Moment of truth for corn
September 6, 2012

Corn stalks in the Midwest have been so beaten-up by the drought that farmers are starting a very early harvest. Some Illinois farmers were harvesting in mid-August, which is far, far ahead of the usual schedule. It's unusual for Iowa farmers to harvest before mid-September -- the usual peak harvest period is the month of October.

Money for fluoridation
September 10, 2012

The Iowa Department of Public Health has opened a grant program for ten communities to receive $6,000 for water-fluoridation projects. The state recently recognized a dozen Iowa water systems for their fluoridation efforts. The program details and application are available through insurer Delta Dental.

On the need for water-infrastructure investment
September 11, 2012

The head of the private firm that manages the public water system for Davenport, Iowa, has written a letter to the editor describing the need for greater investment in the nation's water infrastructure.

Obviously, we have an interest in that infrastructure investment as manufacturers' representatives for municipal water and wastewater projects. But even if we didn't have a direct interest in that work, our work in the sector has let us seen first-hand how much work needs to be done. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Private well tests at 7 times the maximum recommended nitrate level
September 19, 2012

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services conducted free testing of well-water samples at an event last week in central Nebraska. The department's concerns that the drought had concentrated nitrates in the groundwater proved to be well-founded -- one sample came in at more than seven times the recommended nitrate level. An ad-hoc committee of the Nebraska Section of the American Water Works Association recently addressed the dangers of high nitrate levels in drinking water, as well as some of the solutions for controlling high nitrate levels in public water systems. Unfortunately for people who depend upon private wells, there's little that can affordably be done on a household level to bring nitrates under control. Most of the solutions are expensive and require lots of equipment and investment.

Other communities should take note of Omaha
September 20, 2012

The City of Omaha faces a $2 to $3 billion cost to separate its stormwater and sanitary sewers over the next two decades. The mandate came down from the EPA, and the city can't avoid making the investment. But $3 billion is a huge amount of money to spread out among a community of 408,000 people -- averaged out evenly, that would be $7350 per person. They've managed to get a little bit of Federal funding, but not nearly enough to cover the entire bill. So the city has sought to spread out the costs differently, so that industrial users pay more -- but that, of course, raises costs for those companies. Many of the targeted companies protested, saying the higher costs could put them out of business or force them to move out of town, which in turn would have left the city still facing the same bill, but with a smaller base of potential payers. After two months of mediation, it's now being reported that a deal has been brokered that will involve higher fees than the industrial users had been paying before, but not nearly the same amount they'd been expected to contribute under the original plan.

Other cities need to pay attention to this story -- they may not face exactly the same issues that Omaha does, but it's a case study in what will undoubtedly be a major challenge in the coming years: Paying for expensive infrastructure projects in a way that doesn't put the companies that employ the taxpayers out of work.

Steps towards watershed management in the Iowa/Cedar basin
September 21, 2012

The Cedar River Watershed Coalition is a group mainly composed of government agencies up and down the Iowa and Cedar River basins that are working towards raising public awareness of the need for management of runoff and water use throughout their common watershed area. Comprehensive watershed management has not historically been a high priority in Iowa, but that may be changing with serious floods in 2008, 2010, and 2011 still in mind. 2012 may have been extraordinarily dry, but that may just serve to reinforce the perception that we need to think more strategically about managing our rivers and water resources.

Where did all the water go?
September 25, 2012

The latest water supply update for Iowa is a depressing one: "Statewide rainfall over the past two weeks was the greatest in three months but still less than average". Nobody wants to shovel it, but we're going to need a lot of snow this winter to make up the deficit.

Past water and wastewater news updates