This month's topics: Wind power • Membranes • Decentralized systems • WOTUS rule

March 2019 • Volume 31 • Number 3

This month's featured content

Cooking up reuse
Industrial food processor recaptures energy, water, and nutrients
Michael E. Mecredy, Charles P. Gregory, Asher Benedict, and Jason W. Mullen

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Charging up 'behind the meter'
Wind, biogas, and solar projects boost water resource recovery facility energy efficiency and fossil fuel independence
James McCaughey, Thomas Uva, Barry Wenskowicz, and Kerri Houghton

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Seven keys to membrane bioreactor success
Designers and operators have discovered these keys based on 15 years of progressive MBR experience in the Pacific Northwest
Patrick Roe

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Growing into a distributed model
Corralling 104 square miles and 85,000 individual lots into a manageable utility
Jennifer Desrosiers, Rick Newkirk, and Harold E. Schmidt Jr.

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Features

Cooking up reuse
Industrial food processor recaptures energy, water, and nutrients
Michael E. Mecredy, Charles P. Gregory, Asher Benedict, and Jason W. Mullen

In 2014, a food manufacturing facility in the southeast U.S. began the process of replacing its existing wastewater treatment system.  After nearly a decade of operation and production increases, the previous system was not capable of keeping up with the demands of current production. Thus, the facility began the process of planning to replace the existing wastewater treatment system with a new system to provide more capacity, reliability, and operational flexibility.

The facility also used this upgrade as an opportunity to implement a highly sustainable approach targeting beneficial reuse of multiple site generated waste streams and residuals. The design includes such features as harnessing biogas generated from anaerobic treatment, use of effluent water for routine site activities such as solids press wash water, water reuse and reduction via use of treated effluent for cooling tower makeup, and land irrigation with the balance of the treated effluent. The technologies and methods present at this facility are a case study and example for other industrial facilities seeking to maximize reuse and minimize environmental footprint.

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Charging up 'behind the meter'
Wind, biogas, and solar projects boost water resource recovery facility energy efficiency and fossil fuel independence
James McCaughey, Thomas Uva, Barry Wenskowicz, and Kerri Houghton

In Rhode Island, 19 individual water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) capable of receiving and treating up to 757 ML/d (200 mgd) wastewater collect and manage municipal wastewater. On average, these WRRFs combined consume more than 78,000,000 kWh of electricity annually at a cost of more than $9 million per year.

The Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC; Providence, R.I.) collects and treats both wastewater and stormwater from 10 Rhode Island cities and towns, servicing 40% of the state’s population. To help improve energy use performance and to help establish a sustainable energy management plan, NBC has successfully developed two 4.5-MW wind farms, a 644-kW biogas combined heat and power system, and 10 MW of solar energy for its renewable energy portfolio.

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Seven keys to membrane bioreactor success
Designers and operators have discovered these keys based on 15 years of progressive MBR experience in the Pacific Northwest
Patrick Roe

The first generation of membrane bioreactors (MBRs) in the Pacific Northwest began around 2003. This new technology represents a considerable advancement over conventional wastewater treatment, particularly the ability to produce high-quality reclaimed water product within a small physical footprint. As with any new technology, the past 15 years has led to many lessons that can be applied to design and operation. Manufacturers are also continuing to refine membrane technology and develop new products.

During the past 15 years, seven topics have emerged as critical concerns to consider when working with MBRs. The guidance is intended toward modifying existing membrane bioreactors to improve performance and operability, as well as to provide guidance for design and operation of new membrane facilities. These topics are based on case studies, evaluations, and modifications at four MBR facilities. 

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Growing into a distributed model
Corralling 104 square miles and 85,000 individual lots into a manageable utility
Jennifer Desrosiers, Rick Newkirt, and Harold E. Schmidt Jr.

The City of North Port, Fla., consistently has been ranked as one of the top 20 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. and has a current population of approximately 66,300 people. Its buildout population has been estimated at 268,000 people — that’s more than four times the current population. Therefore, managing this utility’s growth continues to be a daily challenge.

These challenges include valuing the benefits and costs of a regional and decentralized approach to managing their utility system and growth. However, the city is rising to the challenge and is well-positioned for the future.

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From the Trenches

The Lone Ranger vs. Teamwork
Richard R. Roll and Michael S. Eagler Sr.

In a pivotal scene from Spider-Man 3, the late Stan Lee says to Peter Parker, played by actor Tobey Maguire, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. ‘Nuff said.”

