects conform with long-term goals, and are setting strategies to make forward-looking — rather than reactive — investments, said Rudy Chow, the city’s head of water and wastewater. Officials are rolling out a new asset management division that is designed to boost efficiency. They recently submitted a new plan to the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to balance their priorities with those of regulators, in part by asking for more time to complete federally mandated projects.

Georgia: Officials are warning residents to avoid contact with the Withlacoochee River after heavy rain caused a major sewage spill into the river on February 25. It’s a recurring problem Valdosta city leaders are working to prevent.  City officials plan to move the entire plant to higher ground because the land is in a flood zone area.

North Carolina:  A February 25 sewage spill dumped 120 gallons into Lake Norman, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department said. Although the broken sewer pipe spilled 241 gallons of  sewage, officials believe that 12o gallons reached the lake.

California: Nearly two dozen homes and more than 10 cars were damaged early February 27 when a large water main burst and poured tens of thousands of gallons into San Francisco’s Parkside neighborhood. The 16-inch, cast-iron main dating from 1952 burst  a little before 3 a.m., said Tyrone Jue, a spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. Firefighters and utility workers quickly arrived on scene, but the water wasn’t completely shut off for another two hours.

Michigan: New protection for Grand Rapid’s Water Pollution facility will prevent future flooding like the historic flood in 2008 that hurt the city’s ability to treat what is flushed down toilets and what gets to the city’s wastewater treatment plant from the city’s sizable agricultural-processing industry. The facility will ad a flood wall and earthen levee around the plant, reaching 12 to 15 feet above grade in some places.

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About Clean Water Council

The Clean Water Council (CWC) is a group of national organizations representing underground construction contractors design professionals, manufacturers and suppliers, labor unions and other committed to ensuring a high quality of life through sound environmental infrastructure. Working in concert, CWC's 39 national organizations, advocate federal legislation and policies that will promote clean water and improve the nation's failing infrastructure.​
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One Response to Clean Water Weekly, February 13-27

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