January 2021 Vol. 76 No. 1




Underground Construction regrets that HardRock Directional Drilling LLC was inadvertently omitted from the 2020 Large HDD Rig Census in the November issue.  
The full information is presented below. 

HardRock Directional Drilling, LLC 

11015 Perrin Beitel Road 

San Antonio, TX 78217 

p: (210) 403-2086 

w: hardrockhdd.com 

e: cory.baker@hardrockhdd.com 

contact: Cory Baker 

12 Rigs with Minimum 100,000 lbs. Pullback 

Maximum Pipe Diameter: 54 in. 

Maximum Pullback: 1,000,000 lbs. 

Maximum Torque: 98,000 ft./lbs. 

HardRock has 35 rigs, ranging from 24,000 pounds of pull back for smaller jobs, to 1-million-pound rigs for the largest jobs. Handling entire projects as a one-stop shop, we also help on engineering and consulting with owners to make sure all their HDDs and road bores are constructible and successful. 


Flint Makes Strides to End Water Crisis 

Flint has taken important steps toward resolving the lead contamination crisis that made the impoverished Michigan city a symbol of the drinking water problems that plague many U.S. communities, officials said. 

A total of $120 million in federal and state funding has helped Flint replace more than 9,700 lead service lines, which carry water from main pipes into homes, said Kurt Thiede, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5, which includes Michigan. 

Fewer than 500 service lines remain to be checked — a task the city hopes to complete this month, he said. The search-and-replace operation, involving more than 26,000 digs,  
was required under a 2017 settlement of a lawsuit filed by Flint residents and nonprofit groups against the city and state. 

Flint also has finished most actions required under an emergency order the EPA issued in 2016, including the completion of a study on proper treatments to prevent water pipe corrosion and the regular sampling of water from homes that still have lead service lines, Thiede said. 

The remaining steps should be completed soon, “marking the end of what has been a rather dark and challenging time,” he said during an online news conference. 


Wastewater Spills into Puget Sound After Operating Error 

A recent operating error caused less than 15,000 gallons of wastewater to spill into Puget Sound. 

The error happened during routine testing at the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle, according to King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division. An emergency bypass gate opened for three minutes, allowing the overflow to spill, KING5 News reported. 

The public is advised to avoid contact with the water at Discovery Park, which is near the sewage spill. The beach near the treatment plant is closed pending water quality results, and Public Health – Seattle & King County issued a no water contact advisory, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology. 

King County employees collected water samples and posted signs near the outfall pipe, according to the county. 

King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles praised the treatment division for their fast action to stop the spill. 

“I’m disheartened to learn that an accident at the West Point Treatment Plant has caused yet another discharge of raw sewage into the Salish Sea,” she said in a press release. “Fortunately, the discharge could have been a lot worse but, unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened, and it may not be the last.” 


Enbridge to Begin Line 3 Replacement Project 

Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project can now start construction in Minnesota after receiving all necessary permits and approvals. 

“This is a historic day for the Line 3 project which will strengthen the safety of the system for years to come,” said Vern Yu Enbridge executive vice president and president of Liquid Pipelines. “With all of the permits in hand, we can now start construction.” 

“Safety remains our top priority, and we will be implementing an industry leading COVID management plan to protect our workforce and the communities in which we will be working,” said Yu. 

The project is poised to provide significant economic benefits for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members – bringing 4,200 family-sustaining, mostly local construction jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and additional tax revenues at a time when Northern Minnesota needs it most. 


Pittsburgh Agency Admits Pumping Sludge into Allegheny River 

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has admitted violating the Clean Water Act when workers illegally pumped sludge into the Allegheny River between 2010 and 2017. 

The authority on Wednesday pleaded guilty to federal charges, including falsifying written reports to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Under terms of a plea agreement, the authority has agreed to pay $500,000 into a self-funded compliance program and must submit annual reports and face audits while on probation for three years, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said. 

The authority also is barred from raising rates to pay the fine. 

“We are not allowing PWSA to pass on the cost of their failures to the city of Pittsburgh,” Brady said. 

In a statement, the authority said the actions did not threaten the city’s water quality. 

“Both compliance issues raised in the investigation have been rectified and had no impact on the quality or safety of the drinking water. The authority has altered the treatment plant to make these discharges to the river physically impossible.” 


Gas Pipeline Project Halted Amid Pandemic 

A natural gas pipeline that would have connected an oil field in New Mexico and Texas to markets in the Gulf Coast has been halted as the fossil fuel industry struggles during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Officials with Permian Global Access Pipeline, a subsidiary of Houston-based natural gas producer Tellurian, withdrew its application to build the 625-mile (1,005-kilometer) pipeline, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported. 

The pipeline would have crossed 24 Texas counties and four Louisiana parishes to transport natural gas stemming from the Permian Basin in west Texas and southeast New Mexico, officials said. 

Several countries and states enacted travel bans and other business restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, resulting in declining oil and gas prices as people are using less fuel around the world. 

