WATERCON 2013 – Day 1

Yesterday was the opening day of WATERCON 2013 in Springfield, Ill. – a four-day event focusing on all things water in Illinois. We were told yesterday at the business meeting that 1,400 people had registered for the conference; this number was 10% over last year's registration. It's not surprising the number is growing – the sponsoring organizations have worked hard to create a dynamic event attended by, based on all the familiar faces yesterday, everyone in the water industry in this state. I didn't have a lot of time to chat between sessions and vendor visits, but I did get a few minutes to talk with people from Stanley Consultants, Engineering Enterprises, Seiler Instrument, the City of Robinson, the City of LaSalle, the City of Ottawa, Carus, RJN, Trotter and Associates. Hopefully I can get to their exhibits and find out more about what they have been working on lately.

Because ISAWWA arranged for @AbbyMPC and I to promote the event online, I was able to live blog most of the sessions I attended yesterday. These and the others that I will live blog over the next couple days can be found at the link below:

WATERCON Live Blog Site

The blogs are archived so you can also view them by clicking on the titles shown on that site or below:

Sludge Thickening in Centrifuges and Gravity Belt Thickeners, a Comparison between MWRDGC Facilities

Formation of a Stormwater Utility in Illinois – Is it in your Future

Developing a Municipal Stormwater Utility Key Elements and Case Study Example

Envision: A Rating System for Sustainable Infrastructure

Digester Foaming Case Studies

Save Time and Money with JULIE's GIS product


Fortunately I was able to still find time to talk with a couple vendors; today I hope to visit even more. Below is a brief summary of the information they shared:

PULSCO, Inc. – Hydropneumatic Surge & Pressure Control

Stopping by and talking with the representative from PULSCO helped me learn why I saw no elevated water towers when I was in England years ago. He said the midwest is the main area in the world where communities rely on elevated water tanks – other areas, like England, use hydropneumatic systems instead of towers to maintain surge and pressure control. He said the hydropneumatic tank in the PULSCO system can also minimize water hammer. PULSCO will work with design engineers to evaluate a hydropneumatic systems for communities. The parameters they need for this are the operating pressure of your system, the desired tank volume, information about your pumping system, and specific requirements of the hydropneumatic tank such as orientation, inlet/outlet connections, paint and lining. 

If you stop by their booth, they have a well-written handout explaining how their system responds to water hammer. And they have a handy little wheel to help you quickly figure out delivery times of product or material.

Fer Pal Infrastructure

The other vendor I visited with was Chris Van Wormer who is a business development manager with Fer Pal Infrastructure.  The company specializes in watermain rehabilitation using trenchless technology. They use Aquapipe, a cured-in-place liner that seemed very similar to what is used in sewer lining except it is approved for potable water applications. They even handle service connections the same way as a sewer lining project with the use of a robot that drills open each corporation connection after the lining is cured. Van Wormer said the material also has some structural capacity and has been used successfully for the past 12 years in Canada and many states including Minnesota and Michigan. If you visit their booth, you can watch a short video showing the installation process, and you can see samples of the material.

Fer Pal Aquapipe Exhibit at Watercon 2013









Follow us to WATERCON 2013

The Illinois Section American Water Works Association and the Illinois Water Environment Association are hosting this year's WATERCON in Springfield, Ill., from March 18-21. And if you're involved with water or wastewater at all, you'll want to be there! Every year, the conference offers many interesting and informative educational sessions. And every year I have gone, I've found the exhibit hall to be so busy with vendors and other professionals that I can barely make my way through in only one day.

As great as all that is, this year WATERCON will be ramping up even more to share information and reach out to the community. It's definitely a place you'll want to be with all possible exhibit space already sold out and over 1200 people registered to attend. Below are a few more items of greatness you'll want to know about WATERCON2013:

New this year!

  • Exhibit hall opens at 1pm on Monday
  • Water Art Show Monday
  • Potable water technical sessions begin Monday 2pm
  • Career fair Tuesday
  • Field trips – Green Technology and Small Systems
  • Water Operator Challenge
  • Mission Impossible Challenge

Online Engagement!

This year the sponsors of WATERCON are encouraging everyone to share their conference experience through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. They are even hosting a Tweeting Contest – you can find out more about it here: WATERCON Tweeting Contest.

