December 2023 Vol. 78 No.11



Second tunnel-boring machine breaks through at future Oak-VGH Station in Canada 

The second tunnel-boring machine has broken through at the future Oak-VGH Station, signaling a new milestone for the Broadway Subway Project. 

The machine, named Elsie, broke through the station’s east wall just after 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, following the project’s other tunnel-boring machine, Phyllis, which arrived on Oct. 12. Phyllis and Elsie have each bored two 1.24miles of parallel tunnels and together have installed more than 2,600 concrete tunnel-liner rings since departing from Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station. Phyllis is preparing to launch towards South Granville shortly, while Elsie will follow once scheduled maintenance is complete. 

The Oak-VGH Station is the fourth of six underground stations along the future Broadway subway corridor. 

The Broadway Subway Project is a 3.5-mile extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to West Broadway and Arbutus Street, providing people with fast, convenient SkyTrain service along the Broadway corridor. The corridor is home to B.C.’s second-largest jobs center, world-class health-care services, an emerging innovation and research hub, and growing residential neighborhoods. 

The project means faster travel, better access to businesses and services, and fewer cars on the road, which will relieve congestion on this heavily used corridor. Once in service, the trip between VCC-Clark and Arbutus stations will take 11 minutes, saving the average public transit commuter almost 30 minutes a day. 

USIC collaborates to align locating resources with BEAD infrastructure deployment 

USIC announced that is collaborating with state broadband leaders and internet service providers (ISP) to ensure the utility locating resources required to support nationwide broadband deployment funded by $42.45 billion in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program grants over the next five years. 

“As the states work to develop and refine their five-year action plans for administering the BEAD Program and ISPs plan infrastructure deployment, the need to address utility locating resources is critical to protecting existing underground infrastructure, ensuring the safety of excavators and the public, and meeting project timeline requirements,” USIC Vice President of Government Affairs Nancy Mitchell commented. 

USIC provides public utility locating (811) services in 48 states with a team of more than 10,000 locate technicians, each of whom must undergo six weeks of training to become certified and up to six months of on-the-job-training to become proficient, underscoring the need to prepare well in advance to support historic levels of broadband deployment. This is especially critical in rural areas with potentially fewer locate technicians and smaller labor forces. 

Among the BEAD Program five-year actions plans published by state broadband offices to date, many recognize the impending impact of the nation’s labor shortage as it pertains to information and communications technology workers and address the challenge with plans for workforce development programming. USIC has begun collaborating with broadband leaders to explore opportunities for utility locators to participate in such programming to build a workforce aligned with broadband deployment in their state. 

Pennsylvania American Water files rate request driven by $1 billion 

Pennsylvania American Water filed a rate adjustment request on Nov. 8 with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission reflecting $1 billion in water and wastewater system investments to be made through mid-2025 to continue providing safe and reliable service. 

If the company’s proposed rates are approved as requested, the monthly water bill for the average residential customer would increase by approximately $17 per month, the average monthly residential wastewater bill for sanitary sewer service would decrease by approximately $5 per month, and the average monthly residential wastewater bill for combined sewer service would increase by approximately $4 per month. 

Any new rates would not take effect until August 2024 except for certain recently acquired systems, where the rate increases are proposed to take effect at later dates. 

“There is tremendous need for significant and costly improvements to the Commonwealth’s water and wastewater infrastructure, and Pennsylvania American Water is playing a key role by making necessary investments and replacing century-old pipes, pumps, and treatment facilities,” said Pennsylvania American Water President Justin Ladner. “We do this judiciously and with customer affordability in mind, which is why we’re also proposing to make more customers eligible for our bill assistance programs and mitigate increases for wastewater service.” 

Century-old sewer system in Manning, S.C., to receive $10 million overhaul 

Manning, S.C., a city with a charter dating back to 1861, is gearing up for a substantial upgrade of its underground infrastructure. The city has earmarked nearly $20 million for this endeavor, set to commence in the coming year, The Post and Courier Pee Dee reported. 

The primary focus of this effort is the sewer system, with an estimated project cost exceeding $10 million, and the city is planning to advertise for bids on this project in June. 

