Blog  /  May 2018  /  Q1 2018 Regional Roundup: Part 1/3

Blog Post Teaser

This blog series examines major trends and newsworthy events that occurred in the US water industry during the first quarter of 2018.  The first part of the series focuses on activity within the Southwest and West regions of the US.  Check back for part two of the series, which will cover the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and South regions of the US.

 

SOUTHWEST

The Southwest region consists of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

  • During the first quarter of 2018, Texas accounted for more than two-thirds of the Southwest region’s requests in most categories, including infrastructure upgrades, installation and maintenance work, water quality and treatment, and stormwater management.  Furthermore, at the state level, Texas alone comprised 9 percent of the total US demand for water-related projects in the first quarter of 2018.
  • In January 2018, New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission awarded a $150,000 contract to Occam Consulting Engineers Incorporated for further analysis to support a proposal to dam the Gila River – one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the West.  At the same time, the commission approved a $100,000 contract with another engineering firm that will support the development of other possible dams and improvements to existing irrigation structures on the Gila River.
  • The City of Tucson has reportedly spent over $2 million subsidizing rainwater harvesting systems since it began offering rebates in 2012 to residents who install rainwater catchment systems to store water in cisterns and divert it onto landscaping.  A three-year study undertaken to determine the success of the subsidies shows that, after just one year, residential rainwater harvesting has significantly decreased the city’s overall potable water demand.
  • Additionally, during the first quarter of 2018, the USACE proposed a wide-ranging study of flooding conditions in the Houston metropolitan area in response to effects of Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters.  The study will look at 22 watersheds across the region, re-examine rainfall trends, and analyze how stormwater moves throughout the area, as well as research multiple aspects of flood control, including the city’s drainage system, the changing climate, and the negative impacts of paving prairies and rural areas.  Furthermore, the assessment will include recommendations for green infrastructure, porous concrete, and other technologies that are capable of absorbing floodwaters.

 

WEST

The West region consists of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. 

  • The largest demand for planning, design, and consulting services across the US in the first quarter of 2018 was seen in the West, with California and Washington representing just over two-thirds of the region’s total demand.  Opportunities within these states included the development of a long-term river management plan, the creation of a feasibility study for upgrades to a biosolids processing and cogeneration facility, and the provision of engineering services for a creek improvement project that includes the evaluation of existing drainage systems.
  • During the first quarter of 2018, the Portland International Jetport became the first US airport to recycle 100 percent of its de-icing fluid, thereby preventing it from mixing with snow and ice and entering stormwater drainage systems.  Specifically, the jetport uses a recycling process that collects spent de-icing fluid, separates the glycol from stormwater, and distills it into a purer form that can be re-manufactured into de-icing fluid.  The recycling program, which has been a long time coming, is helping the Portland International jetport save money and protect the environment. 
  • As of January 2018, the US Geological Survey and scientists at the Desert Research Institute were nearing completion of a four-year, $2.8 billion study initiated by the Nevada Division of Water Resources to better understand how to manage the amount of water that is withdrawn from the Humboldt River Basin in northeast Nevada, where demand currently surpasses supply.  Data from the study will be used to create a new water management system.  A draft report is expected to be ready by the first quarter of 2019, and a final report may be finished by late 2019 or early 2020.
  • In February 2018, it was announced that a $48 million federal project to keep heavy metals out of the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River would commence in the region this spring and extend through 2021.  The project includes the installation of an 8,000-foot-long underground clay barrier that will trap polluted groundwater and help divert it to wastewater treatment plants.  This work is being undertaken to achieve cleaner water, as groundwater in the region becomes polluted as it filters through historical mine waste in the Silver Valley.
  • In early March 2018, California regulators approved new regulations permitting treated recycled wastewater in state reservoirs.  Specifically, the regulations stipulate the percentage of recycled water that can be added and how long it must reside there before being treated again at a surface water treatment facility and supplied as drinking water.  The decision is a result of a public review process that lasted two years and is said to give water agencies a crucial tool in supplementing water supply.

 

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