Saxtons River, VT Considers UV Light Treatment for Wastewater

Saxtons River in Vermont
Saxtons River in Vermont

Saxtons River, Vermont is considering an upgrade to their aging wastewater treatment facility. Engineering firm Marquise & Morano introduced three plans to Saxtons River Trustees at a meeting, and Gary A. Leach, P.E., Vice President of Tata & Howard, presented an option using sequencing batch reactors (SBR) as the best option. The SBR process uses ultraviolet (UV) light instead of chlorine to treat wastewater. Not only is the SBR option the most economical, but it is also a green initiative. UV utilizes only light, and therefore eliminates all processes associated with the handling and transport of chemicals, and it is safer for operators and aquatic life. For more information on the Saxtons River wastewater treatment project, click here.

Engineering Week: February 21, 2014 – Five Engineering Feats That Forever Changed the World

Today is the last day of Engineering Week, and we thought we’d try to choose the five engineering feats that had the most proofed global impact. Do you agree? Let us know!

glass water against skyClean Water

Choosing clean water as having the most global impact was easy, and not because we are a water engineering firm. Read our blog from earlier this week, and you will see how dirty water causes more death than all forms of violence combined. Major disease epidemics from the past were caused by contaminated water, and still are to this day in developing countries. Clean water definitely gets our vote as #1 (even if we are a little biased.)


Try to think of what the world would be like without telephones. Telephones forever changed the way we communicate, and connected the world in a way it never had been. From the inception of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to the smartphones of today, the telephone deserves a spot in the top five.


Electricity modernized the world, and now affects nearly everything we do. It heats our homes, powers our world-changing computers, lights the darkness, and allows simple and quick automation of so many tasks that were once time-consuming (washboard, anyone?)


Like the telephone, the computer has changed the world on so many levels. From automated manufacturing to global communication to computer-assisted surgery and the internet, our lives would not be the same without the invention of the computer.


The airplane changed the world by allowing fast transportation of goods and people. Transcontinental voyages that once took weeks now take hours, and global trade is now commonplace. In today’s world, overnight shipping is not a luxury but an expectation, with internet super-retailer Amazon considering using drones for package shipments.

Engineering has certainly changed the face of the world in so many ways. Do you agree with our top five? And what will be the top five in the next 100 years? One thing is certain: the world wouldn’t be the same without engineers. Happy Engineering Week!

Engineering Week: Thursday, February 20 Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Thomas Edison. Alexander Graham Bell. These are household names, engineers well known for their brilliant inventions. But how many female engineers can you think of? Throughout modern history there have been many female engineers who have contributed to the advancement of society. As we celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a part of Engineering Week, we’d like to familiarize you with three pioneers in women’s engineering, and to introduce you to a few of Tata & Howard’s own female engineers.

Three Amazing Female Engineers in History

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (born 1923)

stephCountless law enforcement and military personnel owe their lives to Stephanie Louise Kowlek, who discovered liquid crystalline polymers while working for DuPont. The result? Kevlar. Kevlar contains fibers that are five times stronger than steel, does not rust or corrode, and is extremely lightweight. Kevlar is best known for its use in the bulletproof vest, but it is also used for fiber optic cables, airplane fuselages, brake linings, boats, parachutes, skis, building materials, and radial tires. Ultimately obtaining 28 patents during her 40 year career, Kowlek was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995, received the National Medal of Technology in 1996, was awarded The Perkin Medal by The American Chemical Society in 1997, and was named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

hedyHedy Lamarr is best known as a beautiful and sought-after movie star of the 1930’s and 1940’s, but she was actually a whole lot more. Lamarr invented a remote-controlled communications system for the United States military during World War II. Originally from Austria and born of Jewish parents, Lamarr was deeply troubled by Nazi attacks. When German submarines began torpedoing passenger liners, she said, “I’ve got to invent something that will put a stop to that.” Lamarr came up with “frequency hopping,” an electronics radio system that would enable Allied submarines to avoid signal jamming from enemies, thus allowing far more successful allied torpedo attacks. In later years, Lamarr’s “frequency hopping” is what made cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other wireless developments possible.

Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972)

lillianThere’s a common saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems to have been coined with Lillian Moller in mind. Moller is known as the “mother of modern management” due to her education, scientific nature – and being the mother of 12 children! Along with her husband Frank, Lillian’s life is the basis for the books “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Belles on Their Toes,” written by two of their children about life in the Gilbreth household. Frank and Lillian sought endlessly to find the “one best way” to perform any task in order to increase efficiency and productivity. These studies are called time and motion studies, and are still applied today in Lean Manufacturing practices.

After her husband died of a heart attack in 1924, Lillian wrote four books and taught industrial engineering courses at various prestigious schools including Bryn Mawr and Purdue. President Hoover asked her to join the Emergency Committee for Unemployment during the Great Depression, and she worked as a consultant for the government during World War II. Lillian is credited with many inventions, including the foot-pedal trashcan, the electric mixer, the L-shaped kitchen, and refrigerator door shelves.

During her lifetime, Lillian Gilbreth received many honors. She became the first female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1926, she was the first woman to be elected into the National Academy of Engineering, and she was also issued the very first membership in the Society of Women Engineers.

Tata & Howard’s Female Phenoms

shiraTata & Howard boasts some brilliant female engineers as well. As a firm, we employ a much higher percentage of female engineers than is the industry norm. Shira A. McWaters, P.E., pictured at right and who has been with the firm since its inception over 20 years ago, is an Associate and manages our Arizona office. Two of our six members of the Board of Directors are women, Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E. In addition, we have many other female engineers at all levels throughout the organization, and their contributions to the firm are invaluable. Last week, we were able to stop some of Tata & Howard’s female engineers just long enough to pose for a photo. Pictured left to right are Jennifer Fruzzetti, Jenna Rzasa, Patricia Fox, Amanda Cavaliere, Hayley Franz, Vicki Zabierek, Justine Carroll, Marie Rivers, and Karen Gracey.

female engineers at THEngineering still tends to be a male-dominated field, and young girls are often overlooked even when their abilities clearly point to engineering. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is intended to bring awareness of the engineering profession to school-aged girls, and to encourage them in pursuing a career in the field. During engineering week, there are many special events across the country in which young girls can participate. Check out your local engineering universities for events. For online resources, visit or for fun activities and ideas to introduce the young girls in your life to engineering.

Women engineers have brought us not only the bulletproof vest and the basis for wireless technology, but also disposable diapers, windshield wipers, the compiler (which translates English into computer code), signal flares, noise cancellation technology, air pollution mitigation technology, and the Brooklyn Bridge – what could be next? Introduce a girl to engineering, and the possibilities are endless.

Engineering Week: Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Engineers

In honor of Engineering Week, we’ve put together a list of some people who were engineers before they were made famous for doing something else. Some may surprise you!

Tom Scholz, guitarist for Boston
Before Donald Thomas “Tom” Scholz became famous with the rock band Boston, he was an engineer working as a Senior Product Designer for Polaroid Corporation. Tom received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. And apparently engineering runs in the family! In 2005, Scholz’s son Jeremy also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

Dolph Lundgrun, Actor
Before starring in such Hollywood blockbusters as Rocky IV, Universal Soldier, and The Expendables, Dolph Lundgren received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Chemical Engineering. In addition, he was studying at MIT on a Fullbright Scholarship when he decided to drop out to pursue acting.

Herbie Hancock, Jazz Musician
Herbie Hancock attended Grinnell College and double majored, receiving Bachelor’s Degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Music. While engineering was Hancock’s initial career choice, his incredible musical talent has provided him with an extremely successful music career spanning over half a century.

