June 2022 Vol. 77 No. 6



Flint announces completion of $17 million secondary water pipeline project 

Mayor Sheldon Neeley of Flint, Mich., announced that a $17 million secondary water pipeline project, which will ensure the city a backup water source in emergencies, is complete, Flint Beat reported. 

The announcement came eight years after the start of the Flint water crisis, the article states. 

The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the city began taking water from the Flint River without treating it properly, contaminating it with lead, the Associated Press reported. Former Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint in 2016. Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials are facing charges connected to the lead-contaminated water and deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. 

Neeley said in a press release that the secondary water pipeline is another step toward rebuilding trust in the Flint community. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires having a second pipeline to be used in case of an emergency. Now, Flint has the primary pipeline connected to the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), and a secondary pipeline connected to the Genesee County Drain Commission (GCDC), Flint Beat reported. Both organizations source their water from Lake Huron. 

Michigan provided more than $350 million to Flint, in addition to the $100 million from the federal government, to help with water quality improvements, pipeline replacement, healthcare and more. Flint has conducted excavations to determine service line material composition at about 95 percent of the residential locations. The service line replacement program is scheduled to be completed in 2022. 

EPA, NJ announce $588M in water infrastructure spending 

More than half a billion dollars in federal and state funds will go to nearly 30 water systems in New Jersey, serving about 6 million residents, or about two-thirds of the state’s population, officials said Friday. 

The combined federal and state funding of $588 million in low-interest loans will cover an array of projects: In Newark, the state’s biggest city, some $25 million will go toward lead service line replacement; in suburban Philadelphia’s Moorestown at the North Church Street Water Treatment Plant, where officials unveiled the funding on Friday, about $20 million will cover new filters to remove radium and other toxins from water; in rural Clinton, a water system is getting almost $3 million as part of a water main extension project. 

The funding includes $221 million from the Environmental Protection Agency under a 2014 law known as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The remainder comes from a mix of state funding and from the sale of bonds from the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, a state authority that finances road, water and other projects. 

Long Beach, NY officials approve $123M to reroute sewage out of channel 

Long Beach City Council members approved a $123 million bond on Tuesday for a fully federally and state-funded project to reroute the city’s sewage out of Reynolds Channel, according to Newsday newspaper. 

The bonds, to be reimbursed through federal and state funds, will be used to convert the city’s current wastewater treatment plant into a pump station and build a 3.5-mile pipeline under Reynolds Channel that connects to the Nassau County treatment plant at Bay Park in East Rockaway. 

“This is one of the most regional significant effects we’ll see in our lifetime. It’s going to eliminate seven million gallons of wastewater pumped into the bay. It will eliminate nitrogen and be a benefit for the ecosystem and the community,” Long Beach Public Works Commissioner Joe Febrizio said. “In three years, the city will be out of the sewer business.” 

Long Beach’s conversion is part of a three-part $500 million project that will transfer Nassau County’s sewage from Bay Park, 11 miles under Sunrise Highway, to the Cedar Creek treatment plant in Wantagh before being pumped through a 3-mile outfall pipe into the Atlantic Ocean. 

In addition to the Bay Park Conveyance Project, plans also would look to install sewers in Point Lookout, where most waste is being transferred through leeching basins, Febrizio said. 

Officials said the project, which has been 14 years in the making, would reduce ammonia and nitrogen levels in the bay. By transferring the sewage, the project would remove 5 million gallons of treated sewage the city pumps daily into the bay and 65 million gallons treated and pumped into Reynolds Channel at Bay Park. 

The 19,000-foot pipeline will connect the new Long Beach pump station to Bay Park and decommission the rest of the city’s sewer treatment facilities. It also would open 4 acres of city-owned bayfront property on Reynolds Channel near the Long Beach Recreation Center by Long Island Rail Road tracks, facing Harbor Isle and Island Park. 

The city is under a consent decree to finish the project with the Department of Environmental Conservation and has permits to solicit bids for construction. 

Gas Technology Institute rebrands as GTI Energy 

The Gas Technology Institute has updated its name to GTI Energy to reflect the breadth of its mission and capabilities across energy systems. 

GTI Energy was built on its legacy of natural gas research to provide a portfolio of research, services, and training focused on scaling low-carbon, low-cost energy solutions that leverage gases, liquids, infrastructure, and efficiency. 

