This month's topics: Grit removal • Stormwater • Fats, oils, and grease • WEFTEC 2018 report

December 2018 • Volume 30 • Number 12

This month's featured content

WEFTEC 2018 Report
World's largest annual water quality event covers diversity, innovation, research, and philanthropy
LaShell Stratton-Childers, Jennifer Fulcher, and Justin Jacques

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Operations Challenge 2018
Get the full details of Operations Challenge 2018 in this 16-page section
Jennifer Fulcher, Justin Jacques, and Katherine Saltzman

Open Access - Download Now

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From the trenches
Creating a safety frame of mind
Richard R. Roll and Michael S. Eagler, Sr.

Open Access - Download Now

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The pitfalls of speed
Less detail and too much reliance on technology can compromise engineering acumen
Warren Kersten

Open Access - Read Now

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Features

From the trenches
Creating a safety frame of mind
Richard R. Roll and Michael S. Eagler, Sr.

For a well-rounded, versatile engineer, technical and regulatory expertise must always remain a core competency. However, understanding and appreciating elements of human nature, team building, safe workplace practices, undocumented tribal knowledge, and unconventional diagnostic methods are just as important. These elements can’t be learned from books or most undergraduate courses. They will come from a blend of first-hand experience and memorable advice collected along the way.

In this new series, some seasoned (and battle-scarred) professionals will try to ease the learning curve in collection system operations and maintenance for younger professionals by offering advice and insight based on real-life experiences. 

Read more (open access)

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Operations Challenge 2018
Get the full details of Operations Challenge 2018 in this 16-page section
Jennifer Fulcher, Justin Jacques, and Katherine Saltzman

Two teams representing the Water Environment Association of Texas took the top spots in Div. 1 and 2 during Operations Challenge 2018. This year also saw the debut of the competition's first-ever all-female team and welcomed a significant number of first-time competitors. Read WE&T's coverage of Operations Challenge 2018 for more information about

  • Div. 1 and Div. 2 winners;
  • the role competitors played during off-season disaster recovery;
  • Charlie's Angels, Operations Challenge's first all-female team;
  • international competitors;
  • new teams; and
  • the road to Operations Challenge 2018.

Read more (open access)

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Putting the pieces together
Advancing integrated stormwater management through quantifying life-cycle cost and co-benefits
Harry X. Zhang

Stormwater management requirements are key components of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Stormwater represents one of the single largest remaining challenges to achieving the Clean Water Act’s goals for “fishable and swimmable waters.”

As communities assess the aging water infrastructure systems, ratepayer expectations, need to maintain healthy waterways, and increasing interest in pursuing sustainable and livable communities, green infrastructure (GI) is an emerging technology with the potential to assist many communities with their stormwater challenges. Nationwide, more communities are implementing or considering the use of GI along with more traditional gray infrastructure to reduce the overall costs of meeting stormwater management requirements, while offering additional co-benefits from GI. 

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Sewer blockages from fats, oil, and grease
Diving into the science behind blockage formation and prevention
Casey Furlong

Let’s start with this truth: Fats, oils, and grease deposits are not just congealed fats, oils, and grease. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the presence of hardened fats, oils, and grease (FOG) deposits are a leading cause of sanitary sewer overflows and known for increasing sewer maintenance costs. This phenomenon is nothing new — a patent for a grease trap was granted in 1883 to prevent wastewater pipes from being clogged by grease-laden discharge. Even though the occurrence of sewer FOG deposits is experienced by municipalities around the globe, they are not universally understood, even by experts in wastewater. 

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WEFTEC 2018 Report

At the 91st-annual Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in New Orleans, water professionals compared notes on the water sector's most groundbreaking trends and most pervasive issues.

Read the WEFTEC 2018 Report section for key takeaways from the world's largest annual water quality event.

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Big ideas on a smaller scale
WEFTEC speakers highlight how innovation doesn’t need a big budget to get big results
LaShell Stratton-Childers

State-of-the-art equipment, cutting-edge software, and millions of dollars for experimentation are not needed to be innovative. Some technical sessions at WEFTEC® 2018 highlighted how utilities can work with what they have to be innovative and help operations, staff, and customers.

