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Warriors, Welding and Wooing the Workforce

Warriors, Welding and Wooing the Workforce

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Train Named Executive President of Emerson Automation Solutions


Emerson recently named new senior leadership appointments to its Office of the Chief Executive who now report directly to chairman and CEO David N. Farr, and help develop and guide the company’s global strategies.

Michael H. Train’s new title is executive president of Emerson Automation Sol...


All-Pro Fasteners Receives Monogram Licensing


All-Pro Threaded Products, an All-Pro Fasteners company, received the official API Q1 registration and on September 23, 2016 become the second of only two within the industry to have obtained both the API 20E & 20F monogram licenses.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has confirmed that All-Pro...


New 2017 Construction Starts Increasing 5% to $713 Billion


The 2017 Dodge Construction Outlook predicts that total U.S. construction starts for 2017 will advance 5% to $713 billion, following gains of 11% in 2015 and an estimated 1% in 2016.

Manufacturing plant construction will increase 6%, beginning to recover after steep declines in 2015 and 2016 that refle...


U.S. Natural Gas Production Gives Back August Gains in September


U.S. natural gas production levels in the lower 48 states declined by nearly 1.2% in September 2016 compared to August 2016 levels, according to analysis from IHS Markit. September’s decline drops year-to-date production levels 1% compared to the same period in 2015.

Overall, lower 48 U.S. dry ga...


BCG: Technology Matters to Economic Growth


Despite its starring role in business and everyday life, many economists openly question whether technology is visible in traditional economic metrics such as GDP, productivity, and corporate profits.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows that, on the contrary, declines in technology investment are f...


Mid-Atlantic Manufacturing Activity Expands More Than Expected


Results from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s October Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing conditions continued to improve. Indexes for general activity, new orders, and shipments were all positive this month. But firms in the Mid-Atlantic region re...


Making Progress On Improving Our Aging Water Infrastructure


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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