Abby Crisostomo (@abbyMPC) and I (@publicworks) will be roaming the exhibit floor, attending sessions, and posting online directly from WATERCON. So if you want a few social media pointers to get started or if you want to share your experiences, knowledge, or product or service information, make sure to stop us and say hi – we'll be wearing special "Follow me" shirts so we should be easy to find. You can also sign up for a free webinar we'll be giving on March 12th to get some pointers for Tweeting from a conference:

HelloTweety! Always wanted to learn how to tweet?
Join us for this FREE, how-to tweet at WATERCON2013 webinar
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 – 2:00pm CST via GoToWebinar


Pre-conference Program and Registration

You can check out all the glorious details in the WATERCON 2013 Pre-conference Program and Registration Booklet below.

Can't Make the Conference?

I am sorry to hear you can't make it to this year's conference, because each person who attends makes it that much better. But working for government, I totally understand. Even so, we're not going to let that be water over the bridge. This year, you can just follow what is going on, and it will be almost like you're there!  Here are some ways you can still participate:

Follow the #WATERCON hashtag on Twitter – by using an online tool to "follow" the #WATERCON hashtag, you can still keep up with what is going on at the conference. Although this can be done by going to the Twitter website and typing #WATERCON into the search window at the top of the screen, you can also use other tools like Twitterfall.

Follow a live blog of the sessions – if you can't make the conference but have a specific session you really want to know more about, send me the session title and when it will be held. I can attend that one and live blog the session – I'll let you know the site where the live blog will be posted so you can follow it and even have the opportunity to ask questions during the session.

Send us your questions – everyone seems to have some question or product they want to find out more about. If you can't make it to the conference, but have a need to find an answer to a problem you're having or if you want some information from a particular vendor, just send us your request. Abby and I can check it out for you and post the answers online. And if you have the ability to chat live, we can set up some face time between you and a vendor or industry expert!

Use the form below to send us your requests!

Disclaimer: I have received a complimentary registration for the conference from ISAWWA because I will be working to promote the conference.



Setting Sustainable Water Rates

Water Distribution

Raising water or sewer rates is never a popular move, and in this economy many have tried to avoid it as if they are fleeing from a zombie apocalypse. But for many utilities expenditures are exceeding revenues, and there's sometimes little choice other than a rate increase. You can only cut so much from a budget before negatively impacting service levels and quality. But is this an unavoidable consequence of a bad economy? And can rates be set to sustain a utility even during times like these? Let's explore the history of rate structure, how it has impacted us today, and some solutions for going forward.

History of Water Rate Structures

In the U.S., there have been basically three types of structures or a mixture of two of the three:

  1. Uniform rates
  2. Increasing rates based on usage
  3. Decreasing rates based on usage

Some utitlities also applied a fixed fee in addition to the rate, but often this was not a significant amount. Water systems also created categories of users sometimes applying different rates to different users. Of the three structures listed above, number three was usually the more popular. After all, water was everywhere! And this was particularly true for cities with a large manufacturing base dependent on water for their process. It was almost as if utilities were begging people to consume water.

Based on stories I've heard from the "old timers," back then the water fund was never out of money. And they could always depend on it to carry the other funds. So what happened?

Water Rates & Water Funds Today

Our country has over the last couple decades transformed their view of water as an unlimited supply. Yes, water never really goes away, but it can become increasingly contaminated or placed into a state that costs significantly more to collect and improve its quality. So our view of water has changed to that of a valuable resource and commodity. And to encourage customers to conserve water, many utilities have changed rates to increase as water usage increases. At the same time, water regulations have significantly increased and only show signs of becoming even more stringent. The net result of all this is people using less water (yay! our conservation methods worked) causing a decrease in revenue (boo! we didn't see that coming!?) and the cost to collect, treat, and deliver water has skyrocketed causing an increase in expenditures. Then on top of that we had the recession with people cutting back even more on water just to save money or leaving behind vacant homes that generate no revenue for utilities.

Of course as they say hindsight is better than foresight. But it's surprising to me how many want to cling to the old ways going forward. Even as revenue is dropping and funds are bleeding, they continue to propose the old water structure of a decreasing rate based on increased usage. And many times with no fixed rate or a very small rate attached. This is simply not sustainable.

Implementing Sustainable Solutions

So what does work? This post cannot begin to offer the right answer for every situation. A good water rate study needs to be customized for each utility. But in general, a good beginning is to look at costs. Fixed costs that are truly independent of water usage need to be separated from costs that fluctuate with water usage. For example, if your water utility has two trucks, it has two trucks. If you normally pump 2 MGD and you change to pumping 1 MGD, you don't get rid of one truck if you still need two for checking your fixed system. Variable costs will include such things as chemicals and electricity.