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Adding to the spectrum
WEFTEC 2018 highlights how the water sector is striving to become more diverse
LaShell Stratton-Childers

Diversity has become an important topic in the American workplace. But according to a recent report by the Brookings Institution (Washington, D.C.), Renewing the water workforce: Improving water infrastructure and creating a pipeline to opportunity, the water sector is lagging behind the nation in racial, gender, and age diversity.

Water treatment operators average about 46.4 years old — nearly 4 year older than the national occupation median. Also, women make up only 14.9% of the water workforce as compared to 46.8% of workers across all occupations in the U.S. The Brookings researchers also found that while nearly two-thirds of the water workforce is white, which is similar to the 65.3% found across all occupations nationally, black and Asian workers only make up 11.5% of the water workforce, compared to 18% of those employed in all occupations in the U.S.

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Walking the walk at WEFTEC 2018
Water professionals demonstrate the creative ways they tackle local and global water issues
Justin Jacques

When 2017-2018 Water Environment Federation President Jenny Hartfelder welcomed thousands of water professionals to the WEFTEC 2018 Opening General Session, she offered a simple piece of advice. She said, “Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman.”

“Batman is an iconic character that is beloved and embraced around the world,” Hartfelder explained. “Bruce Wayne was just a regular guy who became a hero because he wanted to help save the world.”

Just by showing up each day to do their jobs, water professionals have the potential to improve the health and safety of their communities and the world, Hartfelder continued. During WEFTEC 2018, these same professionals put their everyday heroism on display to make New Orleans more sustainable as well as to support water and sanitation charities.

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Great minds share insights into water research at the 2018 Scientists’ Luncheon
Leading minds in water research gathered to share insights at the WEFTEC 2018 Scientists’ Luncheon
Jennifer Fulcher

Some of the leading minds in water research gathered to share their insights at the WEFTEC 2018 Scientists’ Luncheon.

Moderator Arthur Umble, who is lead of the Global Wastewater Practice for Stantec Consulting, introduced the panel of speakers and asked them questions about the future research.

Panelists included Angeliki Diane Rigos, executive director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge) Tata Center for Technology and Design; Mark van Loosdrecht, professor in environmental biotechnology at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands); and William Mitsch, director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park (Fort Myers, Fla.).

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Extra

An operations and maintenance perspective on grit dewatering
To classify or to wash?
Anthony Giovannone

Grit removal is a critical treatment step for water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) as it removes the inert particles that can wear on downstream equipment. Once removed, it is favorable to dewater the grit to reduce the quantity of disposed material, thereby reducing the disposal costs. The grit dewatering technology selected, while often overlooked, can affect the long-term operating costs associated with grit disposal depending on grit characteristics and the grit removal technology being used. Two readily available grit dewatering technologies will be discussed: grit classifiers and grit washers.

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From the Editors

Covering the full spectrum

With more than 1000 exhibitors, hundreds of presentations, and all kinds of special events, it’s no surprise that WEFTEC® 2018 covered the full range of water sector offerings. Discussion and demonstration of new technologies, equipment, and operation and maintenance strategies filled the convention center along with 20,740 registrants — a new record for WEFTEC in New Orleans.

But even more remarkable than the numbers was the diversity of people, ideas, and experiences. The WEFTEC Report begins on p. 27 and explores this. First up, a growing perspective on innovation highlights simple solutions. Sometimes, a small budget or tricky situation can inspire new ways to tackle challenges. Next, hear about several events that sought answers to how utilities, private companies, NGOs, and government agencies can help the water sector reflect the communities it serves. These events and programs, such as Women in Water and WEFTEC InFLOW, help encourage participation of underrepresented portions of the sector by celebrating excellence in achievement. Third, learn how dedicated water professionals have transformed their hobbies and skills into activities that make meaningful contributions at home and abroad. The section concludes with perspectives from leading water sector academics about looming challenges and research needs.

