February 2008, Vol. 20, No.2

A Winning Combination

Innovative MBR technologies and reclaimed-water dispersal systems overcome challenges to wastewater treatment in North Carolina coastal areas — meeting strict regulations, protecting nearby ecosystems, and appealing to residents

awinning.jpg Kevin C. Eberle and Timothy J. Baldwin

North Carolina’s coastal region (and, in particular, its associated estuaries) is among the most biologically productive and environmentally sensitive areas of the state and the nation. However, North Carolina’s coastal counties are experiencing some of the fastest population growth in the southeastern United States. The resulting, often-conflicting needs of the expanding human population place undue pressure on these crucial estuarine resources and threaten the very features that make the area so economically desirable.

Recently enacted regulations and statutes have significantly restricted how wastewater is managed from new or expanding communities on the Carolina coastal plain.

Prior solutions, involving use of homeowner-association-managed, factory-built wastewater treatment plants or three-cell facultative lagoons that discharge to tidal creeks and estuaries have produced a variety of water quality problems leading to ecological degradation of sensitive shellfish waters. In light of these issues, McKim & Creed (Cary, N.C.) recently completed designs for six new satellite reclaimed-water facilities ranging in size from 380 to 1900 m³/d (0.1 to 0.5 mgd) to serve new coastal communities.  Read full article (login required) 


Beyond Gravity

Lessons from the largest low-pressure sewer project in New England

beyondgravity.jpg Deborah Primeau Mahoney, Thomas Parece, Jay Hall, and Robert Zora

The town of Marion, Mass., is a coastal community that suffers from high groundwater and variable terrain. This resort community has many vacation homes turned into year-round residences and still many vacation homes closed up for the winter. Since the homes are built fairly close together, land availability is limited. The town chose low-pressure sewers (LPSs) over gravity sewers as part of its sewer expansion project in 2004. LPSs were chosen as the best alternative methodology for design, installation, and operations and maintenance (O&M). Having gained public acceptance and buy-in for this unconventional system, Marion’s 455-home project is the largest single-contract LPS system in the northeastern United States.  Read full article (login required) 


The Need To Succeed

Practical strategies for comprehensive succession planning and knowledge management

needtosucceed.jpg Judi Berzon

During the past 6 years, Union Sanitary District (USD; Union City, Calif.) has implemented a comprehensive succession planning and long-term staffing program through a joint labor–management process. USD’s approach differs from conventional models in that the district partnered with the employees’ union and also focused on the replacement of key nonmanagement individuals, such as electricians, engineering technicians, operators, mechanics, and administrative staff. These efforts have resulted in more than a dozen major initiatives that are assisting the district to attract and retain well-qualified new staff members, as well as to capture valuable institutional and technical knowledge.  Read full article (login required) 


Operations Forum Features

Learning From Afar

National, state, and provincial perspectives on distance education in operator certification

learningfromafar.jpg Margaret Doss

In recent years, distance education has expanded beyond traditional written correspondence courses to include audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, audio and video conferencing, computer-based training, webcasts, asynchronous online courses, and combinations of these formats.

To gain the perspectives of state, provincial, and other regulatory programs, an open-ended survey was developed and e-mailed to each water or wastewater certification program contact in the Association of Boards of Certification 2006 Directory. The brief survey consisted of 10 questions about the traditional correspondence courses and online distance education for initial operator training, as well as continuing education for license renewal.  Read full article (login required)  


Pass It On

The importance of being a mentor

passiton.jpg Cate E. Gerstberger

In October, while speaking at WEFTEC®.07 in San Diego on “Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce: The Personal Side of Mentoring,” I asked for a show of hands from the baby boomers. Out of approximately 200 people in the room, I would guess that more than two-thirds raised their hands. It was like a sea of awareness, waving the reality of the staffing challenge that is facing the water and wastewater utility industry in the next 5 years.

Succession planning is a must now as baby boomers reach retirement age. Utilizing the talents, knowledge and expertise of this retiring force is necessary and smart in order to bridge the gap left by their absence. This wealth of information is meant to be tapped and shared with younger staff. There is a moral requirement of anyone holding the knowledge to pass it on — to be a mentor.  Read full article (login required) 


Picking the Perfect Pump

An effective analysis of the work to be completed can pay dividends into the future of your pumping technology investment

pickingperfectpump.jpg John Amundsen

Pumps and pumping systems are the unsung heroes of modern society — quickly and quietly transporting vital water supplies, chemicals, and waste to and from locations that rely upon their consistent, reliable operation. In fact, the general population typically ignores pumps and pumping systems until a problem arises or downtime occurs. This is especially true within the water and wastewater industry, where the disruption of pumping operations has the ability to have consequences ranging from inconvenient to catastrophic. In many cases, however, by simply choosing the correct pump for the application, issues can be prevented.

When choosing the correct equipment for a pumping application, the choice can often be reduced to a handful of simple steps which — when followed carefully and thoroughly — can help eliminate much of the stress and confusion often involved with equipment purchasing. In addition, choosing the correct pump ensures a longer pump life and greatly minimizes downtime.  Read full article (login required)