WEF's membership newsletter covers current Federation activities, Member Association news, and items of concern to the water quality field. WEF Highlights is your source for the most up-to-the-minute WEF news and member information. 

July / August 2011, Vol. 48, No. 6

Top Story

New York City Works To Bring the Waterfront to Residents and Visitors
Strategy guides city into a new era of water-centric city living
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New York City has vast plans for its waterfront that will provide residents and visitors with increasing interaction with the city’s water environment.

In March, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn unveiled a “blueprint” for the city’s waterfront and waterways that will reconnect people with water, according to a news release issued by the mayor. This blueprint, the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy, includes the short-term, 3-year New York City Waterfront Action Agenda and the long-term Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan.

The multifaceted strategy will create new parks, new industrial activities, and new housing that all focus on waterborne transportation, recreation, maritime activity, and natural habitats, the news release says.  

A New York Water Taxi travels on the East River. Photo courtesy of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Click for larger image.

“At some point in our history, we both literally and figuratively turned our back on the waterfront,” Quinn says in the news release. “Now we’ve made a decision to more fully embrace the waterfront, in a way that’s both thoughtful and strategic.”

Two decades of working to revitalize the waterfront
The city’s first waterfront plan was issued in 1992. Since then, the City Council adopted legislation requiring that the plan be updated every 10 years, said a spokesperson for the New York City Department of City Planning. 

During the past 9 years, the Bloomberg administration has been working to revitalize long stretches of waterfront, making water a part of everyday life in the city, the spokesperson said. The administration has opened previously inaccessible shoreline to the public, acquiring 151 ha (373 ac) of waterfront land for parks and creating such areas as the West Harlem Piers Park in Manhattan and Barretto Point Park and Mill Pond Park in the Bronx. The 0.8-ha (2-ac) West Harlem Piers Park, previously a parking lot, features recreation piers for fishing, boating, and water tours; bicycle and pedestrian paths; and landscaped open space, according to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Web site. The administration also has rezoned more than 283 ha (700 ac) of vacant, underutilized waterfront property to create new housing and public waterfront access areas, the news release says.

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Barretto Point Park provides waterfront access and a public space to gather. Photo courtesy of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Click for larger image.

“We have made huge strides in re-connecting communities to the waterfront, and now we are launching an ambitious plan that ties those projects together,” Bloomberg said in the news release.  

The city’s waterfront borders rivers, the Atlantic Ocean, inlets and bays, active port areas, wetlands, public open space that includes 23 km (14 mi) of public beaches, and residential neighborhoods, the spokesperson said. Water is now considered a part of New York’s identity and is being called its “sixth borough,” the spokesperson added.

Engaging citizens and agencies to set goals for waterfront access
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The strategy, led by the Department of City Planning and prepared in partnership with several state and federal agencies, presents specific strategies for improving 22 stretches of waterfront, as well as the waterways themselves, the news release says. The plan, developed after a yearlong process of engaging thousands of citizens, was submitted to the City Council, public advocate, borough presidents, and 59 community boards. Work developing the plan was funded by a grant from the New York Department of State through the Environmental Protection Fund.  

A rendering shows the plans for Pier 15, which is now under construction at the East River Esplanade South in lower Manhattan. Photo courtesy of SHoP Architects (New York). Click for larger image.   

The waterfront vision and enhancement strategy includes the following eight goals:

  • Expand public access to the waterfront with new and expanded parks in all five boroughs.
  • Enhance the “blue network” and promote waterborne transportation and recreation.
  • Support the working waterfront by spurring new industrial, job-generating uses. 
  • Enliven the waterfront with a range of uses integrated with upland neighborhoods. 
  • Restore the natural waterfront and protect wetlands and shorefront habitats. 
  • Improve water quality to support public recreation and natural habitats. 
  • Improve government oversight of on-water and waterfront-related regulation.
  • Increase climate resilience to help the city better withstand coastal storms and flooding.

“We will build new parks, esplanades, and housing; reactivate job-creating industrial activity; introduce ferry service; clean the water; and make it easier to paddle and sail around the five boroughs,” Bloomberg says in the news release. “When our work is complete, New York City will again be known as one of the world’s premier waterfront cities.”

Working together to implement the plan
The city is working hard to create partnerships between state and federal agencies, involve agency representatives in working groups, and create a dialogue to make sure the permitting process works for everyone involved, the spokesperson said.

One important piece of starting and maintaining this cooperation is the Waterfront Management Advisory Board, which meets at least every 6 months to discuss the strategy. Subcommittees of the board meet more frequently. Board members represent various city departments, the maritime industry, labor unions, transportation companies, real estate and hospitality businesses, and environmental and civic organizations. The board provides a forum for cooperation between city, state, federal, and civic partners to balance waterfront and waterway uses, the news release says.  

