September 2012, Vol. 24, No.9

WEFTEC Preview

And now for something completely different

WEFTEC sprinkles new opportunities among its mainstays

Change is good, and for that reason, WEFTEC® 2012 in New Orleans will feature many new events, as well as a new spin on some returning sessions. For example, the Clean Water policy update will highlight new directives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as the revised framework for its integrated municipal stormwater and wastewater approach. Also, for the first time, WEFTEC will include a spot specifically to network with colleagues and WEF’s experts outside of technical sessions. Below are a few of the events that are new or bringing something new to WEFTEC 2012.


Roadmap to Energy Sustainability

On Oct. 2, the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) will showcase its progress toward creating a “Roadmap to Energy Sustainability” for the industry. The roadmap will include a series of steps to help wastewater utilities plan and implement a wastewater energy production program. It will apply to wastewater treatment plants that choose simply to increase energy efficiency and to those that wish to build a full-scale cogeneration system. The steps will be arranged into various categories, from technical needs to managerial aspects, and will be applicable to small, medium, and large facilities.


Paul L. Busch award session 

At the Oct. 1 Paul L. Busch award session, sponsored by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (Champaign, Ill.), attendees can hear about cutting-edge research that is focused on emerging issues related to water, wastewater, and the environment. Featured presenters will include 2011 Paul Busch Award winner Volodymyr Tarabara, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan State University (East Lansing). Tarabara’s research centers on applying concepts from nanoscience to create new water, wastewater, and water reuse treatment technologies.


Clean Water policy update 

On Oct. 2, WEFTEC attendees can listen to the Clean Water policy update. Much of the update will focus on EPA’s recently released revised framework for its integrated municipal stormwater and wastewater approach. EPA has said it hopes the framework will help municipalities find a way to achieve the water quality objectives of the Clean Water Act by identifying how to address the competing capital and operations and maintenance requirements of separate wastewater and stormwater projects.

According to a June 5 memorandum sent by Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Water; and Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the hope is that besides helping municipalities identify inefficiencies in implementing both stormwater and wastewater programs, the integrated planning approach framework will “also facilitate the use of sustainable and comprehensive solutions, including green infrastructure, that protect human health, improve water quality, manage stormwater as a resource, and support other economic benefits and quality of life attributes that enhance the vitality of communities.”


The ‘best of the best’  

Attendees can learn more about wastewater treatment modeling on Oct. 3 during Technical Session 105, “Modeling: The Best of WWTMod 2012 International Modeling Seminar.” One presentation will explore computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which increasingly is being used in both academic and practical aspects of wastewater treatment. Presenters say that CFD has seen a significant increase occurring in the last 5 years. But the future use of CFD models and their added value to the wastewater field depends on their proper use, which will be discussed during the session. Another presentation will illustrate how a dynamic model can be used to evaluate a plant upgrade using post-upgrade performance data.


Learning Lounge

The Learning Lounge debuts at WEFTEC 2012. This new spot — located in the La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom — serves as a hub of information and networking. Posters will be presented here as well as informal sessions including such topics as how to use WEFCOM, how to get started with social media, and what the WEFTEC Program Committee looks for when choosing abstracts. Some technical session speakers also will drop in to answer the in-depth questions that could not be addressed during their sessions.


— LaShell Stratton-Childers, WE&T 


Rising to the Operations Challenge

Teams around the globe prepare throughout the year for the national competition

After the national Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Operations Challenge competition ends, teams know that a new season is just beginning. Competitors work throughout the year to hone their skills, increasing precision and speed to challenge their rivals.

Operators travel to Argentina to compete 

This year, four veteran U.S. Operations Challenge competitors had a unique opportunity to join together as the Equipo KSB–Hydro team and compete in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The team competed against 16 other teams from South America in the 6th Olimpiadas Sanitarias as part of the AIDIS (São Paulo) Congreso Argentino Saneamiento y Medio Ambiente held at the Costa Salguero Exhibition Center. The trip was made possible by support from KSB Inc. (Richmond, Va.) and Hydro International (Hillsboro, Ore.).

“It was an honor to be selected as part of the national team,” said Rey Davila, a member of the Dallas Aquatechs. “Going to another country to be tested on my Operations Challenge skills was one of the greatest experiences that I have had in my life.”

“It was great to be in another country, seeing how they do things differently,” said Paul Johnson, a member of the LA Wrecking Crew.

All members of the Equipo KSB–Hydro team — Davila; Johnson; Dale Burrow, a member of the TRA CReWSers; and Jeffrey Valdes, past member of the LA Wrecking Crew — agreed that the primary difference from the U.S. competition was a focus on safety and the requirement that only one competitor work at a time in a specific order. Johnson compared the process to working from a cookbook.

“In the U.S., it’s about multitasking, speed, and no penalties,” Burrow said. “In Argentina, it’s about safety and taking your time to complete the task.”

“In Argentina first and foremost, they emphasize safety,” Valdes added.

Even though the U.S. team only had a few hours to practice with the new set of rules, it placed sixth overall. Johnson attributed this to the team members’ extensive experience in competition and good teamwork. “The camaraderie was there among the four of us, because we’ve all done it before, we all know what it takes to win,” Johnson said.

