Tata & Howard Receives 2017 Engineering Excellence Awards

Carolyn Giampe and Dan Lawrence from Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut accept the Merit Award for the Means Brook Dam alongside Tata & Howard’s William Andres

Tata & Howard was awarded two 2017 Engineering Excellence Merit Awards from the  American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACEC/CT). The awards, which honor the very best of Connecticut’s engineers and the projects they have created for the citizens of Connecticut, were presented during ACEC/CT’s Engineering Excellence Awards Dinner held on January 23, 2017 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, Connecticut.

Tata & Howard’s winning projects included the Means Brook Reservoir Gatehouse and Dam Rehabilitation project for the Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut, and the Repair and Modification of the Skilton Road Stone Masonry Arch Bridge project for the Town of Watertown, Connecticut. Both projects provided improved safety, functionality, and aesthetic value to Connecticut residents.

“Receiving Engineering Excellence Awards for the two projects was gratifying,” said William S. Andres, P.E., Associate at Tata & Howard, who served as Project Manager for the projects. “Both projects were of critical import to Connecticut residents for both safety reasons and historical significance, and it was a true honor that their value was recognized by ACEC Connecticut.”

Roy Cavanaugh from the Town of Watertown, CT accept the Merit Award for the Skilton Road Bridge alongside Tata & Howard’s William Andres

The Means Brook Dam, originally constructed in 1916 in Shelton, Connecticut and currently owned by Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut, required repairs to improve reliability and safety. The project included replacement of the deteriorated upstream and downstream faces of the dam and the crest, and modernization and rehabilitation of the gate chambers, while maintaining the active public water supply.

The Skilton Road Bridge, originally built in 1865 as a one lane, dry stone masonry arch bridge over the Skilton Gorge in Watertown, Connecticut, was found to be structurally deficient in 2013 and required rehabilitation. The bridge is on the national register of historic places, so special consideration was required during design to preserve the historic nature of the bridge. The project was partially funded by the Local Bridge Program, which required the width of the bridge to be increased to accommodate two traffic lanes, and the Town requested that a sidewalk be installed on one side of the bridge.  These two design challenges were met by installing transverse prestressed concrete across the existing bridge. The bridge is owned by the Town of Watertown, Connecticut.

Tata & Howard is a member of ACEC’s national chapter as well as its state chapters in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

The Importance of Treating Manganese in Drinking Water

Manganese in drinking water has recently come under scrutiny due to its potential toxicity as well as its damage to distribution systems. A mineral similar to iron and common in Earth’s crust, manganese is found in about 95% of New England water supplies. While low concentrations are not only safe but also beneficial to human health, elevated manganese concentrations can cause taste and color issues, health risks to customers, and problems for distribution systems.

Map of soil manganese content in the U.S. (red = high manganese areas). Courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Resources.

Health Effects of Manganese

manganese-bloodManganese is an essential nutrient at about 2.5-5.0 mg/day, but overexposure can potentially cause serious health issues. Long term exposure to manganese can cause toxicity to the nervous system and Parkinson’s like symptoms – particularly in children, the elderly, and pregnant mothers. Young children and infants cannot break down manganese in their bodies as effectively as adults, which can cause issues in early brain development.  In recent studies, children exposed to high levels of manganese experienced learning difficulties such as ADD, hyperactivity, Pervasive Development Disorder, and memory issues. Another interesting effect of overexposure to manganese is violent behavior. Studies have shown excessive manganese decreases serotonin function and reduces dopamine levels, resulting in social withdrawal, increased depression, and aggression. Studies completed in prisons have concluded manganese toxicity contributes to delinquent behavior, and autopsies of mass murderers often show toxic levels of manganese. While these studies may be concerning, manganese ingested through drinking water is processed by the liver and reduces the risks associated with other forms of manganese exposure, such as inhaling.

State and Federal Guidelines for Manganese

Manganese oxide in rock

There are currently no enforceable federal drinking water standards for manganese. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a secondary standard of 0.05 mg/L, a standard established to address issues of aesthetics such as discoloration, rather than health concerns. In the absence of an enforceable federal standard, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH), has set their Action Level at 0.5 mg/L, whereas the Massachusetts Office of Research and Standards has set an Office of Research and Standards Guideline Limit (ORSGL) of 0.3 mg/L for lifetime exposure by adults and acute exposure (ten days) by infants less than one year of age.

