This month's topics: Collection systems • Decentralized systems • Funding & financing • SCADA

March 2015 • Volume 27 • Number 3

This month's featured content


Dig it

Large decentralized wastewater treatment system installations increase in popularity as lower-cost, high-efficiency solutions
Dennis F. Hallahan


A collection system on the cloud
A switch to mobile devices to locate and track the condition of collection systems pays off
Robert A. Bocarro, Sean O. Kilpatrick, and Darren S. Eastall


Adding salt to the wound
USGS finds rock salt increases chloride levels in some streams
LaShell Stratton-Childers




Dig it
Large decentralized wastewater treatment system installations increase in popularity as lower-cost, high-efficiency solutions
Dennis F. Hallahan

Decentralized wastewater treatment is becoming well accepted as a viable, long-term solution for large-scale municipal and commercial wastewater projects. While decentralized systems will continue to serve rural areas outside city limits, the notion that they can serve only small, single-family homes has been changed. Some large decentralized systems handle flow rates in excess of 3800 m3/d (1 mgd).

The treatment technologies available for conventional centralized water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) also are available in scaled-down versions. In turn, decentralized technologies are being scaled up with innovations in wastewater dispersal that can accommodate large flows efficiently.


Backyard BNR
A passive nitrogen reduction system shows promising results for onsite wastewater treatment
Josefin Hirst and Damann Anderson

Approximately 25% of the U.S., and 30% of Florida’s population, rely on onsite wastewater systems (OWS) for wastewater treatment. Nutrient loading from many sources including OWS has received increased attention. Nitrogen in particular is a nutrient of concern for water quality, and nitrate–nitrogen represents perhaps the most common groundwater pollutant from OWS.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) initiated the Florida Onsite Sewage Nitrogen Reduction Strategies (FOSNRS) project to research, develop, construct, and test passive onsite wastewater treatment systems to address nitrogen reduction from OWS. As part of the project, a passive nitrogen reduction system (PNRS) was developed and tested for 18 months at a 3-bedroom single-family home in Hillsborough County, just southeast of Tampa, Fla.


Penny by penny, drop by drop
Financing a $1.6 billion sanitary sewer overflow program in Louisiana
Jennifer D. Baldwin and Mark J. LeBlanc

The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge (C-P), is improving sewer infrastructure by implementing 110 projects worth approximately $1.6 billion involving wastewater treatment and storage, comprehensive rehabilitation, capacity improvements, and supplemental projects. The cost includes design, land acquisition, construction, and program administration for the C-P Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Control and Wastewater Facilities Program.


It’s the fibers: Attacking the wipes problem at the pump station
A three-phase approach to eliminating the clogging, maintenance costs, and safety issues caused by nondispersibles in the wastestream
Alec Mackie and Kevin Bates

Municipalities throughout the U.S. are seeing significant wear on their sewer pipelines and equipment due to age and a dramatic change in the types of influent. The most notable shift has been the introduction of nondispersible fabrics and other debris, which are causing significant problems in the wastestream, at pump stations, and inside water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). While the ideal solution is to convince everyone not to flush trash and completely rebuild the system itself — for example, rehabbing all pump stations and switching to advanced treatment facilities — such a plan comes with a massive price tag.

Alternative infrastructure solutions that can quickly bring relief to collection systems, while also eliminating the costs of a complete system upgrade, must be considered. Several solutions exist on the market that are cost-effective, quick to implement, and simple to retrofit into older pump stations and WRRFs. Modern wastewater grinding systems installed directly at the pump station can effectively precondition solids — including nondispersibles — into smaller pieces so the wastewater and debris can pass through pumps without clogging.


A collection system on the cloud
A switch to mobile devices to locate and track the condition of collection systems pays off
Robert A. Bocarro, Sean O. Kilpatrick, and Darren S. Eastall

DeKalb County in Georgia currently is developing a capacity management, operations, and maintenance program for its sewer system. A cornerstone of the program is geographical information system (GIS) mapping showing the location of all manholes, gravity sewer lines, force mains, valves, and water resource recovery facilities.