“Our track record as a science-based problem-solver is what makes GTI Energy a preferred partner when technical expertise, proven solutions, and impact at-scale are needed,” David Carroll, CEO of GTI Energy, said. “We felt it was time that our brand identity reflected the breadth of our involvement across energy systems.” 

GTI Energy is focused on developing, scaling, and deploying energy transition solutions that improve lives, economies, and the environment. GTI Energy embraces systems thinking, open learning, and collaboration to bring solutions from concept to market, with more than 1,000 patents secured throughout its 80-year history. 

“Our purpose-driven research and services deliver demonstrated solutions that protect air, land, water, and communities, while enhancing economic growth,” Paula Gant, senior vice president for strategy & innovation at GTI Energy, said. “Our trusted team of scientists, engineers, and partners engages with the broader innovation ecosystem to create and operationalize the innovations needed for low-carbon and low-cost energy systems.” 

Congress considering investigation of DC’s water supply 

A Washington, D.C. based congresswoman introduced provisions to the Water Resources Development Act that would study whether D.C. needs to increase its water supply, a local FOX television station reported. 

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is a biennial legislation that authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers activities for flood control, navigation and ecosystem restoration. 

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., introduced the provisions in the interest of discovering whether D.C. needs another water reservoir. Currently, D.C.’s water comes from the Potomac River, then it is stored in the only reservoir, the Washington Aqueduct, until it is distributed to the city. 

Norton is concerned about there being only one reservoir and water source, the article states. 

“Contrast that to cities like New York, San Francisco, which have at least two supplies and are looking for a third one. So we are  
in a bind,” Norton said. 

The Potomac River has been a reliable water source used since around the time of the Civil War, said Michael Nardolilli with the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, but climate change has led to less predictable circumstances. 

Magellan kicks off fiber construction in US 

Magellan, which develops next-generation fiber networks, has commenced the design and construction of fiber-to-the home-networks, worth over $250 million. 

It is constructing the broadband network in rural and urban communities across six states in the U.S. for a mix of utilities, municipalities, tribes and independent telco clients. 

“As the wave of new fiber deployments continues, we are here to support our clients’ needs throughout the entire process,” John Honker, president of Magellan, said. “We’ve invested in the resources to support these large-scale fiber networks, giving our clients a single partner that manages every aspect of planning, designing and building fiber-to-the-home networks.” 

With these projects, nearly 100,000 rural people and 150,000 urban people will gain access to fiber broadband services that have speeds up to 1 gigabit. 

This new fiber broadband network will cover a total of 3,000 miles. 

In February, Magellan bagged a contract to design and manage the construction broadband network of Empower Broadband. 

This $154 million project will provide broadband services to Halifax, Mecklenburg, southern Brunswick and southern Charlotte counties in Virginia. 

California Coastal Commission rejects bid for $1.4B desalination plant 

The California Coastal Commission has voted unanimously against approving a permit for the Poseidon Water desalination facility in Huntington Beach. The $1.4 billion project had been in the works for two decades. 

In denying Poseidon a permit, the commission demonstrated its independence from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration – a supporter of the plant. The decision signaled that high costs, vocal opposition and hazards such as sea-level rise can present major hurdles for large desalination plants on the California coast. 

The project would’ve provided 50 million gallons of drinking water for Orange County residents every day by using reverse osmosis  
to remove the salt from ocean water, according to Poseidon Water. 

However, the project encompassed a list of contentious issues including the proposed plant’s effects on marine life, its vulnerability to sea-level rise and the company’s heavy political lobbying. 

Poseidon’s opponents argued the desalinated water is unnecessary because northern Orange County already has ample groundwater supply and is recycling its wastewater. They said the project would only benefit Canadian parent company Brookfield Infrastructure and its investors, while low-income people would be hit especially hard by rate increases. 

The company said the costs had yet to be finalized but that monthly water rates could increase by roughly $3 to $6 per household. The commission’s staff concluded that despite a lack of detailed information on costs, the water rate hike for the project “would disproportionately impact millions of low-income residents.” 

Los Angeles wastewater tunnel receives $441 million EPA 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 aging 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. The EPA expects 2,880 local jobs will be created by the project. 

