January 2012, Vol. 24, No.1

Despite challenges, Japan speeds toward recovery

 The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated much of the wastewater system on the east coast of Japan and created challenges in carrying out emergency and full restoration projects

japan art Yasuyuki Nakasuji

The deadly earthquake that struck east Japan on March 11, 2011, measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, making it the largest ever recorded in the country. The Great East Japan Earthquake violently shook vast areas of Japan from the northern part of the Tohoku region to the Kanto region. In some areas, the Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a seismic intensity of 7 — the highest in its scale (see Figure 1, p. 36). The earthquake resulted in the loss of many lives before a massive tsunami brought further devastation upon the Pacific coastal areas.

Damage to wastewater facilities totaled US$28.3 billion, according to the Japanese government’s Cabinet Office. The total amount of damage to buildings and infrastructure, including electricity, gas, and water facilities, was estimated to be US$218 billion. Read full article (login required) 


Creating an emergency management plan

How a minor incident helped DC Water fill gaps in its emergency management plan and further minimize risk

emergency plan art Caroline G. Hemenway and Jonathan P. Reeves

Common incidents, such as small chemical spills, power outages, and weather events, are disruptive. Many utilities cite time constraints as the reason for their lack of preemptive planning. Poor management of these “minor” incidents, however, may mean poor management in major crises, such as floods, fires, sabotage, or bomb threats. This need not be. Today, many organizations have developed the tools to help utilities create a comprehensive EMP while meeting daily obligations.

DC Water (Washington, D.C.) has been improving its emergency planning since 2003. In 2008, it set out to construct an emergency system that conforms to NIMS, the District of Columbia Response Plan, international standards, and regional programs. The utility hired an emergency response and planning coordinator to address these goals. Other utilities may find DC Water’s experience valuable because it emphasizes what is essential and immediately useful in emergency planning. Read full article (login required) 


Charge it!

A ‘submerged membrane electro-bioreactor’ achieves high removal efficiencies

submerged membrane art Maria Elektorowicz, Shadi W. Hasan, and Jan A. Oleszkiewicz
In the search for a wastewater treatment system that produces high-quality effluent while requiring minimal maintenance and relatively simple operation, utilities might consider mixing electricity and water. A recently developed technology called a “submerged membrane electro-bioreactor” (SMEBR) does this using a number of wastewater treatment processes in one reactor: biological treatment, membrane filtration, and electrokinetics. Read full article (login required) 


Operations Forum Features

Flood recovery by the book (while writing it)

 Getting the Nashville (Tenn.) Central Treatment Plant Biosolids Facility back into action after a major regional flood required a detailed plan, swift action, and extensive communication

flood recovery art Bob Wimmer, Ron Taylor, Joe White, Roy Denney, Neil Massart, Hari Santha, Shannon Lambert, Tazio Qubeck, and Patrick Moore
Between May 1 and 3, 2010, numerous streams and the Cumberland River inundated Nashville, Tenn., and its surrounding areas with the worst flooding in more than half a century. The Metro Water Services Central Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Biosolids Facility was left under more than 1 m (3 ft) of water, without power, and severely damaged. Metro staff members worked tirelessly to salvage equipment, remove water, and prevent further damage. Once the waters receded, Metro Water was left without a functional biosolids processing facility. Read full article (login required) 


Powering down costs and impacts

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department implemented an energy management plan to significantly reduce expenses, consumption, and environmental effects

energy savings art P.J. Dada

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) created an energy management plan in 2007. DWSD is counted among the top 20 of Detroit-based DTE Energy’s 3 million customers, spending between $45 million and $55 million for electricity annually.

The department operates five water treatment plants, 20 water pump stations, nine wastewater collection pump stations, one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the United States, combined-sewer overflow basins, and several offices.

DWSD established a comprehensive database to analyze its operations for excessive variations in facility energy usage, as well as billing errors, and to target facilities for follow-up evaluation and improvement. Read full article (login required) 


Membranes under scrutiny

Understanding operating data and conducting an ‘autopsy’ to determine useful remaining life

Membrane autopsy art Al Bazzi, Slavica Hammond, Kenneth Redd, Michael Sarullo, Roshanak Aflaki, and Dawn Guendert
The 19,000-m3/d (5-mgd) City of Los Angeles Advanced Water Treatment Facility, located at the Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant, uses microfiltration and reverse osmosis membranes to produce finished water from secondary effluent for indirect potable use. A study was conducted on the facility’s membrane operating experience to find opportunities to extend the membranes’ useful remaining life and replacement schedule. Read full article (login required)