Collection of water and wastewater news headlines from the Americas.

Nearly $80 million investment into Pennsylvania infrastructure projects

Governor Tom Corbett announced the investment of $79 million in 27 non-point source, drinking water and wastewater projects in 16 counties through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST).

The funding approvals bring PENNVEST's total assistance over its 24 year history past the $7 billion mark, a landmark achievement for this program and for the state as a whole. Of the $79 million total awards, $69 million is for low-interest loans and $10 million is offered as grants.

The awards range from a $100,287 loan to construct waste handling facilities that will reduce nutrient runoff into a stream in Chester County, to a $12.8 million loan/grant combination for a project in Blair County that will both reduce nutrient discharges to the Chesapeake Bay. This is as well as eliminate the use of malfunctioning on-lot septic systems that are contaminating local drinking water wells.

The funding comes from a combination of state funds approved by voters, federal grants to PENNVEST from the Environmental Protection Agency and recycled loan repayments from previous PENNVEST funding awards.

AD biogas powers 2.8MW fuel cells

FuelCell Energy has started operation of a 2.8 megawatt stationary fuel cell power plant installation at a municipal water treatment facility in California that utilizes renewable biogas as a fuel source.

The company previously announced the sale of the power plant to project developer and investor Anaergia who is selling the electricity and heat to Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) under a twenty-year power purchase agreement. Fuel cells use an electrochemical process to efficiently generate electricity and heat suitable for generating steam.

The absence of combustion avoids the emission of almost any pollutants, virtually eliminating nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, the company said.

The fuel cell power plant replaces internal-combustion engines so the clean power generation will help IEUA meet the stringent emission regulations issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), the local air pollution control agency.

The by-product heat from this power plant will be used to help create the energy by heating the anaerobic digesters that produce the biogas.

Newport upgrades water treatment plant

The City of Newport has started construction of a new Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant in Portsmouth and upgrades to the treatment processes at the Station No. 1 Water Treatment Plant in Newport.

In January 2012 the Newport City Council awarded a design build contract valued at $67 million for the water treatment plant improvements to the joint venture of AECOM and C.H. Nickerson & Co.

The project includes the design and construction of a new Lawton Valley water treatment plant and improvements to the Station No. 1 water treatment plant. These new facilities are scheduled to be in service by Dec. 31, 2014.

The Lawton Valley and Station No. 1 plants provide drinking water to Newport Water Division's 14,500 retail customers in Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth as well as the wholesale customers at Naval Station Newport and the Portsmouth Water and Fire District.

The project is designed to improve drinking water quality for all Aquidneck Island water users and responds to a mandate by the Rhode Island Department of Health to reduce the amount of trihalomethanes in treated water. Trihalomethanes are disinfectant by-products that are formed when natural organics in the water react with chlorine that is added to the water for disinfection.

The Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant is currently designed to treat seven million gallons of water every day. It will undergo a full demolition and will be replaced by a more efficient facility with the same capacity. The Station No. 1 Water Treatment Plant was originally designed to treat nine million gallons of water each day; however, due to age-related degeneration it is only able to reliably treat six million gallons a day. The upgrades will restore the treatment capacity back to nine million gallons per day.

The upgrades at both facilities will incorporate an advanced water treatment process using granular activated carbon contactors, which will remove organics from the water as well as improve the aesthetic quality in terms of taste and odor. Once completed, the Newport water treatment plants will be the only facilities in Rhode Island to have advanced treatment.

New York state water projects improved by EPA grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $218 million to New York State to help finance improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment.

The funds will primarily be used to upgrade sewage plants and drinking water systems throughout the state.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, administrated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, received $157,205,222.

The program provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects to make improvements to wastewater treatment systems, control pollution from rain water runoff and protect sensitive water bodies and estuaries.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, administrated by the New York State Department of Health, received $60,923,000.

The program provides low-interest loans to finance improvements to drinking water systems, with a particular focus on providing funds to small and disadvantaged communities and to programs that encourage pollution prevention as a tool for ensuring safe drinking water. Since 1989, the EPA has awarded $4.9 billion to New York through these programs.

Illinois sewer rehabilitation program continues to progress

The city of Wheaton and the Wheaton Sanitary District jointly developed a master plan, in which the city agreed to reduce excess flows in Basin 4 by 40% and in Basin 3 by 60%.

RJN Group Inc. (RJN) originally began working on the Basin 4 Sanitary Sewer System Rehabilitation Program in February of 2011. In May of 2012, the contract for the Rehabilitation Program was extended for another year to July 2013 and was expanded to cover city Sewer Basin 3.

The city has performed extensive public sector rehabilitation, yet unacceptable levels of Inflow/Infiltration (I/I) remain. I/I in the sanitary sewer system results in basement backups and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) after even small rain events. Since extensive work has already been done in the public sector, the city must now address the private sector sources.

In Basin 4, RJN had previously completed smoke testing and a small amount of building inspection. RJN will now be performing additional services in a portion of Basin 4 designated as a pilot area. In the pilot area all six hundred properties will undergo building inspections by RJN field technicians.

The 40% flow reduction target in the master plan will be accomplished in the pilot area through a combination of removal of any remaining public sector sources, removal of private sector sump pump sources and lining of service laterals. Long-term flow metering and utilizing city meters will be used to assess the flows before and after the rehabilitation work.

Services that RJN will perform in Basin 3 include data analysis on City-owned meters and rain gauges, smoke testing on a total of 65,000 linear feet, assessment of manhole condition and creation of a complete basin hydraulic model. Based on this work RJN will provide recommendations for removal of excess flow from the Basin.

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