Our last post was about ways to keep your equipment from being harmed by intense heat exposure. This post covers the importance of daily maintenance on the bread-and-butter of your operations: your down hole tools and their support equipment. We also discuss adequate preparation that should be made before each field operation, to ensure the greatest possible success.
If you follow these daily preparation and equipment maintenance routines, you’ll be ensuring optimal service life for the professional quality equipment you’ve invested in, and maximum results from its use.
Summer’s in full swing across the Lower 48, and it’s already been a scorcher for many areas. Still, work goes on and that means on many days, you’re going to be asking a lot of your inspection system and equipment: high performance under grueling conditions. Here we suggest some things you can do to ensure minimal downtime during hot, high-performance time frames.
Keep these tips in mind, and your equipment should continue to serve you well in any weather.Read more
One of the things that keeps CCTV pipeline inspectors busiest is identifying sources of inflow and infiltration (I/I) into stormwater conveyance systems, whether they be the old-fashioned combined storm/sanitary systems, or today’s separate pipelines.
Stormwater drainage systems are designed to move rainwater away from areas where they could cause backups and flooding. The system may include underground pipes, ditches, streams and creeks. Flows enter the system from a variety of inputs, including roof drains, foundation drains, lawn drains, and street drains/catch basins. The flows are discharged into nearby waterways, lakes and/or the ocean, depending on location.
Ideally, this runoff is simply rainwater moving from one place to another, but the reality is that it frequently (maybe even usually) picks up other liquids and even small solid materials as it flows along. What it picks up will depend on how much rain falls and how fast the resultant runoff is flowing: Longer and higher intensity rainfalls will generate faster runoffs, which produce more hydraulic power to lift and carry heavier objects.
As discussed in our previous post, some of the places where runoff can pick up toxic materials include:
And these don’t cover plain old roadways and parking lots, which can accumulate many of the same nasty stuff, plus pesticides and herbicides.
Aside from the obvious dangers to the environment from polluted water, toxic I/I could also be causing chemical wear and damage to stormwater pipelines. Of course, there are BMPs that can be used on the other end, such as filtration basins to capture non-point-source pollution, but they’re not always wholly effective and don’t solve the problem of what it might be doing to your pipes. And it’s clear this problem will only get worse as more development happens and there are more vehicles on the road.
We’d love to hear from you.Read more
Stormwater is considered a nuisance when it comes to managing its runoff into natural waterways, since it can cause two unwanted problems: flooding and pollution. The former either causes or exacerbates the latter, carrying runoff from all kinds of places that contain pollutants no one wants to see go into waterways.
By and large, stormwater runoff is a manageable annoyance, because most rain events are fleeting and don’t drop too much water at one time or in a concentrated area. However, there have been many recent significant rainfall events across the country, during which small geographic areas have found themselves inundated to damaging, even dangerous levels.
Some people believe these anomalies are proof of global warming, but the jury remains out on that particular point. However, those responsible for future planning must take that possibility into account in their efforts to create sustainable living areas we can continue to live with.
Regardless of their causes, most of these recent events have unfortunately taken place primarily in urban or heavily populated suburban areas. Many people, their businesses, property and pets have been affected, and it’s been costly for all involved. In the recent extended heavy rains over much of urban and rural Texas from a stalled-out storm front, ranchers lost an enormous amount of cropland and livestock in the resultant widespread flooding.
So it’s a bit hard to grasp that in the midst of these very events, we’ve also got places that continue to experience record-setting drought. You’d be right to think drought would be a good thing for stormwater control efforts, but the cost for drought-stricken areas far overshadows this positive facet. There actually is a silver lining to the regional droughts in terms of the greater good, but let’s first take a broad look at stormwater.
Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snow hits impervious surfaces such as roads, rooftops, or parking lots and is not absorbed into the ground where it falls. Instead, this water picks up trash, metals, chemicals, and other contaminants as it makes it way to our waterways.
Due to concerns about flood damage in urban areas, stormwater has traditionally been viewed as a liability and a danger, so urban areas were designed to move stormwater out to waterways as quickly as possible.
In most modern cities, stormwater typically bypasses wastewater treatment plants through a separate collection system. As a result, it has become a major source of pollution in our rivers, streams, and oceans.
The 1972 Clean Water Act introduced the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This is a system developed to regulate point (individual, readily identifiable) sources of groundwater pollution that come into contact with stormwater runoff. These may include:
Point sources are not allowed to discharge pollutants to surface waters without a NPDES permit. This system is managed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with state environmental agencies. These permits allow the EPA and other regulatory bodies to know which pollution sources exist, to monitor what kind of pollution and how much of it they emit, and to issue controls on those pollution streams, to keep them from entering the surface and groundwater.