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Above, canoes and kayaks make their way down the Bronx River. Below, canoers enjoy the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. Photos courtesy of Daniel Avila, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Click for larger images.
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Plans start now and reach into the future
The short-term agenda includes 130 projects that will develop more than 20 ha (50 ac) of new waterfront parks, create 14 new waterfront esplanades, implement $50 million in waterfront ecological restoration projects, and introduce a new commuter ferry service. In addition, the agenda calls for investing $1.6 billion in upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plants and $650 million in gray infrastructure. These projects are expected to create 13,000 construction jobs and at least 3400 permanent maritime and industrial jobs, the news release says.  

People bike on the Hudson River Greenway. Photo courtesy of the Hudson River Park Trust (New York). Click for larger image.

Vision 2020 provides a framework for the city’s 837 km (520 mi) of shoreline for the next decade and beyond, the release says. The plan continues to expand shorelines, natural habitat, and waterfront greenways throughout the city and works to improve connections between on-land transit and ferries and encourage public boathouses and boat-storage containers at launch sites. It also seeks to establish maritime hubs supporting workboat operations, create new policies and guidelines to develop near industrial areas, protect historic resources along the waterfront, streamline the process for incorporating green infrastructure in designs, and identify resources to promote research and modeling of flood and storm-surge risks.

Find the full plan and more information at www.nyc.gov/waves.  

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With the aid of a tugboat, the Vega Nikolas container ship turns around in the Upper New York Harbor to berth at Pier 10 at the Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of the New York City Department of City Planning. Click for larger image.
— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
WEFTEC Weekend Events
Don’t miss the opportunity to take part in the workshops and a community service event at WEFTEC
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Many WEFTEC® attendees are familiar with the conference’s renowned technical sessions and expansive exhibit floor, but the conference also features 27 interactive, educational workshops and a hands-on community service event held before the opening general session even starts. WEFTEC 2011 begins Saturday, Oct. 15, and the weekend features some must-attend events.

Saturday workshops
On Saturday, Workshop 108, “The City of Los Angeles Interceptors Breathe a Sigh of Relief — Collection System Ventilation and Odors Evaluation and Solutions,” explores techniques to identify the buildup and release of odors and volatile organic compounds emissions in large near-surface and deep interceptor sewers. The workshop will include morning and afternoon presentations, a late-morning panel discussion, and a 2-hour lunchtime visit to an air treatment facility (ATF).  

Biotrickling filters at the City of Los Angeles air treatment facility. WEFTEC 2011 attendees participating in Workshop 108 will visit this facility. Photo courtesy of David Copp, City of Los Angeles.

This is a critical topic, and “it introduces new techniques into looking at interceptor odor hot spots,” said Richard Pope, vice president of odor services at Malcolm Pirnie Inc. (White Plains, N.Y.). Information presented will focus on an odor problem Los Angeles faced that is encountered by many other facilities. Attendees will get to see an example of one of the city’s solutions, a new ATF. Attendees will get a tour of the facility, “bringing to reality what we are actually discussing during the day,” Pope said.

Attendees also will learn about how Los Angeles hired an independent contractor to be the community’s representative, informing the public about the project and bringing questions and concerns about the proposed project from the community to the city. “It was a different public outreach approach,” Pope said. “And it worked out exceedingly well.”

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From right, the City of Los Angeles air treatment facility biotrickling filter and polishing carbon unit that will be seen by WEFTEC 2011 Workshop 108 attendees. Photo courtesy of Cyrous Gilani, City of Los Angeles. Click for larger image.

“Essentially we’re looking at issues that are important to the industry, we’re taking a different view as to what parameters we’re measuring, and we’re finding new solutions to design issues associated with drop structures,” Pope said.  

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Also on Saturday, Workshop 112, “Wastewater as a N-E-W Resource — Global to Local Perspectives and Lessons Learned,” will discuss the state of knowledge about wastewater in the areas of nutrients, energy, and water and identify information gaps based on recent studies by the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF; Alexandria, Va.) and Global Water Research Coalition (London).

“In recent years, there has been a gradual paradigm shift — with wastewater becoming recognized as a valuable resource,” said Amit Pramanik, senior program director at WERF. “It contains several important and somewhat scarce commodities which can be recovered and sold. These three resources, N–Nutrients, E–Energy, W–Water, are the focus of the workshop.”

In 11 different topic discussions, two question-and-answer panel discussions, and an afternoon featuring breakout group discussions and presentations, this workshop will examine opportunities for using wastewater as a source of nutrients, energy, and water as well as strategies for using wastewater as a resource and overcoming the barriers to doing so.  

