WaterBriefs: Aqua America chief calls for national infrastructure investment
Also in this report: EPA pesticide exemption decried; LUST inspection grant comments sought; Pure H2O unveils test results; Safety-Kleen wins Calif. honors; Skinner Treatment Plant work to limit San Diego water; CaDWR to check urban levees; CH2M Hill gets contract at world's largest brick maker; MPPEC receives SOLEC Award; Penetron coating picked on Schroon WWTP reconstruction; Chevron, Millbrae to power WWTP with biogas; EWI wins Abbott Lab order; China Evergreen now China Water Group...
In other news below:
-- Group decries EPA decision to exempt pesticides from Clean Water Act
-- EPA seeks public comment on draft grant guidelines for underground storage tank inspections
-- Pure H2O Bio-Technologies announces new TTO testing results as disinfectant
-- Safety-Kleen wins Calif. manufacturers' top honors for environmental responsibility program
-- Water limited in San Diego, Riverside counties during Skinner Treatment Plant construction
-- Calif. DWR to evaluate 350 miles of urban levees
-- CH2M Hill provides environmental consulting to world's largest brick manufacturing plant fueled by landfill gas
-- Michigan Pulp & Paper Environmental Council receives SOLEC Award
-- Penetron coating approved for town of Schroon Wastewater Plant reconstruction
-- Chevron, city of Millbrae turn kitchen grease into biogas to power wastewater treatment plant
-- EWI receives order from Abbott Laboratories
-- China Evergreen Environmental Corp. changes name to China Water Group Inc.
• Aqua American chairman tells global water conference that industry needs prudent investment models to address infrastructure crisis -- LONDON, Nov. 22, 2006 -- Aqua America Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Nicholas DeBenedictis yesterday stressed the importance of financially sound investment models in the U.S. water industry to address the nation's mounting water infrastructure crisis. In his speech at "European Water Congress 2006" in London, DeBenedictis continued to raise concerns about business models that fail to instill long-term stewardship of water resources.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that investments totaling $277 billion are needed over the next 20 years to upgrade and maintain the nation's water systems. DeBenedictis said new EPA regulations affecting water treatment facilities require major, ongoing investment, as will the need to replace old, leaking pipes and subsequent road repair. However, the regulated water business has one of the longest capital recovery periods among U.S. industry.
"With our aging infrastructure requiring massive capital spending to maintain the quality and availability of drinking water, we need ownership models that realize the return on those investments will not be immediate," said DeBenedictis, the only presenter from a U.S.-based water utility at this global conference. "The U.S. regulatory model can be cash-negative, and as such, requires a long-term commitment to the industry, customers and communities."
In the past decade or so, DeBenedictis said, the U.S. water industry has witnessed shifting ownership models involving electric utilities and European multi-utility conglomerates. The electric companies exited the water business after a few short years, and today, many of the European firms have decided to leave the U.S. market.
"Now, private-equity funds are the latest entry in the regulated water utility business," he said, noting that German utility giant RWE recently sold its Thames Water subsidiary to a private-equity firm. "There is concern that some of these financial buyers need an unacceptable amount of leverage to deliver the kind of returns that their investors expect -- and in a shorter amount of time compared to the typical utility investment cycle. As a former regulator and someone who's been involved in these issues for more than 30 years, I am very skeptical about putting our precious water resources into the hands of financial entities that are highly leveraged and typically bring a short-term investment horizon."
DeBenedictis said prudent capital investment can grow earnings under the regulated business model. In 2006, Aqua America anticipates spending nearly $255 million for capital improvements to the water and wastewater systems it operates in 13 states. He also advocated public policy initiatives that reward companies that acquire troubled water systems and improve failing infrastructure.
Aqua America Inc. (www.aquaamerica.com) is the largest U.S.-based publicly-traded water and wastewater utility holding company, serving more than 2.5 million residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Indiana, Virginia, Maine, Missouri, New York, and South Carolina.
Among other headlines:
• Group decries EPA decision to exempt pesticides from Clean Water Act -- WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 22, 2006 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision announced yesterday to exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act (CWA) was immediately criticized by an environmental organization. Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a Washington-based public health and environmental group, said, "Studies, including one by the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Quality in the Nation's Streams and Aquifers-Overview of Selected Findings, 1991-2001, in 2006, suggest more protection is needed from pesticides not less." EPA's ruling allows exemption from the Clean Water Act under two specific situations where a permit with National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit would not be necessary: 1) The application of pesticides directly to waters of the U.S. to control pests (such as mosquito larvae or aquatic weeds); and 2) The application of pesticides to control pests that are present over or near water and a portion of the pesticide can be deposited in lakes, rivers and streams...
