WaterBriefs: NSF appoints general manager of plumbing programs

Also in this report: Sensus introduces 24-hour customer service center; Research & Markets -- Prepayment metering growing in utility markets; Sterling Construction wins $8.5M Dallas-Fort Worth pipeline contract; ACWA calls proposed MTBE oil industry 'deal' blow to states, local government; Dunn Solutions Group picked to modernize N.C. water/wastewater loans, grants system; Alcoa investing $375M for Warrick, Ind., facilities...

In other news below, see:
-- Sensus enhances customer service with 24-hour solution center
-- Research and Markets: Prepayment metering growing in utility markets
-- Sterling Construction wins $8.5M contract in Dallas-Fort Worth area
-- ACWA calls proposed MTBE 'deal' oil industry scheme, blow to states, local govt
-- Dunn Solutions Group picked to modernize N.C. water/wastewater loans, grants system
-- Alcoa investing $375M for Warrick, Ind., facilities

NSF appoints general manager of plumbing programs
ANN ARBOR, MI, July 25, 2005 -- NSF International today announced it has promoted Nasrin Kashefi to general manager of NSF's plumbing certification programs from her previous position as operations manager. The new appointment underscores NSF's increased presence in international markets and future growth and development of its plumbing programs.

In her new position, Kashefi will oversee all plumbing certification services and program operations. Acting as the liaison with program participants, regulatory agencies and code officials, she will be responsible for setting and executing NSF's plumbing divisions strategic vision. She will work closely with the managing directors of NSF's international offices to maximize the company's growth potential.

"Nasrin's industry leadership and deep understanding of the plumbing industry are critical to the expansion of NSF's certification programs,"said NSF Vice President Robert Ferguson, who heads NSF's Water Systems Division. "Her appointment will enable us to focus on expanding our existing services, develop new services that provide solutions to key industry issues and maximize our clients' competitive advantage both domestically and internationally."

Kashefi has worked at NSF since 1991 serving in multiple roles with increasing responsibility including operations manager of the plastics programs and operations manager of NSF's Water Distribution Systems. She is a member of the Hydrostatic Stress Board and the Uniform Plumbing Code Technical Committee. She has a master's degree in organizational and interpersonal communication from Eastern Michigan University and a bachelor's degree in public relations from the College of Mass Communication Sciences.

NSF International (www.nsf.org), an independent, not-for-profit organization, helps protect you by certifying products and writing standards for food, water, air and consumer goods. Founded in 1944, it's committed to protecting public health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. Additional services include safety audits for the food and water industries, management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations Ltd., organic certification provided by Quality Assurance International and education through the NSF Center for Public Health Education.

Sensus enhances customer service with 24-hour solution center
FOREST HILLS, PA, July 25, 2005 -- Sensus Metering Systems now offers a 24-hour solution center to give customers and other affiliates an avenue to access answers to technical questions regarding the company's metering products and meter reading systems. The Questions and Solutions project is meant to be a first line of service for customers so that issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently.

Centered on its web site, Sensus provides a Questions & Solutions area, where customers can review questions that are designed to resolve most technical questions. For distributors of Sensus products, an added level of service allows for these distributes to submit questions directly to AMR Technical Service staff members. These questions will be answered within a few business days. The list of Questions & Solutions was developed in a scaleable environment, so as more information becomes available it can be quickly and easily added to the site. The initial deployment focuses on a small subset of Sensus Metering products. The AMR Technical Services group is currently working to add more information in the weeks and months to come.

With a few clicks of the mouse, a variety of existing Questions & Solutions are presented in an easily viewable and equally easily printable format. Visitors can access the service by logging on to www.sensus.com and clicking to the North American Water area, and finally to the "help" section. Questions are divided among various Sensus products and meter reading systems. Distributors can submit specific questions via this new section of the web site directly to the AMR Technical Services group. To do so, a distributor simply utilizes secure access information obtained from their Sensus representative. Once submitted, AMR Technical Service professionals are alerted and will reply to the distributor's e-mail within a few business days.

Research and Markets: Prepayment metering growing in utility markets
DUBLIN, Ireland, July 25, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of Prepayment Metering Report Ed 1 2005 to its offering.

Prepayment metering is a small segment of the electricity, gas and water metering market but it is a growing technology which offers considerable benefits to both utilities and consumers. They are most frequently used for electricity supply, followed by water and then gas. Despite opposition to the concept in some quarters, whenever it has been introduced it has been widely well accepted by consumers who react positively to its benefits. The exception has been in highly politicized areas in South Africa, where it has met with resistance. Prepayment metering has considerable advantages for utilities.

Outline of the report:
-- Prepayment metering has been established in the UK for 70 years. It was launched in the early 1990s in South Africa when the decision was taken to expand the level of electrification, and where it has been an outstanding success.
-- Many other countries, especially in the developing world are looking at the South African experience and regard it as a model of success.
-- The report analyzes the development and current status of the different prepayment technologies, together with commentary on future likely developments.

