WaterBriefs: Aqua America CEO says private utilities may be key to resolving infrastructure needs
Also in this report: TORR Canada delivers on Kuwait oil contract; Dudek named top San Diego environmental consultant; International Paper, Conservation Fund accepting award nominations; DSC Logistics wins Culligan contract; 41 named to Delta Vision panel; NRG Energy, LRCA sign agreement; Pa. DEP holds hearing on Bernhart Creek Watershed; $200M for Tanzania water sector; MARTI selected for arsenic remediation; Three cities receive National Biosolids Partnership certification...
In other news below:
-- TORR Canada delivers first half of major contract to SK Engineering & Construction
-- Dudek named top San Diego environmental consulting firm
-- International Paper, Conservation Fund accepting environmental award nominations
-- DSC Logistics awarded two logistics centers for customer Culligan
-- California names 41 member Delta Vision Stakeholder Panel
-- ADB launching major public finance knowledge center in Manila
-- NRG Energy, Lower Colorado River Authority sign power supply agreement
-- Pa. DEP to hold public hearing on Bernhart Creek Watershed
-- Tanzania receives $200 million credit for water sector support project
-- Environment ministers rise to challenge of globalization, UN reform
-- MARTI selected for major arsenic remediation project
-- Three cities receive National Biosolids Partnership certification
• Aqua America CEO says investor-owned water utilities could play key role in resolving nation's water infrastructure needs -- WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 20, 2007 -- In a presentation to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Aqua America, Inc. (NYSE:WTR) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas DeBenedictis suggested that investor-owned water utilities could play a key role in resolving the infrastructure needs of the nation's water industry. The remarks were made during the organization's annual conference, which is being held this week in Washington, D.C.
Citing the $500 billion the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says is needed to upgrade the nation's water and wastewater infrastructure and the fact that 84 percent of the nation's 50,000 water systems serve less than 3,300 people, DeBenedictis said that given the right regulatory climate, large investor-owned utilities can get the job done. "Companies like Aqua America and other publicly traded utilities are ready to step up to the plate to address these issues," said DeBenedictis. "However, we must have a stable regulatory environment that provides a fair return on investment so that we can continue to attract investors to the industry."
DeBenedictis said that among the challenges faced by investor-owned water utilities today are the currently permitted low depreciation rates, which are not sufficient to adequately recover the major capital investments that are needed in the nation's infrastructure. "Water companies have the lowest depreciation rate of all the utilities. The cost of pipe replacement has increased significantly in recent years, while its historic depreciation is at very low levels compared to today's replacement costs," he said.
DeBenedictis explained that utility regulators have the ability to help the water industry address these challenges by providing incentives that will attract investors who, in turn, provide the capital necessary to address the infrastructure needs cited by EPA. "Among the proposed solutions are single-tariff pricing, infrastructure surcharges to help diminish regulatory lag, small system acquisition adjustments, and commodity cost adjustments for things such as other utility costs and property taxes," he said, noting that many states have already adopted some of these needed measures.
"Because water is an irreplaceable product for which there is no substitute, an efficiently run private water company will be able to attract investors more readily if these types of initiatives are in place," said DeBenedictis. "Ultimately, this will lead to lower borrowing costs for the rate payer, long-term stable investors for the industry, and safe, adequate service at just and reasonable rates."
Aqua America Inc. (www.aquaamerica.com) is a U.S.-based publicly-traded water and wastewater utility holding company, serving approximately 2.8 million residents in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Indiana, Virginia, Maine, Missouri and South Carolina. Aqua America is listed on both the New York and Philadelphia Stock Exchanges.
Among other recent headlines:
• TORR Canada successfully delivers first half of major contract to SK Engineering & Construction -- MONTREAL, QB, Canada, Feb. 20, 2007 -- TORR Canada Inc. (TCI), dedicated to providing water treatment to the oil & gas industry, today announced that it has delivered as scheduled the first half of its contract with SK Engineering & Construction (SKEC), one of the world's leading engineering, procurement and construction organizations. The contract signed in March of 2006 provided for seven sets of TORR water treatment systems to treat 260,000 barrels per day of water, for a total value of over $US22.4 million. Four out of the seven sets to be operated by Kuwait Oil Company were delivered today, representing 12 skids out of 21 provided for in the original contract. The second half of this contract is scheduled to be delivered during the current quarter...