• EPA seeks public comment on draft grant guidelines for underground storage tank inspections -- WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 22, 2006 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released for public comment draft grant guidelines that will establish requirements for inspecting underground storage tank systems. States will have to meet the requirements to comply with provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. EPA worked with states and other partners to develop the grant guidelines and, when final, will incorporate them into grant agreements between EPA and states, which help states implement the tank program. EPA will accept public comments on the draft guidelines until Dec. 22. EPA's website provides the public with the draft guidelines, as well as details about how and where to submit comments...
-- "EPA Issues Secondary Containment Guidelines To Help Reduce Underground Storage Tank Releases"
-- "EPA fines Euclid of Virginia an unprecedented $3.1 million for underground storage tank violations in Va., Md. and D.C."
-- "EPA Settles Alleged Violations of Underground Storage Tank Regulations with Baltimore Company - Consent Agreement Covers 32 Maryland Facilities Owned by Carroll Independent Fuel Co."
-- "EPA Action Leads to Compliance with Federal Underground Tank Regulations at McGuire AFB"
• Pure H2O Bio-Technologies Inc. announces new testing results for tetrasilver tetraoxide as a disinfectant for major microbial drinking water contaminants -- BOCA RATON, FL, Nov. 21, 2006 -- Pure H2O Bio-Technologies, Inc. announced today the results from three successful studies focused on potable water disinfection treatment for two major microbial threats to human health. The microorganisms, Escherichia coli (bacterium) and Cryptosporidium parvum (protozoan parasite of humans), were responsible for 9,877 and 7,212 human cases, respectively, during 2005 according to a March 2006 American Waterworks Association review article by P. Rochelle and J. Clancy. Testing conducted for Pure H2O Bio-Technologies, Inc., by Clancy Environmental Consultants Inc. showed that activated tetrasilver tetraoxide (TTO) was effective as a disinfectant for both organisms. TTO is a unique divalent silver compound, which is produced in a crystalline form, with disinfectant properties superior to the common forms of silver...
• Safety-Kleen wins Calif. manufacturers' top honors for environmental responsibility program -- Company's national commitment to environmental excellence, sustainability commended by state's industrial and technology organizations -- PLANO, TX, Nov. 21, 2006 -- Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., recently received the annual Environmental Responsibility Award presented by California's Industrial Environmental Association and Manufacturer's Technology Association. The award, open to local, federal, state and local government, service industries, public works projects and non-governmental organizations, recognizes organizations that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development and pollution prevention. Such programs can include waste reduction and recycling, alternative fuels development, energy conservation, resource management, water use reduction and recycling and emissions reductions. Safety-Kleen, a privately held company, is a leading oil recycling and re-refining, parts cleaner and industrial waste management services company in North America, with 4,500 employees serving hundreds of thousands of customers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Accepting the award, Safety-Kleen Branch Manager Kevin Preston noted that Safety-Kleen is the first and only cleaning and environmental services company to implement nation wide an Environmental Management System (EMS) that adheres to ISO 14001 standards of excellence...
• Water limited in San Diego, Southwest Riverside counties during construction work at Skinner Treatment Plant -- Consumers asked to voluntarily reduce water use; some mandatory restrictions may be instituted in San Diego County -- LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21, 2006 Residents and businesses in San Diego and southwestern Riverside counties are being called upon to voluntarily reduce their water use while a major regional water treatment plant undergoes upgrades during an 11-day shutdown beginning Nov. 27. Officials from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, San Diego County Water Authority, Eastern Municipal Water District and Western Municipal Water District made the precautionary water-saving request as Metropolitan prepares for the planned shutdown of its Robert A. Skinner Water Treatment Plant, located east of Temecula. The Skinner plant shutdown is part of $400 million in construction under way at the facility to increase the plant's water treatment capacity, improve water quality processes, and modify chemical handling capabilities. Work to increase the plant's treatment capacity by 110 million gallons per day is scheduled to be finished by next summer, he added, while water quality improvements would become operational in 2007 and 2009. At the same time the treatment plant is shut down, Metropolitan will inspect and make repairs to major water delivery canals and pipelines that service the area, as well as to valves, meters and other equipment...
• Calif. DWR to evaluate 350 miles of urban levees -- SACRAMENTO, CA, Nov. 21, 2006 -- Next week, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) will begin an ambitious $35 million project to evaluate 350 miles of levees that protect urban communities. DWR and its contractors will perform exploration, testing and analysis on state/federal levees that stretch from Lathrop to Marysville. One of the goals of the levee evaluation program is to identify "urban levees" that provide less than a 200-year level of flood protection. An urban levee designation refers to levees that protect communities of at least 10,000 people. DWR will also identify or prepare preliminary designs of projects that will bring these levees up to the 200-year standard...