In addition to costs, you need to look at your users. If you have categories of users such as residential, commercial, and industrial, these need to be analyzed as a group breaking each into usage blocks that make sense. It's also important to get a handle on the amount of usage expected throughout the year, particularly if seasonal temperatures fluctuate.

As you develop a good idea of water consumption in your system, you can start to explore which rate structure works best for your community. The community's philosophy on water consumption must also be taken into account. For some, a single rate independent of usage might best address the philosophy and the usage patterns. Because of water conservation efforts, some communities might choose to assess higher rates for increased usage. I can't imagine too many sticking with the less cost for more usage because this becomes a type of subsidy if source and treatment costs are high enough.

For many, it makes sense to meet variable costs with these rates and then add on a fixed fee that will pay the fixed costs. Doing anything other than this requires the rate to cover some of the fixed costs and puts the risk back on the utility because now the utility is dependent on water usage to be high enough to bring in extra money for fixed costs. It's also common to address low income populations or customers with minimum usage by offering a flat rate for the lowest tier of usage.

Although all that might sound straight forward enough, the real challenge occurs near the end of the analysis when you figure out what you really should be charging. Few utilities could probably implement the structure they really need immediately. One piece of advice is to set a target structure and then create a transition plan to get there. And whether you need to transition or not, it's best to create a long term ordinance establishing regular rate increases every year or every other year. This spreads the transition over a long time period and it allows for regular increases but offers elected officials the opportunity to amend an increase for specific years if possible.

Below is a guidance document from the EPA that can be used to assist in conducting a water rate study. And you can also find some good resources through AWWA publications.


Guide Small Systems Final Rate Setting Guide



Radon and Wastewater

BiosolidsOn Tuesday the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will hold a public hearing for the purpose of enacting a new regulation concerning radium in land application of biosolids. I tried to find out from their Web site and Facebook and Twitter pages about the ruling, but it was not prominently displayed. Finally I found it here: Licensing of Radioactive Material (32 Ill. Adm. Code 330.40) But if this is an important change and it requires public input and will affect several communities throughout Illinois and taxpayers through their utility bills, why is IEMA not announcing it through their news channels?  Instead I found out about it through a presentation given last week in Geneva (WARNING: GEEK level of post is 10 and apologize if I made a mistake on the tech info – this post is based on my notes):

Background of Radium Regulations in Illinois

Uranium 238 was produced when the universe was created. This material decays to Radium 226 and Radium 222. Radium 226 will not decay significantly in our lifetimes; however Radium 222 decays to Po 218, Pb 214, Bi 214, Po 214. During the decay process, Radon gas is also created.

While drinking water standards were first established in 1914 and later revised in 1925, 1946, and 1962, it wasn't until the 1976 amendment of the Safe Drinking Water Act that radionuclides were regulated. At this time, the rules applied to Radium 226 and Radium 228.

In 1991, USEPA revised this 1974 act to raise the limits from 5 to 19 pCi/L. However this generated a lot of discussion and research. In the year 2000, USEPA finalized their rule leaving the standard limit in drinking water at 5 pCi/L for these contaminants. But this would allow 5 pCi/L for each, not a combined measurement.

In 1983, on the wastewater side in Illinois, the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) approved the land application of biosolids program. In 1984 IEPA and IEMA created a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding this program. The MOA said the residuals in sludges must be less than 5 pCi/gm and allowed land application as long as levels in the soils did not exceed this limit. Land application would still be allowed for levels between 5 pCi/gm and 50 pCi/gm but only if the Radon in the soil measured below 0.1 pCi/gm. For land application above 50, the disposal method had to be reviewed by IEMA, but could still occur if Radon levels in the soil remained below 0.5 pCi/gm.

What happened next was this MOA was never enforced by the IEPA through the sludge permits until 2004. The city of Joliet was one of the first to see this requirement in their new permit. They appealed and a decision was rendered in May 2009 when it was decided the MOA was in violation of the Illinois procedures act since IEMA did not go through the requirements of that act so the terms of the MOA could not be implemented as a rule. So IEMA began steps to formalize the terms of the agreement into an actual rule.

Why is Radon Bad?

