September 2006, Vol. 18, No.9

Leading by Example

outdoorclassromstudents Teresa Zumwald

When Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky (Fort Wright) began planning an expansion of its office and industrial complex, leaders didn’t want a classic square building on a conventional site with a giant retention pond and acres of pavement. They asked, “Why not showcase one or two stormwater best management practices (BMPs) onsite instead?”

“As the region’s stormwater utility promoting stormwater BMPs and water quality improvements, we could not miss an opportunity to demonstrate these BMPs ourselves,” said Jeff Eger, the district’s general manager.

Eger admitted that a site showcasing stormwater BMPs — funded primarily with ratepayer dollars — was a bold concept for the district, which collects and treats wastewater and manages stormwater in Northern Kentucky. “Some of the original engineers on the project were concerned that these BMPs wouldn’t work on our site,” he said. “But we overcame the skepticism and the naysayers and surrounded ourselves with professionals who shared our vision and understood the paybacks. Then the project snowballed.”  Read full article .


The Regulation Deluge

Lesser-known software can ease the rule burden

WEA089LH David W. Harris and Esteban Azagra

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is implementing significant new regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act with respect to distribution systems and has proposed 24 rule changes under the Clean Water Act, including three final rules. Water and wastewater utilities must comply with these new rules while maintaining standards set by the old ones.

In 2004, industry leaders reported that their top concerns resulted from trying to comply with current regulations (Journal of the American Water Works Association, November 2005). Seventy-one water and wastewater utility and academic leaders participated in the Delphi Poll, which was conducted by Malcolm Pirnie Inc. (White Plains, N.Y.). For wastewater utilities, key challenges included how to

  • improve asset management,
  • reduce nonpoint source pollution,
  • provide better watershed protection,
  • comply with new discharge requirements, and
  • reduce sanitary and combined sewer overflows.

Each regulation typically requires physical facilities, responsible staff, and specific work practices and compliance activities, as well as information gathering, analysis, and reporting. The burden of compliance falls on every worker in a utility, guided by a few experts. Each utility must determine which of its performance functions may be at risk for noncompliance and devise appropriate mitigation plans.  Read full article .


Need More Input

Pearland Public Works automates with wireless SCADA

remote_user_Pearland Phil Smith and Bobbt Whisenant

Limited information translates easily into inefficiency. The Pearland (Texas) Public Works Department knew this first-hand. Using an autodialer system, operators could detect status information for any of its 14 primary water and wastewater facilities. The trouble was that the system did not provide clues as to the nature of the problem.

Pearland’s autodialer system was limited to reporting basic failures of equipment and did not provide the details necessary to ensure that appropriate operations and maintenance staff and equipment were dispatched. “The old system only alerted operators of general problems and was prone to false alarms from lightning surges or temporary wet well-level spikes,” explained William McCart, the department’s chief operator. “The operator would have to go onsite to investigate the problem, and with the high incidence of false alarms, our maintenance activities were very inefficient.”  Read full article .



Operations Forum Features

Lost in the FOG?

KobylinkskiFeaturePhotojpg Edmund Kobylinski, Gary Hunter, and Jim Fitzpatrick

Imagine that the city council has finally accepted the case you have made for the critical need to develop strict local limits for fats, oils, and grease (FOG), as well as a grease-trap policy for food preparation operations. All those years of fielding early-morning telephone calls about plugged lines in the collection system and plugged sludge-transfer lines at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) are about to end, and the operations staff looks at you as a hero. The worst of your problems appears to be over. But before the euphoria wears off, get ready for the next big question: “Will you accept loads of hauled grease?"  Read full article .


Clearing the FOG

A Florida utility relies on haulers, rather than generators, to reduce the amount of fats, oil, and grease entering its collection system 

ParnellFeatureArtjpg Dan Parnell

When JEA (Jacksonville, Fla.) set out to reduce sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) caused by fats, oil, and grease (FOG) in its municipal collection system, the agency understood that an aggressive effort to compel restaurants to comply with its regulations could stretch its resources and impose financial hardships on the regulated community. By developing an innovative approach that relies heavily on the efforts of vendors that remove FOG from restaurants, JEA improved compliance and reduced overflows without increasing fees or enlarging its budget.  Read full article . 


Robots to the Rescue

Robotic technology holds promise as a safe, effective way to inspect and maintain collection systems

OFCloseFeatureArtjpg Eric Close and Tim Prevost

 The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN; Pittsburgh) owns and operates an extensive combined sewer system known as the Deep Tunnel System (DTS). The system’s size and depth complicate efforts to inspect and maintain this critical infrastructure component. Starting in 2004, ALCOSAN teamed with RedZone Robotics (West Homestead, Pa.) — a developer of robotic technologies for cleaning, inspecting, and rehabilitating tanks and pipelines — to design a robotic system that could navigate, investigate, and perform certain tasks within the DTS. The collaboration has resulted in the development of a new platform of inspection products called Responder and the inspection of more than 10 mi (16 km) of pipe that was fully surcharged and difficult to access.  Read full article .


How To Win Friends and Influence SSOs

A Kansas community's prevetive maintenance program reaps multiple benefits

RookFeaturePhotojpg David Bries and Andrew Rook

 Want to reduce sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs)? Start with a comprehensive maintenance plan. Olathe, Kan., found that preventive maintenance reduced its SSOs from 33 in 1999 to an average of 5.6 per year for the last 5 years. In recognition of all the following efforts that went into the program, the Kansas Water Environment Association awarded Olathe the Category 3 Award for Outstanding Collection System Operations in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006.  Read full article .