This month's topics: Operations Challenge • Preliminary treatment • Nutrient removal • WEFTEC 2017 report

December 2017 • Volume 29 • Number 12

This month's featured content:

Operations Challenge 2017 (open access)
TRA CReWSers win Division 1, Dallas AquaTech win Division 2, and 30 years of Operations Challenge history
Jennifer Fulcher with Steve Harrison

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Enabling operations
Creative operational strategies as a stand-alone approach to significant nutrient reduction
Paul LaVigne and Grant Weaver

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The future is now
Graywater treatment for a commercial building
Phillip L. Thompson and Jon D. Polka

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Mentorship takes center stage at WEFTEC 2017 (open access)
Opening General Session and WEFTalks spotlight the power of leaving a legacy

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Wiping away a problem (open access)
Utilities and associations discuss tackling the global issue of baby wipes clogging pipes

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Features

Operations Challenge 2017 (open access)
TRA CReWSers win Division 1, Dallas AquaTech win Division 2, and 30 years of Operations Challenge history
Jennifer Fulcher with Steve Harrison

Prepared by hours of practice, 44 Operations Challenge teams — a new record — stepped into the spotlight at WEFTEC® 2017. With focus and determination, these water sector professionals jumped into action in the competition’s five events: Process Control, Laboratory, Collection Systems, Godwin Maintenance, and Safety.

Teams worked hard in the hopes of claiming a top spot in each event, or even better, an overall trophy in Division 1 or Division 2. That moment came for the TRA CReWSers who finished first in Division 1 and the Aqua Techs who finished first in Division 2.

But the rewards come not only from earning a top spot in the events, they come from forming a lasting network of colleagues and gaining knowledge that helps advance careers.

Download the Operations Challenge section

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Enabling operations
Creative operational strategies as a stand-alone approach to significant nutrient reduction
Paul LaVigne and Grant Weaver

Of all the collective professions involved in water pollution control — field crews doing stream assessments, permit writers, scientists who establish water quality standards, and engineers who design water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) — facility operators stand alone on the front line. Yet, when WRRFs must meet new permit limits, operators almost never are consulted.

This status quo has been built on decades of conventional thinking — that is, new permit limits equals new construction, the engineer is the best person for the job, and operators play supporting roles. But skilled operators and operations strategies can take the lead to yield great gains.

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The future is now
Graywater treatment for a commercial building
Phillip L. Thompson and Jon D. Polka

The Bullitt Center is a six-story, 4645-m2 (50,000-ft2) office building located in Seattle, Wash., that opened on April 22, 2013. In March 2015, the building was certified for meeting the performance requirements of the Living Building Challenge (LBC), which was developed by the International Living Future Institute. From 2014 through 2016, the 525 solar panels on the building produced an average of 45% more energy than needed to meet tenant demands. This performance far surpassed the LBC’s net-zero energy criterion. To meet the LBC’s net-zero water requirement, graywater from sinks, dishwashers, showers, and floor drains are treated with an onsite constructed wetland. This is the first known report of using a constructed wetland to treat graywater for a commercial office building.

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WEFTEC 2017 Report

WEFTEC® 2017 combined technical excellence with human approach

With 22,860 registrants and 1011 vendors in a 28,390-m2 (305,600-ft2) exhibition, WEFTEC® 2017 in Chicago was one of the largest and best-attended events in the conference’s 90-year history. Many attendees remarked on the high quality of the programming and buzz surrounding the conference.

“Commemorating 90 years of accomplishments brought a unique energy to WEFTEC 2017,” Water Environment Federation (WEF) Executive Director Eileen O’Neill said. “It was especially touching to return to Chicago, the place where it all began, not only to celebrate the tradition, but also the people, ideas, and innovations that will continue to move the sector forward.”

The Opening General Session, featuring science, technology, engineering, and math educator and advocate Fredi Lajvardi as keynote speaker, set the tone for the event. This year the message went beyond technical excellence and the value of networking to touch on the people side of the water sector.

“My water legacy, mentorship, innovation, and workforce development — these are far more than a program theme or lofty buzz words,” said 2016–17 WEF President Rick Warner, as he welcomed the audience. “They represent a conscious decision to pursue a life of service.”

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Also in this section:

  • Manufacturers compare five primary advanced treatment technologies side-by-side
  • Mentorship takes center stage at WEFTEC 2017
  • Experts compare notes on aeration system design with new interactive tools
  • Making sense of the dollars: WEFTEC sessions explore policy and practice of funding and financing
  • Young professionals find solutions to the water challenges of the developing world
  • Leaving many legacies: Nancy Love shows her influence on the water sector through her students and research
  • Diverse green infrastructure project, program flourish at WEFTEC
  • Pure Water Brewing Alliance inaugurated at WEFTEC with recycled-water beer
  • Water provides the foundation for industry
  • Women share their experiences in the water sector and how they mentor the next generation
  • Wiping away a problem: Utilities and associations discuss tackling the global issue of baby wipes clogging pipes

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From the Editors

Quality leads to quantity

Every autumn the entire Water Environment & Technology team gets excited for WEFTEC®. The technical program, exhibition, special events, Operations Challenge, and, especially, the chance to interact with readers provides a special thrill.

