July 2022 Vol. 77 No. 7



Colorado Developer Progressing Plans for $2.3 Billion Water Pipeline 

A development group based in Colorado has secured an infrastructure partnership for a 338-mile pipeline it wants to build, BizWest reported. 

The project would pipe water from the Green River-fed Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah and Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range, and could cost up to $2.3 billion, according to the report. 

Water Horse Resources, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, is hoping to develop the pipeline and has secured Florida-based construction company MasTec Inc. as a development partner. 

“MasTec will lead construction of the company’s proposed 338-mile, minimum 55,000-acre-foot pipeline to deliver water from the Green River, a tributary of the upper Colorado River Basin, to Colorado’s Front Range for agriculture, municipal and environmental in-stream flows benefiting the Poudre and South Platte River systems,” according to a Water Horse Resources press release. 

Water Horse Resources founder and CEO Aaron Miller proposed the pipeline project almost 20 years ago. 

EPA Announces $6.5 Billion in Funding for Water Infrastructure Projects 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that 2022 funding of up to $6.5 billion will be available for its Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and State Infrastructure Financing Authority (SWIFIA) programs. 

The money will support $13 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 40,000 jobs, the agency said. The notices of funding availability include $5.5 billion for the WIFIA program and an additional $1 billion for the SWIFIA program. 

This round of funding will prioritize funding in four areas: Increasing investment in economically stressed communities; making rapid progress on lead service line replacement; addressing PFAs and emerging contaminants; and supporting water innovation and resilience. 

To make WIFIA funding more adaptive to ongoing community needs, EPA is changing the way it accepts letters of interest from prospective borrowers. Letters of interest may be submitted by prospective borrowers and received by the EPA at any time on or after Sept. 6, 2022. The submission period will close when all available funds are committed to prospective borrowers. Since letters will be evaluated as they are received, the EPA encourages submissions at the beginning of the availability period. 

To date, EPA has closed 88 WIFIA loans that are providing over $15 billion in credit assistance to help finance nearly $33 billion for water infrastructure. 

Caterpillar Relocates Global HQ Out of Illinois 

Caterpillar Inc. announced in June that it will move its global headquarters to the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Irving from its current location in Deerfield, Illinois. 

“We believe it’s in the best strategic interest of the company to make this move, which supports Caterpillar’s strategy for profitable growth as we help our customers build a better, more sustainable world,” said Jim Umpleby, chairman and CEO. 

Caterpillar has had a presence in Texas since the 1960s across several areas of the company. Illinois remains the largest concentration of Caterpillar employees anywhere in the world. 

The company will begin transitioning its headquarters to Irving this year, it said. 

Water Company Fined $1.2 Million for Sewage Discharge into Rio Grande 

The New Mexico Environment Department said it has fined El Paso Water $1.2 million for allegedly discharging more than 1 billion gallons of raw sewage into the Rio Grande in Sunland Park. 

The state compliance orders require El Paso Water to fix the problems that caused the illegal diversion and clean up the impacted areas. 

Environment Department officials said El Paso Water illegally discharged up to 10 million gallons of raw wastewater daily into the river last August. They said sewage traveled downstream along the New Mexico-Texas border for nearly 2 miles, and the illegal discharge didn’t stop until January. 

El Paso Water is accused of not reporting the unauthorized discharge to state environmental officials, in violation of the Water Quality Act and Water Quality Control Commission regulations. 

County Approves 34-mile Underground Tunnel Network in Las Vegas 

The Clark County Commissioners have approved the Vegas Loop, a 34-mile transportation system that will run underneath downtown Las Vegas, the Boring Company told MSN. 

Plans originally called for a 29-mile tunnel network connecting 51 stations, but five miles and four stations were added, including ones that will serve the city’s airport and the Allegiant Stadium. 

Construction on the tunneling system is expected to begin in 2023, Boring Co. President Steve Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

Currently, only 1.7 miles of the Vegas Loop are operational underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), however, LVCC and Visitors Authority CEO Steve Hill said he expects more portions serving parts of the  
Resort Corridor to be operational in 2023. 

North Dakota Extends Deadline for Gas Pipeline Proposals 

A panel that regulates North Dakota’s energy industry voted to extend the deadline for proposals to build a natural gas pipeline from western North Dakota’s oil patch to the eastern part of the state. 