Major markets analyzed:
-- The key markets of the UK and South Africa are analyzed in depth
-- The prepayment markets for the following 26 countries are summarized: USA, Argentina, Brazil, Curacao, Honduras, France, Abu Dhabi, Iran, Turkey, Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Sudan, Tanzania, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and Pohnpei

For more information visit: www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c21316.

In related news, see: "Research & Markets releases reports on China, Middle East, water reuse and utility meters"

Sterling Construction wins $8.5M contract in Dallas-Fort Worth area
HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 25, 2005--Sterling Construction Company Inc. was the low bidder on an $8.5 million job in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The project encompasses the construction of a 96-inch water transmission main, along with storm sewers, water distribution lines, sanitary sewers and concrete paving of South Main Street in Duncanville, Texas. Work is expected to commence October 2005 and continue for 14 months.

Commenting, Joseph Harper, Sterling's president, said, "This award represents a significant contract for the Company's Dallas-Fort Worth operations."

Sterling, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sterling Houston Holdings Inc., is primarily a heavy civil construction company that specializes in municipal and state highway contracts for paving, bridge, water and sewer and light rail projects. Sterling also operates Steel City Products Inc., a wholesale distributor based in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Sterling Capital (www.sterlingcapital.com) is based in Wilmington, Del. With 50 employees, it earned $5.4 million in net income on revenues of $170 million in 2003.

ACWA calls proposed MTBE 'deal' oil industry scheme, blow to states, local govt
SACRAMENTO, CA, July 22, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- In a deal crafted today in the House of Representatives, U.S. Reps Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Charles Bass (R-N.H.) announced the details of a proposed plan to pay for cleanup of MTBE contamination across the country. ACWA believes that the limited scope of the plan would cover only a small percentage of the cost for removing the pollutant from wells and other water supplies. This would require state and local governments to bear the lion's share of the cleanup costs, which amounts to an unfunded mandate.

Key details of the plan include:
-- An $11.43 billion fund, jointly paid for by the federal government and the oil industry, which could be accessed by utilities to help cover the cost of treatment;
-- A 25% local matching contribution would be required from states before a utility could access the fund; and
-- All reimbursements from the fund would be based on the higher parts per billion health and safety standard rather than California's more advanced taste and odor standard.
In light of these developments, ACWA believes that:
-- States had nothing to do with the MTBE debacle and should not be required to pay for 25% of the costs to clean it up. The state of California, like many other states, is facing financial difficulties and simply cannot afford the millions of dollars needed for impacted California utilities to access this fund.
-- Trace levels of MTBE render water undrinkable; therefore, funding should not be limited to only situations where human health is impacted. Remediation in California is driven by a 5 part per billion (ppb) taste and odor standard, not by the less stringent 13 ppb health-based standard. Funds must be provided for treating to the most stringent standard, not just those that are health-based.
-- This proposal of $11.43 billion over 12 years falls far short of the $25 billion-$33 billion water utilities will need to cleanup the MTBE mess nationwide.

ACWA calls on Congress to reject this ill-conceived scheme developed behind closed doors without the input from any local governments or water agencies.

ACWA (www.acwa.org) is a statewide association whose 440 public agency members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California.

In related news, see: "ACWA Submits Comments on California Water Plan Update 2005; Outlines Parallels, Differences Between Update 2005 and ACWA's Blueprint".

Dunn Solutions picked to modernize N.C. water/wastewater loans, grants system
RALEIGH, NC, July 22, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Dunn Solutions Group has been awarded a major contract by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) to modernize and automate its Financial Information Control System (FICS). NCDENR uses FICS to administer and track $800 million in annual funds for the construction and improvement of wastewater treatment facilities.

Originally built using state-of-the-art technologies, FICS now is neither fast enough nor sophisticated enough to meet NCDENR's needs. Also, it does not comply with the State of North Carolina's current software architecture standards, and does not integrate effectively with the State's accounting system and other key financial applications.

Dunn Solutions will design, develop and deploy a new system, Loans and Grants Management System (LGMS), using cutting-edge software tools. LGMS will offer better versions of FICS's core features, plus a number of important improvements, including:
-- Enhanced reporting and inquiry capabilities
-- Full compliance with the State's forward-looking software and systems standards
-- Improved integration and data-sharing with other State systems

In addition, the new system will be used to manage $420 million in loans and grants for the construction and improvement of drinking-water treatment facilities for NCDENR's Public Water Supply Section. In all, more than $1.2 billion in loans and grants will be managed by LGMS.

"We are happy to be selected to modernize this critical management system," said Bill Dunn, president and CEO of Dunn Solutions Group. "It's great to be given the opportunity to improve on a system we built in 1997, and know well. And we're pleased to continue our solid working relationship with NCDENR."

Dunn Solutions Group is a full-service information technology consulting firm, with offices in Skokie, Ill. (Chicago), and Raleigh, N.C. For more information about Dunn Solutions Group, go to www.dunnsolutions.com.