Before going much further, it is important to have a little background on the enemy here: Radon. Radon, as stated above, is a byproduct of the decay of Radium. The problem with Radon is that it has been found to cause lung cancer. The EPA estimates that more than 20,000 deaths per year from lung cancer are due to Radon in our homes. The average Radon level in a U.S. home is 0.25 pCi/L which can also be expressed as 300 mrem/yr. 

Radon is easily dissipated through the air so it didn't really become an issue until we began sealing up our homes to be more energy efficient. This trapped the Radon in our homes and gave it more opportunity to get into and damage our lungs. Building codes have been created to help prevent this from happening. And there are removal systems that can be installed if Radon levels are high in a home.

The bottom line is we don't want Radon in our homes; building codes exist to prevent this from happening; and there are removal systems available if Radon is found in a home. (This is why everyone should be testing their homes for Radon.) So IEMA is pursuing this rule with the focus that it is necessary to prevent Radon from entering homes and reduce lung cancer in humans.

What's wastewater got to do with it?

Wastewater got involved in all this because the Radium that EPA requires to be removed from drinking water ends up at the wastewater plant. This happens when the water plant discharges their waste from the treatment process. It travels down the sewer to the wastewater plant where it settles out in the sludges or biosolids. The wastewater plant then collects these solids and must dispose of them in some manner. A typical method is land application or dumping it on farm fields and having the farmer till the biosolids into the soil. This process is regulated and permitted by the EPA. But because in Illinois IEMA regulates radioactive materials, that agency is concerned about the levels of Radium in the biosolids applied to fields.

So What's the Problem?

Like most regulations, they sound good – the government is trying to set rules to make sure we don't get hurt. IEMA is just trying to make sure people have a reduced risk of exposure to Radon. The problem comes in when there is a high cost associated with compliance, and there is not good reason for the limits. This is the most challenging part of making any rule. It is easy to set a rule that places full restriction on something – that way no one ever has to determine or think about a risk. An example here would be make everyone build their house ten feet off the ground. Then no problem – we never have to worry about Radon again. This is called going to extremes. Usually the government doesn't do this; instead they try to study the issue and decide upon a reasonable limit based on scientific information. Any other method of setting rules is based on speculation and can lead to a significant waste of taxpayer dollars.

ALARA is the method by which radiation levels are to be set that takes into account science and cost. If this method is applied here, the costs are orders of magnitude higher than what is mandated by ALARA. Eli Port, an expert on radiation who spoke, said this new rule could cost communities millions of dollars.

So let's look at the science behind Radon levels. One hundred mrem/year of Radon is the current limit in nuclear safety regulations. (Cleanups must achieve a 25 mrem/yr level.) But IEMA is requiring a 10 mrem/yr dose limit or 10% of the total recommended by the safety regulations. By comparison, a person normally living in Illinois spending one month in Denver will increase their annual level by 15 mrem. Or a person flying at 30,000 feet for 20 hours a year will experience an increase of 15 mrem. However neither of these activities are regulated to prevent exposure – nor is the public even told about this risk.

The Resulting Limits

The IEMA ruling will results in the following:

  • Communities with less than 5 pCi/gm in their biosolids to land apply as long as the increase level in the soil does not go above 0.4 pCi/gm (the USEPA sets this limit at 5 pCi/gm).
  • Communities with readings between 5 pCi/gm and 50 pCi/gm can dispose of the material in a landfill but it must have a 10-foot cover and "reasonable assurance that the exhalation rate of radon to the atmosphere, or into a dwelling, will not exceed an average rate of 5 pCi per square meter per second; and reasonable assurance against accidental intrusion into the residuals or sludge in the future."
  • Communities with readings greater than 50 must have their method of disposal reviewed and approved by IEMA, and the material must be placed in an out of state landfill or licensed low-level facility and both parties must register with IEMA.

IEMA has also expressed the need for this limit in order to protect anyone who might not comply with building codes when they build a home. They are worried someone might choose to neglect the code and build on topsoil and not mitigate for Radon. Joliet and other communities are replying that they already deal with this risk by enforcing building codes. No one has testified they have built a home on topsoil – this is always removed prior to construction. So there is a concern by all communities affected that their citizens will end up paying exorbitant utility fees to deal with an issue that could be better dealt with existing regulations. And that the limits set do not accurately reflect an actual health risk.

