Water Infrastructure Needs of the Week

EPA Awarding Close to $13 Million to Assist Small Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Across the United States

Release Date: 04/03/2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $12.7 million in grants to help small drinking and wastewater systems – those serving fewer than 10,000 people – and to private well owners. The grantees will provide training and technical assistance to improve small system operations and management practices, promote system sustainability and support EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment.

“Small systems comprise the vast majority of our nation’s public water systems and it is a priority for EPA to help them to meet drinking water quality standards and provide clean water to communities,” said Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “This funding and technical assistance supports EPA’s continuing efforts to promote sustainability and public health protection for communities served by small systems.”

The awards will include:

· $4.5 million each to the National Rural Water Association and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to help small public water systems across the country to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

· $2 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to improve the financial and managerial capabilities of small public water systems across the country.

· $1.4 million to the National Rural Water Association to improve operational performance at small publicly-owned wastewater systems and decentralized wastewater systems, thereby improving public health and water quality.

· $300,000 to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to inform private drinking water well owners about protecting their drinking water supply and improving water quality.

More than 97 percent of the nation’s 157,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people, and more than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people. Many small systems face unique challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations. These challenges can include a lack of financial resources, aging infrastructure and high staff turnover.

Published: Monday, April 21, 2014 — 7:50 p.m., WMTV, Madison, Wisconsin

Water utilities around the state have had their hands full.

“It was a winter that really took its toll across Wisconsin,” said Madison Water Utility spokesperson Amy Barrilleaux.

In Madison, bitterly cold temperatures combined with an already-aging infrastructure, contributed to a spike in water main breaks.

“On a typical year in the first quarter, we spend about $200,000 on main breaks, frozen surface laterals, that kind of thing,” she said. “We budget $1 million for the entire year. This winter, we spent just over $700,000 in the first three months of 2014.”

Plus, she says additional costs will carry over into the summer.

“First the cost for patching all of the roads where we fixed all 267 main breaks,” Barrilleaux said. “Also, we’re only just beginning to credit folks who have been running their water basically since February.”

However, there could be some relief from the federal government. For the first time in the state’s history, the Wisconsin Department of Emergency Management might apply for federal aid to offset the cost of this winter’s water main breaks. Officials are still in the early stages of gathering cost estimates from local governments to find out if the state qualifies for assistance. If we do, we’ll only be the second state to do so.

“I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to get federal money for this winter,” Barrilleaux said.

Despite the prospect of outside help, Barrilleaux isn’t counting on it. Instead, she’s relying on the reason we’re facing this problem in the first place, the weather: “We’re hoping for a mild November and December of 2014.”


Harsh winter results in major increase in water main breaks in Iowa

Newton, Iowa,  Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:42 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:44 a.m. CDT

Special to the Daily News

At Newton WaterWorks, employees will remember this past winter for the snow, ice and cold combining for a budget-bursting season of broken water mains, burst water meters and frozen pipes.

From October 2013 through March, there were 30 water main breaks, and another 21 water main breaks occurred from January to March, according to a news release from Newton WaterWorks. This is more than double the previous year. There are approximately 150 miles of water main in the city.

WaterWorks officials said an estimated $62,000 plus $10,000 in overtime will have been spent by the end of the budget year in June. The amount budgeted in FY13-14 for water main repair is $32,000 and $5,000 overtime.

Many of the older mains lie under the streets, and at least $30,000 will be spent on street repairs and parking restoration. Also, an outside contractor was hired to look for breaks using leak detection equipment.

Not only are the actual repairs costly, but high water loss is also quite costly. For instance, water loss in March is estimated at 20 percent of the water produced for the month. That equates to 30,000,000 gallons equal to $42,000 worth of treated water. Normal water loss runs between 4 and 10 percent.
Because of the severity of the winter, additional breaks may surface yet this spring.

“The utility would like to thank its customers for being patient with disruptions in service,” WaterWorks General Manager L.D. Palmer stated in the news release. “Customers have been very helpful in reporting breaks.


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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