Alcoa investing $375M for Warrick, Ind., facilities
NEWBURGH, IN, July 22, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Alcoa is investing approximately $330 Million at its Warrick Power Plant in Newburgh, Ind., to increase environmental performance and power efficiency, lower costs and further secure long-term, low-cost power for its smelter and related downstream business there. Plans include installation of scrubbers on all four operating units, boiler modifications to provide greater fuel flexibility, and installation of new and improved coal handling facilities for increased efficiency. The company announced in May plans to invest $45 million to purchase equipment and the right to mine coal in nearby Friendsville, Ill.

"This is a significant investment to reduce emissions well beyond anything required by regulation while increasing the competitiveness of the Warrick Operations and ensure that we have long-term, low-cost power for our smelter and rolling facilities here," said Alan Cransberg, President, North America Primary Metals. "It is a strong demonstration of Alcoa's commitment to sustainability and to the future of Warrick Operations. This investment will help secure jobs, increase work for the area's construction industry, and significantly contribute to a cleaner local environment. The investment also helps ensure that Warrick remains self-sufficient for power. The benefits to the region are immense in addition to assuring a long term molten metal supply to our world-class rolling operation."

"Warrick employees are to be commended for their efforts," said Cransberg. "By reducing costs and increasing efficiency, their hard work has secured this infusion of capital that is not only good news for Alcoa and our employees, but also for the community."

Vectren Corp., which owns a portion of the Warrick Power Plant, has also committed $68 Million to the project, bringing the total investment to $400 Million.

Construction is slated to begin immediately and continue through 2010. During this time, more than 500 local contractors will work at the site with more than 200 onsite every day for 18 months. Their work will result in an integrated environmental control system at the Warrick Power Plant that will include wet Flue Gas Desulphurization spray/absorption towers, flue gas booster fans, and support facilities. More than 25 new employees will be needed to operate the system that will provide many benefits including a 98% reduction in SO2 and an 8 million gallon wastewater reduction.

Major physical changes at the plant will include new stack configurations, new barge loading and unloading facilities, slurry handling and preparation facilities, water treatment facilities to reuse Warrick Operations discharge waters, dry fly-ash handling, an electrical sub-station, new coal handling equipment, and improved control facilities for the entire system.

Alcoa's investment in the Friendsville Mine calls for the addition of a coal preparation facility and material handling infrastructure to enable transport of coal via railcar to the smelter's power plant. The coal is expected to be available for use by Alcoa Warrick Operations by July 2006. Under the terms of the agreement, Alcoa will purchase the rights to mine 2,500 acres in reserve at the mine near Mount Carmel, Illinois for 10 years, with the opportunity to expand from there. The mine will be capable of producing approximately 1 million tons of coal a year, approximately 45 percent of the power plant's fuel requirement. Vigo Coal will provide mining services to Alcoa. The mine will contribute approximately $20 million annually to the local economy.

The Warrick Power Plant is a four-unit, 742 megawatt (MW), coal-fired, steam-electric generating facility. Units 1, 2 and 3, rated at 144 MW each, and one-half of the 300 MW Unit 4 are owned by Alcoa. Vectren, an Indiana gas and electric utility, owns the other half of Unit 4. All of these units were placed in service between 1960 and 1970. Of the Alcoa-owned generation, nearly all of the power is provided to Warrick Operations, with over 90% of this going to the smelter.

Alcoa is the world's leading producer and manager of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina facilities, and is active in all major aspects of the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other capabilities of Alcoa's businesses to customers. In addition to aluminum products and components, Alcoa also markets consumer brands including Reynolds Wrap(R) foils and plastic wraps, Alcoa(R) wheels, and Baco(R) household wraps. Among its other businesses are vinyl siding, closures, fastening systems, precision castings, and electrical distribution systems for cars and trucks. The company has 131,000 employees in 43 countries and has been a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for 45 years and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes since 2001.

Alcoa Warrick Operations is an integrated facility housing a 309,000 metric ton per year (mtpy) primary aluminum smelter and rigid packaging operations that produce aluminum sheet for beverage and food can ends, tabs, and other flat-rolled aluminum products. Alcoa's Warrick Power Plant is a 750 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant that provides the power necessary to operate the plant. Warrick Operations is celebrating 45 years of operating in 2005, and is one of the largest aluminum smelting and fabricating facilities in the world with more than 120 acres under roof and 14,000 total acres in the community. Alcoa generates $1 million a day into the local economy and employees more than 2100 people. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com/locations/usa_warrick/en/home.asp.


In earlier newsbriefs, see:
-- "WaterBriefs: Toronto wins integrated network award for public works" -- Also in this report (July 21, 2005): Aqua America unit buys five Luzerne County, Pa., utility systems for $1.6 million; Colorado Springs Utilities lab achieves LEED Silver rating; Strathkelvin Instruments protects Dutch iron foundry wastewater system; Respirometer monitors bacteria at Yorkshire Water hi-tech pilot plant; California includes $4.2 million of $55.6 million in rural block grants for water...


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