The competition was won by the MCA team of Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos (Buenos Aires), one of the utilities that hosted the U.S. team. The achievement qualifies the MCA team for the WEFTEC® 2012 Operations Challenge competition in New Orleans, where they will represent AIDIS.


Team members build skills, serve as ambassadors  

In addition to the usual networking and training, the experience helped the operators build teamwork and adapt to changes. “I learned how to adapt to new competition changes, how to be a better team member, and I learned that I still have a lot to learn in the Operations Challenge field,” Davila said.

U.S. team members agreed that enthusiasm for clean water and a competitive spirit seems to span the globe. “The spirit is still the same no matter where you go in the world; sportsmanship is sportsmanship,” Valdes said.

“We went as WEF national competitors and ambassadors,” Valdes said. “We wanted to promote Ops Challenge not only as a national event but as a world event.”

And the U.S. team members all said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope it encourages other international events. “Competitions bring a large amount of people in the same line of work together with lots of valuable experience.” Burrow said. “Getting more people and more countries involved will only make it better. How great would it be to see an international competition one day?”


U.S. events prepare teams for WEFTEC 

While some Operations Challenge team members had the opportunity to practice in Argentina for the upcoming competition at WEFTEC in New Orleans (Sept. 29 to Oct. 3), others were busy competing in some of the numerous local and regional events hosted by WEF member associations.

Experience at these events mimics the national event at WEFTEC. The atmosphere is competitive, providing experience in operating under pressure. It gives teams a chance to practice any events that have changed, work through mistakes, refine timing and strategy, and bond before the national competition, said Marcel Misuraca, a member of the OCWA Jets.

“It also allows you to compete on different equipment with different judges,” said Donnie Cagle, a member of Terminal Velocity. “Due to differences of opinion or interpretation, there are times when the event is run differently than it is at WEFTEC.”

This enables a team to work on adapting to different situations and changes to events and requirements, Cagle explained.


NJWEA Spring Fling draws teams 

One of the most prominent regional events is the Spring Fling hosted by the New Jersey Water Environment Association (NJWEA).

“The New Jersey Spring Fling, for all intents and purposes, is a mini-WEFTEC as far as the Operations Challenge competition is concerned,” Cagle said. The event is unique because it draws a larger crowd and more teams than other local events, he added.

This year, the Spring Fling hosted 12 teams from as far away as Ontario and Texas. “There are teams flying in from across the country, because they all know the importance of attending this event,” Cagle said.

“The Spring Fling gives us a chance to see how the other teams are executing the steps in the events and gives teams a chance to iron out the mistakes at the local level,” Misuraca said.


Jennifer Fulcher, WE&T 



Changes to Operations Challenge events for 2012

At WEFTEC® 2012, Operations Challenge will be held Oct. 1 and 2. Teams have been preparing for changes to the Laboratory and Safety events.

The Laboratory Event will include a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) task in which teams will perform all steps of a BOD analysis, including determining acidity, preparing blank and seed correction series, and calibrating a dissolved-oxygen meter. YSI (Yellow Springs, Ohio) instrumentation will be used in the event.

Teams also will be using new rescue equipment in the Safety Event. Teams will respond to an unconscious “colleague,” played by a mannequin, in a manhole. After testing the atmosphere and ventilating the confined space, the team will deploy a gantry made by Reid Lifting (Monmouthshire, Wales) and descend from a Fibergate Composite Structures (Dallas) training platform to retrieve the victim. The victim will be revived using an automatic external defibrillator training module.



Leaders to weigh in on ‘Rethinking Water Services’

Process improvements and incremental changes occur at all levels of organizations. But it’s the job of top leaders to motivate, inspire, and plot the course for the future.

At WEFTEC® 2012, a panel of leaders from different walks of the water sector will assemble for “Water Leaders 2012: Rethinking Water Services.”

During this discussion about the future of the sector, panelists will provide perspectives from utilities, technology providers, regulators, and the academic world. (See the complete list of speakers on p. 42.)

The discussion will be grounded in practice and experience but will explore both what the reinvented utility will look like in 20 years and how the sector can collectively and proactively take steps to get there.

The theme of the discussion will be finding smarter ways of managing water to meet the needs of ever-growing and urbanizing populations, as well as such challenges as climate change, emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure, and tight budgets.

The event also will include direct audience participation, as well as social media interaction. Audience members will be asked to share their visions for urban water management and discuss what is possible, what it may take to achieve widespread adoption of new ideas, what barriers exist, and where incentives lie.

“Water Leaders 2012: Rethinking Water Services” will be held 10:30 to noon on Monday, Oct. 1, following the Opening General Session. Everyone is welcome to attend; no registration or badges are required for entry. 

— Steve Spicer, WE&T 

Panelist for Water Leaders 2012: Rethinking Water Services

Public utility perspective
George Hawkins
General manager
DC Water (Washington, D.C.)

Private utility perspective
Jeff Sterba
President and CEO
American Water Works Co. (Voorhees, N.J.)

Technology provider perspective
Gretchen McClain
Xylem Inc. (White Plains, N.Y.)

Regulator perspective
Lisa Jackson
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Academic perspective
Kala Vairavamoorthy
Executive Director
University of South Florida’s Patel School of Global Sustainability 

Jeff Eger
Executive director
Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.)

©2012 Water Environment Federation. All rights reserved.