An innovative approach was taken that uses a mobile app for smartphones and tablets to help inspection crews locate sewer manholes and create a comprehensive inventory and survey all manhole assets. All data are stored in the “cloud” — on remote servers accessible via the Internet — and are used to develop a geodatabase and comprehensive GIS map.


Adding salt to the wound
USGS finds rock salt increases chloride levels in some streams
LaShell Stratton-Childers

Chloride concentrations in U.S. waters have increased due to the rock salt used to melt ice on roadways, according to findings released by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Road salt application often also leads to average chloride concentrations that exceed toxic levels in the Northern U.S., according to the study.
Steven Corsi, a research hydrologist an ....


Mining for fiber
New pretreatment technology mines biosolids from wastewater
Mary Bufe

A decade ago, Refael Aharon was a scientist looking for a way to recycle the fiber found in corn stalks. Today, he is founder and CEO of Applied Cleantech (Jerusalem), an Israeli technology company with a resource recovery process he believes could transform how ....

From the Editors

The many sizes and shapes of collection systems

For years, debate has raged between whether centralized or decentralized treatment is better. The word better has so many facets — cost, effectiveness, flexibility, speed, and resiliency — that there is no end of debate. But along the way, some small systems have started to grow larger and some large systems have shrunk. The result is a sort of hybrid system. It can encompass collection, treatment, disposal, operation and maintenance, and even reuse. Does this development end the discussion? Assuredly not. But the article, “Dig it” provides some more food for thought.

Collection systems topics certainly are not limited to the size of the pipe used. This issue also presents several other related topics. In one case, a utility is adopting a new technology to organize and streamline operations and maintenance. Another article examines financial strategies that are being applied to find funding to implement needed updates and expansions. And yet another article follows the thought process of manufacturer researchers to find quick and affordable solutions to the challenge of nondispersible wipes in old infrastructure.

— The editors

Building Blueprints

Improving reliability of small drinking water systems
Cynthia Lane, Marisa Tricas, and Grace Richardson

At WEFTEC® 2014, the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) and its partners facilitated 10 technical sessions based on 10 market opportunities from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Technology Innovation Blueprint to encourage discussion among water sector leaders. The sessions allowed participants to express the needs and challenges they face related to market opportunities. This series of articles captures the discussion and questions raised at these sessions.

Small drinking water systems represent a substantial share of the American drinking water sector. More than 94% of the more than 156,000 public water supply systems are considered “small” — serving fewer than 10,000 people. Among this sector, 74% of the very smallest systems — serving fewer than 500 people — have health-based violations. The very smallest group has the largest percentage of violations of all the system sizes. These difficulties indicate both the challenges facing the sector and the tremendous opportunity for market-based .....

Splash Shot

Run, Darren, Run

Daren Wendell started running one marathon a day for 100 consecutive days on Jan. 1 as part of the RunDarenRun campaign. Funds raised for the campaign will support a Lifewater International project to provide clean water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education in the Borena region of southeastern Ethiopia.

The 33-year-old’s journey began at Santa Monica Pier in California and is scheduled to come to a conclusion in Times Square in New York City on April 10.

Download the March 2015 Splash shot as a PDF.

Operator Ingenuity

Sampling savvy
Operators find better ways to collect gas samples and test dissolved oxygen
Sam McAdoo

In the March installment of Operator Ingenuity, operators from Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD; Virginia Beach, Va.) create two fixes to help ensure a successful hydrogen sulfide monitoring program. One reduces the amount of headspace gas they need to vent to collect a reliable sample and the other ensures that dissolved oxygen readings are accurate and not compromised by pouring samples into a test container.

The article, Sampling savvy, can be downloaded as a PDF.

