July 2008, Vol. 20, No.7



U.S. EPA Asset Management Program To Be Piloted in Seven States

Eighteen small utilities in seven states have volunteered to pilot new asset management software from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Check Up Program for Small Systems (CUPSS) software is a free program that helps small utilities manage and finance existing and future water and wastewater infrastructure, according to an EPA press release.
The software, which comes with a tutorial, is designed to help users

  • learn about asset management by doing it,
  • facilitate communications between water utility staff and decision-makers,
  • move utilities from crisis management to informed decision-making,
  • facilitate more efficient and focused utility operations, and
  • improve financial management to make the best use of limited resources.

The program uses information provided on the system’s assets, operation and maintenance activities, and financial status to produce a prioritized asset inventory, financial reports, and a customized asset management plan.

CUPSS was developed by the EPA Office of Water as part of the agency’s Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative. The effort received input from a large stakeholder work group, including representatives from several states, as well as the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (Washington, D.C.), National Rural Water Association (Duncan, Okla.), and New Mexico Environmental Finance Center (Albuquerque).

The CUPSS program and all supporting materials are available for download at www.epa.gov/cupss. EPA’s newly updated Web site for small public water systems is accessible at www.epa.gov/safewater/smallsystems.

Reverse Osmosis on the Rise

The world market for large-scale reverse-osmosis (RO) systems will increase nearly 50% in the next 4 years, according to forecasts by the McIlvaine Co. (Northfield, Ill.). In its online report RO, UF, and MF World Markets, McIlvaine forecasts that world RO equipment and membrane sales will reach $5.6 billion in 2012, compared to $3.8 billion in 2008.

According to a McIlvaine press release, the areas expected to show the greatest growth in RO technology are the United States, Asia, and the Middle East. The major drivers for RO sales growth are desalination, semiconductor processing, and pharmaceutical processing, the press release says. Based on current data, McIlvaine forecasts world RO sales into desalination markets to reach $3 billion, compared to $2 billion in 2008.

Average U.S. Electricity Prices Rise 3.9%

Following an increase of nearly 5% in 2007, the average price of electricity for industrial or large commercial entities in the United States rose another 3.9% during the past year, according to a survey by NUS Consulting Group (Park Ridge, N.J.). The survey found the average price of electricity in the United States was $0.0944/kWh as of April 1, compared to $0.0908/kWh a year earlier.

The study found that customers in California, Illinois, New York, and Texas pay some of the highest electricity prices in the country. According to an NUS press release, the highest power prices usually are found in states that have deregulated their retail electricity markets.

The largest price escalation during the past year occurred in Maryland, as the industrial customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. saw their electricity costs increase by 18.5%, the press release says. The largest price decreases during the past year were found with Excel Energy (Minneapolis) at 7.6% and Pennsylvania Power and Light (Allentown, Pa.) at 5.5%.

Improving Access to Sanitation Requires Better Solutions, Report Says

Even though many existing technologies and approaches can ensure access to clean water, safe sanitation, and hygiene education, the World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water, and 2.6 billion lack access to safe sanitation. In a report recently released by the Woodrow Wilson International Center (Washington, D.C.) and the Pacific Institute (Oakland, Calif.), scientists and development experts evaluate decision-making tools for practitioners in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector.

“The good news is there already are many workable solutions that can improve the water and sanitation issues people are struggling with,” said Meena Palaniappan, who co-authored the report with Micah Lang and Peter H. Gleick. “Unfortunately, it can be a tremendous challenge for communities to figure out which strategy fits their situation best and to maintain these technologies over time.”

According to a Wilson Center press release, A Review of Decision-Making Support Tools in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector recommends the development of a comprehensive decision-making tool that would enable users to compare the construction, operation, and management requirements; costs; financing options; scalability; and institutional needs of water, sanitation, and hygiene technologies and approaches. This tool also would address the needs of different geographic locations, evaluate opportunities for community involvement, and use case studies to demonstrate technologies in action.

The report can be downloaded at www.wilsoncenter.org/ecsp.