Community Positions and Final Costs

Studies and research by the communities are showing a need for a 1.0 pCi/gm limit while IEMA is planning on enforcing the 0.4 pCi/gm limit. Communities involved have also been concerned because the hearings have not really open to the public; instead they take place in a locked-down facility. In order to attend, you have to register at their facility, be escorted to the room, and if you want to leave, you have to ask to be escorted out. Other comments regarding the hearing have been that it is primarily a Northern Illinois issue, but IEMA is requiring everyone to travel to Springfield for the hearing. And the cities involved have requested a stakeholder's meeting but none have been scheduled.

In the end, if IEMA is successful with passing this rule with the limits they chose, some communities in Illinois are faced with having to either install Radium reduction facilities at their water or wastewater plant to reduce the amount of material. And these communities will have to find a landfill that will take radioactive waste and pay to haul it to that site. It could also be an issue for communities that have Radium in their drinking water but not of a high enough level to require removal because this Radium also finds its way to the wastewater plant.

Some increased costs that have been reported are:

  • $10 million over 20 years if land applied (due to need to find more farmland to avoid exceeding levels)
  • $48 million if landfilled
  • $58 million if landfilled outside of the state

The other issues that have come up as a result of all this is that not everyone has been notified the original MOA is no longer valid and the entire matter has given the impression that land application is not a good choice. 

The Next Step

Our country is not in a good financial position right now. There is even more need to carefully consider how we spend the small amount of revenue we already have. Can we really afford to raise fees and taxes on people who are struggling financially if we cannot justify or prove the actual risk? In a way we are asking what safety factor can our country afford to pay for and are we willing to accept?

For those who are interested in the hearing, below are the details:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 to 4:00 PM
Illinois Emergency Management Agency
2200 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, Illinois
Full disclosure: I work for the city of Geneva, one of the possible 110 communities to be directly affected by this ruling. Our city testified at the first hearing held last year. However, all information and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and not those of my employer.

Selling off Assets: A Road to Failure?

Today I read an article on Reuters indicating voters are increasingly supportive of government leasing infrastructure assets. I cannot imagine how anyone who truly understands infrastructure and government can come away with a blanket statement supporting privatization of government assets.Highway
From reading the story, I can only think that these voters are making this decision after politicians have given them little background information and the choice of selling/leasing or paying more taxes. Of course most voters presented with only that information would choose to privatize.

But let’s look at what really happens in many cases when government decides to privatize:

Why do those in charge of our assets even consider something like this?

  • Those in charge decide they need cash, and fast, without raising taxes. So they start looking around at what they can sell.
  • Those in charge are approached by a private entity with a privatization proposal.
  • The government entity might lose key workers responsible for the operation and maintenance of a facility and not want to bother looking around for new employees.
  • Those in charge are trying to cut costs and start looking at dumping assets that require large expenditures.

Often these deals are set up with all the best of intentions. Government leaders are truly trying to cut costs and save money; private companies are just trying to make a living and see a revenue stream that allows them to offer a service.

So why is privatization so risky for government?

First of all, because what is being sold is usually vital to the health, safety, and/or welfare of the community. Let’s just look at two examples of assets that are owned and maintained by government.

Major thoroughfares in our country were initially built for the purpose of helping the U.S. in times of war to allow for fast movement of troops and equipment across our country. They also allow for fast movement of goods and services across our country and as such have now become vital to the economic well-being of our country.

Water and Wastewater Operations
In the late 1800s and early 1900s our country lost thousands due to outbreaks of disease and sickness – much of it linked to poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water supplies. People today are so used to having safe drinking water and effective elimination of wastes that they might take all this for granted. But all of this is only possible because of strict regulations by the EPA, trained professionals who provide treatment and maintenance of our water and wastewater facilities, and continued investment in the systems by our politicians.

So let’s consider some of the risks that can occur in each of these examples if a community leases or sells government assets:

Example 1: A government entity approves a long-term lease to a private company for a major tollway that is designed with a 20 year life. After 20 years of collecting tolls, the company is now faced with a 40 million dollar road and bridge reconstruction project. If they were a well-run business, they would have banked a portion of their revenue to help fund this. The other alternative available is a bond for the project backed by future revenues.

But what if they didn’t bank this money or they do not want to or can’t afford to give up future revenues. Looking at losing millions, they decide to fold or go bankrupt? What is the government entity to do? Not fixing the asset is not an option. People depend on it; the economy depends on it. So the government is then faced with spending 40 million after not collecting tolls for all those years and having to pledge future tolls to the project. And in the end, the taxpayers have to pay anyway – they just put it off 20 years. The government must also spend money ramping up their road maintenance departments to handle the return of this asset.