Research Notes

Optical sensors reveal variable nitrate in the Mississippi

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) deployed optical sensor technology to collect nitrate concentration data in the Mississippi River basin. The real-time data revealed that nitrate concentrations vary by as much as 20% in a week without similar changes in stream flows, according to a USGS Technical ...


Also in this section:

  • Rethinking infrastructure: Report outlines investment strategies for the Pacific Northwest
  • Biodiesel byproduct provides enhanced biological phosphorus removal


Irrigating with nitrogen-rich reclaimed water aids turfgrass growth

Research reveals that recycled wastewater containing such nutrients as nitrogen and phosphorus can aid turfgrass growth, according to a news release from the American Society for Horticultural Science (Alexandria, Va.).

University of Florida–Gainesville researchers tested...


Also in this section:

  • Water-quality sensor makes cost-savings waves in the market
  • Citizens and entrepreneurs challenged to develop innovative use for climate change data

Operator Essentials

What every operator should know about process automation systems
Chris Douville

The March Operator Essentials examines technology in the water resource recovery facility. Process automation systems encompass such subtopics as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software and hardware, field devices, controllers, communication platforms, and other infrastructure such as servers and workstation nodes.

Members can download a PDF version of What every operator should know about process automation systems.


Infosense Inc. (Charlotte, N.C.) was selected as a 2014 winner of the Use of Tech in Energy and Environment at the NC Tech Awards. The award is North Carolina’s only statewide technology awards program, recognizing companies and individuals who have characterized excellence, innovation, and leadership in 25 categories. The company received its award for inventing a new technology called the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool or SL-RAT® that acoustically inspects sewer lines for blockages faster, safer, and less expensively than other alternatives.


U.S. Water Services Inc. (St. Michael, Minn.) received the California Game Changer Company of the Year Award. The award recognizes individuals and companies who have made a significant statewide effect either economically or regarding key issues within the State of California. U.S. Water has been working with California agriculture, medical centers, and businesses using integrated solutions that combine chemical, equipment, engineering, automation, and service to help reduce water use 20% by the year 2020.


Vogelsang (Ravenna, Ohio) appointed Ricardo Bordon Eastern U.S. sales manager. Bordon will focus on customers east of the Mississippi River.


Other companies mentioned:

  • Danfoss
  • Freese and Nichols
  • SCS Engineers
  • Hubbell, Roth & Clark Inc
  • Evoqua Water Technologies LLC
  • Kleinfelder
  • GE Power and Water


The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF; Alexandria, Va.) awarded the University of California–Berkeley and Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.) a contract to research extractive nutrient recovery technologies. This is the third project under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-funded National Research Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management.

This project, Enhanced Removal of Nutrients from Urban Runoff with Novel Unit-Process Capture, Treatment, and Recharge Systems (WERF Project No. STAR_N4R14), assumes that compared to traditional approaches, implementation of process models to aid future design efforts for urban stormwater runoff capture and treatment will enhance significantly nutrient removal at the watershed level. These models also will help meet community-defined priorities including flood risk mitigation, capture for groundwater recharge, and water quality improvement.
The hope is that municipal, industrial, and agricultural sectors now will have a defined and structured protocol for decision-making with respect to extractive nutrient recovery.


The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA; Austin, Texas) held a groundbreaking in December for its new water supply reservoir near Lane City, Texas. When completed in 2017, the roughly 49.3 million m3 (40,000 ac-ft) reservoir being constructed off the main channel of the Colorado River will help secure water sources for the drought-prone Texas region.

The Lane City Reservoir Project is the region’s first significant new water supply reservoir in decades. With capacity greater than lakes Marble Falls, Austin, and Lady Bird on the Colorado River combined, the reservoir will enable LCRA to store significant amounts of water near the Texas Gulf Coast. It also will add an estimated 111 million m3 (90,000 ac-ft) to LCRA’s annual water supply even during periods of drought. The reservoir will reduce the need to release water from the region’s main water storage reservoirs upstream — Lakes Travis and Buchanan — which currently provide water for more than 1 million people in Central Texas.

