May 2007, Vol. 19, No.5

From the Editors

WE&T Prelude

From the Trenches

Melissa Jackson

 “Build it, and they will come.” This oft-quoted mantra from the popular movie “Field of Dreams” might be appropriate for any number of industries, but not for water treatment. Water quality professionals certainly aren’t lacking for customer demand. Rather, if they hear a voice, it’s probably saying, “They keep coming! Build more.”

It doesn’t take a baseball movie reference to point out that infrastructure problems aren’t going away anytime soon. Population growth has contributed to the already pervasive problem of aging pipes and equipment, pushing many municipalities past their capacity. The question isn’t so much what the problems are, but how to fix them.

Utilities face formidable challenges when trying to rehabilitate their infrastructure. That’s why we are especially pleased to feature three collection systems success stories in this issue. You’ll find out how an Oklahoma city created its own construction division, reduced sanitary sewer overflows by 95%, and saved millions of dollars in the process (click here); how a North Dakota city funded its infrastructure improvements through a sales tax increase (click here); and how a historic New England town installed its first sewer system without disrupting the tourist season (click here). These stories may be a bit grittier than the average Hollywood fare, but the characters are real, the endings are happy, and we hope the messages are inspirational to other utilties facing similar circumstances.

Melissa Jackson, editor

Operations Forum Editor's Note

Why Do-It-Yourself?

Steve Spicer

One summer my father tore the siding off our house, installed new rigid insulation, and put up new vinyl siding. I helped the night before we were to leave for our beach vacation by holding a flashlight, so he could cut the final piece of insulation to fit around the gas line and telephone wires coming into our house. The understanding was that we didn’t head for the beach until the insulation installation was complete.

While the job took him longer to complete than if he’d hired a crew to do it, there were advantages to going it alone. The savings: doing it himself saved our family money, which paid for our trip to the beach. The quality: a playing card couldn’t fit in the cracks between the sheets of insulation. And some lessons for my Dad: he learned more about how to cut insulation than anyone should ever know, which helped later when he installed the siding.

This month’s issue includes three “do-it-yourself” stories; each boasts its own advantages.

The Hanover Sewerage Authority (HSA; Whippany, N.J.) wanted greater quality control over the scum cleanout from its secondary anaerobic digester. The utility devised safety measures and standard procedures and worked together to get the job done right. (click here)

Likewise, a Wisconsin nature center built a subsurface flow wetland to treat its wastewater. The system provides children a chance to see how water is recycled back into the local watershed, and the system works so well that five similar wetland complexes were built for other users. (click here)

This month’s third feature reviews the inspection requirements for oil storage tanks. The article details the inspection requirements for each type of tank likely to be found at any facility, as well as noting when it’s necessary to bring in the professionals. (click here)

Tackling a project yourself is usually hard work. You usually make a few mistakes, and it usually takes a little longer than it should. But you gain control, ensure quality, save money, learn new skills, and acquire a fresh outlook on the big picture. All in all, it’s a fair trade.

Steve Spicer, editor