Outgoing DNR director comments on Lake Delhi flooding-related pollution
September 1, 2010

The failure of the Lake Delhi dam on the Maquoketa River has pushed a lot of sediment downstream, and the outgoing director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources calls the pollution -- largely made of silt that's being washed downstream by the new current -- "atrocious", according to the Des Moines Register. A report in the Waterloo Courier says that biologists worry that fish species could disappear from the river because of the dramatic change in the water habitat.

One common measure of water quality is turbidity, which essentially serves as a test of the clarity of the water. Sites looking to measure turbidity with a trouble-free, reliable automatic system should consider the ATI turbidity monitor. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Gorman-Rupp will acquire National Pump Co.
September 2, 2010

Gorman-Rupp has announced plans to acquire the National Pump Company later this fall. If approved by regulators, the addition should be very helpful to rounding out Gorman-Rupp's offerings for pumps in the drinking-water market, complementing the many offerings of their other subsidiary, the Patterson Pump Co. As representatives for both Gorman-Rupp and Patterson, we are excited to receive word of this acquisition and look forward to having access to an even broader range of pump offerings.

For those who need a little extra validation
September 3, 2010

Usually when people talk about needing validation, they're talking about emotions -- but when water quality is involved, the use of multiple monitors for measuring water quality can be integrated with a control system to provide better validation of the water's safety. ATI has developed a "triple-validation" system, using three parallel monitors for parameters like pH and residual chlorine along with an integrating control system to overlook temporary fluctuations with individual monitors that may not reflect a real change in the system as a whole.

Contact us if you'd like more information on ATI water-quality sensors for chlorine, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, fluoride, or any other major component of water quality.

Happy Labor Day
September 6, 2010

Our office will be closed for Labor Day. However, in an emergency, you can always reach us via our emergency contact page. We will be open for business again on Tuesday.

Big wildfire near Boulder, Colorado
September 7, 2010

A large wildfire near Boulder, Colorado, has burned more than 7,000 acres and destroyed buildings in the process, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. Firefighters are still trying to control the fire, and the authorities there are keeping evacuation orders in place because flare-ups are continuing. The Denver Post has news of residents staying with their homes to fight the fires, which can be extremely dangerous -- especially in the presence of high winds.

Firefighting crews rely on a wide variety of Gorman-Rupp pumps to help them do a professional job -- especially Gorman-Rupp portable fire pumps and PTO-driven fire pumps. We can help you with those pumps, and hoses, too. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

EPA issues $30,000 fine for illegal Nebraska dam
September 8, 2010

The EPA has issued a $30,000 fine to a Nebraska landowner and an earthmoving contractor for building an unapproved earthen dam in Wayne County. The EPA says the dam stopped up a portion of a tributary feeding Spring Branch Creek, and it should have been approved before construction by the Omaha District of the Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the streams in the area.

The importance of clean water in a disaster zone
September 9, 2010

When disasters like the recent flooding in Pakistan strike, one of the main concerns is how to deliver fresh water to large numbers of people, especially when the regular systems for water delivery are damaged or destroyed. People can survive for a long time on limited food rations, but we simply can't go for more than a couple of days without drinking water. And as we witnessed in Haiti, water is easily contaminated after a disaster, since debris, bodily waste, and human and animal remains all get washed into streams and rivers. And in Pakistan, bad information and superstition are spreading by word of mouth and putting the health (and lives) of many people at risk. Unfortunately, water purification is challenging to achieve without boiling, chlorination, or ultraviolet disinfection units. That's why so much interest has been shown in technologies like the LifeStraw, which is a portable disinfection filter for personal use. Until everyone has routine access to safe municipal drinking-water supplies, tools like the LifeStraw ought to be in pretty strong demand. For people in the US looking to enhance their own water security plans, we suggest taking a close look at UV disinfection systems and portable electric generators.

