WE&T Magazine

August 10 Cover 90Water Environment & Technology (WE&T) is the premier magazine for the water quality field. WE&T provides information on what professionals demand: cutting-edge technologies, innovative solutions, operations and maintenance, regulatory and legislative impacts, and professional development.


August 2010, Vol. 22, No.8

WEFTEC preview

The broad variety of topics in the technical program allows attendees to customize their schedules to meet their specific education and training needs. Attendees can earn up to 1.2 continuing education units at workshops, up to 17.5 professional development hours at technical sessions, and up to 8 contact hours per day for time spent visiting the exhibition.

Technical focus areas for WEFTEC 2010 include collection systems; energy conservation and management; facility operations; GIS, computer applications, instrumentation, and automation; global water issues; government affairs; industrial issues and treatment technology; leading-edge research; microconstituents; municipal wastewater treatment; public education and communication; residuals and biosolids management; solutions for small communities; sustainability; utility management; water reclamation and reuse; watershed issues such as groundwater and stormwater; and more.

Since 2006, WEFTEC has distinguished itself as the largest annual water quality technical exhibition in the world. As a complement to the technical program, WEFTEC’s exhibition-- will provide access to the latest developments, training demonstrations, solutions, and cutting-edge technologies in the field.

To preview the digital Conference Announcement, for more information, or to register, see www.weftec.org.


Plan Your Schedule Online

Take advantage of the online schedule planner available at http://weftec2010.expoplanner.com. WEFTEC® attendees can search for technical sessions, workshops, and facility tours to assemble their own personalized schedules.


WEFTEC Sessions Spotlight New Orleans

A lot has changed in New Orleans since 2004, when WEFTEC® last visited the city. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, worldwide media attention turned toward Louisiana and New Orleans to follow the rescue and recovery efforts. But in the 5 years since that disaster, away from the limelight of politics and social impacts, engineers have labored away quietly to put the city back together.

WEFTEC 2010 offers several technical sessions that turn the spotlight on the infrastructure and planning strides that have been made. Technical Session (TS) 76, “Recovery From Natural Disasters: New Orleans 5 Years Later,” looks at the design, construction, and implementation of traditional engineering projects to rebuild the city and protect it against another hurricane and flooding. TS 47, “The Greater New Orleans Watershed: A Fusion of Urban and Coastal Ecologies,” covers how the lay of the land in New Orleans lends itself to certain green infrastructure technologies and engaging community support.


Rebuilding Infrastructure

New Orleans has already surmounted many engineering and construction hurdles, according to Bob Esenwein, an assistant moderator for TS 76. For starters, since Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Task Force Hope has pumped 946 million m3 (250 billion gal) of water from the city. After that, 354 km (220 mi) of levees and floodwalls have been replaced or repaired. And design and construction are under way on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Hurricane Surge Barrier. This barrier, which will be the largest of its kind in the world, will stand 7.3 to 7.9 m (24 to 26 ft) above the water line.

These projects are only a few of the many completed and under way in New Orleans. In fact, an argument can be made that the city’s infrastructure is in much better shape now than before the storm, said Brian Evans, TS 76 moderator and vice president of business and strategic development at AECOM (Los Angeles).

TS 76 includes presentations on the overall scope of these types of activities, as well as targeted presentations on coordinating emergency response activities. Presenters include a mix of Army Corps engineers, politicians, engineers, and government officials, Evans said.

Utility engineers, federal and state engineers, consultants, and equipment suppliers are the target audience, Evans said. The session’s focus is on emergency response to re-establish basic services and then to ensure that the stability persists until more-permanent solutions can be implemented.

TS 76 will be held Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Rebuilding Ecosystems

Whereas TS 76 focuses on emergency response and recovery, TS 47 takes a step back to examine the entire watershed and how its resources are used and protected. The session will examine the unique New Orleans watershed, including perspectives based on the unusual elevation of the city — it sits below sea level — its hydrologic cycle, and how climate change could affect the surrounding wetlands.

Additionally, the session will look at human interactions with the water. One presentation will examine how law and policy can protect the area. Others will explore how green infrastructure practices fit into the overall system from hydraulic, sustainability, and public awareness perspectives.