Thanks to a radioactive spider, Spider-Man can accomplish more as one person than you or I can on most days. Of course, unlike Spider-Man, we don’t all have superhero powers. We can’t do everything on our own, but we can accomplish a lot more with collaboration and teamwork than we can by ourselves.

The nature of effective utility operation, maintenance, and repair requires accomplishment through teamwork. Nobody can know everything, and everyone has a different set of experiences, talents, and a unique point of view. Diversity and uniqueness are important attributes for strengthening your organization.

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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 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.

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News

Charm City will keep water management in-house
Baltimore, Md., votes to ban privatization of water and wastewater systems
LaShell Stratton-Childers

In November 2018, the City of Baltimore became the first major U.S. jurisdiction to vote to ban the privatization of its water and wastewater systems, with 77% of voters supporting the measure. Though the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) did not take a position on the ballot measure, DPW has consistently said water systems should remain in public hands, said Jeffrey Raymond, DPW chief of Communications and Community Affairs.

“Based on this rich and proud history, it has been the position of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, as well as numerous city mayoral administrations, that the water system remain in the hands of the people of Baltimore, run on behalf of and accountable to the residents and ratepayers,” Raymond said. “While there are examples of well-run private water utilities, the focus of a publicly held enterprise is solely on the safe, reliable operation of water and sewer utilities that serves the people and protects the environment. Private enterprise, on the other hand, has the additional challenge of considering the needs of its ownership — including the need to turn a profit.”

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U.S. EPA, Army Corps of Engineers release draft ‘WOTUS’ redefinition language
Justin Jacques

On Dec. 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army proposed a new definition for “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as described in the Clean Water Act. The redefinition follows a February 2017 Executive Order that tasked the agencies with reviewing — and possibly repealing — amendments made to the rule in 2015.

The WOTUS definition has been the subject of hundreds of court cases, including several in the Supreme Court, since the rule’s implementation in 1973. Its interpretation distinguishes which waterways fall within state or tribal regulatory jurisdiction from those which fall under federal responsibility.

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Splash Shot

Ancient Nabataeans harnessed runoff to provide water for the city of Petra

The Nabataeans, an ancient Semitic people, established the city of Petra as their capital. The civilization incorporated sophisticated water systems throughout the city, located in southern Jordan, to ensure a year-round water supply in the hot, dry desert climate. 

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Research Notes

Purple bacteria ‘batteries’ remove carbon and recover resources from wastewater

Researchers in Spain have demonstrated a new method to recover energy from wastewater. Their approach, which involves light, electricity, and multiple species of purple phototrophic bacteria (PPB), recovers valuable biofuels from such common wastewater organics as malic acid and sodium glutamate with minimal carbon dioxide emissions.

PPB are formed when light-sensitive bacteria capture energy from sunlight using a certain pigment, giving them a purple color.

Through an unconventional form of photosynthesis that requires organic molecules and nitrogen gas rather than carbon dioxide and water, PPB can create proteins, biodegradable polyesters, or even hydrogen gas that can be used to produce electricity. The output depends on environmental conditions like light intensity, temperature, and the types of organics and nutrients available.

“Purple phototrophic bacteria make an ideal tool for resource recovery from organic waste, thanks to their highly diverse metabolism,” said study co-author Daniel Puyol, a postdoctoral researcher at King Juan Carlos University (Madrid, Spain).

The research team created mixed cultures of various PPB species and experimented with different nitrogen and carbon sources in their surroundings to optimize hydrogen gas production rates.

They discovered that the nutrient blend that resulted in the quickest hydrogen production rate also minimized the PPB’s production of carbon dioxide. Further, with the help of electrons from an external cathode, researchers found that PPB recaptures the carbon dioxide it emits through photosynthesis, yielding materials required for energy production without contributing to carbon emissions at water resource recovery facilities. 

The researchers demonstrated that “batteries” made from PPB and an external electrical current could recover nearly 100% of carbon from any type of organic waste while also generating valuable byproducts.

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Also in this section

  • ‘Hairy’ nanoparticle offers scaling resistance without environmental side effects

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Waterline

Bill Gates reveals 20 new sanitation tech designs at Reinvented Toilet Expo

On Nov. 6, American tech mogul and philanthropist Bill Gates pulled out a beaker full of improperly discarded human waste during a keynote session at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing. He described the countless viruses, parasites, and other threats to public health it could contain. Gates then praised work to invent a better, cheaper toilet.

