WEF, utilities, Black & Veatch to assess wastewater system damage in Gulf Coast

The Water Environment Federation, members working for utilities, and private companies are collaborating with global engineering, consulting and construction company Black & Veatch to develop and present an area-wide assessment of the damage and probable cost to rehabilitate or replace wastewater systems in the Gulf States...

Nov 7th, 2005

ALEXANDRIA, VA, Nov. 4, 2005 -- Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left in their wake considerable damage to water and wastewater systems in the affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. While federal, state and local officials are working diligently to assess the overall damage, a comprehensive evaluation of the damage to wastewater systems is not available. To meet this need, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), members working for utilities, and private companies are collaborating with global engineering, consulting and construction company Black & Veatch to develop and present an area-wide assessment of the damage and probable cost to rehabilitate or replace wastewater systems in the Gulf States, it was announced yesterday.

As a result of the hurricanes, some treatment plants were completely destroyed while others sustained considerable damage. Collection systems also sustained considerable damage. Local utilities are working to meet immediate needs but could face a prolonged period before they receive sufficient funding to restore full service to their customers. Much of this long-term financial support is expected to come from the federal government and state agencies; therefore, members of Congress and other policymakers need an official assessment of the damage to wastewater systems across the Gulf states.

This study will meet this need by providing a high-level overall damage assessment and a financial review that will cover the utilities' ability to meet debt-service requirements, of particular concern in cities that have experienced significant declines in population. The assessment will include data from site visits and telephone surveys supported by volunteers from utilities throughout the United States. This will be combined with information on storm damage zones and utility-specific data to develop an overall assessment across the region.

"This project provides WEF with a substantive way to help the wastewater sector recover from this disaster," said WEF Immediate Past President Lynn Orphan.

Participants are donating time and expenses. WEF leadership is providing liaison with member associations and government entities and will publish the final report, Black & Veatch is providing project management and assessment expertise, and other WEF members are assisting with site and phone surveys. Black & Veatch will draft the framework document that will encompass physical and financial damage as well as projected costs of recovery.

"The outcome will be a high-level cost assessment that can be used as a basis for reconstruction funding and financial support," said Jim Clark, a vice president of Black & Veatch and a past president of the Water Environment Federation. "We're pleased to be able to contribute value through a combination of physical and financial assessments that will help the hurricane-ravaged communities resume crucial wastewater operations."

The final report is expected to be completed by no later than December 2005. Site information and photographs will be available in early November. For more information about WEF's hurricane recovery efforts, please visit www.wef.org.

Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with members from varied disciplines who work toward the WEF vision of preservation and enhancement of the global water environment. The WEF network includes water quality professionals from 76 Member Associations in 30 countries.

Black & Veatch Corp. (www.bv.com) is a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company specializing in infrastructure development in energy, water, information and government markets. Founded in 1915, it develops tailored infrastructure solutions that meet clients' needs and provide sustainable benefits. Solutions include conceptual and preliminary engineering services, engineering design, procurement, construction, financial management, asset management, information technology, environmental, security design and consulting, and management consulting services. The employee-owned company has more than 90 offices worldwide. Black & Veatch is ranked on the Forbes "500 Largest Private Companies in the United States" listing for 2004.

B&V Water, the water business of Black & Veatch Corporation, provides innovative, technology-based solutions to utilities, governments and industries worldwide. Local project teams work in conjunction with a global team of water and wastewater treatment process experts to address site-specific challenges through a broad range of consulting, study, planning, design, design-build and construction management services.

In other news: "Black & Veatch-Led Team Completes Stormwater Management Research: International study facilitates understanding of options and costs"

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