This graphic, which shows possible use of wastewater as resource, was created by James L. Barnard for a talk at the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF; Alexandria, Va.) Research Forum in December 2009. Amit Pramanik, senior program director at WERF plans to discuss these possible uses during Workshop 112. Photo courtesy of Pramanik. Click for larger image.

Service project
If you have time for an all-day event Saturday and feel like doing some hands-on work, the Walkway to Wetlands 4th Annual WEFTEC Service Project could be for you. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) will host this community service project. Attendees will help revitalize a former industrial area in Los Angeles.

“The service project is our opportunity, as WEF members and volunteers, to give back to the communities we are involved in, as well as to engage the community in water- and environment-related education,” said Haley Falconer, SYPC Community Service Project chair.

Volunteers will help create an entrance to a constructed wetland, the South Los Angeles Wetland Project, by planting trees. “We have an opportunity to bring together the new wetland facility and the adjacent school, not only by adding trees ... but by providing educational materials to the school, so they can utilize the nearby wetland as a resource,” Falconer said.

Volunteers will be provided with bus transportation that leaves from the Convention Center at 8 a.m. and returns about 4 p.m. and be provided with lunch and a T-shirt. Anyone interested should register for the free event when registering for WEFTEC.  

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Above, a rendering of the South Los Angeles Wetland Project and left, a photo of the project site. Photos courtesy of the Bureau of Engineering — Department of Public Works, City of Los Angeles. Click for larger images.  

Sunday workshops
Sunday features some intriguing workshops, such as “Communications Camp: Tools To Engage, Motivate, and Reassure Your Community.” This workshop (Workshop 211) will help attendees develop skills needed to communicate their efforts to protect public health and the environment. Topics will include communications strategy, outreach tools, face-to-face interactions, branding, advisory committees, media interactions, and conflict resolution.

“This workshop will give all types of water professionals the skills they need to effectively manage their messages — whether they are about rate increases, capital investments, or support for watershed health in general,” said Karen DeBaker, communications supervisor for Clean Water Services (Hillsboro, Ore.). Attendees will learn that messages should be more proactive, rather than reactive. This is especially important with the rise of social media and quick access to information online and with tight budgets, she explained.

“Participants will walk away with concrete communications skills that they can implement as soon as they return to work,” DeBaker said. For example, participants will learn how to identify different communication styles, present key messages, gain effective input, run a public meeting, manage conflict, and talk to the media.

Workshop 209, “Green Infrastructure — Beyond the Hype to Real Results,” will provide information about real-world application's of green infrastructure in various municipal utilities. Presenters representing municipal, regulatory, design, and research perspectives will talk about lessons learned from addressing combined sewer overflow and stormwater and matching green infrastructure technologies to local conditions.

The workshop will help people apply green infrastructure technologies by providing examples of installed technologies and lessons learned, said Carol Hufnagel, vice president at Tetra Tech (Pasadena, Calif.). It features two interactive sessions. In the first, attendees will participate in a discussion about what they do and do not know about green infrastructure to help speakers focus on recurring themes and questions, said Tad Slawecki, senior engineer at Limno Tech (Ann Arbor, Mich.). In the second session, groups will be given a hypothetical problem, and group members will take on different roles, such as regulator, environmental organization, and utility director. Playing these roles, they will work together to come up with a solution. The exercise has been created to help attendees understand different concerns and agendas that can be encountered when trying to implement green infrastructure and provide an appropriate response.      

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
Company Shows Children How Water Treatment Works and Educates Children About Conservation

While most children in New Jersey were in a classroom learning history and English on April 28, approximately 215 children went to work with their parents at eight different New Jersey American Water (Voorhees) centers to learn about the value and importance of water on this year’s Take Your Child to Work Day.

Each of the eight centers featured different activities and learning objectives for the children. Topics included everything from water conservation and environmental stewardship to water treatment plant operation and safety procedures.

To learn about the environment and stewardship, children planted trees and drew a water-related mural for the Plainfield office and experimented with how plants grow in different environments by creating their own biodomes at the Fire Road Operations Center (Egg Harbor Township), according to a New Jersey American Water news release.

Children toured the Delran Regional Water Treatment Plant, where they learned about the water cycle, and toured the Raritan Millstone Water Treatment plant (Bridgewater), where they visited the water quality laboratory. The saw how water is sampled and analyzed to check that it is potable, the news release says.

In the Lakewood office, children participated in field work. They learned how fire hydrants, backhoes, wastewater collection trucks, and other water-service equipment operate. At the Belle Mead office, children learned about meter reading and how water services are restored during main breaks. And at the Swimming River Water Treatment Plant (Tinton), children learned about leak detection and how to conserve water at home, the news release says.