Updating the toilet and other sanitation systems to make them more accessible to the world’s poorest regions, Gates said, could help prevent almost 500,000 annual infant deaths, and save $233 billion each year in health-care costs and lost labor.

At the invite-only expo, representatives from universities, governments, and nongovernmental organizations from around the world presented designs for new waste-management technologies that remove pathogens from human waste; recover valuable resources; operate without connections to water, sewer, or power lines; and cost less than US$0.05 per user per day to maintain.

Since 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF; Seattle) has invested more than $200 million in research and development for more than 20 such designs, according to a BMGF release. At the event, the organization announced plans to invest an additional $200 million to help implement the technologies where they are needed most. Joined by commitments from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the African Development Bank, the pledges represent the largest-ever set of investments exclusively for urban sanitation — about $2.5 billion in total.

“This expo showcases, for the first time, radically new, decentralized sanitation technologies and products that are business-ready,” Gates said during his address. “It’s no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems. It’s a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale.”

Designs on display included a California Institute of Technology (Pasadena) toilet that uses an electrochemical reactor to convert waste to fertilizer and energy, and a new type of off-grid water resource recovery facility that processes sludge into clean water, electric power, and pathogen-free ash, developed by Ankur Scientific (Gujarat, India). Download a full list of designs at http://bit.ly/ToiletExpo.

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Also in this section

  • Swedish study defines process and reuse potential of seafood industry wastewater
  • Low-flying helicopters map aquifers beneath Mississippi Alluvial Plain
  • Ancient art supply advances low-cost water purification

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Business

Lynda Hogue and Lincoln Young of Wilson County (Nashville, Tenn.) have been named to the prestigious 2018 Environmental Leader 75 (EL75) list. They were recognized because of their work with the Lebanon Gasification Initiative.

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The Water Research Foundation (Denver) named Peter Grevatt as CEO.Grevatt has more than 30 years of experience leading the implementation of public health and environmental protection programs, including significant national leadership experience in the water sector.

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Pentair plc (London, United Kingdom) named Phil Rolchigo to its executive leadership team as executive vice president, chief technology officer. Rolchigo will lead the company’s global research, development, and engineering functions.

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Carl Data Solutions Inc. (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), provider of complete and customizable Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions for infrastructure monitoring, acquired Astra Smart Systems Corp. (Astra; New Hyde Park, N.Y.). Astra manufactures IIoT devices and runs a data center that can host more than 1000 servers. 

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Also in this section

  • Nanostone Water (Waltham, Mass.)
  • Dur-A-Flex Inc. (East Hartford, Conn.)
  • Duperon Corp. (Saginaw, Mich.)
  • Blacoh Industries (Riverside, Calif.),
  • Buchart Horn Architects (York, Pa.),
  • ADS Environmental Technologies Inc. (Concord, Ontario, Canada)
  • Louis Berger (Morristown, N.J.)
  • Gannett Fleming (New York)
  • Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
  • Stantec (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
  • The American Membrane Technology Association (Stuart, Fla.)
  • Stanley Consultants (Muscatine, Iowa)
  • HDR (Orlando, Fla.)
  • Dewberry (Fairfax, Va.)
  • American Forests (Washington, D.C.)
  • Val-Matic (Elmhust, Ill.)
  • Silicon Valley Clean Water Commission (Redwood City, Calif.)

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Projects

The Design–Build Institute of America (Washington, D.C.) announced the winners of its 2018 National Design–Build Project/Team Awards competition.

The awards program promotes exceptional diversity in project size, sector, and geography while celebrating the innovative and collaborative teams who produce projects that inspire. This year’s winners consisted of 29 projects across sectors including aviation, civic buildings, transportation, and water/wastewater.

Within the water/wastewater category, a Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.) project received accolades. The R.M. Clayton Water Reclamation Center headworks project for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management received the National Excellence Award. The 908,000-m3/d (240-mgd) headworks facility has varying sources of influent, which results in wide flow-rate fluctuations containing large quantities of difficult to remove grit. To mitigate the harmful effects of grit accumulation and facility wear, the city selected a design–build team of Western Summit Constructors (Englewood, Colo.), Anatek Inc. (Marietta, Ga.), and Brown and Caldwell to implement immediate and long-term solutions and provide reliability.