TS 47 will be held Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Steve Spicer, WE&T


An Interview With Steven Solomon, WEFTEC Opening General Session Keynote

Steven Solomon, an economic journalist and author of Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization, will deliver the keynote address at the WEFTEC® 2010 Oct. 4 opening session in New Orleans. Solomon’s book takes a comprehensive look at water’s role in world history and how water scarcity and pollution are today driving new political, economic, and environmental realities across the globe. He recently shared some thoughts with WE&T.

How did you first become introduced to water scarcity issues?
I had read Dan Yergin’s bookThe Prize on the history of oil and asked myself what other natural resources helped shape world history. The answer hit me like a Bill Clinton slap in the forehead: It’s the water, stupid.

Water infrastructure makes an enormous difference for the economic development of a country. In rural Kenya, women and children often have to walk 3 to 4 hours a day to get water for basic domestic use.

What are the most interesting, unexpected ways you’ve found that water has shaped society?
Time and again, from the agricultural revolution in ancient times based on large-scale river irrigation to the Industrial Revolution, whose seminal invention was the steam engine, water breakthroughs have been associated with the epic turning points of civilization. In the 19th century, only six cities in the world had populations of 500,000. Due to filth and disease, big cities like London were death traps.

People were pumping drinking water from the Thames, then flushing their waste back into the river and drinking it again. Thousands were dying of cholera. But the prevailing theory was that cholera was transmitted through the air, not water.

The discovery that water was the main transmitter of cholera and so many other diseases helped trigger the sanitary revolution of the 19th century and public health revolution of the 20th century, which made possible the mass urbanization of society and the demographic transformation of world society.

What happens to a civilization when the water dries up or becomes unusable?
It’s hard to convey the profundity of the impact. Freshwater scarcity is a key reason why 3.5 billion people are projected to live in countries that cannot feed themselves by 2025. Today, 2.6 billion live without adequate sanitation and 1 billion without access to safe drinking water. Just as oil shaped the history of the 20th century, struggles over scarce fresh water will influence the rise and decline of leading powers in this century.

Water scarcity can cause states to fail, which in turn fosters humanitarian crises and lets terrorists take root. Yemen is one of the most water-scarce places on earth, and Al Qaeda is strongest in areas where the government has lost control. Pakistan, with an exploding population, is in danger because its irrigation system is collapsing, while its lifeline river, the Indus, is expected to lose up to 30% of its flow because its Himalayan source glacier is rapidly melting from global warming. To keep nations like these stable and prevent terrorists from taking root, we need to address their water scarcity crises.

What’s the leading threat to U.S. water resources? Pollution? Population growth? Failing infrastructure?
I’d say that the biggest threat is the lack of awareness and appreciation of water’s value. As Benjamin Franklin said, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” If we understood what water means to our economy and our lifestyle, we would treat it more as a precious economic good and not as a limitless gift of nature to be endlessly exploited. Growing scarcity demands that we roll back old political water subsidies so that free market prices can govern more efficient allocation while imposing an environmental Golden Rule that everyone needs to return water to the ecosystem in the same clean condition he took it out so the next guy has the same fair use of it as he did.

The second threat is the lack of recognition of how we’re abusing the ecosystems that provide our water. People also need to be more aware of the inextricable interrelationships between water, energy, food, and climate change.

What role can the U.S. wastewater treatment community play in solving global issues?
Any progress we’re going to make on solving these problems is going to involve clever engineers. Their challenge involves averting and combating pollution, as well as designing solutions that integrate water management into, and make use of, natural ecosystems.

Almost none of the water-poorest countries are doing this. We in the U.S. have both the resources and institutional means to do so — if we recognize the challenge and opportunity, and rise to seize it.

By increasing the productivity of our existing water use, we, as a relatively water-rich country, have a golden opportunity to grow our economy and to produce the goods and food that will be in increasing demand by a water-thirsty world. This will also increase our international strategic leverage and help the world get through what is going to be a difficult and painful transition ahead.

As a nation, we have to ask ourselves: Do we want to merely slim down and get by for our own needs with minor adjustments, or do we want to emulate world water efficiency leaders like Israel and Australia and get ourselves into world-class economic prize-fighting weight to help relaunch our global status?

What technologies and practices do you see as having the best chance at helping us address scarcity and pollution issues?
First and foremost, it means delivering water for all its traditional human uses in a way that safeguards the sustainability of the water ecosystem resource that provides it. In more and more places around the world, including some in the U.S., we are depleting our ecosystems to the point that some are collapsing.