• CH2M Hill provides environmental consulting to world's largest brick manufacturing plant fueled by landfill gas -- MONTGOMERY, AL, Nov. 20, 2006 -- Landfill gas is being used to fuel the new Jenkins Brick manufacturing facility in St. Clair County, Ala. This is Jenkins' second plant to utilize landfill gas as a fuel. CH2M Hill, a global full-service engineering, construction, and operations firm provided environmental consulting and landfill/natural gas design for this $56 million project, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. CH2M Hill was involved with the William M. Jordan, Jr. Plant from the earliest planning stages. The firm evaluated 301 landfills in the Landfill Methane Outreach Program and was able to narrow the list down to 13 sites where more detailed evaluations were conducted. Evaluations were based on a number of factors, including: natural gas availability, permitting issues, stormwater construction, site runoff, wastewater disposal, and water availability. Based on detailed evaluations the Star Ridge Landfill in Moody, AL, was selected as the most appropriate site for the brick manufacturing facility...
• Protecting the Great Lakes: Michigan Pulp & Paper Environmental Council receives SOLEC Award -- LANSING, MI, Nov. 20, 2006 -- The Michigan Pulp & Paper Environmental Council (MPPEC) was honored as a prestigious "Great Lakes Success Story" during the 2006 State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC). The SOLEC Conference is sponsored jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada on behalf of the two countries. SOLEC recognized that MPPEC has an outstanding record of reducing air, water and solid waste discharges over the past decade and their commitment to pollution prevention has improved the overall health of the Great Lakes. Conferences are held every two years in response to reporting requirements of the bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). Noted for its 22% reduction in combined emissions since 1996, MPPEC's Pulp, Paper, and Products Pollution Prevention (P5) Program -- in partnership with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality -- was one of only seven awardees this year and joins such notable past award recipients as DTE Energy's Monroe Power Plant, Ontario Power Generation, and Xerox...
• Penetron concrete coating approved for town of Schroon Wastewater Plant reconstruction -- EAST SETAUKET, NY, Nov. 20, 2006 -- As a tourist destination in the Adirondacks, the hamlet of Schroon Lake sees a large increase in population during the summer months. As a result their wastewater system often experiences widely varying flows during the year. To improve the system to accommodate the summer influx and an increasing number of year-round residents, the town has undertaken a $6 million reconstruction plan. This plan consists of the demolition and replacement of existing structures and the construction of expanded facilities; aeration basins, clarifiers, a new process building and complete sludge removal system. Long Island-based ICS Penetron International was chosen to provide the concrete waterproofing material by UW Marx Construction and AES Northeast, contractors and engineers on the project...
• Putting Waste to Work: Chevron, city of Millbrae turn kitchen grease into biogas to power wastewater treatment plant -- Innovative system generates electricity from restaurant grease to meet 80% of plant's power needs while also reducing costs and curbing greenhouse gas emissions -- MILLBRAE, CA, Nov. 16, 2006 -- Chevron Energy Solutions, a unit of Chevron Corp., and the city of Millbrae today celebrated the completion of new facilities at Millbrae's Water Pollution Control Plant that use a common urban waste -- inedible kitchen grease from restaurants -- to naturally produce biogas for generating renewable power and heat to treat the city's wastewater. The unique system, engineered and installed by Chevron Energy Solutions, includes a grease receiving station and an expanded cogenerator as well as other upgrades that result in annual revenues and energy savings of $366,000 for Millbrae while nearly doubling the amount of "green power" produced at the plant. More than 3,000 gallons of restaurant grease -- the kind washed from grills and pans -- will be delivered to the plant each day by grease hauling companies, which pay a city fee for disposals. Microorganisms in the plant's digester tanks eat the grease and other organic matter, naturally producing methane gas to fuel the plant's new 250-kilowatt microturbine cogenerator to produce electricity for wastewater treatment. Meanwhile, excess heat produced by the cogenerator warms the digester tanks to their optimum temperature for methane production...
• EWI receives order from Abbott Laboratories -- AJAX, ON, Canada, Nov. 15, 2006 -- Environmental Waste International Inc. (EWI) announced that is has received an order from Abbott Laboratories for an EWI FS-POD unit. The FS-POD is a batch processor for the sterilization of effluents based on the company's patented microwave delivery system. EWI's newest product, it was designed to meet the needs of the wastewater sterilization market. The unit's small size, operating features and competitive price met Abbott's needs. The corporate engineering and research divisions of Abbott conducted a review of EWI including discussions with personnel at the US Department of Agriculture's APHIS facility to confirm their satisfaction with EWI, its products and service record. Abbott issued the purchase order based partly on this positive feedback...
• China Evergreen Environmental Corp. changes name to China Water Group Inc. to reflect focus on wastewater treatment in China -- GUANGZHOU, China, Nov. 13, 2006 -- The former China Evergreen Environmental Corp. announced today that it has changed its name, effective Nov. 7, to China Water Group Inc. to reflect its focus on China's water treatment and supply needs and on build-operate-transfer (BOT), transfer-operate-transfer (TOT), and turnkey wastewater treatment facilities in China. It's a leading designer, engineer and developer of wastewater treatment facilities in China...
Also see: "China Evergreen enters new BOT agreement for wastewater treatment plant"