Issues arise when there are point sources of pollution that have either not been identified by the EPA, or which have not been issued an NPDES permit, because then pollutants are entering waterways from there, unabated.
So, what does this have to do with drought?
Drought and Stormwater
That silver lining we mentioned earlier? It’s that municipalities outside the drought areas have taken notice of what’s being done to conserve water by capturing storm runoff, and are realizing these initiatives could work well in remediating ongoing stormwater runoff issues in non-drought locations. That means we can all benefit from their innovations all year ’round, on a permanent basis.
So that’s the story of stormwater runoff outside of collection systems, which creates a huge pollution problem. Our next post will deal with the health of stormwater that does enter our systems, becoming a huge issue for municipalities who are responsible for eliminating it to keep from exacerbating the existing pollution.
Last post, we introduced the concept of municipalities participating in the use of cooperative buy boards — using the most well-known of them, HGACBuy, as an example — to purchase the equipment they need, because it typically saves time and money in having to put together a formal RFP, and manage a bid process for every item they must purchase. This time, we’ll look at reasons you may or may not wish to participate in this type of procurement.
With a buy board, if cities and towns have funds already approved in their budgets, they simply submit appropriate vendor buy board information to their purchasing department. It gets reviewed and approved at a City Council meeting, at which point the buy board process can legally substitute for the open bid procurement required by law.
Chris Remillard, our Inside Sales Manager here at RST, has been involved with the HGACBuy board for 2-3 years, representing our company as a potential municipal vendor. “A lot of municipalities want to avoid the bid process for reasons of cost and convenience,” he explains. “They can legally procure the equipment they want from the manufacturer they prefer, and not necessarily have to go with a low or high bid. It speeds up the process.” (more…)
This month, we explore the HGACBuy Boards, a member-based, online government-to-government procurement portal, created by the Houston Galveston Area Council Local Development Corporation. Governmental entities have been procuring products and services through HGACBuy for over 30 years. As a unit of local government assisting other local governments, HGACBuy strives to make the governmental procurement process more efficient by establishing competitively priced contracts for goods and services, and providing the customer service necessary to help its members achieve their procurement goals. All contracts available to members of HGACBuy have been awarded by virtue of a public competitive procurement process compliant with state statutes.
The Houston Galveston Area Council Local Development Corporation (HGAC) was created in the early 1980s, to promote economic development throughout the 13-county Upper Gulf Coast Region of Texas. This non-profit organization offers online Buy Boards as a resource for municipalities to buy their equipment without having to write specs and send them out for bid. Local municipalities put out their general specs for needed equipment, so all potential bidders get the same information. (more…)
If you do a Web search on “water privatization,” the majority of the links that result are stories that talk about the dangers and disadvantages of the privatization of public utilities. That’s probably why it hadn’t been done by the majority of states before last year, when New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, signed into law the New Jersey Water Supply Privatization Act.
That the Act was originally written in 1985 and took 30 years to get passed on a “fast track” basis, by a governor desperate to balance his state’s budget, is another indicator that most folks seem to think it’s not a great idea. However, it’s now law, and that precedent means other states may consider similar privatization to get financially faltering utilities off their books.
This means that, as an industry, we’re going to have to deal with the results of those decisions. So, what are those results, and what do they mean to those of us who work in the water and wastewater management industry?
First, let’s look at the core wording of the legislation, so we can understand what we’re talking about. Here’s the initial paragraph from the Act:
The Legislature finds that the construction, rehabilitation, operation, and maintenance of modern and efficient water filtration facilities are essential to protecting and improving the State’s water quality; that many of the water filtration systems in New Jersey must be replaced or upgraded if an inexorable decline in water quality is to be avoided during the coming decades; that the citizens of this State, in recognition of the crucial role the construction of new and the upgrading of existing water supply facilities play in maintaining and augmenting the natural water resources of the State, and with an understanding that the cost of financing and constructing these systems is beyond the limited financial resource capabilities of local governments and authorities and must be borne by the bonding authority of the State and repaid, in part, through a system of water supply user charges, approved the enactment of the “Water Supply Bond Act of 1981” (P.L. 1981, c. 261); that the water filtration needs of the State are so great that the limited funds allocated for this purpose from the “Water Supply Fund” established by that 1981 bond act are insufficient; that given this inadequate present level of State funding, alternative methods of financing the construction of new or the rehabilitation of antiquated or inadequate existing water filtration systems must be developed and encouraged; that one alternative method of financing these necessary facilities available to local government units consists of contracting with private-sector firms for the financing, construction and operation of these systems; and that for some local government units, contracting for the provision of water supply services, if done in such a way as to protect the interests of water users and to conform with environmentally sound water quality standards will constitute an appropriate method of securing these needed water filtration systems. The Legislature therefore determines that it is in the public interest to establish a comprehensive procedure designed to authorize local government units to contract with private firms for the construction of water filtration systems and the provision of water supply services.