The three-member, all-Republican North Dakota Industrial Commission headed by Gov. Doug Burgum moved the deadline for proposals to Aug. 15 after no applications were received by the previous May deadline. 

The North Dakota Legislature in November set aside $150 million in federal coronavirus aid to help construct such a trans-state pipeline for natural gas. The idea, pushed by Burgum, was to help cut down on the wasteful flaring at oil well sites and pipe it to communities in the gas-poor eastern part of the state, hoping to spur industrial development. 

WBI Energy, a subsidiary of Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group, said the project was not viable due to regulatory uncertainty, limited in-state demand and rising construction, labor and land-acquisition costs. MDU Resources is North Dakota’s only Fortune 500 company. 

NM Reaches $32 Million Settlement over Mine Wastewater Spill 

New Mexico and the U.S. government have reached a $32 million settlement over a 2015 mine spill that polluted rivers in three western states. 

The release of 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater was caused by Environmental Protection Agency contractors attempting cleanup work at the inactive Gold King Mine site in southwestern Colorado. It sent a bright-yellow plume of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals south to New Mexico, through the Navajo Nation and eventually into Lake Powell in Utah via the San Juan and Animas rivers. 

Water utilities were forced to scramble and shut down intake valves while farmers stopped drawing from the rivers as the contaminants moved downstream. 

Under the New Mexico agreement, the federal government will make cash payments for response costs, environmental restoration and efforts to mitigate the negative perceptions about the area’s rivers following the spill. Money also will go toward water quality monitoring and cleanup activities. 

The state also received $11 million in damages from the mining companies, and the case against the federal contractors involved is pending. 

Vermont OKs $104 Million Budget for Water Infrastructure Projects 

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has signed an $8.1 billion state budget into law that delegates $104 million to water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure projects. 

Scott said the historic levels of federal aid and state surpluses presented a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and said he was grateful to the Legislature. 

The fund was designed to support workforce development, housing, economic development, broadband and efforts to mitigate climate change. It includes $66 million to train and recruit more workers; $96 million for broadband; $104 million in water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure and $40 million in tax relief, Scott said. 

LA Wastewater Tunnel Project Receives $441 Million Federal Loan 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $441 million loan to Los Angeles County to replace a pair of aging wastewater tunnels that are at risk of failure during severe storms and earthquakes. 

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan will be used to combine the two outfall tunnels into one new, 18-foot diameter, 7-mile-long tunnel designed to current seismic standards. The completed tunnel will have a greater capacity for high flows than the existing tunnels. 

The existing tunnels – built in 1937 and 1958 – are responsible for carrying effluent from the sanitation districts’ largest wastewater treatment plant but are beyond their useful life and do not meet current seismic standards, according to the EPA. The agency warned that if the tunnels fail in the event of a storm or earthquake, the treatment plant might need to discharge sewage into surrounding waterways 

The EPA estimates that Los Angeles County will save about $76 million by financing with the WIFIA loan. Construction is expected to be completed in 2027. UC 

Pipe Breaks Leave Texas City Without Drinking Water in Summer Heat 

Photo: City of Odessa

Residents in the West Texas city of Odessa were without water service for about two days in the scorching temperatures of mid-June after an aging, 24-inch pipe main ruptured. 

The city water system’s 165,000 customers’ taps lost pressure or went completely dry after the break on Monday, June 13, according to the city’s social media pages. The city’s water treatment plant was back online by 8 a.m. Wednesday, and it took another half-day to complete the “recharging” process, as staff slowly added water back into the system while monitoring to ensure there were no more leaks. 

The city, located about 330 miles west of Dallas, distributed water to residents at the Ector County Coliseum and delivered water to critical facilities like nursing homes. Water tankers also were placed around the city to respond to any fires, said Deputy City Manager Phillip Urrutia. 

“It’s an aging infrastructure that we’re seeing. It’s a cast iron pipe, and so those are typically more susceptible to breaks than other new technologies like PVC pipe that’s going in the ground,” he said. 

Wright said she hopes the city acts to prevent another water emergency 

“I just hope that they kind of learned we need to get in there, we need to check these lines and repair those that show signs of age and wear and tear,” she said. UC 

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