High nitrates in Dixon water
September 10, 2010

The Iowa DNR is telling people to use another source of drinking water for small children in the town of Dixon, where tests found high nitrate levels today. The city and the DNR are trying to figure out the cause of the nitrates, which are usually tied (at least in Iowa) to fertilizer runoff, both from agricultural and household lawn use. While adults are generally able to process nitrates without a problem, nitrates can cause blue baby syndrome in small children, by competing with oxygen in the blood. Boiling water is not a safe way to prevent nitrate consumption, because the process can actually increase nitrate concentrations. The Des Moines Water Works operates the largest nitrate-removal plant in the world, using an ion-exchange process. While we can't do a lot to remove nitrate from drinking water, we can help with a wide range of products for municipal wastewater treatment to help ensure that the water being returned to Iowa's rivers and streams is as safe as possible. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Safety and manure pumping
September 15, 2010

The latest newsletter of the Iowa Pork Producers focuses on safe manure pumping, which is of obvious interest to lots of Iowans and Nebraskans. Safety is essential when working with manure, which generates lots of methane -- an explosive gas, which can of course result in injury or death if mishandled.

Depending upon the consistency of the manure being pumped, and the environmental conditions in effect, pumps ranging from diaphragm pumps to centrifugal pumps with explosion-proof motors may be used for these kinds of applications. An informed user will carefully evaluate the conditions at hand before making any decisions about which to operate.

Glidden placed under boil order
September 20, 2010

A water tower in Glidden, Iowa, drained due to a computer malfunction, and the DNR has issued a boil-water order for the community due to concerns that there may have been bacterial contamination due to the loss of pressure. Boil-order notices are a rare event, but when they do occur, they should serve to remind people of the remarkable value they get every day from reliable municipal drinking-water systems.

Cost to repair ISU after floods: $40 million
September 21, 2010

17 campus buildings were damaged by this summer's flooding, and the university thinks repairs will cost between $40 million and $50 million. Three major buildings had standing water of at least two feet. Some of the costs will be picked up by insurance, but the university will be looking at alternatives to the current flood-control system for the future. The university's official plan is to protect the existing buildings at highest risk of flooding, rather than demolish, replace, or move them, and the state's board of regents approved plans to expedite the reconstruction of damaged buildings.

The flooding in Ames this summer was mainly the result of a very rapid series of strong storms over the course of just three days that soaked the watershed and caused rivers to exceed their 500-year probabilities. We can help communities prevent flood damage with a variety of tools, including portable pumping stations, flood-control gates, and portable dams.

Coralville gets millions in state aid for flooding relief
September 22, 2010

The city of Coralville, which was hit hard by flooding in 2008, will receive $3.6 million in state funding, in addition to about $27 million previously granted, to help improve the city's flood-protection system. It's part of a $30 million set of disaster-mitigation funds just released by the state.

How a side dish creates a water crisis
September 23, 2010

When products raised in water-rich places are created with that water, then shipped to water-poor places, it creates an exchange in "virtual water." Perhaps the most obvious example, aside from the bottled-water industry, is in agriculture, where water-thirsty crops are routinely exported around the world. Corn, for instance, is a water-thirsty crop, which is why Iowa (with a relatively abundant natural water supply and good precipitation characteristics) is a massive exporter of "virtual water" to the rest of the world. But in Peru, water supplies are reportedly being drained at a stunning rate in order to irrigate asparagus for export to places like the UK. According to a report from a British charity, the water use to raise asparagus in Peru is enough to threaten the drinking-water supplies for 300,000 people.

Water supplies will only become more important as a political issue in the future, both domestically and internationally. That's why we take such a great interest in ways to re-use water in place.

How air entrainment interferes with all types of centrifugal pumps
September 24, 2010

We often tell people that most "pump problems" aren't really problems with the pump, but rather with the system. Air entrainment is an excellent example of a system problem. When water from an elevated outfall (like a gravity sewer line several feet above the water line) splashes into the wetwell, it captures lots of air bubbles and mixes them, often to several feet of depth inside the wetwell. Mechanical aerators depend on exactly this kind of entrainment action to help aerate lagoons -- but in a wetwell, it's a common cause of headaches.