Another trend is to let nature itself serve as an engineering tool. For decades, our approach has been to build strong dams and levees and force water to go and do what we wanted; we drained wetlands and withdrew the natural flood control and cleansing they provided. We’re now more aware that we live in integration with ecosystems and can benefit by understanding and bending our engineering to nature’s designs.

Here’s an example. In siting a new desalination plant that may be built in Orange County [Calif.], engineers realized by looking at geological mapping that the alluvial sand banks of the Santa Ana River extend many hundreds of feet into the ocean. By filtering the seawater intake through these sand banks, they can naturally prefilter its quality and thus reduce overall desal[ination] costs.

When you tell someone about looming water scarcity in the U.S., what’s the typical reaction you receive?
Global water scarcity is the greatest crisis most Americans have never heard of. So most people don’t grasp it right away. Water comes so cheaply and easily for us that few people realize how much our economy and society depend upon skillfully managing huge, clean volumes of it and what a competitive advantage it is for us as a nation.

Worldwide, there’s enormous inequity in water infrastructures, with ancient, medieval, and modern systems existing side by side — imparting huge competitive advantages and disadvantages to their users. Today, California is feeling the constraints of water shortages as some large businesses are locating elsewhere because the state isn’t providing the water resources they need. Although California may think it has it rough, it has plenty of water resources compared to North China, Pakistan, India, and the Middle East.

What’s the key to getting the public to accept potable reuse of reclaimed wastewater?
The key is getting people to taste it. And that will take advertising campaigns, taste tests ... and celebrity endorsements. The global safe drinking water campaign has gotten a great boost from celebrities like Matt Damon, Jessica Biel, and others. Now we need to get them to try reclaimed wastewater.


– Interview by Mary Bufe, WE&T


New Petroleum, Petrochemical Workshops Slated for WEFTEC

WEFTEC® attendees in the industrial wastewater field have something new to look forward to this year. The Oct. 2–6 convention in New Orleans will feature a new workshop and technical session that cater to this audience. The new petroleum and petrochemical wastewater treatment track at WEFTEC will provide more targeted programming for professionals in these industries.

David Marrs, director of wastewater technology at Valero Energy Corp. (San Antonio) and member of the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) Industrial Wastes Committee, said the idea for the new track developed when the committee noticed that the participation of petroleum refining and petrochemical companies at WEFTEC had declined during the last several years. After surveying this industry group to determine why, the committee found that these companies were lacking a resource for formalized training, especially training for wastewater treatment plant unit supervisors and engineers.

In response to these findings, the committee proposed creating a workshop and technical session that will provide a structured training opportunity for unit supervisors and early-career engineers responsible for wastewater treatment plant operations in petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants. Marrs said these are the individuals who typically have plant experience but generally little, if any, academic background in environmental engineering or related disciplines.

“We want to provide a fundamental understanding of how [these wastewater treatment facilities] operate and how to troubleshoot with a hands-on demonstration of sample process control tests that operators do to monitor the wastewater treatment plants,” Marrs said.

Topics include wastewater characterization, oil–water–solids separation, fundamentals of aerobic biological treatment, the activated sludge process and its modifications, secondary clarification, and management of residuals, including biosolids, oily sludges, and volatile organic compound emissions.

Marrs said the proposed speakers for the workshop were selected to represent a range of refining companies, consulting firms, and wastewater equipment vendors.

In addition to the workshop, the committee also is offering a technical session on Oct. 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. that will cover similar topics.

Marrs said the technical session covers more advanced topics than the workshop. “Those who go to the workshop will see some applications of topics that had been previously discussed,” he said.

During the session, engineers from Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.) who have more than 20 years experience in oil refinery projects will discuss biological treatment of oil-refinery stripped sour water using the activated sludge process. There will also be a discussion of how Suncor Energy (Calgary, Alberta) was able to achieve 30-day average limit discharges of 4.6 µg/L for dissolved selenium and 0.011 µg/L for total mercury at its Commerce City, Colo., oil refinery onsite wastewater treatment plant. These discharge limits were required by the refinery’s 2006 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, and there was virtually no precedent for discharge limits this low in the refining industry or other industries, according to the paper’s authors. There also will be a discussion of how pure-oxygen activated sludge effectively controls volatile organic compound emissions from mixed petrochemical wastewater, wastewater reuse at petroleum refineries, and other topics.

