100% flood protection for Cedar Rapids could be very costly
September 2, 2008

Three of the proposals under consideration for improving flood protection in Cedar Rapids could help deliver virtually certain defenses against future floods, but they could be incredibly expensive: Raising floodwalls and levees around the city, in some cases up to 18' high, or creating a half-million-acre reservoir upstream of the city. The reservoir proposal is almost certainly impossible, considering it would take up more than 800 square miles, or more than all of Linn County.

We can help you with stormwater controls, including pump stations for moving floodwater. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Alarm over drinking-water safety hits the news again
September 3, 2008

The Wall Street Journal recently carried a story highlighting public concern with drinking-water safety, including the alarm of groups concerned with pharmaceutical residuals and common disinfection chemicals. Fortunately, the story accurately noted that bottled water is by no means safer than tap water. However, the story overlooked the most significant factor that nearly always inhibits improvements in drinking-water quality: Public resistance to higher rates. The same public that will pay $3.50 per gallon for milk or gasoline or $1 for a 9-ounce bottle of water from a vending machine has been habituated to expect municipal water rates to remain close to zero, and never to rise -- even when a place like North Platte delivers safe municipal drinking water for a third of a cent per gallon.

Nebraska's fluoridation rules stir passionate responses
September 4, 2008

Grand Island is the largest Nebraska city without fluoridated water, and the question of whether to fluoridate is being put to a public vote in November. As reported by the Grand Island Independent, at least a few attendees at a recent public forum on the issue expressed heated opinions on the matter, which most likely reflects similar concerns about fluoridation that will be reflected in public debate in other parts of the state as well. Fluoridation has shown itself to be a highly cost-efficient method of improving public health through dental protection, as long as the fluoride levels are properly monitored. At the upcoming Fall Conference of the Nebraska AWWA, we will be presenting an introductory course in how water professionals should help to inform the public about issues like fluoridation.

Two major storms menace the East Coast
September 5, 2008

Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike are set to strike the US East Coast in close succession over the next few days. While we in the Upper Midwest are (fortunately) well-insulated from the effects of tropical storm systems, we have tremendous sympathy for those who are affected by these storms, particularly as eastern Iowa continues to recover from this year's catastrophic flooding. We stand ready to help those in need with flood-cleanup pumps and remind engineers and planners that it's always wise to consider specifying lift stations with engine backups for any location where power outages due to major storms may be possible.

Hurricane Ike could hit Houston as a Category 4
September 8, 2008

Hurricane Ike is en route to the Gulf of Mexico, and though its final landfall site on US turf is unknown, there's a measurable chance it could hit Houston, possibly as a Category 4 hurricane. Should that occur, flood-cleanup pumps could be in significant demand.

A merger that could push iron prices even higher
September 9, 2008

One of the biggest problems encountered throughout the construction industry over the last few years has been the rapid escalation of prices for raw materials of all kinds, from plastics to metals. The surging prices of cast iron and steel have been especially dramatic. Now, one of the world's largest mining companies is aggressively pursuing one of the other largest such firms, and if the two were to merge, they would have a considerable grip on the world's supply of iron ore. Cast iron is a primary component in our self-priming pumps, so we have a particular interest in further developments. Most pump companies, of course, are subject to the same pressures, since cast iron is the de facto standard for pump casings in permanent municipal applications.

US dam infrastructure needs a lot of work
September 10, 2008

The American Society of Civil Engineers is continuing its campaign to bring attention to infrastructure issues by calling for swift action to address the needs of America's dams. A bill to award Federal funds to support the repair of dams has gone essentially nowhere. Whether that legislation is the best solution to the problem is up for debate, but Iowa has 83 "high hazard potential" dams, and Nebraska has 121, so action of some sort appears to be urgently needed.

We can help you with pumps and gates used in dam repairs and construction. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Our thoughts are with Houston, but don't forget Eastern Iowa
September 11, 2008

The path of Hurricane Ike looks like it's going to cause the worst possible situation for Houston, where evacuations are already in effect and gasoline prices have soared. The storm surge from a big hurricane landing near where they predict Ike's landfall now would be much worse for flooding than if the storm hit Houston directly. But we worry that if Houston takes on serious damage from this storm, few people will remember the thousands of people in Eastern Iowa still trying to recover from June's catastrophic flooding. Many water and wastewater plants were hit hard by the flooding, and many iconic businesses and homes were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The wastewater treatment system in Cedar Rapids alone sustained $100 million in damage. The recovery in Eastern Iowa is going to be expensive and will take considerable time. Contributions are still being accepted by Corridor Recovery, the community group set up to coordinate the rebuilding effort.

Galveston suspends water service
September 12, 2008

As Hurricane Ike starts to land in Texas, the city of Galveston has suspended water service to some parts of town due to fears of contamination by sea water. When flooding occurs here in the upper Midwest, the contamination problem is usually reversed: It becomes imperative that the system remain on and pressurized, so that flood waters don't seep into the system and contaminate the water supply. Moreover, even a drop in pressure can be extremely hazardous, since any water distribution system contains enough natural leaks that a low-pressure or vacuum condition can cause the water mains to pull contaminants out of the soil and into the water supply. That's why the Des Moines Water Works had to shut down service and decontaminate the city's water system during the floods of 1993, and why Cedar Rapids was desperate to keep its last well in service during this summer's flooding. All of this goes to confirm the value of pump stations with engine backup systems that can remain in service when power is lost.