El Paso Water completes Rio Grande sewage clean-up 

El Paso Water and its partners have completed 100 percent of the riverbed clean-up effort following the Frontera Wastewater Emergency. Work remains to continue the characterization and removal of soils from the banks of the river. 

“As agreed upon with our partners, when the water is released from Elephant Butte, the river will be ready,” said Gilbert Trejo, Interim Chief Operations Officer for Production and Treatment. 

Approximately six to 12 inches of impacted soil has been removed from portions of the riverbed. The piles are stockpiled on the riverbank to dry out so they can be tested and transported for proper disposal. This work will continue for weeks as thousands of truck loads remove the piles. 

Water quality sampling shows that river flows have returned to pre-discharge conditions. The clean-up efforts have required a large collaboration with many partners. 

EPWater proactively started remediation work at the Frontera Force Mains in 2020. Beginning on Aug. 13, 2021, when the remediation work that began in 2020 was 60% complete, the utility experienced multiple breaks to the Frontera Force Mains. Additional breaks forced EPWater to make the difficult decision to divert wastewater to the Rio Grande. The utility reported the initial wastewater emergency to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and has maintained regular contact with the agency throughout the process. 

Arizona nuclear plant seeking alternative source of water 

The largest nuclear power plant in the U.S. is still looking for an alternative water source after scuttling plans to pump brackish groundwater west of Phoenix it first pursued in 2019. 

The Palo Verde Generating Station is the only nuclear plant in the world not adjacent to a large body of water to cool the plant. Instead, it uses reclaimed water piped more than 35 miles (56 kilometers) across the desert. 

That water is getting more expensive, and to keep the plant economical, Arizona Public Service Co. is exploring ways to use it wiser, including a test project with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this summer, the Arizona Republic reported. 

The plant uses about 65 million gallons of treated wastewater every day — more than 23 billion gallons a year — to generate electricity. 

The contract with cities to sell the plant the treated wastewater runs through 2050 and gets more expensive after 2025. 

The water from the 91st Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant cost $53 an acre-foot in 2010. It will cost $300 an acre-foot in 2025. Starting in 2026, water rates will be set using a tiered formula, rising with water use. 

Another option APS is reviewing is adding another water-treatment facility to the nuclear plant. 

The wastewater that Palo Verde receives is treated before it’s used at the plant. Water is usually cycled through the plant and cooling towers about 25 times before it becomes too saline for another use. 

Once the chemistry of the water makes it unusable in the plant, it is pumped to massive evaporation ponds on the property where it simply dries up. 

Big US energy transmission projects inch closer to approval 

The federal government has finished another environmental review of a proposed transmission line that will carry wind-generated electricity from rural New Mexico to big cities in the West and similar reviews are planned for two more projects that would span parts of Utah and Nevada, the U.S. Interior Department announced Thursday. 

The SunZia transmission project in New Mexico has been more than a decade in the making. After an initial review over several years, the Bureau of Land Management authorized a right-of-way grant on federal lands. 

That had to be revisited when developers in 2021 submitted a new application modifying the route after the U.S. Defense Department and others raised concerns about the path of the high-voltage lines. 

A final decision on the right of way application is expected this summer, following a public comment period. 

The Biden administration is just the latest to promise speeding up development and modernization of the nation’s energy infrastructure through expedited federal permitting and regulatory reforms. Former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump also vowed to roll back bureaucracy. 

While the other two transmission projects are in the early stages of the regulatory process, the experience in New Mexico illustrates the complicated nature of getting electricity from remote areas to population centers. 

The siting of hundreds of miles of transmission lines and electric substations often involve a checkerboard of private, state and federal land that sometimes include environmentally sensitive areas. 

Federal officials said Thursday that the projects have the potential to move 10,000 megawatts of electricity generated by wind and solar resources. 

Ice storms, hurricanes, wildfires and other extreme weather have knocked out large parts of U.S. electrical networks with increasing frequency in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis that found power outages from severe weather doubled over  
the past two decade. 

The proposed Greenlink West Transmission Project in Nevada would run through seven counties from Las Vegas to Reno. 

NV Energy has said its investment of more than $2.5 billion in the project is expected to generate $690 million in economic activity and generate thousands of construction jobs.

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