As a result, many major oil and gas projects were stopped as companies sought to cut spending, including the pipeline project. 

Permian Global Access Pipeline LLC President Joey Mahmoud said that current market conditions meant the project was not financially viable and that the company could resume if the market recovers. 


WRDA Package Does Not Include Infrastructure Investment 

The Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) has been released by Congress which fails to include the Clean Water Infrastructure investment. 

Over the past several cycles, this bill has become the vehicle of choice for authorizing essential funding for clean and drinking water infrastructure. While both the House and Senate Committee versions of WRDA 2020 included clean water investment, the conferenced language released is limited to the Army Corps of Engineers titles. 

This bill was a chance for Congress to provide much needed new funding for the public clean water sector. Unfortunately, support for public clean water utilities was left out entirely. 

Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s General Counsel and Chief Advocacy Officer, issued the following statement: 

“It is disappointing Congress was unable to provide needed new funding for public clean water utilities in the final WRDA package, especially given the amazing work these utilities have done on the front lines of public health protection since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“While NACWA is appreciative of the additional funding the House and Senate supported in bipartisan fashion this Congress in their individual WRDA bills, the failure to find agreement in the final package is a disservice to public clean water utilities all across the nation. 

“Public clean water utilities have put their lives and revenue on the line to protect public health and the environment during the crisis. Congress’s inability to ultimately authorize clean water investment that already had bipartisan support will present serious challenges as the public clean water sector struggles to go it alone without new support from the federal government. NACWA looks forward to working with Congress to address this issue immediately when it reconvenes in January.” 


Collaboration Explores Development of Recycled Water Project 

In a step toward a new collaboration in the Colorado River Basin, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern Nevada Water Authority are partnering to explore development of a drought-proof water supply that could reduce reliance on the over-stressed river. 

Under an agreement approved by Metropolitan’s Board of Directors and SNWA’s Board of Directors, SNWA will contribute up to $6 million for environmental planning of the Regional Recycled Water Program, a proposed large-scale project to produce high quality water from purified wastewater. 

Metropolitan has been developing the RRWP for more than a decade in partnership with the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County. In November, Metropolitan’s board voted to initiate environmental planning work for the project, at a cost of about $30 million. SNWA’s contribution will help offset these costs. 

“We’re exploring a new way of working together in the Colorado River Basin,” Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said. “We’re still in the planning and testing phase, but if this water recycling project is ultimately built, the initial investment by SNWA could lead to an interstate exchange of new locally produced water, increasing resiliency for both agencies.” 

While the RRWP would provide a valuable drought-proof water supply within the region, the cost to develop the program would require a significant financial investment. Partnerships with agencies in California and beyond would reduce the impacts of that full financial burden on Metropolitan, Kightlinger explained, and help ensure that full build out of the RRWP would be achievable. 

If fully realized, the RRWP would produce up to 150 million gallons of water daily – the amount used by more than 500,000 homes –  
by taking cleaned wastewater and purifying it using innovative treatment processes. It would be one of the largest advanced water treatment plants in the world. 

The project could help address an imbalance on the Colorado River, where demands from cities and farms outstrip supplies. This imbalance could increase as climate change is projected to reduce the river’s flows. The issue will be center stage when Colorado River Basin states begin renegotiating the river’s operating guidelines, set to expire in 2026. Coordination and collaboration among the basin states will be critical during these negotiations, including the potential of supply augmentation projects like the RRWP. 


San Diego Approves Pilot to Develop Rapid Stormwater Monitoring Device 

A pilot project withFREDsense Technologies Corp.has been approved by the Port of San Diego to develop a portable five-in-one field-testing sensor device to provide real-time metals analysis for stormwater monitoring. 

The project’s approach will help stormwater programs by providing real-time data in the field, enabling adjustments to Best Management Practices (BMPs) quicker than with laboratory data that can take several weeks for results. 

Manual stormwater monitoring methods can be complex, timely, and expensive. The goal of the pilot project is for FREDsense to be simple to utilize, automated, and provide rapid results within minutes. It is also expected to result in a cost savings for the Port. 

In Memoriam: Mark Van Houwelingen 

Mark “Charlie” Van Houwelingen, of Knoxville, Iowa, died Nov. 17, at age 77. 

Born and raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, he attended Pella High School. Following that, he joined the United States Marines Corp. and served for six months before being medically discharged due to knee problems. 

He worked at Red Rock Dam, Iowa Power & Light and as a car salesman, before becoming employed at Vermeer Corporation in Pella. He worked there for over 30 years until his retirement. He was always interested in new technology and finding solutions for challenges associated with horizontal directional drilling (HDD). In fact, he was a named inventor on several patents resulting from development that occurred in the late 1990s to early 2000s. 

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Nancy Van Houwelingen; son Doug and family; daughter Teri Carson and family; stepchildren Lisa Modlin and Dennis Rowley, and families; including 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

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