Water, wastewater SCADA projects benefit from U.S. stimulus funds
Municipalities plan to upgrade systems, while integrators and control system vendors anticipate new projects. Link to where the money goes, better economic news
While a lot of the economy is in rough shape, it seems that water/wastewater utilities are holding their own thanks, in part, to U.S. stimulus funds aimed at infrastructure projects in various states. Municipalities are upgrading long neglected systems, and system integrators, machine builders and control system vendors are rolling up their sleeves to start new projects.
Those trends come as no surprise to Control Engineering blogger Stan Prutz , who is also CEO of system integrator QDS Systems. “After all,” he says, “people are still turning on the lights, using water and flushing their toilets.” QDS’s water/wastewater designs are located throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in its Louisiana home market, QDS has installed and maintained more water and wastewater SCADA, control and instrumentation systems than any other provider in the state.
Prutz says, “Vendors we serve who are focused on these markets have remarked in recent visits how some of their big vendors, once aloof to them due to their relative size, have now placed them on center stage. New alliances are being formed by some in our industry, tending to remap customers’ allegiances for us all.”
A shifting of suppliers to water/wastewater utilities is coming at the same time money is beginning to flow again to some long-planned, often delayed projects. An unprecedented $4 billion dollars will be awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency to fund wastewater infrastructure projects across the country under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The money will be in the form of low interest loans, principal forgiveness and grants. At least 20 percent of the funds provided under the Act are required to be used for “green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements and other environmentally innovative projects.”
At the annual meeting of the Control Systems Integrators’ Association (CSIA) last week, integrators specializing in various industries, including utilities and water/wastewater, discussed the economy and heard how investment in cement, steel, and construction machinery manufacturers may be near-term beneficiaries of government infrastructure spending.
The EPA awarded $430 million to the State of New York for wastewater infrastructure projects. The state will provide money to municipal and county governments and wastewater utilities for projects to protect lakes, ponds and streams. The money will be given to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and spent by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation.
The EPA awarded $19.5 million to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to improve drinking water infrastructure across the state. The funds went to Kansas’ Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program. The state agency said it plans to supplement the $19.5 million with other funds from its Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, to fund 39 projects costing just over $53 million. Cities and counties across Kansas submitted 143 project proposals for funding consideration. Proposals were reviewed by department staff who made the selections based on readiness to proceed and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund project priority ranking system.
Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski announced intended project priority lists that include 69 drinking water projects in 52 communities and 255 water pollution control projects in 164 communities to be offered funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Ohio EPA has issued draft Intended Use Plans (IUPs) and will hold a public meeting to take comments on the plans on May 7 in Columbus. U.S. EPA will need to approve the IUP prior to funds being awarded. The state agency will make 100 percent of stimulus funds available as subsidies, which is more than the 50 percent required in the Recovery Act. Non-Recovery Act funds will also be "mixed and matched" with Recovery Act funds to increase the number of communities able to receive infrastructure funding.
The EPA awarded $49,878,100 to the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority to “finance many of the overdue improvements to wastewater projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment across the state.” The funds will go to the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management.
According to EPA, since the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program began in 1987, EPA has awarded more than $26 billion in grants, which states have turned into $69 billion of financial assistance for water quality projects. President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 17, 2009, and has directed that the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how every dollar is being invested at www.Recovery.gov
For information on EPA’s implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in EPA Region 4, visit www.epa.gov/region4/eparecovery
Several other independent sources give separate positive indications for manufacturers. See Economy: Indicators suggest growing manufacturer optimism
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.