Also see: "TORR Canada awarded US$20.9 million contract"
• Dudek named top San Diego environmental consulting firm -- 2006 milestones contributed to firm's second consecutive year as list headliner -- ENCINITAS, CA, Feb. 20, 2007 -- Dudek has been named the top San Diego environmental consulting firm for the second consecutive year based upon a survey conducted by the San Diego Business Journal. Milestones that contributed to Dudek's steady 2006 growth include: Opening new offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento counties, while significantly expanding operations at existing offices in San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Santa Barbara counties; authoring environmental impact report for the largest West Coast seawater desalination plant to advance through local land use and Regional Water Quality Control Board approvals; developing an innovative, cost-effective approach to help wastewater districts retrofit existing sewer siphons to eliminate sewer odors; and winning an American Public Works Association award for the firm's restoration of San Diego County's El Cuervo Norte wetlands...
Also see: "Dudek Expands its Environmental Consulting Practice: Three key hires join firm to help municipalities, developers meet regulatory, technical challenges"
• International Paper, Conservation Fund accepting online nominations for Conservation Partnership, Environmental Education Awards -- MEMPHIS, TN, Feb. 20, 2007 -- International Paper and The Conservation Fund will provide national recognition and $10,000 cash grants to two conservation/environmental education leaders at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., this summer. International Paper, one of the world's largest forest products companies, partners each year with The Conservation Fund, a non-profit organization seeking sustainable conservation solutions for the 21st Century, to sponsor the International Paper Conservation Partnership Award and the International Paper Environmental Education Award. The $10,000 awards are unrestricted grants from the International Paper Foundation...
Also see: "International Paper Completes Sale of North American Beverage Packaging Operations"
• DSC Logistics awarded two logistics centers for customer Culligan -- Supply chain management company will help Culligan implement supply chain restructuring -- CHICAGO, Feb. 20, 2007 -- Culligan International Company, which makes products and services to purify and process water, has awarded DSC Logistics, a leading supply chain management company with a global network, the logistics management services out of its Des Plaines, IL, and Mira Loma, CA, logistics centers. DSC will perform logistics center management activities including warehousing, kitting and parts fulfillment for Culligan products, such as water filters, household water softeners, and micro filtration products. Culligan is changing their sourcing strategy, and is now sourcing a majority of their products from manufacturers in China and Taiwan. DSC's logistics centers will be receiving Culligan's products from Southeast Asia and distributing them to their nationwide network of dealers. DSC will also be providing logistics services for The Water Group, a division of Culligan that has its own unique distribution needs. The change in Culligan's sourcing strategy will result in future opportunities for DSC to support their dynamic and evolving supply chain...
-- "Culligan Will Move Headquarters To Rosemont, Ill."
-- "Culligan Enhances Its Digital Smart-Sensor Water Softener to Combat Winter's Harsh Toll and Hard H20"
-- "Culligan Awarded Water Treatment Contract For World's Tallest Skyscraper -- The Dubai Tower"
• 41 member Delta Vision Stakeholder Panel named -- SACRAMENTO, CA, Feb. 19, 2007 -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Delta Vision" plan moved another step forward last week as Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman named appointments to a 41-member Delta Stakeholders Group. This panel will represent Delta interests, provide assistance and make recommendations to a Blue Ribbon Task Force appointed by the Governor last week, on ideas and innovations that will lead to a sustainable Delta. The Delta, formed by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, has long been a center of controversy as both the largest estuary on the West Coast and hub of the state's water system. Former Assemblyman and past Sacramento Mayor Phil Isenberg will serve as chairman of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. The first meeting of the task force will be March 1-2 in Sacramento. During the two-day meeting, the group will begin the process of developing its structure, expectations, work plan and operating rules...
-- "Calif. DWR Seeks Proposals for $10 Million in Grants to Study, Restore, and Protect Watersheds"
-- "Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman Touts Governor's Delta Vision; Bond Proposals at Tulare County's World Ag Expo"
-- "Calif. DWR Finds Pipe Bombs in California Aqueduct"
• ADB launching major public finance knowledge center in Manila -- MANILA, The Philippines, Feb. 19, 2007 -- ADB is supporting a regional knowledge center focused on public finance that opens today in Manila. The Robert F. De Ocampo Center for Public Finance and Regional Economic Cooperation operated in partnership with the Center for Research and Communication Foundation is one of five ADB regional knowledge hubs. The others are in the following locations: TERI, India, which focuses on clean energy; Tsinghua University, China, which looks at climate change; the Asian Institute of Technology; UNESCAP; UNEP, Thailand, which focuses on reduce, reuse, and recycle; and a hub, which specializes in Private-Public Partnerships on Infrastructure in Singapore...
