This summer, Tata & Howard organized and sponsored a virtual 5K to raise funds for the Navajo Water Project. Runners were able to complete the race in their own time and space between July 1 and August 31, 2017, after which they received a custom-designed medal featuring a Navajo dragonfly, the symbol of water to the Navajo people. Over $1,000 was raised, all of which benefitted the Navajo Water Project in an effort to bring safe, clean drinking water to the thousands of residents of Navajo Nation who do not have running water or a toilet in their homes.
Some Tata & Howard runners decided to participate in the 5K together after work on August 16, while the Wormtown Milers — a central Massachusetts running team headed up by Marketing Communications Manager Heidi White —took to the streets of Worcester, MA to run the 5K together on August 26. Both live events were a lot of fun. In addition, virtual runners from as far away as Arizona participated in this philanthropic event.
Navajo Water Project Background:
Just like African women and children who leave their homes each day to fetch unimproved water that is miles away, thousands of Navajo also make a daily journey in search of water. For the few fortunate who own cars, they may drive to find water, although the gas expense is almost unbearable for many. For those without vehicles, they must walk miles to find water, sometimes getting the water from livestock troughs that are rife with bacteria and contaminants, other times getting water from unregulated wells and stock ponds.
Not only do the Navajo have to travel for miles to find water, but the water they do find is often contaminated. As a result of the heavy mining that took place in the area during the nuclear arms race following World War II, much of the water found in Navajo Nation is heavily contaminated with uranium or other radioactive particles.
Chris Halter, director of Saint Bonaventure Indian Mission, has done work in some of the poorest parts of Africa and Latin America. Working in Navajo Nation for the past eight years, he notes, “It’s a third world country in the middle of the wealthiest country in the world.”
Many Navajo can’t get enough clean water, creating a cycle of poverty that limits health, happiness, educational opportunity, and economic security. Of the 174,000 residents of Navajo Nation, 40% do not have running water. The goal of the Navajo Water Project is to bring safe, clean drinking water to every household in Navajo Nation.
World Water Week is an annual event organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) that focuses on global water issues, and this year’s theme is “Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse.” The main event takes place in Stockholm, Sweden where experts, innovators, stakeholders, and young professionals from various sectors around the globe will come together to share ideas, foster relationships, and develop innovative solutions to the world’s most urgent water-related problems. In 2016, over 3,300 individuals and over 330 organizations from 130 countries around the world participated in World Water Week, and the expectation is that 2017 will see at least those numbers. Through this year’s theme, World Water Week is focusing on two targets addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including improving water quality and reducing waste by 2030 in order to help achieve sustainable development in a rapidly changing world.
Sustainable development is most commonly defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This means that we cannot meet our current needs at the expense or depletion of our natural resources. Degradation of water quality not only has a negative environmental effect, but also limits the water supply available for human usage. Therefore, we must develop and implement innovative solutions to improving water quality if we are to plan for a sustainable future. Fortunately, there exist easily implementable methodologies for improving water quality throughout the water environment.
Utilize mores sustainable water treatment technologies that limit environmental impact
Chemical additives have a significant impact on the health of the environment and its inhabitants. Implementing alternative treatment methodologies such as ozonation, ultraviolet radiation, and biological media helps to minimize the impact that water treatment has on our natural world, and protect our water supply for the future.
Minimize, and eventually eliminate, using drinking quality water for non-potable purposes
Producing drinking quality water utilizes a significant amount of energy, resources, and treatment chemicals, all of which have a negative impact on the environment. Minimizing the use of potable drinking water for other functions, including agricultural, industrial, and non-potable residential, helps to ease the burden placed on resources, the environment, and budgets.
Reduce lost water in municipal distribution systems
Communities lose millions of gallons of water each year to leaks in the distribution system. While replacing compromised pipes seems like an easy solution, the problem is actually much more complicated. Municipalities do not have sufficient funds to implement large-scale replacement projects; therefore, many compromised pipes remain in use, contributing to distribution system water loss. This loss results in reduced supply, which in turn forces some systems to seek alternate sources at a cost to both the environment and their budgets.
Conducting water audits and pipe condition assessments should be the first step towards efficient, cost-effective pipe replacement programs. Water audits help to identify the causes of water loss while developing strategies to reduce this loss, while pipe condition assessments provide insight into the quality and reliability of water distribution systems. Drinking water infrastructure in the United States, particularly in the northeast, is typically many decades-old, and deteriorating distribution systems can be a significant source of water loss through leakage. Effective water loss control programs reduce the need for facility upgrades and expansions, and in many instances, can reduce the need to find additional sources. In addition, a water loss control program can help protect public health by reducing the number of entry points for disease‐causing pathogens.