Also, don’t miss the 16-page Operations Challenge section (p. 40). Now in its 31st year, this competition continues to grow and evolve. Congratulations to the TRA CReWSers (Division 1) and the Pooseidons (Division 2) from the Water Environment Association of Texas for their first-place wins. This marks the seventh Division 1 win for the CReWSers. As for the Pooseidons, they currently have a perfect record: one first-place overall win following their first appearance at the national competition.

This year also delivered several more notable Operations Challenge stories:

  • Charlie’s Angels from the Water Environment Association of South Carolina became the first all-female team to compete (p. 48).
  • Members of the OCWA Jets from Water Environment Association of Ontario traveled to Dominica to help restore water services after Hurricane Maria (p. 46).
  • Six international teams traveled to WEFTEC to compete (p. 50).

— The editors

Splash Shot

See the Brightwater Center clean water interpretive facility in King County, Wash.

Located just outside Seattle, the Brightwater Treatment Plant in King County, Wash., uses a state-of-the-art membrane bioreactor system to treat an average of 136 million L/d (36 million gal/d) of wastewater. However, the water resource recovery facility’s (WRRF’s) impressive performance is not why it attracts visitors from across the U.S. and Canada. Directly adjacent to the WRRF sits Brightwater Center, a “clean water interpretive facility” that is designed to lift the veil behind wastewater treatment, cement the utility’s place as a fixture of the community, and encourage visitors to ponder their role in water stewardship.

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Viewpoint

The pitfalls of speed
Less detail and too much reliance on technology can compromise engineering acumen
Warren Kersten

As engineering fees continue to shrink, the pressure is on — especially for newcomers to the engineering field in the water sector.

I can call upon a bank of experience from four decades in the world of water and wastewater because from day one I have documented everything — especially if it’s unusual.

Understandably, new engineers prefer to point and click. Despite the increasing pressures to move faster and do more, I would urge you to look at things in true mechanical detail. Don’t be tempted to gloss over the intricacies of an application and swiftly move on. This new time-crunch, which increasingly reduces detail and value engineering, is indicative of a worrying gap in the water sector. But simple actions can close this gap and provide better engineered solutions and engineers.

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Research Notes

Pretreatment method cuts volume of fats, oils, and grease by up to 80%

University of British Columbia (UBC; Vancouver, Canada) researchers have demonstrated a new method to break down fats, oils, and grease (FOG), substantially lowering the likelihood that they will form hard-to-remove blockages in collection systems.

The method decomposes FOG and other organic wastes into manageable pieces that can be consumed by microorganisms in water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) to create energy from methane gas.

Using a microwave-enhanced advanced oxidation process, researchers heated common FOG samples used in households and in agriculture to temperatures between 90 and 110° C (194 and 230° F). Then, they added hydrogen peroxide in varying amounts to facilitate the breakdown of organic matter in the samples. While reducing the volume of FOG solids by as much as 80%, the hydrogen peroxide also released fatty acids from the samples able to be broken down further by WRRF bacteria.

Higher temperatures and greater hydrogen peroxide dosages led to even more FOG reduction  using this method.

In a statement, the researchers explained that the method could be meaningful for farmers who use biogas digesters to convert farm waste into energy. Typically, farmers restrict FOG to less than 30% of the overall digester feed. After breaking down FOG using the method developed by the UBC researchers, feed contents could safely contain up to 75% FOG, said study co-author Asha Srinivasan. The same process could also be used for municipal FOG management applications, the researchers say.

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Also in this section:

  • Greywater dumping in Canadian Arctic could become 180% more prevalent by 2035

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Waterline

Virtual tour offers 360-degree glimpse of Delaware Bay’s ‘living shoreline’

The Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory (Port Norris, N.J.) at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, N.J.) is at the center of several partnerships focused on building artificial reefs in Delaware Bay.

The reefs are made from modified concrete blocks that are seeded with oysters and other shellfish. Over time, oyster larvae attach to the blocks and cover its surface, forming reef-like structures that naturally attract algae and sediment from their surroundings. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program (Annapolis, Md.), which deploys similar “oyster castles,” a single adult oyster can filter contaminants from as much as 189 L/d (50 gal/d) of water.