Hurricane remnants flood parts of the Midwest
September 15, 2008

Portions of the Midwest -- including some far corners of Iowa -- were hit by flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike as it was swept into a larger weather system this weekend. The Chicago area got nine inches of rain. The need for flood-cleanup pumps remains high.

Keokuk protests $60 million sewer project mandate
September 16, 2008

The EPA has ordered the city of Keokuk to separate its storm and sanitary sewer lines, in a project estimated to cost $60 million. The city is protesting the mandate, arguing that the price tag is far too much for the community (of 11,000 people) to handle.

We can help you with lift stations and gates for sewer flow control. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Cedar Rapids narrows flood-control options down to three
September 17, 2008

The leading choices include large floodwalls through the city, a whole bunch of new levees and parks, and a massive plan to turn three whole neighborhoods into permanent riverside parks. Stormwater controls and flood controls are likely to remain a topic of broad discussion across Iowa after this year's serious flooding.

Clean water shortage becomes Galveston's biggest obstacle
September 18, 2008

The damage done by Hurricane Ike to the water system in Galveston appears to be the biggest obstacle to getting the city back on its feet. Problems with the water system have already created health problems and the longer it takes to get the system working properly, the harder the recovery will be for the community. While we often talk about public water supplies as though they are first and foremost a matter of environmental protection, the truth is that clean water (and good wastewater treatment) is really a matter of public health above all -- and in a disaster, the problems are compounded even more by accidents and injuries.

Pickens suspends water-sale plan
September 19, 2008

T. Boone Pickens, best-known as an oil magnate, has suspended a plan to ship water from the Texas Panhandle to urban areas in other parts of the state. The water would have come from the Ogallala Aquifer, which also sits below much of Nebraska. Pickens had been planning to make dual use of the land needed for the water pipeline by building wind farms along the route, but now the wind power project has been separated from the water project. While the Mesa Water project may be suspended for the time being, Pickens undoubtedly still knows that water demand is going to rise in the future, and the supply simply isn't increasing. We noted the original plan back in May, and there should be no doubt that it will either return, or others will emerge in its place. The amount of pumping power that would be required to move lots of water cross-country anywhere would be pretty amazing.

Nearly 650 homes hit in Coralville/Iowa City by this summer's flooding
September 22, 2008

Coralville and Iowa City are working on ways to install future protections so that the nearly 600 homes that aren't being bought-out after this summer's flooding (of about 650 that were badly damaged) won't be hit hard by future floods. Floodwalls will likely be a major component, and those will probably include both flap gates and sluice gates.

Water groups cooperate on new security site
September 23, 2008

Most of the major water-industry organizations have come together to initiate the WaterISAC security network, which is intended to provide rapid-response information from Federal agencies and authorities to the utilities in the field.

Water protection in Iowa remains a battle
September 24, 2008

Iowa has a natural abundance of water, but it's an ongoing challenge to keep that water safe and fit for human use. As demand for ethanol and biodiesel continue to rise, more pressure will be put on waterways as fertilizer and other runoff enter the streams and rivers of the state. Economically, we simply cannot do without agriculture and the fertilizer it requires -- but managing those nutrients before they endanger public health can be costly.

Second "economic stimulus" bill might include billions for infrastructure
September 25, 2008

There is talk of a second economic-stimulus bill being considered by Washington, and the American Society of Civil Engineers is encouraging lawmakers to include lots of money for infrastructure.

We can help you with products for infrastructure jobs like water plants and wastewater-treatment plants. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Happy birthday, chlorinated drinking water
September 26, 2008

One hundred years ago today, Jersey City, NJ, became the first city in America to chlorinate its drinking water. Chlorination remains the most common method of disinfection in American water systems today, and for good reason, given its safety and efficacy. Our chlorination tablet systems are appropriate for small municipal systems as well as remote sites not served by conventional municipal water systems.

Cedar Rapids brings its wastewater plant back online
September 29, 2008

The Cedar Rapids wastewater treatment plant took an extraordinary hit from the floods in June, but they have managed to make repairs and meet state discharge limits well ahead of schedule. The plant still needs a lot of equipment repairs and new flood-mitigation improvements, but the speed of the repairs is impressive. We contributed with quick shipment on replacement control panels for diaphragm pumps.

Combat rising energy prices with better DO monitoring
September 30, 2008

It takes a lot of energy to aerate wastewater in a conventional activated-sludge wastewater treatment plant. With energy prices rising, it becomes even more important to ensure that aeration is performed efficiently and accurately. One way to help is to use effective tools for dissolved oxygen (DO) measurement. The ATI dissolved-oxygen sensor is a highly efficient and effective tool for measuring DO. Request a quote on a DO monitor today and we'll be happy to help you.

Past water and wastewater news updates

last revised September 2008