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Almost too much to cover
At WEFTEC 2017, everywhere we turned, we saw remarkable and worthwhile content. That’s the case every year, but this year set a record.

Beginning on p. 13 you will find the WEFTEC Report section that contains (coincidentally) 13 different items. This section covers nearly the full breadth of WEFTEC. Topics include reuse, stormwater, funding, workforce development, resource recovery, aeration, sustainability, mentorship, and more. These stories also show off the expertise, dedication, and passion of the water sector at-large and WEFTEC participants, specifically.

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Special recognition for Operations Challenge
This year also marked the 30th annual Operations Challenge at WEFTEC. To celebrate, we pulled out all the stops to produce our largest-ever collection of stories on Operations Challenge. The 16-page section begins (coincidentally, again) on p. 30.

In addition to the full details on this year’s competition (congratulations to the Division 1 TRA CReWSers and Division 2 Aqua Techs for their overall wins), we collected stories about the first Operations Challenge, examined the effect participating has on operator careers, and even held a vote to choose the best team of all time. You cast more than 23,000 votes in that contest. Congratulations to the winner, LA Wrecking Crew. Find the full vote details on pp. 44 and 45.

That still didn’t seem like quite enough. So, we went into the archives and collected every Water Environment Federation magazine article reporting on the outcome of Operations Challenge since the competition’s inception. You can access all 30 of these articles online at www.weftec.org/OChistory.

— The editors

Operator Ingenuity

Sixth annual Ingenuity Contest awards presented at WEFTEC

For the sixth year, WE&T and WEFTEC® teamed up to recognize clever, simple, and inventive solutions by operators and others working on the front lines of water quality.

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Vacuum Virtuoso Award

Andy Loudermilk from the Bigfork (Mont.) Water and Sewer District received this award for his invention of the “scum sucker.” Loudermilk repurposed an old rotary-lobed positive displacement blower into to vacuum to remove scum from the top of the facility’s membrane bioreactor tanks and deposit it into the facility’s solids holding pit.

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Alternate Acid Activist Award

Zenon Kochan and Matt Seib from the Nine Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Madison (Wis.) Metropolitan Sewerage District received their award for assembling a low-cost, safe, and efficient acid pumping system. Instead of carrying 25-kg (55-lb) bags of powdered acid to the top of a 10-m-tall (30-ft-tall) reactor, operators now use a portable pump that Kochan built to deliver a liquid acid directly into the process tankage.

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Chemical Capture Chief Award

Mark Cataldo from Suez (Paramus, N.J.) and the Killingly Water Pollution Control Plant (Danielson, Conn.) earned his award for installing a trough to catch any spills during sodium hypochlorite deliveries. Catalado attached a simple trough to the wall beneath the inlet pipe to replace a bucket propped up with a board.

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Waterline

U.S. water reuse capacity to increase 37% over next decade, says Bluefield Research

Nationwide efforts in the U.S. to ensure resilient water supplies will spur investments in water reuse, increasing the country’s capacity to reuse water and wastewater by 37% during the next decade, according to new forecasts from market research firm Bluefield Research (Boston).

“Climate volatility, such as the hurricane in Houston and California’s 5-year drought, are forcing municipal utilities to seek alternative strategies to de-risk existing water supplies, and water reuse has become a key solution in their contingency plans,” said Erin Bonney Casey, research director with Bluefield. “Just look at the rise in reuse projects in the pipeline. In 2015, Bluefield monitored 247 projects across 11 states. Now we are tracking more than 775 reuse projects across 19 states.”

By 2027, Bluefield predicts investments in water reuse infrastructure will surpass $21.5 billion above present figures, to be spent predominantly on new pipes, treatment technologies, and engineering and design costs. Most of this investment will occur in urban centers, and investment by municipalities on reuse infrastructure is expected to grow by 15% over the next decade, as compared to only 1% annual investment growth in traditional water infrastructure.

Organizations expected to lead the way on reuse investment are varied in focus, but not in geography; the report claims that 80% of planned reuse capacity additions will be concentrated in California, Texas, and Florida. However more than municipalities are investing, large industrial water-users are expected to drive investment to supplement their ongoing water needs.

In total, Bluefield forecasts that the U.S. will have the infrastructure, technology, and will to reuse an additional 2.2 million m3/d (581.2 mgd) of water and wastewater in 2027 as compared to 2017.

