Worst Iowa drought in more than 75 years
August 1, 2012

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says in an interview with the Cedar Rapids Gazette: "You would have to go back to 1936 to find a drought worse than this one". That's an exceptionally strong statement, especially given the terrible drought of 1988. The climatologist's office worries that conditions in eastern Iowa could have long-term effects, beyond just this harvest season.

Drought worsens
August 2, 2012

The drought is getting worse, unfortunately.

Electric motor actuators are now here
August 3, 2012

We recently established a relationship with EIM Controls to supply their electric motor actuators to the water, wastewater, and stormwater sectors in Iowa and Nebraska. Please see our new page dedicated to actuators and our request form for actuator specs and quotes.

Hot weather is killing fish
August 6, 2012

The heat wave and drought have been unpleasant for most people, hugely damaging to crops, and deadly for fish in many Midwestern streams and rivers. The less precipitation that falls, the more river levels drop. The Platte River in Nebraska is virtually bone-dry at Grand Island. Even in places where water still flows, high temperatures are placing stress on fish and killing many. Believe it or not, the problem often is that fish suffocate in warm waters, because the solubility of oxygen in the water declines as temperatures rise. And, just like mammals breathe (or pant) more in the heat, many aquatic species need more oxygen as their bodies heat up as well, which only depletes oxygen levels in the water even further.

One of the key steps taken in municipal wastewater treatment is aeration -- the mechanical addition of oxygen to the water, often by diffusers, but also sometimes through other means like rotating biological contactors. Accurate measurement of dissolved oxygen is important for managing the treatment of wastewater and the protection of the streams that receive the treated water.

Drought is causing private wells to come up dry
August 7, 2012

The awful drought of 2012 is causing some Iowa wells to dry up, including private wells used by people who aren't served by municipal or rural water systems. It's turning into good business for well-drillers, perhaps, but it's a scary situation for the people finding themselves without the most essential element of life.

The majority of Iowa is under a burn ban
August 8, 2012

Of Iowa's 99 counties, 66 are under a burn ban due to the severe drought. In just six months, Iowa has had more wildfires than in all of 2010 and nearly more than in all of 2011.

Drought is stretching water-treatment plants to their limits
August 9, 2012

The Cedar Rapids water-treatment plant has been operating quite close to its maximum capacity to keep up with demand for water during the drought, as the lack of rain has led many people to turn to municipal water sources to keep their lawns green. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that the plant produced 53.5 million gallons of water on July 25th, which is very close to its maximum capacity of 60 million gallons per day.

On the need for lots and lots of water-infrastructure work
August 13, 2012

The Cedar Rapids Gazette this weekend carried a story about the need for vast amounts of water-infrastructure investment across Iowa. It's a story we know quite well within the water industry, but one that we generally have done a poor job of communicating to the public at large. Many misperceptions remain (like the one that water should be free), and we may in a sense be victims of the successes of the past -- so many systems have worked well for so long that people don't realize that there's a natural rate of deterioration that requires new investments to be made to keep everything working right. Unlike buildings that crumble and decay right in front of anyone passing on the street, the pipes and valves and pumps and myriad other components that make up the water infrastructure are nearly invisible -- except, maybe, for water towers.

Survey says rural Nebraskans are OK with a Keystone XL pipeline -- if it avoids the Sandhills
August 14, 2012

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln conducted the mail survey, which got a surprisingly high response rate of greater than one in three. The respondents tended to approve of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, but prefer a route that avoids the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer. Opponents of the pipeline and of certain proposed routes voice concern that the Sandhills are too susceptible to contamination by oil leaks, and that those leaks could pass through the sand into the aquifer. Just 13% of the respondents oppose the pipeline altogether.

Platte River flows fall off a cliff
August 15, 2012

The Platte River, which supplies drinking water to Omaha and Lincoln (as well as many other communities), is at exceptional lows right now, as documented by a graph in the Lincoln Journal-Star.

Drought eases a little in Iowa, but worsens in Nebraska
August 16, 2012

This year's drought remains one of historic magnitude, and it has intensified in Nebraska while easing somewhat in Iowa. (Though that's only a relative observation anyway; Iowa is in much worse condition now than 6 weeks ago.) Unfortunately, no matter how much the precipitation levels come back to normal through the end of the growing season, it's too late for the corn crop to recover to normal. Modern production techniques mean that it will still be a very large harvest compared to pre-2000 levels, but it's going to look very bad when compared with the recent past. Crop moisture levels are "severely dry" in most of Nebraska and "excessively dry" in most of Iowa.

From record flooding one year to record-low rivers the next
August 21, 2012

Barge traffic is being slowed on the Missouri River this year because of backups along the Mississippi, which is 55' below last year's peak flood stage, and quite close to the record low level. River barges carry the equivalent of approximately 70 truckloads of cargo each, so if the rivers are unable to carry the freight, that puts a heavier load on the nation's railroads and highways.

How to manage high sludge volumes from an SBR
August 23, 2012

The first entry in our new solutions section of the site is a description of methods for handling high sludge volumes produced by a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) plant. Have a problem for which you need a solution? Contact us and let us know.

Past water and wastewater news updates