According to this wording, the systems are now being contracted for building, maintenance and operation. This is what is known as a Public Private Partnership—or P3—arrangement. These fiscal arrangements have been gaining traction in Europe since the 1970s, but how is it playing out here, in the United States, in actuality?
As of the end of last month, nearly 2,000 municipalities nationwide have entered P3 agreements for all or part of their water supply systems, according to a FutureStructure article. It’s not always a matter of financial difficulties that causes cities to want to privatize. Some governments simply believe that private interests, whose expertise lies in the management of utilities, will be able to do a better job than they can.
Regardless the reason, once the changeover is made to private ownership of water and wastewater systems, won’t that mean huge changes for those who serve and interact with system owners on a regular basis? Apparently, not necessarily—or at least, not yet.
According to W.E. Timmerman Company, our New Jersey distributor, nothing has changed for them in dealing with municipalities, which constitute the majority of their customers. Our representative there, Nathan McCraney, reports that nothing has changed insofar as who they deal with at the municipalities, and how the deals get done.
At least for them and for the time being, new ownership at the top has not affected how things happen on the ground. Whether this will be the case in the future, or whether it will vary from one municipality to the next, remains to be seen.
A few things are for certain: We should all continue to
As the CCTV pipeline inspection industry’s busy season commences, it makes sense to take a look at what you’re doing to promote your contracting business. There are a few bedrock “musts” that you need to think about before doing anything fancy. These are based in the two main concepts embodied in the practice of marketing: Branding and Positioning. Branding is basically who you are, what your identity is in the marketplace. Positioning is where you are perceived by potential customers to sit among your peers and competitors in the marketplace.
Branding is established mainly by what’s known as your corporate identity: The “persona,” if you will, created in the marketplace by your staff, your physical location/shop/office, and the visual identity you establish with a logotype. Logos can consist of a simple type modification, in which your company name is expressed in letters, numbers and/or type symbols.
They may also include some kind of graphic image, such as a mascot or abstract design. If they become well-known enough, sometimes the graphic image itself is all that’s needed to identify the company without any words. Think of the Nike swash, the Verizon checkmark, the old Sinclair green dinosaur, etc. But that kind of visual shorthand can only happen after a long exposure to many people over decades and even centuries. It’s nice if it happens, but not really something you can control. (more…)
In our last post, we broadly examined what’s going on with the state of Capacity, Management, Operation, and Maintenance (CMOM) as it applies to U.S. municipalities today, given the generally aging state of their water, wastewater and stormwater collection and conveyance systems.
This time, we’ll look at how CMOM issues affect and are affected by CCTV pipe inspection contractors, and give you some tools to help asset owners bring their systems into compliance.
CMOM – Effects on and of CCTV Pipeline Inspection
It’s safe to say that since CMOM as an industry practice came into being in response to the EPA’s SSO proposal, infrastructure has continued to age out and deteriorate, and technology has advanced immensely, providing new tools and methods for planning and implementing sound CMOM practices and programs.
More importantly, time is running out for cities and towns to come into compliance, so those who have put off necessary inspection and repair work are now being pushed into implementation by consent decree orders. This is, of course, creating more CCTV pipeline inspection work than ever before. (more…)Read more
With most U.S. municipalities dealing with some level of aging-out infrastructure issues, the concept of public wastewater utilities getting a handle on Capacity, Management, Operation, and Maintenance (CMOM) of their systems has never been more critical. Proper CMOM monitoring can and does help slow down and arrest system component deterioration and even failure.
Of course, every municipality weights the importance of CMOM efforts differently according to its own particular needs. This post will take a look at how a random sampling of municipalities is handling its CMOM programs.
Water & Wastes Digest magazine ran a great article on CMOM back in 2013. It defined CMOM’s ultimate goal, as it applies to the wastewater treatment industry, as “to assure that discharges from treatment facilities are free from pollutants. The framework of the federal CMOM program allows for periodic reviews of a collection system by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state inspectors to assure compliance with the program elements.” (more…)Read more