When implemented near the coast alongside wetland plants, real reefs, and other natural structures, oyster castles absorb wave energy, reduce erosion, and bolster resilience against the effects of severe storms.

A Rutgers-based outreach partnership enlists area schoolchildren to collect and recycle shellfish for the oyster castles. The university works with the Nature Conservancy (Arlington, Va.), the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (Wilmington, Del.), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to plant the castles in the bay, according to a release.

Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Northeast Climate Hub (NCH) and conservation groups in the region, Rutgers recently announced a new virtual tour, offering 360-degree views of its living shoreline project in the Delaware Bay. The tour features interactive photography and videos that introduce viewers to the oyster castle concept and raise awareness of the climate change-related threats facing coastal ecosystems.

“The purpose of the virtual tour project is to harness new technology combined with educational storytelling to engage more people in climate-informed decision-making,” said Erin Lane, who leads the project for NCH.

Take a virtual tour of Rutgers’ work in the Delaware Bay at http://bit.ly/shoretour.

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Also in this section:

  • Cornell study: Groundwater depletion is sinking Central California

  • Underwater robot helps scientists understand toxins in Lake Erie

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From the Field

Water Environment & Technology Watershed Moments Photo Contest

From June 1 through July 29, WE&T asked readers to share photos of when they dig deep and get their hands dirty to ensure rivers, lakes, and oceans remain clear and safe to enjoy. These Watershed Moments take water professionals outside the laboratory, water resource recovery facility, and boardroom to get up-close-and-personal with the local environment.

Congratulations to Kipp Hanley, a copywriter and photographer for the Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA; Woodbridge, Va.), who received the most votes for his photo of a routine water quality inspection at a stormwater outfall on the campus of PWCSA’s 90,800-m3/d (24-mgd) H.L. Mooney Advanced Water Reclamation Facility.

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Behind the lens  

Thanks to a waiver, the H.L. Mooney Advanced Water Reclamation Facility is not required by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to monitor water quality at any of the seven stormwater outfalls located onsite. But according to Hanley, the facility’s commitment to the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed does not end with cleaning the wastewater it receives from the county’s sanitary sewer system.

In Hanley’s winning photo, water reclamation operator trainee Ryan Baughman performs a biannual sampling of one of the facility’s outfalls. Stormwater that passes through the campus drains into the wetlands surrounding Neabsco Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, which in turn flows into the Chesapeake Bay. By limiting pollutants before the runoff reaches the wetlands, PWCSA goes the extra mile to help protect the largest estuary in the U.S.

“Checking our stormwater outfalls is one of the many ways we emphasize environmental stewardship, which is part of our utility’s vision,” Hanley said. “We believe that maintaining clean water is vital for public health and a healthy ecosystem.”

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Business

The City of Boise (Idaho) and Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.) received a national honor in the American Council of Engineering Companies (Washington, D.C.) 51st Engineering Excellence Awards competition. The prestigious Grand Award, one of only 16 given annually, was presented to the City of Boise and Brown and Caldwell for the Dixie Drain Phosphorus Removal Facility. The awards recognize engineering accomplishments that contribute to the advancement of engineering and enhance the economic and social welfare of the public. The facility treats 492,000 m3/d (130 mgd) and is the first of its kind in the U.S. to be considered a model facility in watershed-based approaches to meeting total maximum daily load limits. The city hired the firm to conceptualize, pilot, and design the $21 million facility.

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D&B Engineers and Architects P.C. (D&B; Woodbury, N.Y.) named Steven A. Fangmann president. He succeeds outgoing president Henry Chlupsa who retired from the firm after more than 50 years of service. Fangmann will administer broad level executive leadership over all areas of the engineering and architectural firm, including technical competence, quality standards, and financial supervision. Fangmann also will implement major new initiatives with emphasis on excellence, business ethics, and the accomplishment of infrastructure projects in the most environmentally acceptable, safe, and cost-conscious manner.