Marrs said that in addition to engineers and consultants who work for and with petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants, equipment vendors who sell related technologies and regulators who write the permits for these plants and refineries should also attend the session.

“The regulators should definitely [attend] so that they have a better understanding of the industry,” Marrs said. “This is a very different animal from municipal wastewater treatment.”

The workshop, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2, and the session, scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3, are arranged so that attendees can minimize their time away from the plant to attend.

“To participate in this track, it will only require 1 day and 2 nights away,” Marrs said.

Marrs said the committee sees the new track at WEFTEC as a chance to not only fill a void for those in wastewater treatment at petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants in search of formal training but also seize the opportunity offered by WEFTEC. There are many refineries and petrochemical plants located in southeastern Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast, all within a day’s drive of New Orleans, the site of WEFTEC 2010 and many future WEFTECs. (Starting with WEFTEC 2012, the annual convention and exposition will alternate between New Orleans and Chicago.)

Register for WEFTEC.10 at www.weftec.org/registration.

LaShell Stratton–Childers, WE&T


Special Programming

W201: Back to Basics: Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals for Petroleum Refineries and Petrochemical Plants


Chair: David Marrs, Valero Energy Corp. (San Antonio)

Co-chair: Jeff Pintenich, Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.)


David Marrs

Davis Ford, Davis. L. Ford & Associates (Austin, Texas)

Remi Van Compernolle, Shell Global Solutions (Houston)

Kar Munirathinam, CH2M Hill (Englewood, Colo.)

Everett Gill, Brown and Caldwell

Herve Buisson, Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies N.A. (Plainfield, Ill.)



8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions, David Marrs

8:35 a.m. Wastewater Characterization, David Marrs

9:15 a.m. Primary Oil–Water–Solids Separation, Davis Ford

10 a.m. Break; hands-on interactive demonstrations of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) process control tests will be offered

10:30 a.m. Secondary Oil–Water–Solids Separation, Remi Van Compernolle

11 a.m. Fundamental Concepts of Aerobic Biological Treatment, Kar Munirathinam

12 p.m. Break; hands-on interactive demonstrations of WWTP process control tests will be offered

1:30 p.m. Control and Optimization of the Activated Sludge Process, Kar Munirathinam

2:15 p.m. Activated Sludge Process Modifications, Everett Gill

3 p.m. Break; hands-on interactive demonstrations of WWTP process control tests will be offered

3:30 p.m. Control and Optimization of Secondary Clarifiers, Everett Gill

4:15 p.m. Best Practices for Managing Refinery and Petrochemical Plant WWTP Residuals: Biosolids, Oily Sludges, and Volatile Organic Compound Emissions, Herve Buisson

4:45 p.m. Panel Discussion/Wrap-Up           



Technical Session 19: Developments in the Treatment of Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Wastewaters

Moderator: David Marrs

Assistant Moderators: Jeff Pintenich and Mo Mukiibi Jr.


1:30 p.m. Biological Treatment of Oil-Refinery Stripped Sour Water Using the Activated Sludge Process, R. Merlo, M. Gerhardt, F. Burlingham, C. De Las Casas, E. Gill, T.H. Flippin

2 p.m. Pure Oxygen Activated Sludge Effectively Controls Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From a Mixed Petrochemical Wastewater, L. Levine, C. Hennagir, L. Tischler

2:30 p.m. NEOSEP® Membrane Bioreactor Refinery Pilot Study, C. Cabral, E. Blumenschein

3 p.m. Networking Break and Exhibition

3:30 p.m. A Coordinated Approach to Achieving NPDES Permit Compliance for Mercury and Selenium in a Refinery Effluent, G. Pulliam, A. Congram, H. Davis, B. Davis, P. Nelson

4 p.m. Recycled Water for Refinery Applications: Challenges and Solutions,
R. Pilemalm, H. Kshetry, M. Serna, A. Wesner, V. Seeta, D. Kasper

4:30 p.m. Wastewater Reuse at a Petroleum Refinery, L. Pugh, A. Burghart, C. Finlay


Alternate 1 Removal of Selenium From Oil Refinery Process Wastewater Using ABMet® Process, Y. Nurdogan, P. Evans, R. van Compernolle, C. Meyer, T. Pickett, J. Sonstegard

Alternate 2 Effect of Biomass Stability on the Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Operation, K. Min, S.J. Ergas

 © 2010 Water Environment Federation. All rights reserved.