The age of Manning's infrastructure is a significant concern, with some parts of the system being more than a century old. It's worth noting that the projected cost of replacing approximately six blocks of sewer lines, predominantly in the downtown area, is equivalent to the entire annual budget of the city. 

In addition to the sewer project, Manning is also slated to use approximately $8 million in grant funds for drainage improvements. A South Carolina Infrastructure Investment Program (SCIIP) grant of $8.5 million, combined with $1.5 million from the city, will fund a sewer project that involves roughly 8,200 linear feet of gravity sewer lines. Notably, the city isn't required to repay the grant funds, and the project is currently in the design phase. 

According to The Post and Courier Pee Dee, City Administrator Scott Tanner acknowledged the financial challenges, saying, “We’ve been looking at this for a while, but $10 million is a lot of money for a small municipality like ours.” 

To address the aging infrastructure, the city will take a case-by-case approach. Some pipes may be replaced entirely, while others may receive new lining to restore them to like-new conditions, thus avoiding the need to dig up the roads above them. 

Numerous significant buildings and locations in Manning are impacted by the aging sewer system. This includes City Hall, the Clarendon County Courthouse, the city's fire and police departments, downtown businesses, the Clarendon County Library, and single-family residences. 

The first phase of the drainage improvement initiative is expected to be open for bidding in early 2024, while construction on the sewer line project is slated to begin in August 2024. 

Chicago to replace 30,000 lead pipes with $336 million WIFIA loan 

On Nov. 3, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced a $336 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the city of Chicago. With help from this financing, the water department will replace up to 30,000 lead pipes that deliver water to homes across the city while creating an estimated 2,700 jobs. 

Chicago will use the WIFIA loan to assist with replacing lead service lines serving single family homes and small multi-unit buildings citywide whenever there is a leak or break on a lead line or when performing water and sewer main updates. Although Chicago’s water is in compliance with state and federal safety regulations, the city is committed to replacing all the legacy lead lines to help ensure that the water system is lead-free for generations to come.  

The WIFIA loan will be distributed over three years at $112 million a year. By offering the city flexible loan terms, Chicago will be able to maintain affordable water rates while replacing lead service lines. 

Chicago currently offers five replacement programs. The Equity Program replaces lead service lines for income-qualified residents; the Homeowner-Initiated Program waives up to $5,000 in permit fees; the Daycare Program replaces lines for licensed daycares; the Leaks and Breaks Program will replace lead lines whenever there is a leak or break on a resident’s line; and the Block-Long Program replaces lines when water or sewer mains are updated. 

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan program administered by EPA. The WIFIA program’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. 

EPA to accelerate nationwide lead pipe removal through new GLO initiative 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced the Get the Lead Out (GLO) Initiative that will help ensure safer drinking water. Through the GLO initiative, which is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is in partnership with the Department of Labor, EPA will partner with 200 underserved communities nationwide to provide the technical assistance they need to identify and remove lead service lines. 

GLO will specifically help participating communities identify lead services lines, develop replacement plans, and apply for funding to get the lead out. Communities seeking to access GLO Initiative resources can request assistance by completing the WaterTA request form on EPA’s WaterTA website. 

Signed in 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a historic $50 billion investment in water and wastewater infrastructure, dedicating more than $15 billion to replacing lead service lines. EPA is committed to ensuring every community, particularly underserved and disadvantaged communities, can access their fair share of this unprecedented investment through a robust portfolio of Water Technical Assistance (WaterTA) programs, such as GLO. Through its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan and Get the Lead Out Partnership, the removal of lead service lines is a top priority, with a goal of replacing 100 percent of lead service lines.  

The GLO Initiative also builds on EPA’s “Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators” initiative, which is in partnership with the Department of Labor, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Through the Accelerators, EPA provides hands-on support to guide 40 communities in those states through the process of lead service line removals, from start to finish. This includes support in developing lead service line replacement plans, conducting inventories to identify lead pipes, increasing community outreach and education efforts, and supporting applications for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding. As a result, more communities will be able to access their fair share of federal funds to secure a lead-free future. 

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