The company headquarters in Voorhees hosted about 70 children, the most of any center, and taught children the importance of safety in the industry and what they can do to be safe in their daily activities.

Daniel Ranieri, New Jersey American Water’s internal communication manger, has organized the event for the past 3 years. Ranieri said it is extremely important to educate children about water and the environment, especially since water often is overlooked as a commodity in their homes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the average family of four can use 1500 L (400 gal) of water every day. This amount could be reduced significantly by using water-saving techniques, according to the EPA Water Sense Web site.

“We hope that at the end of Take Your Child to Work Day, our children gained a better understanding about how vital water is to our lives and what they can do to preserve this precious, natural resource,” Ranieri said.

Conservation is one of the most pressing water topics for children, Ranieri said. By showing videos, holding presentations from members of the management team, and involving them in activities, the children had a lot of fun and enjoyed “the educational aspect of the day,” he said. 

— Eric Wilkens, WEF Highlights
WEF Member Receives Award for Outstanding Service
From left, Illinois Water Environment Association (IWEA) Past President Dennis Priewe presents the Paul Clinebell award to Rock River (Ill.) Water Reclamation District Laboratory Supervisor Mary Johnson. Photo courtesy of Ted Denning, IWEA clarifier. Click for larger image.
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Mary Johnson, lab supervisor at the Rock River (Ill.) Water Reclamation District, in March received the 2011 Paul Clinebell Outstanding Service Award at the Illinois Water Environment Association (IWEA; West Chicago, Ill.) annual conference. The award acknowledges significant contributions made by members to the association and outstanding service to IWEA during the course of membership.

Johnson has worked as a lab supervisor at the Rock River plant for more than 20 years. She currently is working with professors and students at Northern Illinois University (Rockford) on a study to determine whether algae present in wastewater treatment plants can be used as a source of biofuel. She also serves as chairwoman both of the IWEA Scholarship and Charitable Giving Committee and the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) Publications Committee.

IWEA established the Paul Clinebell award in 2005. It is named in honor of IWEA’s first president.  
— Eric Wilkens, WEF Highlights
In Memoriam: Larry Esvelt
In Memoriam Larry Esvelt
Photo courtesy of Mark Esvelt.
Larry Esvelt, owner of Esvelt Environmental Engineering (Spokane, Wash.) and a member of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) since 1964, died April 25 at the age of 72.

Esvelt, born Oct. 19, 1938, in Spokane, received a bachelor’s degree with honors in civil engineering from Washington State University (Pullman), as well as a master’s degree in civil engineering and a doctorate in engineering from the University of California–Berkeley. In 1976, he opened Esvelt Environmental Engineering.

“His work in environmental engineering took him first around the Pacific Northwest and eventually around the world, designing, consulting, and accrediting,” Esvelt’s obituary says. “He will always be remembered for his integrity, generosity, and leadership.”

In addition to being a licensed professional engineer in seven states, an author of numerous papers and technical reports, and a member of various professional and academic boards and committees, Esvelt had been a member of WEF’s Water Reuse Committee since 2008.

“Larry was a huge part of and a primary driver for water reuse here in the Northwest,” said Water Reuse Committee Chairman Craig Riley.

Esvelt was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE; Reston, Va.), past president of the ASCE Inland Empire Section, and a member of the American Water Works Association (Denver). He received the ASCE Inland Empire Section Engineer of Merit Award in 1980 and the Spokane County Aquifer Protection Award.


In Memoriam: Takeshi Kubo
In Memoriam Kubo

Takeshi Kubo, a Stockholm (Sweden) Water Prize laureate and leader in establishing and developing wastewater works in Japan, died April 1 at the age of 91.

Kubo, a member of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) since 1970, worked for the Research Institute of Wastewater Management (Tokyo), Japan Sewage Works Association (JSWA; Tokyo), Japan Sewage Works Agency (Tokyo), and Ministry of Construction in sewerage fields for a total of more than 50 years. He received the Stockholm Water Prize in 1994, the WEF Presidential Recognition Award in 1991, and WEF honorary membership in 1981.

Kubo worked at various organizations to bring wastewater treatment plants and a network of pipes separating runoff and wastewater to Tokyo and to resupply waterways with treated wastewater, according to a Stockholm International Water Institute article. He also assisted with the exchange of knowledge across international borders and served on WEF’s Asia/Pacific Rim Steering Committee.

Photo courtesy of Peter Hanneberg.

“Dr. Kubo was a very long-time member and friend of WEF and can be credited for working many years to build a strong relationship between WEF and JSWA,” said Phyllis Ross, WEF managing director of the Association and Leadership Center. “He was an elegant and proper gentleman and always dressed and behaved with the utmost professionalism.”

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