Show and Tell. Law-enforcement professionals (above) received a close look at heavy equipment to aid them in identifying stolen units; the integrated lift eye on excavator’s arm (r) makes lifting easier.

Facing cuts in federal funding for water and sewer infrastructure after a decade of stable funds, a consortium of construction industry trade groups is planning to go to the boss. The Clean Water Council, a consortium of trade associations led by the National Utility Contractors Association, will step up efforts to raise public awareness of the need for increased investment in water and sewer infrastructure, NUCA officials say.

NUCA announced the initiative at Utility Construction Expo 2006 early this month in San Diego. Until now, the council has been a quiet, “shoeleather lobby,” says Bill Hillman, CEO of Arlington, Va.-based NUCA. But after years during which the Clean Water State Revolving Fund received $1.35 billion in federal money, the appropriation was dropped to $1.1 billion in 2005 and $730 million in 2006. For 2007, the Bush administration is proposing $687.5 million. Under a “branded campaign” dubbed “Americans for Pure Water,” the Clean Water Council will focus efforts on “selected Senate and congressional districts,” to raise public awareness of the issue, Hillman says.

“This will be a new public awareness program to educate the public on what the needs really are and to put pressure on Congress,” says James A. Stutler, president of Tierdael Construction Co., Denver, and incoming NUCA president. Buried infrastructure is not as “sexy” as a highway project, so legislators tend to give it less attention, he notes.

A new professional-education session at the NUCA meeting this year was a free, one-day interactive training class for 37 law-enforcement professionals on heavy-equipment theft and stolen-equipment identification. A senior analyst from the National Equipment Register, New York City, taught attendees, most of whom know little about normal use of heavy equipment in construction, to recognize equipment that is stolen and how to identify it without the aid of the numbers that are standard on motor vehicles. The group then went to the exhibition floor for a hands-on orientation on the equipment displayed.

Caterpillar put its new D Series excavators on display for the first time at this show. The 330D excavator, with 8% more horsepower than the C model, boasts an average 5% increase in lift capability, thanks to an increase in hydraulic system pressure and a heavy-lift circuit. It also features an integrated lift eye, welded on the arm, for easy lifting of trench boxes or concrete pipe. Cat’s cast-pin grabber coupler allows users to swap out specialty attachments, including hydraulic attachments, from other manufacturers without leaving the cab.

Komatsu had nothing new on the floor, but the manufacturer is expecting a new backhoe loader, WB 146, to be in production in the next 60 days. The WB 156 should be in production in July. The key innovation will be a “banana boom” or “S-boom,” which will allow the bucket to be brought in closer to the knuckle for work in tight spaces. Komatsu also is talking up a new tracked skid-steer, the CK Series, due out in June. There will be four different units.

NUCA also unveiled a new training DVD for working in confined spaces. Two years in the making, the 19-minute video was shot on jobsites. It is designed for use as a toolbox talk or to complement in-house confined-space entry training. Later this year, the association  plans to introduce an interactive pipelayer training course on DVD.