Alfred Hitchcock, Director
Alfred Hitchcock graduated from the London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation before pursuing his career in directing psychological thrillers. And his engineering background actually helped him have the incredible success that he did. When working on “Vertigo,” Hitchcock was told that to simulate dizziness on camera would be too expensive to produce. He put his engineering mind to work and pioneered a technique that involved zooming in with a camera while moving the camera backward, which made the shot seem to be in double vision.

Bonus: five more famous engineers
Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England
Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter, 31st and 39th Presidents of the United States, respectively
Tom Landry, NFL Coach
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

Engineering Week: Tuesday, February 18 – Engineers Save Lives, and You Can, Too

third world waterIt has recently been argued that engineers save more lives than doctors, and for a very clear reason. While doctors treat existing maladies and certainly save countless lives in the process, there is no debate that the greatest contributor to saving lives and preventing needless death and illness is access to clean water and sanitation. In developed countries like the U.S., we don’t give modern plumbing a second thought. Here, grabbing a glass of water from the sink or having working toilets is a right, not a privilege. However, as of this moment, one in six human beings does not have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s 1.1 billion people worldwide. Dirty water is responsible for 80% of all illness and disease and kills more people annually than all forms of violence combined – including war. Therefore, many underdeveloped countries are now looking to bring more engineers to their countries than doctors, maintaining that prevention of illness would be more effective in saving lives than treatment would be. And we here at Tata & Howard couldn’t agree more, which is why we support Water for People, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to all the people of the world. And it is an achievable goal. The U.N. estimates that the $30 billion dollars per year that the U.S. alone spends in bottled water would be enough money to provide worldwide clean water access.

It’s going to take a little time, and a little money, and the dedication of some charitable engineers, but we look forward to a time when clean, safe drinking water is a right – and not a privilege – to all the people who inhabit this earth. For more information on Water For People and how you can help, visit

Engineering Week: Monday, February 17 – Team Hoyt

Today marks the start of Engineering Week 2014. This week, we will be showcasing some of the amazing and inspirational accomplishments of engineers, and how they have made our world better, more efficient, safer, and more technologically advanced – and also a little bit kinder.

Monday, February 17 – Team Hoyt and the Engineers Who Helped Them

Dick and Rick Hoyt
Dick and Rick Hoyt

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-son racing duo from Massachusetts who have inspired millions, and who have broken down many barriers for people with disabilities. But did you know that engineers are a big part of the Hoyts’ success? After Rick Hoyt suffered oxygen deprivation at birth due to his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck, leaving him with cerebral palsy, doctors told his parents that he would always be non-responsive and should be institutionalized. The Hoyts weren’t buying it. They saw the way their son’s eyes followed them and the way he laughed at jokes. In 1972, armed with $5,000 and a love of their child, Dick and Judy Hoyt hired some engineers at Tufts who developed a device that allowed Rick to communicate with them by utilizing a computer on which he could type by tapping his head left or right. His first words? “Go Bruins!” Rick was later integrated into public school and went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Boston University, all thanks to the device that allowed him to communicate. He currently works at Boston College.

Statue honoring Dick and Rick Hoyt at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, MA
Statue honoring Dick and Rick Hoyt at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, MA

In 1977, Rick expressed an interest in running a charity 5K to support a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed. Even though he was overweight and out of shape, Dick obliged and pushed his son in his wheelchair, a task that proved overwhelmingly difficult due to the weight of the chair and the awkward handling. Afterwards, Rick said he felt like he had no disability when he was running, and Dick knew that he needed to find a different chair so that they could run more races together. Once again, Dick and Judy hired local engineers, this time from MIT, and these engineers designed a racing wheelchair with lighter pipes, a single front wheel, and higher handles in which Dick could more easily push Rick. This incredible chair eventually gave birth to the jogger stroller, a now commonplace household device for families with young children, and also inspired thousands of others to push their disabled loved ones in races.

