March 2012, Vol. 24, No.3

The true environmental cost of treatment

A biosolids master plan incorporates a life-cycle assessment for better understanding of impacts to the environment 

bicudo.jpg José R. Bicudo, Andrea White, Peter Burrowes, Jillian Schmitter, Tom Mahood, Trevor Brown, and Donna Serrati

Requirements to increase energy efficiency both in the private and public sectors have significantly influenced the approach to biosolids management during the last decade. As a direct result, biosolids management practices have evolved considerably to more complex processes that include energy recovery systems.

With this in mind, the Region of Waterloo, near Ontario, Canada, recently began updating its biosolids master plan to incorporate a life-cycle assessment (LCA) to evaluate and rank different management strategies.

LCA is a structured way to calculate and quantitatively evaluate the environmental load caused by a product or a service during all phases of its life cycle, its environmental impact from cradle to grave. Read full article (login required) 


Boosting the pathogen indicator kill

What is the time–temperature requirement for a Class A product?

higgins.jpg Matthew J. Higgins, Sudhir N. Murthy, James Sizemore, Mark Meckes, and Sebnem Aynur

Research into the sudden increase of pathogen indicators in biosolids has suggested that centrifuge dewatering resuscitates indicators that were always present but nonculturable by standard methods.

This leads to two important issues. First, the standard culturing method often used to enumerate fecal coliforms in biosolids — U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Method 1680 — is likely underestimating the viable population (and in many cases provides false negative results) of fecal coliforms in thermally treated biosolids. Second, the EPA time–temperature requirement may be inadequate to achieve the required destruction of fecal coliforms in biosolids.

As a result, a study was conducted to investigate if an increase in time and temperature would better inactivate the indicator organisms and prevent their sudden increase. Read full article (login required) 


A sewer master plan for hard times

How the Newark, N.J., utilities department applied asset management and master planning concepts to ultimately offer a rationale for critical investment

Gagliostro.jpg Anthony R. Gagliostro, John J. Scheri, Earl C. Schneider, and Joseph F. Beckmeyer

Concerns about wastewater and stormwater assets prompted the Newark (N.J.)

Department of Water and Sewer Utilities to seek assistance in developing a clear road map of actions and capital investments to enhance system performance. By creating a sewer system master plan, the department is able to better demonstrate to city officials the need to improve critical infrastructure. The department is facing several difficult financial realities, including a shrinking workforce, rising nondiscretionary costs, and city officials reluctant to raise rates.

The master plan is seen as an important tool in obtaining the financial support necessary to maintain and improve the sewer system. Read full article (login required) 


On the road to Mandalay

Accepting the World Water Monitoring Challenge

Muirhead.jpg Lwin Oo, Margaret Mahoney, Woodie Muirhead, and Jessica Rozek

World Water Monitoring Challenge (WWMC) is an international success. The WWMC website boasts more than 340,000 participants in 77 countries during 2011. Students and educators collect samples from rivers, lakes, streams, and other waterbodies and analyze them for various parameters.

Though pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), and turbidity are the standard analytical parameters in the WWMC test kit, some organizations have expanded the opportunities to a broader range of chemical and physical parameters and even biological assessments. When the breadth and depth of WWMC training are limited by available resources in developing countries, a little creativity and a lot of passion are essential to overcome the limitations and achieve a successful WWMC experience.

Read about how Opening Possibilities Asia (OPA), an apolitical organization working to develop sustainable, replicable programs to bolster the infrastructure of nongovernmental schools in Myanmar, made full use of the WWMC kit to teach students about water quality. Read full article 


Operations Forum Features

Fan testing

How Austin (Texas) Water Utilities determined the most effective air extraction point needed to depressurize sewers and ultimately control odor

Hunniford.JPG Christopher Hunniford, Ayman Benyamin, and James Joyce

Vapor-phase odor control sizing is complex. Facility designers must understand ventilation dynamics, including headspace pressurization and natural friction drag. Fan testing is a useful tool for designers working on sewers with complicated arrangements and hydraulic conditions in which pressurization points release large volumes of potentially odorous air.

The Austin (Texas) Water Utilities’ odor-control plan called for fan testing. To conduct the tests, the study team connected two portable fans with to the sewer to determine the optimum capacity of the proposed odor-control system. As wastewater and air flows changed, differential-pressure monitors continuously recorded those variations in the sewer headspace upstream and downstream of the fan’s location. Read full article (login required) 


Heating utility upgrade

3-D laser scanning helps New York City map the network of utility tunnels of the Wards Island Water Pollution Control Plant

Coon.jpg Mark S. Coon

Wards Island Water Pollution Control Plant, in need of a new heating source, tapped the technology of three-dimensional (3-D) laser scanning to provide an accurate map of 70-year old underground utility tunnels. This upfront investment of $79,000 provided the project engineer with a more precise 3-D model, enabling the project to be constructed in “virtual reality.” The virtual plant construction will help avoid potential problems that could occur during construction, such as utility route conflicts, saving time and money prior to the actual building of the new heating facility. Read full article (login required) 


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