And where is the money government got in the up front lease purchase? Who knows. Often these funds seem to be spent on non-infrastructure related expenditures. Many times used to shore up failed funds that were poorly managed.

Example 2 – a major tollway is sold to a private company. After about 10 years of little to no maintenance, the road starts to fail considerably or perhaps the traffic on the road increases to the point that there are increase accidents and travel times. People complain to the company, but why should the company listen to them. The road is a major corridor, and they know people will drive it. People have little to no recourse – there is no one to be voted out in this case. So people are forced to have to use a failed asset with no voice in the matter.

Example 3 – God forbid our country goes to war and fighting occurs on U.S. soil. We need to move troops and equipment across the land and provide vital services to our citizens, but the country we are at war with owns our assets: roads, water, wastewater. Even if we somehow secure these facilities, enough significant damage could have been done before this could happen. And now with many assets controlled over the Internet, who knows what damage they could do or have provided for in these facilities in case of this type of situation. Is this a paranoid outlook and extreme. Yes, but is it worth the risk? Just because some politician doesn’t want to work a little harder or better at managing the asset.

Example 4 – Now let’s look at an asset that might at first not even seem that vital to the well-being of a community: parking meters in a downtown. The community for whatever reason decides to approve a long-term lease to a single company. The company is ill-prepared to handle the resulting maintenance and user interactions. People are upset and complain to the government, but they have their money and have no further leverage to get the company to address complaints.

Because the volume of complaints to the government rise to a level that concerns politicians, the government decides to go ahead and perform the maintenance and repairs to the meters themselves using their own staff. And the company continues to collect revenues from the meters as they will for the next 50 or 100 years while the government tries to address citizen concerns. Oh, and by the way, shortly after getting the lease approved, the company raised parking meter rates considerably. And again, the government officials have no leverage to prevent this.

What happens now? In this case, the economic well-being of the community might be threatened if people decide against driving to this community and paying these fees. Local business loses out on sales; local tourism loses visitors.

(The example above might resonate somewhat with those living in Illinois.)

Example 5
– This example will only address privatization of a service – not even selling or leasing an asset, and this example is based on strictly on a real scenario that played out. A city hires a local hauler to provide solid waste pickup. The deal is the city pays the hauler a flat fee per household for pickup only. The city then pays the landfill the charge for the city’s waste that is dumped there by the hauler. This goes on for many years with the city paying both entities.

Eventually the waste hauler is bought out by another person who discovers the drivers of the garbage trucks have been telling the landfill that all the garbage they dump there came from this city even though the hauler picks up waste from other communities. This city ended up paying for waste from other cities to the tune of about $300,000 that could be documented. Fortunately the new owner agreed to pay it back over time. But now the city is obligated to hire this particular hauler for fear of not getting their money in the future. And even worse, the hauler will not divulge the amount of waste taken each day out of this community – there is no provision requiring him to. Nor can any citizen ask for it because FOIA rules do not cover a private entity.

I could go on and on with examples but will leave it at that since this post is already long enough!

So what is the answer? Is all privatization bad?

I realize some of these examples are worse extremes, but two of the examples relate what has already been experienced by at least two communities. Are there success stories? Yes, most definitely. But as the say, “the devil is in the details.”

So most definitely privatization can work, but not in all cases and not at all if the agreements are poorly written.

If politicians do not have an adequate business background to cut privatization deals, they need to find someone who does to ensure all the issues and potential risks are addressed. And if the risks do not outweigh the upfront payoff, privatization of the asset must not be approved. Because at the end of the day, the citizens are the ones who will be paying the tab for a failed or poorly executed deal.


Public Works Industry Starting to Blog

Saniblog ImageOver the last few years, I have been on the lookout for blogs and other social media related to the public works industry. Up until lately that trough has been a little dry, but fortunately that seems to finally be changing. As I was working on a presentation I am giving in March in Springfield, Ill., to the joint conference of IWEA and ISAWWA, I went searching as I have so often done for blogs related to water and wastewater and found quite a few. One in particular caught my eye: Saniblog.

Not sure why I haven’t come across it before, as the archive dates back to November 2007, but I know I will be subscribing to the feed now that I have found it. I highly encourage anyone working in the environmental/water/wastewater field to take a trip over to this blog. You will be rewarded with a collection of riveting and highly engaging video related to sanitation.