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Wilson County (Nashville, Tenn.) announced that Lynda Hogue and Lincoln Young have been named to the prestigious 2018 Environmental Leader 75 (EL75) list because of their work with the Lebanon Gasification Initiative. The EL75 is one of the industry’s most elite product, project, and executive recognition programs. EL75 is a list of the top 75 executives in each business vertical (environmental and energy) as selected by the editorial and management team at Business Sector Media (Fort Collins, Colo.), based on applications supplied by the individual, a peer, coworker, manager, vendor, or customer.

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Also in this section:

  • Endress+Hauser (Reinach, Switzerland)

  • Mechanical Contractors Association of New Jersey (Waldwick, N.J.)

  • McMillen Jacobs Associates (San Francisco)

  • Wynn Resorts (Las Vegas)

  • Honeywell (Des Plaines, Ill.)

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Water Volumes

Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals 1: Liquid Treatment

Water Environment Federation, 2018, 601 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, $139 ($99 WEF Members), 731 pp., softcover, ISBN: 978-1-57278-350-8

The Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals 1: Liquid Treatment textbook is broken into very concise chapters covering the various modes of wastewater treatment and follows a typical stream from influent to effluent. The chapters are very easy to follow and read, with excellent side notes and explanations. The diagrams and illustrations are enjoyable. This enables the reader to follow the flow and treatment breakdowns easily. 

Each chapter has a quiz between subjects to enable the reader a moment to assess his/her understanding of the subject matter. This is a very valuable tool for teacher and student alike. The chapter summaries also were good. For operators studying for certification exams, the chapter summaries will allow for review and concise note taking. 

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Projects

The City of Grants Pass, Ore., selected Stantec (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) as its owner’s representative for a comprehensive design and construction project that will help the city deliver high-quality drinking water. Stantec’s role will be to assist the city over the next 4 to 5 years in determining the capacity, technology, location, and delivery method for a new water treatment facility to serve the community’s more than 38,000 residents.

The existing Grants Pass Water Treatment Plant, built in 1931, requires significant infrastructure improvements and no longer meets current building codes and seismic requirements. In the event of an earthquake, it is highly likely the facility would be damaged and would no longer be able to treat and supply safe drinking water. The owner representative will work closely with the city to help shepherd a new facility through to completion, while ensuring there is no interruption of the distribution of clean drinking water to residents in the interim. 

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Also in this section:

  • Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (Laurel, Md.)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Products

Metering pumps 
LMI (Ivyland, Pa.); www.lmipumps.com

The PD Chemical Metering Pump series helps users simplify selection, configuration, and operation. The intuitive user interface makes it easy for operators to examine capacity settings and set flow rates to a desired output. These features improve safety and give operators confidence that the pumps are working as configured. The alarm indicators for tank levels are brightly displayed on a large color display. The pumps feature improved hardware, a new graphical user interface, and external control inputs. Enhanced software facilitates new calibration assist capabilities, plus new functionality to log pump strokes, estimated volume, and power cycles.

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Biological treatment applications 
BlueInGreen (Fayetteville, Ark.); www.blueingreen.com

The BIG/BIO2 solution utilizes the company’s proven technology to effectively dissolve oxygen into water, specifically for use in biological treatment applications. The system’s modular capability provides unparalleled design flexibility, allowing for easy implementation and expansion. 

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Encoder
Mueller Water Products Inc.(Atlanta); www.muellersystems.com 

The Mueller® Encoder Eight (ME-8) register combines proven reliable mechanical components with an innovative new automated data acquisition system that improves meter accuracy and functionality for utilities. Utilizing a heat-treated tempered glass lens and corrosion resistant copper can to house the register light tubes, electronics, self-lubricating gearing, and drive magnet, the ME-8 register is designed to provide 20 years of dependable service with no maintenance. It is available for use on all current Mueller systems positive displacement meters from 5/8-in. through 2-in. sizes. The ME-8 register delivers extraordinary functionality and value when paired with the latest Mueller systems metrology and AMR/AMI solutions.

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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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