Dick and Rick Hoyt went on to race in over 1,000 races, including marathons, triathlons, and Ironmen, and broke down barriers for the disabled every step of the way. Pushing the disabled in wheelchairs, once prohibited and scorned, is now accepted and commonplace, all thanks to the love of a father for his son. This year’s Boston Marathon will mark the final running of the iconic event for the dynamic duo, now aged 73 and 51. Last year, the father and son team was honored by the unveiling of a bronze statue in their likeness at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and they were presented with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS in Los Angeles. Team Hoyt is now a well-known charitable organization that inspires millions and has sub-chapters all over the country.

Ben Affleck presents Dick and Rick Hoyt with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS, July 2013 JOHN SHEARER/INVISION/AP
Ben Affleck presents Dick and Rick Hoyt with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS, July 2013

And it was all made possible by love, determination…and some brilliant engineers.

For more information on Team Hoyt, visit

How an Engineer Changed the Winter Olympic Games

snowboarderThe Winter Olympic Games are in full swing, and snowboarding has quickly become one of the most popular events. But did you know that the snowboard was invented by an engineer? In 1965, Sherman Poppen, a chemical gases engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented “The Snurfer” (affectionately named by his wife as a cross between snow and surfer) as a toy for his daughter. He created the Snurfer by binding two skis together side by side and attaching a rope at the nose onto which the rider could hold for added stability. The Snurfer was a big hit with Poppen’s daughter and her friends, and so Poppen licensed his snow-covered groundbreaking idea to a manufacturer. Half a million Snurfers sold the following year, and a new sport was born. Snowboarding was added to the Olympic Games in 1998.

Valentine’s Day Flowers for the Eco-Conscious

Last_petal_Loves_meValentine’s Day is fast approaching, and with it comes the giving and receiving of cut flower arrangements. And while beautiful bouquets are romantic and seem to be a natural and environmentally conscious choice, they actually have a very large environmental and water footprint. Fortunately, there are plenty of Valentine’s Day flower options that are both romantic and environmentally friendly.

Environmental Impact of Traditional Cut Flowers

The United States imports about 80% of all its cut flowers, with 90% of those imports coming from Latin America, where pesticide use is rampant and unregulated. In Colombia, flower plantation workers are routinely exposed to over 125 types of pesticides – pesticides that are outlawed in the U.S. because of their toxicity. In fact, over 65% of flower workers in Colombia suffer from work-related illnesses, including rashes, headaches, miscarriages and birth defects, respiratory issues, and premature death. In addition, transporting cut flowers from Latin America to U.S. retailers utilizing airplanes, refrigerated trucks, and cold storage comes at a price of six pounds of greenhouse gases per bouquet. And the water footprint is just as dreary: growing a single rose uses up to 13 liters of water, and Latin American streams and groundwater have been polluted and radically depleted by flower farms. Admittedly, flowers are as integral a part of Valentine’s Day as organic, fair-trade chocolate and recycled greeting cards printed with soy-based ink. So we’ve come up with some options to satisfy any green romantic.

356px-Bamboo-houseplantLocal and Organically Grown Flowers

For a listing of locally grown flowers, head over to Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers where you can search for sources by location and flower type. If you need delivery, look for online retailers who sell only organic flowers. California Organic Growers provides organically grown flowers from California farms. They even ship them overnight!

Organic, Live Plants

Living plants are a beautiful and eco-conscious option for Valentine’s Day. Organic Bouquet offers a nice range of whimsical and organically grown living plant arrangements, and they also ship overnight.

Seeds of Love

For those of you who want something even more environmentally conscious, plant organic flower seeds in a pretty pot with organic potting soil. Then just attach a card with a photo of the flowers-to-be that says “Water these flowers and watch them grow like our love.” Bonus: this is high on the romance scale!

papercarnations_1Homemade Paper Flowers

These paper flowers are both lovely and eco-friendly, but they do require a bit of time and crafting ability. Think of it as a labor of love! For full instructions on these pretty paper pansies, click here.

