It is the end of the semester. Where did winter go? Congratulations to our students who are graduating May 4!. Early this time. Maybe I can get all the grades done before the weekend!! Looks Like Colorado has had some snow, so my July trip out should be fun and green (Hot, but fun). Lemon basil ice cream in Grand Lake. You cannot imagine how good that is! We are also planning a Yellowstone trip and I cannot wait to grab 1000s of photos to share. Last time I was at Yellowstone I shot 1000 picture on film. No limitations this time!!!! How I will use the concepts in a future paper I am unsure, but I would like to do a comparative study across Alaska, Michigan, Colorado and Florida as a summer class. It would be interesting I think. Or at least I can gather enough data for….another project. In the meantime, I will be back to blogging. Economics and utilities and leadership – fodder for another book perhaps?. I am looking at a paper on stewardship that may tie to an ethics seminar next Fall. And I am hoping AWWA will help with the “leadership in the water industry” survey that is partially drafted but need a survey. I know people are tired of surveys, but sometimes there is one that might help us all. We think this is one.
The concept of regulations is to address problems. All regulations are based on trying to correct a problem that has already occurred. We have rules that were developed to try to address contaminants in water, and rules designed to address a variety of potential threat to water supplies. In a blog over a year ago I asked the question, in light of the mess in West Virginia, why do we permit power companies to store coal ash next to streams? This is a huge potential health impact to water customers, as well as to the ecosystem that we rely on to protect water supplies in natural areas. A 20 year old Congressional Act did sorta prohibit the discharge of coal ash to streams from mining, but did not address storage where the accidents actually occur. So we have rules that didn’t remove the piles from the banks, and didn’t offer a solution to remove it which would have been the appropriate regulatory response. We should all be on the bandwagon that urges Congress to require power companies to properly dispose of this stuff, and to provide a means to do so.
However, in classic “Failure to Learn from the Past” mode, instead we get a directive in Washington to review the rollback of the stream rule that was developed to address a 20 year old lawsuit over stream protections and “waters of the US.” That revised stream rule got held up in 2015 by litigation (EPA Secretary Pruitt led one of those suits), and while the directive is not exactly allowing coal ash into streams as noted in the media, it does give you the sense that there will not be any effort to address this problem. That should concern water industry leaders.
The first piece of legislation approved by Congress in 2017:
We have big issues. Wolves are not one of them. Nor are bears. We should be concerned. And lower our expectations so we will not be disappointed.
WIFIA was approved:
Good news for water funding, but still a drop in the bucket of what is needed
Power utilities are not really interested in coal regardless what Congress and the President do to encourage it.
Are we surprised? Coal is dirty and creates obvious problems. Coal emissions caused English kings to ban coal in London 400+ years ago. Coal jobs are not coming back. Nor are manufacturing jobs. It has nothing to do with China – everything to do with technology (robots).
Broward College is seeking $29 million for classroom upgrades because there are not enough seats in the classrooms. The rooms are cramped and the “old seal with a wooden table on top isn’t big enough to accommodate students today.” It doesn’t take much to read between those lines. About like Texas making manholes 28 inches in diameter because the guys cant fit into the smaller ones anymore….
But Beijing is sinking:
Not sure how that correlates, but interesting….
Not only did FAU host the ASCE southeast regional competition in March, but I have had a big deadline – my next book is due the end of this month to the publisher. That has taken a lot of time, and I have had several issues divert my attention at critical junctures. Fortunately the book is nearly complete. I should meet the deadline. This book should be topical. It is about infrastructure management. JRoss is the published and with a little luck it will be out in time for the holiday sin 2017. Very good stuff. The first part of the book focuses on the benefits=of infrastructure tot eh economy. They are intrinsically lined although there is an interesting research project needed to study how much infrastructure creates economic growth and how much growth requires more investments. Is there a point of diminishing returns. Paul Krugman may want to weigh in as I did quote him a couple times. Then the local systems are discussed – what can happen, maintenance needs etc. Water, sewer, stormwater roads are featured. Lots of pictures and some means to autopsy the issues. The rest of the book looks are how to develop a system to manage the assets, value them, evaluate condition and fund improvements. Work order are really important for causal factors. What fails, and how often. I think we can predict the problems. My initial analysis, included in the book says we can with limited data. Going back to those Bayesian roots. Another project I would like to look at. Finding the next Flint is a third project. So many ideas, so little time (and no money to get support). The solutions will involve leadership, so I did insert some future risks and past “what could possible go wrong” issues. Sorry Flint, you made the cut, but so did Alamosa, Walkerton, midwestern power companies, and my friends in St. Pete. But instructively I hope. The book is aimed at professionals, but a student teaching guide will be developed this summer for use in the classroom. Should be fun. 700+ references. And I could add so much more, but I think it will diminish the usefulness. No doubt it will make the best seller list – looking forward to my name on the NY Times best seller list. LOL. Or at least sell enough copies to make JRoss interested in another book. But seriously it should prove interesting.