The $53.5 million project included headworks upgrades; replacement of coarse screening and grit removal systems with a 12-cell, multi-tray grit extraction structure; and installation of new influent-monitoring equipment to integrate with the digital control system the facility. Complex excavation, drilling, and blasting of sloped and vertical areas within the facility was included to make room for the new grit removal facility. 

By leveraging the collaboration inherent in the design–build delivery method, the overall project schedule was reduced by 18 months compared to a traditional design–bid–build delivery method.

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Also in this section

  • Centrisys/CNP (Kenosha, Wis.)
  • Itron Inc. (Liberty Lake, Wash.)

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Water Volumes

An Applied Guide to Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design
Sean Moran (2018), Elsevier, Radarweg 29, P.O. Box 211, 1000 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands, 466 pp., $140, softcover, ISBN: 978-0-12-811309-7.

In this book, the author shares more than 25 years of experience of water and effluent treatment facility design. He utilizes that experience, which includes unique qualifications as a forensic engineer and expert witness in legal cases, to produce an interesting book that thoroughly tackles every phase of water process design. Using a conversational, informal style, he applies his practical field experience to real-world applications to cover the entire subject area of facility design without getting too bogged down in the technical aspects, although they are also covered at length.

Broken into five sections, the book follows a well-thought-out story, starting with an overview of the science behind water treatment. The author covers chemistry, biology, and some of the more basic engineering components of a facility. The book is more approachable than other texts as Moran uses his experience to focus on the most practical information needed. Furthermore, if more in-depth knowledge is desired, additional reading is recommended for various technical topics.

The bulk of the book focuses on three major types of water treatment: drinking water, municipal wastewater, and industrial wastewater. Biological, chemical, and physical processes are discussed in a practical manner, with the author drawing on his experiences and focusing on what techniques are commonly used in the sector. 

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Products

Fire hydrant
Mueller Water Products Inc. (Atlanta); www.muellerwaterproducts.com

The Super Centurion A-403 fire hydrant features a two-piece, ductile-iron upper barrel with a nozzle section that can be separated from the traffic section by removing two high-strength bolts, making seat replacement or traffic repair simple and quick. The hydrant has a traffic flange; 5.25-in. fully encapsulated, reversible main valve; a durable polyurethane top coat; and automatic oil lubrication. In addition, all internal components, nozzles, and repair parts are fully interchangeable with the Super Centurion 250 hydrant. 

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Ultrasonic water meter
Itron Inc. (Liberty Lake, Wash.); www.itron.com

The Intelis Water Meter is the company’s first ultrasonic water metering solution, which enables utilities to take advantage of the power of data. When coupled with its multipurpose network, the meter provides information necessary for utilities to better manage the delivery and use of water. Key features include no hardware maintenance, no moving parts, real-time intelligence, real-time alarms, flow data coupled with an open-way riva water module, and high-quality hardware.

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Microprocessor-based actuator
Pulsafeeder (Rochester, N.Y.); www.pulsa.com

The API-compliant XAE actuator is an electromechanical servo controller that provides remote control of PulsaPro hydraulic diaphragm pumps to alter flow rates as required by the process. Alarm relays alert users to unintended changes in flow rates, including stop conditions. The fault-tolerant and self-recovering actuator is designed for reliability and minimal maintenance, with metal gearing and an explosionproof enclosure. Simple calibration capabilities and an intuitive user interface facilitate ease of use.

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Charger
Nidec ASI (Milan, Italy); www.nidec.com

The Ultra-Fast Charger is an advanced system that hooks up to the national grid through charging towers, simplifying and accelerating the electrification process of infrastructures for supplying electric cars and reducing operating costs at the same time. The charger works as a buffer between the electricity grid and the recharging tower and incorporates 160 kWh of installed batteries with advanced power controls. The charger is the prototype of a new generation of ultra-fast chargers, which can be connected to low- or medium-voltage grids. 

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Liquid-level pump controller
ATC Diversified Electronics (Newell, W.Va.); www.marshbellofram.com

The LPC series liquid-level pump controller is an 8-pin, plug-in conductive unit that uses two probes to sense tank level and enables users to select the mode of operation — drain or fill. In drain mode (pump down), the output relay picks up and the LED turns on when liquid reaches the high-level probe. The relay drops out and the LED turns off when liquid falls below the low-level probe. In fill mode (pump up), the output relay picks up and the LED turns on when liquid falls below the low-level probe. The relay drops out and the LED turns off when liquid reaches the high-level probe.

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