News Briefs: Massive Water Tunnel Project Completed

In this week's news, the WSSC completes work on a $146 million project and Des Moines Water Works moves forward with its lawsuit.
News Briefs: Massive Water Tunnel Project Completed
WSSC engineer John Mitchell stands before a section of 84-inch pipe of the 5.3-mile tunnel now delivering 100 million gallons of water per day. (credit: WSSC)

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After five years of construction, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has completed work on a $146 million, 5.3-mile water pipeline to connect two existing 8-foot water mains. The pipeline has been running at capacity since Feb. 16, delivering 100 mgd to customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, Maryland. By connecting the two mains, the new pipe will help WSSC retain water pressure system wide as the area continues to grow, particularly during peak-demand periods such as summer, according to the Washington Post article and WSSC officials.

Some of the challenges the crew faced, as described by WSSC project manager John Mitchell, included working in confined spaces, using a tunnel boring machine to grind through 5 miles of granite and building a small railroad inside the tunnel to transport 50-foot pieces of steel pipe to the job site.

Originally planned in the 1970s, the pipe is buried in a 10-foot-diameter tunnel in solid bedrock between 90 to 200 feet underground, depending on topography. The new infrastructure will help WSSC accommodate future developments through at least 2040, utility officials told the Washington Post.

Source: Washington Post

Update: Des Moines Water Works Moves Forward with Lawsuit


Record high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers triggered Des Moines (Iowa) Water Works (DMWW) to take action earlier this year, holding three of its neighboring counties responsible for pollution from farm drainage systems. The DMWW Board voted Tuesday, March 10, to proceed with a lawsuit against Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties for failing to adequately manage drainage districts in their area, reported Radio Iowa. 

Though Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey claim voluntary efforts to reduce nitrate levels through a Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) would show positive results in water quality, DMWW Board chairman Graham Gillette says “the problem is it doesn’t address our most current concerns — the fact that we’re running our denitrification units now in the middle of winter.”

An Iowa agriculture group joint statement counters DMWW concerns, saying “merely enacting regulation will do nothing to improve water quality. We will remain focused on empowering farmers and land owners to select and use scientifically proven practices that can have a real impact on water quality, which benefits all Iowans.”

Says Gillette, “This lawsuit isn’t about us against farmers, it’s about figuring out how we can all work together better.”

Source: Radio Iowa

Historic Water Rights Agreement for Shoshone-Paiute Tribes/Nevada

Last month, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell signed a historic agreement at the Department of Interior guaranteeing the water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Nevada and ensuring water supplies and facilities for their Duck Valley Reservation.

This agreement is a step towards a fully enforceable and final settlement, which authorizes $60 million in funding for the Shoshone-Paiute to develop water resources and rehabilitate the Bureau of Indian Affairs irrigation project serving the reservation. In addition to irrigation, other possible uses for the funds include protection of cultural resources and fish and wildlife resources, tribal community water and sewer facilities, water-quality testing and economic development projects.

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior

Pure Technologies to Acquire Wachs Water Services

Pure Technologies has entered into an agreement to acquire the business of Wachs Valve and Hydrant Services, a privately held company operating as Wachs Water Services, for a total purchase price of $18.5 million.

Headquarted in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Wachs Water provides flow control maintenance and support, leak detection and related asset management services to the water sector in the U.S.

The acquisition will diversify Pure Technologies’ businesses in the U.S., broaden its client base in the small- and medium-sized utility space and provide complementary revenue streams in related pipeline management activities, said Jack Elliot, Pure Technologies president and CEO.

Source: Environmental Leader


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