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Also in this section:

  • Massive Thames Water ‘fatberg’ processed into clean energy
  • 885 million people worldwide exposed to wastewater-irrigated crops, new study estimates
  • Toxic antimony discovered in sample of ancient Roman water pipe

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From the Field

Stormwater Snapshots 

From September 1 through October 30, WE&T asked readers to show us the innovative ways you manage stormwater threats, educate others about green infrastructure, and deal with flood damage. In total, you submitted 15 photos and cast 101 votes.

Congratulations to Matt Huffman, who received the most votes of these photos.

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Behind the lens

To streamline its operations, the Beckley (W.Va.) Sanitary Board (BSB), which serves about 10,000 stormwater customers and 7500 sewer customers, was interested in using cutting-edge technology to enable a retention pond to also serve as a detention pond.

“The Ewart Avenue detention pond was installed in 2012 with the primary objective of reducing flooding downstream at the intersection. The facility was not able to be sized large enough to manage major storm events,” explained Huffman, who is member of the West Virginia Water Environment Association.

In February 2017, BSB retrofitted the pond with forecast-based continuous monitoring and adaptive control technology, which includes an enclosed valve (beneath grates in photo) that detains stormwater proactively ahead of heavy storm events. The project, which BSB calls the “iPond,” has already demonstrated its effectiveness. 

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The From the Field section gives you the chance to share a snapshot of your crucial contributions to the water sector. Submit your own photos and vote for your favorites. Photos that get the most votes will be published in WE&T and a gallery of selected images can be found on WEF Highlights. The focus area will change seasonally. To learn more and enter, visit www.wef.org/photo-contest.

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Operator Essentials

What every operator needs to know about screening and headworks
Ken Schnaars

Wastewater collection systems come in various sizes and contain a variety of coarse solids. Sanitary sewer systems contain primarily sanitary waste, whereas combined sewer systems also bring stormwater and runoff. The headworks, or preliminary treatment processes, collect and remove coarse solids and grit early in the wastewater process so these materials do not clog, wear out, or damage pipes and/or equipment.

This information sheet refreshes operator knowledge on all considerations of screening and headworks at water resource reclamation facilities.

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Business

Gregs Thomopulos retired from Stanley Consultants (Muscatine, Iowa) as chairman of the board, concluding a career that spanned more than 50 years with the company.

 

Humberto Gonzalez joined Hawk Measurement (Nunawading, Australia) as a sales director. He has more than 30 years of experience in the instrumentation and control industry. Gonzalez will be located in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area.

 

Brian Fulcher joined McMillen Jacobs (San Francisco, Calif.) as a principal tunnel engineer based in the Pasadena, Calif., office. Fulcher will support existing tunnel and underground design and construction projects. He has more than 40 years of experience on design–bid–build and design–build projects in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, and Puerto Rico.

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Also in this section:

  • Mott MacDonald (Croydon, England, U.K.) 
  • Sulzer Turbo Services Houston Inc. (La Porte, Texas)
  • RJN (Wheaton, Ill.) 
  • Sensorex (Garden Grove, Calif.)
  • Headworks International Inc. (Houston)

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Water Volumes

The Wastewater Operator’s Guide to Preparing for the Certification Examination, Fourth Edition

Sidney Innerebner, Geraldine Ahrens, Ptitprn Asvapathanagul, Michael S. Beattie, Paul Burris, Richard Finger, Michael Fritschi, Francis J. Hopcroft, Paul Krauth, Christopher Kuhlemeier, Jorj Long, John Meyer, Stacy J. Passaro, Kim R. Riddell, John Saturley, Kenneth Schnaars, Eric J. Wahlberg, and David Wright (2016).
Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, 143 pp., $50.00, softcover, ISBN 978-1-57278-333-1.

This book is designed to give the reader an idea of what to expect in the different sections of the operator’s exam at each level. It is not meant to be a comprehensive study guide for all the material that will be needed, but helps the reader to focus on target areas that can be expected during the exam.

The guide provides an excellent reference up front and does well at giving tips and shortcuts where applicable including the pie wheels for common calculations. Additional practice problems in the manual would be helpful.

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Projects

The Bahrain Petroleum Co. B.S.C. (Bapco; Awali, Bahrain) installed an advanced mobile water technology to convert seawater into usable source water at its refinery in Awali, Bahrain. This technology, manufactured by Suez Water Technologies & Solutions (previously GE Water & Process Technologies; Trevose, Pa.) will save as much water as possible in the production of oil and eliminate the need to deliver water via tanker truck.

The Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC; Salisbury, Md.) installed a new combined heat and power (CHP) system to make its operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. This project was funded in part by a $494,320 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration with additional support from Unison Energy LLC (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), Delmarva Power (Wilmington, Del.), and its parent company, Pepco Holdings Inc. (Washington, D.C.).

