Over the past two decades, the trend from traditional design-bid-build (DBB) construction project-delivery practices to design-build (DB) practices has grown. Is that merely a cyclical trend or a step change that is destined to be a fixture for a long time to come?
Despite my fascination with the adage, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result,” I still occasionally find myself — a creature of habit — falling into a pattern of repetitive unsuccessful behavior.
When I attended the U.S. EPA-hosted PFAS Summit held at the Horsham, PA high school auditorium on July 25, 2018, the education I received from state and municipal leaders focusing on the local problem was more than just a professional briefing. It was ominously personal, due to the fact that the Water Online editorial office where I work and drink water every day is served by a utility sitting smack-dab in the middle of one of the most concentrated PFAS hotspots in the U.S.
While all water treatment utilities (WTPs) and wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) face challenges, small rural systems are particularly hard-pressed due to limited resources. In a contrast of proportions, small water systems supporting fewer than 3,500 customers serve about 8 percent of the U.S. population, yet constitute nearly 83 percent of nation’s 51,000 community water systems. Sixty-five percent of those small systems serve 500 customers or less, and many of them are rural systems. Fortunately, they do not have to face their challenges alone.
The Great Lakes Basin Water Utility Energy Challenge has announced five winners in its inaugural competition among water utilities to reduce emissions associated with energy generation to support their plant operations. The 2018 winners included a variety of utilities ranging from small-town to large-metropolitan-area systems, competing in five major areas:
As we approach the hottest months of the year, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operators face a range of challenges arising from elevated summer temperatures. With all due respect to Eddie Cochran, this article outlines some of the cures — or at least preventive steps and countermeasures — for wastewater treatment’s “summertime blues.”
The phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention” has been definitively traced back to early 16th century England, and even attributed to Plato in the Latin form, “Mater artium necessitas.” In today’s world of water, necessity is also becoming a major factor in rising interest regarding potable water reuse. This is especially true in areas where changes in climate or usage demands have stressed traditional sources of supply, as evidenced by increasing numbers of applications worldwide. For those who work in a water-stressed environment, this article can provide added perspective on specific points of opportunity — and points of caution.
Every water distribution utility has a strategy for infrastructure asset management and repair — from simply reacting to breaks, to scheduling main replacements based on system-specific history, to prioritizing infrastructure repairs based on mathematical calculations of risks and consequences.
As if they don’t already face enough challenges, water treatment plants (WTPs) in the western U.S. have yet another potential problem lurking in their source water waiting to blossom when they least expect it. This specific problem comes in the form of two invasive species: quagga mussels and zebra mussels.
Not every city expects a dramatic growth spurt of 50,000 jobs, and only one metropolitan area will emerge victorious from the much-heralded Amazon HQ2 competition. Still, the prospects of water or wastewater system growth, or even escalating maintenance on aging infrastructure, raise important questions about your utility’s 10-year plan. Do you have one? If you do, how up-to-date is it? And if you don’t, isn’t it time to start thinking about developing one?
In the cash-strapped water sector, $5.5 billion doesn’t grow on trees. That is why, for drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities facing funding challenges due to regional growth, aging infrastructure, or other needs, the recent announcement of that amount of funding under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) is welcome news.
Since 1999, when business people at more than 150,000 companies worldwide wanted to keep better track of their customers — and be more responsive — they turned to Salesforce.com and its industry-leading customer relationship management (CRM) software. Now, companies looking for ideas on sustainability, in terms of water recycling, can turn to the new Salesforce Tower in San Francisco as a leading-edge environmental solution as well. It is estimated that the building’s water recycling system will save more than 7.5-million gallons of drinking water annually — enough to supply more than 16,000 San Francisco residents.
The Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) in North Andover, MA, was one of 28 organizations nationwide to be honored for an innovative water or wastewater project in the most recent PISCES Recognition Program sponsored by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). PISCES stands for Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success.
By now, just about everyone in the U.S. has heard about Flint, Michigan’s water woes. Despite the many issues raised by that incident, urban water systems are not the sole reason the 2017 Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the U.S. drinking water infrastructure an overall “D” grade. Hidden within that disheartening rating are the harsh realities faced by rural water systems.
There is little doubt that America’s infrastructure is aging, and in some cases, operating well beyond its originally intended lifespan. With labor costs representing up to half of the cost of pipe replacement, the key to cost-effective water and wastewater utility strategies revolves as much around labor-saving installation efficiency as it does around the physical performance of a particular material. Here is a look at historic failure rates, causes, and factors to consider when replacing existing water distribution and sewer networks.
Inflow and infiltration (I&I) are ongoing concerns for many wastewater utilities. Even with diligent maintenance of infrastructure, there are limits to what can be controlled. One example of that is leakage in the lateral service lines connecting the sewer utility’s main to sewer customer buildings. Here is how one municipality took advantage of federal and local funding to encourage nearly 2,500 customers to upgrade deficient connections in their lateral service lines — to the tune of more than $4 million.
The trend of losing top-tier water-treatment employees to retirement has been receiving enough press recently that water treatment plant (WTP) and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) managers are starting to plan ahead. Having to groom and certify mid-level employees to fill top-tier spots is difficult enough. Finding qualified and interested prospects to fill in entry-level positions is getting even harder.