Saving the Distribution System

Manganese-deposits-water-mainManganese deposits can build up in pipelines, pressure tanks, water heaters, and water softeners, reducing the available quantity of the water supply and pressure in the system. Manganese accumulations can become expensive for utilities when water supply or water softening equipment must be replaced. Also, energy costs can become a burden for utilities when pumping water through constricted pipes or heating water with heating rods coated with manganese deposits. Managing safe levels of manganese in drinking water is an important step in preserving valuable assets in a distribution system. The benefits associated with treating manganese greatly outweigh the long-term repair and rehabilitation costs utilities may face with high levels of manganese. To adequately manage safe levels of manganese, proper water treatment is paramount.

Proper Testing

For managing manganese in drinking water, the best treatment method is dependent on several factors including manganese concentrations, the presence of other contaminants, and existing treatment methods. Therefore, accurate testing is important before considering options or selecting treatment equipment. Typically, tests are conducted to quantify the extent of manganese concentrations, but testing of additional water parameters such as pH, oxygen content, hardness, iron, and sulfur may also be useful to determine the most appropriate water treatment method.

Phosphate Treatment

new-engljand-waterFor low concentrations of manganese, 0.3 mg/L or less, sequestering utilizing phosphate compounds is a simple, effective, and inexpensive solution. When added to water, phosphate compounds surround minerals and keep them in solution. When these compounds are put into the water system, they stabilize and disperse dissolved manganese. As a result, the manganese is not available to react with oxygen to create issues with the color, taste, or odor of drinking water. The phosphate compounds must be introduced into the water at a point where the manganese is still dissolved to maintain water clarity. This treatment process should take place before the pressure tank and as close to the well discharge point as possible. Phosphate treatment does come with a bit of risk due to the instability of most phosphate compounds at higher temperatures. If phosphate-treated water is boiled or heated, such as in a water heater, the compounds have the potential to break down and release manganese that could react with oxygen and precipitate. Also, phosphates from any source contribute to excess nutrient content in surface water.

Oxidation Followed by Filtration

manganese water treatment public
Tata & Howard completed pilot testing, design, permitting, bidding, and construction management services for the Town of Wayland’s Baldwin Pond Water Treatment Plant which included iron and manganese removal.

Among the most common forms of manganese treatment is oxidation followed by filtration. This form of treatment is ideal for manganese concentrations greater than 0.3 mg/L, where sequestering is not an option. During this process, an oxidizing chemical, often potassium permanganate, chlorine, or ozone, is pumped into the water by a small chemical metering pump that operates simultaneously with the well pump. This step converts soluble manganese into an insoluble, filterable form.  Typically, the chemical is injected in a pipeline prior to the filters, providing sufficient contact time to allow oxidation to take place. The resulting solid particles then must be filtered. Therefore, a media, membrane, or biological filter is necessary for the removal process. Common media filters include GreensandPlus and LayneOx®; membrane filtration technologies include microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and nanofiltration; and biological filtration technologies include Mangazur®. While the process may seem simple, it is important to monitor both the source water and treated water to determine the proper oxidation dosage and confirm the removal efficiency.

In Conclusion

When managing manganese levels in drinking water, it is imperative to have a well-executed balance between maximizing quality while minimizing costs. While there are many different methods to treat manganese in drinking water, the best first step to take is proper testing and an evaluation of the distribution system. Every system is different and may require unique treatment or even new source development. Manganese poses a problem for both communities and utilities alike, and proper mitigation protects the health of water system customers while greatly increasing the condition and life of the water distribution system.

Ryan Neyland, P.E. Project Manager, has over 11 years of concentrated water treatment experience including all phases of planning, design, and construction services, as well as pump station rehabilitation and SCADA experience. He holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


National Fun at Work Day!

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” —Henry Ford

Friday, January 27 is National Fun at Work Day (not to be confused with International Fun at Work Day, which falls on April 1). Because teamwork is one of our core values and we are a 100% employee-owned company, we take teambuilding and fun…seriously? That seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but put it this way – we like to have a good time together!

Tata & Howard celebrated National Fun at Work Day by planning a summer barbecue in January, complete with summer fare, outdoor (but indoor) games, and casual attire. To start the festivities in our corporate office in Marlborough, Massachusetts, we fired up the gas grills in the parking lot and cooked burgers, including beef, turkey, and veggie. While it was a little chilly and windy outside, there was no rain or snow, and the smell of grilled food was certainly reminiscent of a warm summer day. EOs contributed by bringing in their favorite summer barbecue dishes, including pulled chicken, slow-cooked ribs, pasta salad, chips, and dips. Even the desserts were summer-themed – popsicles and ice cream cake, in addition to cookies and brownies. Once EOs finished up their lunches, they participated in some outdoor games – inside! Steve Landry once again showed his gaming expertise by capturing the title of cornhole champion, while Karen Gracey learned how to play Lawn Yahtzee for the first time. Phil MacClellan, a seasoned dice expert, scored the day’s only Yahtzee.