Air entrainment looks like this in action:

While some people might think that submersible pumps would be immune to the problem of air entrainment, they're quite wrong -- submersible pumps can become air-bound just like self-priming pumps. Air entrainment can be solved in a number of ways, including by the use of baffles or plates, and by raising the surface water elevation so that the water has less distance to fall -- and has greater distance from the pump's suction inlet. Air entrainment can also be addressed by the use of directional flanges on the suction line.

Late-season flooding in Minnesota
September 27, 2010

Heavy rains last week have led to serious flooding in south-eastern Minnesota, where road closures and power outages stretch all the way into the Minneapolis metro area, where the effects are making trouble for commuters. Similar to the floods in the Ames area and Skunk River basin in Iowa this summer, the floods in Minnesota have been the result of rainfall totals in excess of 8" over just a few days. This kind of flooding is unusual for the fall, which is ordinarily exempt from the downpours that characterize spring and parts of summer.

We can help you with portable flood-control pumps and battery-backup sump pumps. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Flooding heads down the Mississippi towards Iowa again
September 28, 2010

The serious flooding in Minnesota and Wisconsin of the last week dumped a lot of rain into the Mississippi River basin, and though the flooding on the Mississippi itself is expected to be similar to spring flooding as it leaves Minnesota, the forecasts from the National Weather Service suggest that McGregor and Guttenberg, Iowa, could each see moderate flooding by Friday. Nobody's expecting anything as severe as the flash flooding that happened in Minnesota and Wisconsin last week when the rains first fell, but the conventional river flooding is nothing to be overlooked.

River flooding is often managed through the use of water-control gates like sluice gates, flap gates, and radial gates. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Septic tanks for the rich
September 29, 2010

Malibu has long had a reputation as an enclave for celebrities living near Los Angeles -- it's up the coast and surrounded by woodlands, making it a little remote. And like many remote sites, it's depended heavily upon the use of septic systems for wastewater treatment instead of pump stations, force mains, and centralized wastewater treatment plants. But the state of California has just ruled that the city must install a centralized wastewater-treatment plant, because the septic systems have been polluting the local water and making people sick.

Septic systems obviously have their advantages -- they're good for places where homes are spaced too far apart to make centralized treatment economical, and they're far better than dumping untreated wastewater into creeks, rivers, and streams. Properly maintained, they're reasonably safe and environmentally friendly. But the wastewater passing through septic systems has to be disinfected -- either by chlorination or by ultraviolet light systems, to ensure that bacteria and pathogens aren't sent directly into the water that people use for drinking (and, near Malibu, for surfing). The California state ruling is interesting in that it's likely to impose a pretty significant expense on the residents of Malibu -- their willingness to pay, perhaps, revealing just how serious they are about truly doing something good for the environment.

Iowa is a top-ten state for fluoridation
September 30, 2010

The majority of Iowans are served by public water systems, and according to the CDC, almost 92% of Iowans served by those systems are receiving an optimal dose of fluoride, which helps to protect teeth and improve public health. That percentage places Iowa among the top ten states in the nation for those serving their communities with fluoridated water. Maryland takes the top position, with 99.8% of all residents on community water systems receiving fluoridated water. Nebraska falls in at #30, with 69.9% of residents on public water systems receiving the right dose of fluoride, though the state of Hawaii is far behind, at just 10.8%.

Though there are some very loud opponents to fluoridation, the American Water Works Association (America's largest trade group devoted to safe drinking water) has affirmed its support for the recommendations of the CDC, American Dental Association, and American Medical Association in support of fluoridation. Both too much and too little fluoride in the water can have detrimental effects, so fluoride monitors should be used to help ensure the optimal dose.

Past water and wastewater news updates

last revised September 2010