In April 2013, LCRA awarded CH2M Hill (Englewood, Colo.) a contract for the design of the reservoir and pump station, as well as the rehabilitation and upgrade of its intakes, along with associated conveyance to and from the reservoir. The contract also includes assessment and rehabilitation of a low-head dam on the river, downstream from the project.

Also mentioned in this section:

  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • The Challenging Nutrients Coalition

Problem Solvers

Cincinnati Nature Center turns to algae for onsite wastewater treatment

Problem: Aging wastewater treatment systems began causing financial, noise, and odor problems.
Solution: Installing an algae-based treatment system met NPDES permits and expanded service with a reduced footprint, cost, and maintenance requirement.

The Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC), a nature educational organization in Milford, Ohio, receives more than 100,000 visitors each year. CNC has a mission to inspire passion for nature in visitors and promote environmentally responsible choices through involvement, education, and conservancy. CNC spans 415 ha (1025 ac) and had two onsite water resource recovery facilities.

Because of CNC’s location, it could not easily connect ...

Water Volumes

Automation of Water Resource Recovery Facilities, Fourth Edition Manual of Practice 21
Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, 2013, 722 pp., $155 soft cover, ISBN 978-1572782754.

Automation is becoming an integral component of the water sector. New and smart technologies and applications constantly are being developed and used to operate water resource recovery facilities. The new edition of the manual is an exhaustive guide on all practical aspects of automation of water resource recovery systems. The book has 16 chapters. It starts with how to formulate a business case for automation, and discusses benefits of automation ...

Read the full open access article


Emergency Planning, Response, and Recovery
Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, 2013, 282 pp., $99, paperback, ISBN: 978-1-57278-274-7.

Under the direction of the Safety, Occupational Health, and Security Subcommittee of the Technical Practice Committee of the Water Environment Federation, the chairman and 37 task force colleagues prepared this important reference book to help utilities worldwide develop their emergency response plans to recover from such events as infrastructure failure, small- and large-scale natural disasters, and human-created incidents.

This book has five ...

Read the full open access article


Pumps & motors

Metering pump
The Qdos 60 peristaltic metering pump follows the highly successful launch of the revolutionary Qdos 30 pump and expands the Qdos range to incorporate flow rates from 0.001 to 15 gal/h at 100 lb/in.2. The pumps are ideal for disinfection, pH adjustment, and flocculation of drinking water, wastewater, and industrial process water as well as reagent dosing and metering in mineral processing tasks. Watson-Marlow (Wilmington, Mass.).


The SiteMax™ pump (patent pending) is available in skid- or trailer-mount options, the pump is ultra-portable and easy to maneuver through the most difficult to reach areas. For extra flexibility onsite, it features side-by-side suction intake and discharge connections. The large 88.5-gal tank provides up to 65 hours of continuous run time. For around-the-clock operations, the pump boasts standard sound attenuation at 69 dB from 23 ft and is noticeably quieter than other competing pumps. PowerPrime® Pumps (Bakersfield, Calif.).


The MTR pump is designed for machining and filtration processes. Its compact and lightweight design makes it versatile for other applications including parts washing, temperature control units, or anywhere a tank-mounted pump is required. With the drainage back to tank, the pumped liquid is caught in a channel and remains in the tank even if the shaft seal is worn and starts to leak. Singapore Pte Ltd. (Singapore).

Sewer Sociology

MASH says ‘Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen’
Kevin L. Enfinger and Patrick L. Stevens

For many years the television show “MASH” was the highest rated program in history so it is no surprise that the last episode, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” on Feb. 28, 1983 was the most-watched single-episode  program until it was eclipsed by the Super Bowl in 2010.

Looking at the broadcast through water use in system in the Central Time, quite visible are eight spikes in flow corresponding to commercial breaks followed by a huge spike at the show’s end at 10 p.m.

Download a PDF of the Sewer Sociology: MASH says ‘Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen’.

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