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Also in this section:

  • American Water Resources (Voorhees, N.J.) 
  • Dispatch (Boston) 
  • Guam Waterworks Authority (Tamuning, Guam) 

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Products

Signal conditioners
WAGO (Germantown, Wis.); www.wago.us

WAGO added four signal conditioners to the JUMPFLEX® 857 series. Packed into a 6-mm housing, these modules save space but don’t sacrifice safety or power. The loop-powered resistance temperature detector (RTD) module converts RTD signals and resistive inputs to standard analog signals without an external power supply. The dual-channel voltage/current signal-splitter converts, amplifies, filters, or isolates standard analog signals and splits them into two separate current or voltage outputs. The power signal conditioner acquires current or AC and DC voltages of up to 300 volts and converts them to standard analog signals.

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Submersible pumps 
KSB Aktiengesellschaft (Frankenthal, Germany); www.ksb.com/ksb-en/

2XP-JX series pumps are corrosion-resistant, factory-rated, explosionproof submersible pumps designed for use in Class I, Division 1, Groups C and D hazardous locations. The impeller, wear-plate, and pump housing are made of 316 stainless steel. The elastomers, such as O-rings, lip seals, and gaskets, are made of fluoro-elastomers. The standard power cable is oil-resistant. 

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Mobile platform 
Emerson (St. Louis, Mo.); www.emerson.com

The DeltaV™ mobile platform leverages Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to empower manufacturing engineers with the most complete access to real-time data, trends, and insight to make better-informed, critical operations decisions securely from anywhere in the world. The system fuses smartphone technology, with process control data to make operational intelligence available 24/7 for oil and gas operations, refineries, chemical facilities, and life sciences facilities.

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Readable monitors
TRU-Vu Monitors Inc. (Arlington Heights, Ill.); www.tru-vumonitors.com

These industrial-grade, sunlight-readable monitors offer 1000 units of brightness, which is 4 to 5 times brighter than conventional video monitors. This brightness ensures clear, sharp, video images for operators working in direct sunlight. The daylight-viewable monitors are optically bonded. They are ideal for environments where the monitor will be used in indirect sunlight. Both monitors and touch screens come in sizes ranging from 7 to 55 in.; operate on 12 to 24 VDC or 90-240 VAC; have a wide range of analog and digital video inputs; and feature TRU-Tuff treatment for maximum protection to shock and vibration. The monitors can be adjusted from of 500 to 2200 nits (luminescence units) in brightness and have automatic ambient light sensors or dim-to-black hotkeys.

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Float switches
SJE-Rhombus (Detroit Lakes, Minn.); www.sjerhombus.com

EZconnex® float switches feature an internal switching mechanism with sealed gold cross-point contacts for reliable low-current operation down to 0.160 mA at 125V. This range of wide-angle or narrow-angle float switches feature a quick release connection that simply plugs into the manifold ports. The system can be used with 1 to 4 float switches; each float switch includes a protective rubber boot that provides a dual-seal design for an extra layer of protection to keep connections clean and dry. Sealing plugs are available for unused ports. The system is rated for short-term water submersion, is certified by the Canadian Standards Association, and comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

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Enclosure coolers
Vortec (Cincinnati, Ohio); www.vortec.com

Electric Vortex AC-model coolers are pre-wired, easy-to-install, and can be operational in minutes. These devices maintain sensitive electronics and controls enclosure temperatures at user-defined temperature. Units come in cooling capacities of 900, 1500, and 2500 BTU/h to enable users to select a model to optimize performance and operating cost. At just 62 dBA, they are substantially quieter than standard vortex coolers. The models operate in environments up to 175°F, making them ideal for many industrial and commercial environments. The units maintain a slight pressurization in the enclosure while running, ensuring that no ambient, dirty, or humid air enters the enclosure.

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Microwave switch
Hawk Measurement System (Nunawading, Vic, Australia); www.hawkmeasure.com

The Gladiator Microwave Switch provides a high-power, circular, polarized microwave pulse that is emitted from the sending unit to the receiving unit in a transmission chain of approximately 100 pulses/s. The system has 50 times more sensitivity than previous units and uses high-power digital microcontroller technology to achieve the best sensitivity and reliable output under adverse conditions.

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Reverse osmosis system
Suez Water Technologies & Solutions (Trevose, Pa.); www.suezwatertechnologies.com

The redesigned PROflex reverse osmosis (RO) system offers up to a 30% savings compared to PRO RO systems. Systems can be configured using the company’s online product configurator. The online tool enables users to select the exact flow rate required by the application and be matched to a range of PROflex ROs that fit the application. Key design features include 10 base configurations, various pump sizes, and two- or three-bank designs. The PROflex systems often result in smaller footprints and have the pump on the front of the skid for easy access and maintenance.

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Editor’s note: WE&T assumes no responsibility for claims made in product descriptions. Interested companies should send press releases and photos to [email protected]

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