Also see: "ADB Funds Water Quality Study in West Tarum Canal"
• NRG Energy Inc., Lower Colorado River Authority sign agreement for future power supplies -- PRINCETON, NJ, Feb. 16, 2007 -- NRG Energy Inc. and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together strategically on a series of supply alternatives to serve the needs of LCRA's wholesale electric customers and to help support Texas' growing economy. The agreement could provide LCRA and its customers with the opportunity to access up to 700 MW of new NRG electrical generation. The transactions contemplated by this agreement could be finalized as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.
• Pa. DEP to hold public hearing on Bernhart Creek Watershed -- HARRISBURG, PA, Feb. 15, 2007 -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Berks County to give residents a chance to voice their comments about the health and future of the Bernhart Creek Watershed. The hearing will be held at the Berks County Agriculture Building on County Welfare Drive, Leesport...
-- "Pa. DEP Issues Emergency Permit So Perry County Water Supplier Can Use Alternate Water Source. Move Requires 'Boil Water' Advisory For Bloomfield Borough Customers"
-- "Red Barn Trading Does Landmark Second Nutrient Credit Sale"
• Tanzania receives IDA credit for water sector support project -- WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 13, 2007 -- The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$200 million for Tanzania's Water Sector Support Project. This amount is part of a total US$700 million that the Development Partners Group ---of which the World Bank is a part of--will contribute to the Government of Tanzania's five-year Water Sector Development Program. The other Development Partners who are providing financial support to the water sector include Germany, the Netherlands, France, Japan, the US (through the United States Agency for International Development and the Millennium Challenge Corporation), UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, and the African Development Bank. The Government of Tanzania (GoT) will lead the process with its own contribution of US$251million...
Also see: "The 'Global Partnership for Output Based Aid' Trust Fund Supports Access To Water Supply and Sanitation Services in Morocco"
• Environment ministers rise to challenge of globalization, UN reform -- UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum rediscovers responsibility for environmental pillar of sustainable development -- NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 9, 2007 -- An enhanced program to reduce health and environmental threats from toxic mercury pollution was agreed by 140 governments at the close of an international gathering of environment ministers. The decision includes developing partnerships between governments, industry and other key groups to curb emissions of the heavy metal from power stations and mines to industrial and consumer products. After two years, governments will gauge its success and reflect on whether the voluntary initiative has worked or whether negotiations should commence on a new international and legally-binding treaty. The mercury decision, along with 15 other key decisions, was made on the final day of the United Nations Environment Programmes (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum. Part of the new programme may mirror a successful UNEP-coordinated partnership to clean up vehicle fuels in developing countries. In four years, this voluntary partnership, launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, has phased out another notorious heavy metal, lead, from petrol pumps across sub-Saharan Africa...
Also see: "Evidence of Human-caused Global Warming 'Unequivocal,' says IPCC"
• MARTI selected for major arsenic remediation project -- APEX, NC, Feb 6, 2007 -- Metals and Arsenic Removal Technology Inc. (MARTI) was recently awarded a contract by a major engineering firm for a large arsenic remediation project in central Florida. The project involves a former agricultural site that has been documented to have severe arsenic ground contamination over a wide area with measured ground water levels in excess of 400 ppm, an amount which is over 40,000 times higher than the level considered safe by federal standards. Earlier this year, the EPA established a maximum safe arsenic level in potable water of 10 ppb. MARTI's technology was selected over several competing bids as the preferential treatment to address these very high levels of contamination. The joint effort between MARTI and the engineering firm, scheduled to begin in 2Q07, is expected to take up to 24 months to complete, and will represent a substantial achievement for a project of this magnitude...
• City of Grand Rapids, Mich., receives NBP EMS certification -- ALEXANDRIA, VA, Feb. 6, 2007 -- The National Biosolids Partnership in January recognized the city of Grand Rapids, MI, as the sixteenth agency in the nation to be certified and admitted to the Partnership's environmental management system (EMS) for biosolids program. The City of Grand Rapids is one of 92 wastewater agencies currently participating in the NBP EMS program. As the sixteenth wastewater agency certified and admitted into the NBP EMS program, the City of Grand Rapids' achievement recognizes that the agency has been independently verified as having an effective biosolids environmental management system. The City of Grand Rapids residuals management EMS was independently verified on December 20, 2006 by the audit firm, NSF-International Strategic Registrations...
-- "Columbus, GA, Water Works Receives NBP EMS Certification"
-- "City of Raleigh, NC, Public Utilities Department Receives NBP EMS Certification"