Be a Greenie to your Sweetie

Valentine’s Day is about showing our love, and what better way than to show love towards our sweetheart as well as our environment? This year, help protect the world’s water supply, our fellow humans, and our environment by choosing eco-conscious Valentine’s Day flowers. Your sweetheart – and your great-grandchildren – will thank you.

Green Changes Ahead in Stormwater Management

An enhanced tree pit helps mitigate runoff. Photo courtesy of NYC Environmental Protection.
An enhanced tree pit helps mitigate runoff. Photo courtesy of NYC Environmental Protection.

EPA looks to incorporate green infrastructure into new stormwater regulations in 2014

Spring 2014 will likely see the long-overdue proposed national stormwater regulation from the EPA. In addition to anticipated changes such as stronger reporting requirements, publicized Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP), and clarified corrective action conduct, the EPA aims to integrate green practices and infrastructure into stormwater initiatives. These initiatives will have positive impact to both the environment and the economy.

Impact of Stormwater

Urban stormwater is a leading source of impairment, and its impact to water quality is growing. Currently, 800,000 acres are being developed annually, and that number is expected to grow to over one million acres by 2040. Development increases impervious cover, and even the smallest increase in impervious cover causes major impact to water reception. In addition, upstream development directly affects downstream waters, and many communities already have waterbodies that have been polluted by stormwater discharge. Clearly, innovative and effective stormwater management practices are imperative to the health of our nation’s waters.

Changing the Way We Approach Stormwater Management

Traditional stormwater management strategies involve the swift conveyance of stormwater from site to waterbody or detention ponds, and the management of peak flows and drainage to mitigate flooding and large-scale downstream erosion. The new approach to stormwater will be to manage municipal stormwater discharges on a watershed basis, particularly MS4 communities, and to integrate green infrastructure into project design during development or redevelopment. This green approach will provide the most cost-effective opportunity to manage stormwater at its source by preventing water quality degradation in healthy waters and helping to restore already impaired waters.

The EPA is considering a number of performance standards for the upcoming proposed ruling, including a retention-based standard to require that sustainable stormwater controls be incorporated into sites as they are developed and redeveloped, thereby reducing volume and velocity of discharges as well as pollutants. The EPA has made it clear that there are indeed cost-effective ways of meeting the standard, including incorporating controls in the site design by preserving vegetation and reducing impervious cover, and integrating green infrastructure practices into landscape or other common areas. The ruling will contain some flexibility, taking into consideration an area\’s climate and other location-specific characteristics as well as redevelopment site constraints and phased implementation. In addition, there may be additional incentives for smart growth and brownfields development.

A porous concrete sidewalk filters rain back into the ground instead of the sewer system. Photo courtesy of NYC Environmental Protection.
A porous concrete sidewalk filters rain back into the ground instead of the sewer system. Photo courtesy of NYC Environmental Protection.

Benefits of a Proposed Stormwater Rule

  • Improved recreational, aesthetic and non-use values
  • Lower drinking water treatment costs
  • Lower dredging costs for navigational channels
  • Reduced siltation of water storage reservoirs
  • Reduced downstream flooding damage
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Small stream erosion and water quality impacts


  • Improved air quality and reduced human health impacts
  • Higher off-site property values associated with green infrastructure
  • Carbon uptake by plants
  • Reduced energy use by buildings and associated air quality
  • Carbon footprint benefits


  • Reduced flooding
  • More livable communities
  • Increased property values
  • Avoidance of extremely high costs of water restoration

UF winners copy

Students at the University of Florida won the EPA\’s 2012 Campus RainWorks Challenge with this green infrastructure design. Read about it in detail here.

In Conclusion

It is imperative that we protect our nation’s most precious resource, and stormwater management is a crucial facet of that goal. The expected spring 2014 EPA stormwater rulings will likely bring significant green infrastructure initiatives, and not a moment too soon. Green infrastructure will serve as an impetus for the critical and cost-effective protection of our water supply with the added benefit of enhancing the world in which we all live.