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August Upfront News & Views

August Upfront News & Views

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    Service Coordinator Mike McDonald was one of nine Little Rock Fleet Services Department employees who volunteered to help local Boy Scouts earn their auto mechanics merit badge. Photo: Darryl Syler

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    This soft ground tunnel will hold 19 million gallons of combined sewer overflows and storm-water, reducing closures at South Boston beaches from three weeks a year to once every five years. Photo: Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

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    New Jersey's Garden State Parkway made almost $250,000 by selling old transit tokens, which recyclers value for their high nickel-silver and brass content. Photo: Osborne Coinage Co.

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    Membranes are submerged below the grating and major process units are enclosed to confine odors at this new water reclamation facility. Photo: Black & Veatch

2.1-mile tunnel bore completed after almost a year

Crowds cheered and the Boston Globe was waiting with photographers when the head of a 17-foot-diameter, custom-made drill that had been at work since last November finally broke through into daylight.

The $148 million project is part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's effort to limit illegal discharges at South Boston beaches to five-year storm events. For decades, combined sewer overflows discharged about 21 times a year at six outfalls along the beaches, while stormwater drained there every time it rained, which is about 95 times a year.

Now, combined sewer and storm-water flows will be stored in the tunnel until a storm subsides, then pumped out and sent to a treatment plant.

The next step is to build an odor control facility for the tunnel and a pump station with connecting force main to dewater the tunnel, a project being designed and built by the Boston Water and Sewer Commission under agreement with the authority.

Highway agency OKs plastic pipe

The Florida DOT has approved Advanced Drainage Systems' N-12 HDPE corrugated pipe for 100-year service life applications, making the company the only HDPE manufacturer in the underground drainage industry to receive such approval.

Building codes key to meeting proposed ADA changes

Under a Safe Harbor Provision, governments that used the original Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines or Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards to update facilities and services would be exempt from changes that have been made to the law since accessibility guidelines were adopted in 2004. Many International Building Codes, which 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted, are identical to the 2004 guidelines.

Garden State cashes in 95 tons of transit tokens

While destroying tokens is usually straightforward, removing the stash that New Jersey's Garden State Parkway collected since transitioning to electronic tolling in 1999 was done under cover of night.

There wasn't room for a “destruction truck” at the Parkway's four storage locations, so Osborne Coinage Co. — the company that originally supplied the tokens — arranged to ship them to a secure recycling facility in Cincinnati. Because the 40-inch doorways aren't wide enough for forklifts, the heavy containers of old tokens were removed by hand and then wrapped to ensure security. Five trucks and trailers were required to haul the tokens, which weighed 190,000 pounds, but because the Parkway doesn't allow tractor-trailers an alternate route was devised.

Crews worked from 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. in a single night on the project.

EPA names outstanding operator

Michael Whitley of Partlow, Va., has received the mid-Atlantic region's Professional Operator Excellence Award for public drinking water providers that serve more than 3,300 customers. Under Whitley, the Hanover County Department of Public Utilities and 14 other public systems have maintained perfect compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act for eight consecutive years.

Construction markets trade places

Although government borrowing has fallen, a USA Today analysis of Commerce Department and Census Bureau statistics shows that federal, state, and local governments could spend a record $300 billion on schools, roads, bridges, and other projects this year. By contrast, in 2005, residential construction generated $481 billion — more than twice what governments spent.

Wastewater utility strikes out on its own

Peoria, Ariz., unveils its largest capital improvement initiative: a $110 million water reclamation facility that incorporates membrane bioreactor technology to expand capacity, when necessary, within a relatively small footprint.

By adding several membrane cassettes, the 10 mgd can be expanded to treat 13 mgd of reclaimed water for artificial aquifer recharge. By recharging the aquifer, the city earns water credits that will allow it to extract the equivalent amount of water from the aquifer in the future. Peoria had handled water treatment jointly with the neighboring town of Tolleson.

“Water is a precious resource, so we concluded that building our own waste-water treatment to retain water credits was necessary to sustain the city's economic development,” says Utilities Director Stephen Bontrager.

Cindy Wallis-Lage, chief of global water technology for facility designer Black & Veatch, says the technology was “central to gaining public acceptance.” Membrane bioreactors combine activated sludge treatment with a membrane liquid-solid separation process that eliminates the need for clarification and tertiary filtration.

Much of the plant, which is surrounded by landscaping on all sides, is below ground level; the city has started design work for a park on adjacent property.