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Last updateTue, 28 Mar 2017 8pm

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Valves Help Enable Net-Zero Water Use

Valves Help Enable Net-Zero Water Use

With drought and climate change affecting ...

Valve Selection in Pulp and Paper Operations

Valve Selection in Pulp and Paper Operations

Over the centuries, the pulp and paper i...

How to Improve Control Valve Performance with Positioners

How to Improve Control Valve Performance with Positioners

As the final control element in most pro...

VMA Technical Event: Engineering Valves in the Extreme

VMA Technical Event: Engineering Valves in the Extreme

While much the 2017 VMA Technical Semina...

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Industry Headlines

Colorado Seeing Surge in Oil & Gas Investments

Tuesday, 28 March 2017  |  Chris Guy

“Drilling applications and investments by oil and gas companies are surging in Colorado after crude prices partially rebounded from their collap...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Opens Second Additive Manufacturing Center

1 DAY AGO

With the goal of spurring innovation to address customers’ engineering design challenges and accelerating speed to market for new, rigorously-tested products, Emerson opened an advanced additive manufacturing center at its Singapore campus. This is Emerson’s second location to have additiv...

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GE Oil & Gas Expands with New Sub Saharan Africa Facility

5 DAYS AGO

GE Oil & Gas opened a new facility in Takoradi Port, Ghana, expanding its global footprint and supporting local investment. The facility, which will be the primary service center for deep-water offshore projects in Ghana, has a 1,600 square meter indoor test area with capability for testing thre...

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Colorado Seeing Surge in Oil & Gas Investments

6 HOURS AGO

“Drilling applications and investments by oil and gas companies are surging in Colorado after crude prices partially rebounded from their collapse in recent years, pushing the industry deeper into residential communities largely unaccustomed to drilling,” the Associated Press is reporting .

&...

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U.S. Specialty Chemicals Markets Accelerated in February

1 DAY AGO

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes rose a strong 0.6% in February. This follows an upwardly revised 0.4% gain in January. Volumes have generally been moving up since May. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA)...

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Four Out of Ten Jobs Could be Lost to Automation by 2021

7 HOURS AGO

Automation is the new norm across sectors and will affect the bottom of pyramid so much so that four out of every 10 jobs globally would be lost due to this by 2021, experts say. As automation adoption increases, all high transaction and labor intensive jobs will take a hit. According to PeopleStrong...

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U.S. Durable Goods Orders Rose 1.7% in February

1 DAY AGO

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $3.9 billion or 1.7% to $235.4 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced . This increase, up two consecutive months, followed a 2.3% January increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.4%. Excluding defense, new or...

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Making Progress On Improving Our Aging Water Infrastructure

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The nation’s utilities are employing rate increases, technology and other tools to maintain and, in some cases, upgrade or replace, our water infrastructure.

The frequency of water leaks and main breaks occurring across the U.S. is increasing at a steep rate as years of unchecked deterioration take their toll on a water infrastructure that, in places, dates back to the second half of the 19th century. Utilities and state and federal agencies are well aware of this growing dilemma. However, the unusually high number of devastating main breaks is significantly increasing public awareness of the dire condition of the country’s water system.

In February 2011, news outlets across the country reported that Kansas City, MO, experienced 467 main breaks this winter alone—a 73% increase in the number of breaks the city experienced during the winter of 2010. Montgomery and Prince George’s County, MD, which deliver water to 1.8 million people, also made news headlines for breaks in their water systems. According to one article, both counties set a record in December 2010 for having the largest number of water main breaks in a single month—647. The following month, Prince George’s County experienced a 54-inch water main break that damaged nearby businesses and leaked an estimated 50 million gallons of water.

While municipal spending on water systems is taking place, much of it is for emergency repair, and it is not nearly enough to cover the estimated spending gap for necessary repairs and replacement. As stated by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in its 2009 report, “America’s drinking water systems face an annual shortfall of at least $11 billion to replace aging facilities that are near the end of their useful lives and to comply with existing and future federal water regulations. This does not account for any growth in the demand for drinking water over the next 20 years.”

To address the shortfalls, municipalities and water utilities are looking at a variety of funding sources, including municipal bond issuance, higher water rates and increasing operational efficiencies.

Municipal bond issuance is a common funding source for water systems. However, some investors have recently expressed concern about the risk of possible municipal defaults. Results of a Reuters poll published in February 2011, found that more than half of Wall Street professionals, including municipal bond traders and investors, anticipate that up to four multibillion-dollar municipal bond defaults will take place this year.

Fortunately, certain investment analysts and ratings agencies have a more optimistic view of municipal bonds that focus on water systems. A recent Fitch Ratings report explained the relatively stable credit quality of water bond issuers. The report cites numerous supporting factors, including the essentiality of water and its monopoly status, which has helped shield the water sector from certain economic factors.

Some analysts say that recovering more of the actual cost of water—if not moving toward full-cost pricing—could be an important avenue to increase the investment needed in our aging water infrastructure. They point out that water rates in the U.S. are typically less than in other developed countries. In fact, results of the International Water Report and Cost Survey, conducted by NUS Consulting Group in 2007, indicated that U.S. water rates were the least expensive at 66 cents per cubic meter average compared to the 13 other developed countries that were surveyed (Denmark’s rates were the highest at $2.25 per cubic meter).

A significant source of funding for water and wastewater comes from the revenues generated by user rates; therefore, pricing water to accurately reflect the costs of providing quality water services is one strategy that utilities are using to maintain infrastructure and encourage conservation.

However, as rates increase, utilities will need to proactively educate consumers on the true value of water to absorb the shock of higher rates and ease consumer acceptance of those rates, according to Avoiding Rate Shock: Making the Case for Water Rates, a study sponsored by the AWWA [American Water Works Association] Water Utility Council. The study found that consumers get upset over rate increases because of misunderstandings about the true value of a safe, adequate supply of water, and that a consistent, structured communications strategy can build support for rate increases.

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