Lawn Yahtzee and corn hole were the games of choice in our corporate office.
Phil MacClellan scored the day’s only Yahtzee!
Katie Carreira and Mike Quint played corn hole while Steve Daunais and Matt Barry finished lunch.
Mike Kaczowka tried valiantly for a Yahtzee, but didn’t quite hit the mark.
Matt Barry helped grill some burgers while Karen Gracey shivered!
Lunch was plentiful and delicious.

At our Waterbury, Connecticut office, EOs agreed that the big food hit of the day was Dave Lombardo’s delicious pulled pork. Other offerings included baked beans, chicken wings, potato salad, cole slaw, cornbread, and donuts. Showing innovation even during fun activities, Waterbury EOs decided to create their own office version of cornhole using empty boxes of various sizes and plan paper weights. Nobody is quite sure who won, except that it definitely wasn’t Steve Rupar – he may want to stick to water audits!

Empty boxes at the end of a hallway coupled with plan weights made up Waterbury’s cornhole game!
Waterbury EOs enjoyed barbecue prior to game time.
Steve Rupar tried his hand at corn hole, and Jack Keefe’s face tells the story of how Steve did!
We captured an action shot of our newest EO, Chelsea Henderson.

Maine may be known for its brutal winters, but that didn’t deter our Portland, Maine EOs from braving the elements to have an outdoor barbecue. Dan Bishop manned the grill and cooked hot dogs, sausages, and burgers, and team members joined him outside for some fresh air and camaraderie. Other fare included homemade pickles, dips, and veggie offerings. Paul Cote even wore his favorite Hawaiian shirt to add some extra summer flare.

The Portland, Maine office was all smiles during their summer in January barbecue.
Dan Bishop did a fabulous job manning the grill.

During our Fun at Work Day activities, there were a lot of smiles and laughs, and afterwards we all went back to work feeling refreshed – and quite full! EOs overwhelmingly agreed that the day’s activities were very fun, and we all enjoyed spending some quality downtime together. Did your team participate in Fun at Work Day? We’d love to hear how you celebrated!

Tata & Howard Celebrates 25 Years in Business

TH 25-22017 marks Tata & Howard’s 25th anniversary year, and in celebration, we are planning a year-worth of activities and special events. Tata & Howard’s doors were officially opened on October 19, 1992 by Don Tata and Paul Howard, who remain active in the firm as Chief Executive Officer and Senior Vice President, respectively, today. Initially a two-person startup, the firm has grown to over 65 employees with nine offices in seven states. And while our services and experience have expanded exponentially since 1992, we remain a niche water firm with deep, targeted expertise in the water environment.

Throughout our 25 years in business, quite a bit has changed, including regulatory requirements, supply and demand, treatment technologies, climate change, and the face of our nation’s workforce. At a company level, we have moved our corporate headquarters, expanded nationally, rolled out a new logo, converted to a 100% ESOP, hired nationally recognized subject matter experts, appointed several vice presidents and two co-presidents, and weathered the effects of the retiring generation of Baby Boomers. However, one thing has not changed since our inception: our core values. Efficient solutions, integrity, client satisfaction, teamwork, and positive attitude have formed our cornerstone for the past 25 years, and will continue to steer the company, our people, and our decisions as we continue to grow with and into the future.

teamwork-esopAs part of our year-long celebration, we will be implementing several initiatives that focus on our core values and our ESOP culture. We have planned monthly activities including numerous philanthropic initiatives, client-centric special events, the planting of a time capsule, the implementation of an annual scholarship, and assorted team-focused activities. All of our planned events will be based on at least one of our core values and will celebrate the positive team environment that exemplifies Tata & Howard.

We look forward to celebrating our silver anniversary with all of our clients, colleagues, family, and friends. Keep your eyes on your inbox for special invitations and news announcements – and if you haven’t joined our email list, you may click below to sign up. Our goal is to make our 25th anniversary year an event to remember, and one that celebrates not only our company, clients, and employee-owners, but also the core values that lay the foundation on which the firm was founded — and on which the firm continues to thrive, both now and in the future.