Incorporate stormwater best management practices into the built environment
Stormwater management traditionally meant infrastructure such as catch basins. Modern day stormwater management takes a much more holistic approach and maximizes the use of both the natural and engineered landscape. Some examples include onsite catchment and use, reduction of impervious surfaces, stormwater engineering such as bumpouts and tree boxes, and stormwater landscaping such as rain gardens and grassed swales.
Minimize stormwater pollution
Stormwater pollution occurs when precipitation picks up debris, trash, fertilizers, animal waste, pesticides, and improperly discarded chemicals as it moves over the ground. Reducing fertilizer and pesticide usage, cleaning up after pets, and ensuring that trash and chemicals are disposed of properly help to reduce the amount of contamination entering our waterways.
After adequate treatment of wastewater to remove all pollutants and pathogens, it should be reused as much as possible. Treated byproducts can be used for fertilizer and methane fuel, and highly treated water can be reused for aquifer recharging, and even for drinking water.
And of course – educate!
Promote conservation, efficiency, and innovation in water use by incentivizing water conservation, implementing public outreach and education, and encouraging the adoption of methodologies and the usage of products that utilize the latest in water-efficient technologies.
Achieving sustainable development is only achievable if we focus on the protection of our natural resources at every level. From improving treatment plant efficiency to installing WaterSense fixtures in our homes, creating a truly water wise future requires involvement from governments to individuals on a global level. Since 1991, World Water Week has served as a forum for legislators, scientists, experts, and interested parties to form partnerships and alliances, and to collaboratively find solutions to today’s most urgent water-related issues.
As those in the industry well know, water and wastewater treatment plants use an exorbitant amount of energy. In fact, 30-40% of total municipal energy consumption is due to water and wastewater treatment plants. In addition, energy currently accounts for 40% of drinking water systems’ operational costs and is projected to jump to 60% within the next 15 years. This excessive energy consumption places financial burden on already stressed water and wastewater utilities struggling to keep up with ever-increasing regulations and demand.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) conducted studies on wastewater treatment plants and cautions that as treatment requirements increase, energy requirements will also increase. EPRI also projects that as treatment requirements increase, the energy required to treat wastewater utilizing conventional technologies will increase exponentially. For example, new membrane bioreactor (MBR) processes actually consume 30-50% more electricity than plants that utilize more advanced treatment with nitrification. Also, plants that incorporate nanofiltration or reverse osmosis to meet stringent effluent utilize nearly twice the energy. EPRI further projects that strict nitrogen and phosphorus removal will be increasingly required, necessitating the incorporation of these energy-intensive technologies.
And let’s not forget the environment. Drinking water and wastewater systems add over 45 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, contributing to the already problematic issue of climate change. Bringing the issue full circle, climate change directly affects both the availability and the quality of our drinking water supply. The importance of incorporating energy efficiency into water and wastewater operations is paramount to these systems’ future sustainability.
Canaan, VT and Stewartstown, NH Shared Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades
The Towns of Canaan, Vermont and Stewartstown, New Hampshire operate a shared wastewater treatment facility, which required significant upgrades. The existing facilities were 40 years old and although a few upgrades were performed in the 90s, the facilities were not performing well, did not meet Life Safety codes, and required significant maintenance.
One of the primary elements of the design was the consideration of the economics of energy reduction. The design incorporated insulated concrete form construction for the building walls with R-49 insulation rating in the ceilings. The design also included a wood pellet boiler with a pellet silo and hot water heating system, which allowed for reduction of explosion proof heaters in the headworks building. All of the windows were low-E and highly insulated, and an outer glassed-in entry way increased the solar gain retention of the building and reduced heat loss. The process headworks and operations buildings were constructed as single story structures, increasing operator safety. The lagoon aeration system is now a fine bubble, highly efficient process with additional mixing provided by solar powered mixers that help reduce aeration requirements, improve treatment, and allows for the addition of septage, all at no cost due to solar power.
The pump station upgrades were designed to eliminate daily confined space entry by the operator by the conversion to submersible pumps. For sludge removal, a unique and simple “Sludge Sled” system was incorporated, which allows the operators to easily remove the sludge at their convenience. Sludge treatment is accomplished with a geo-bag system that allows the sludge to be freeze dried, reducing the volume by almost 50% with no energy consumption. The influent pump station was designed with three pumps instead of the normal two-pump system in order to meet both present and future design flows, allow for lower horsepower pumps, improve flexibility, reduce replacement costs, and reduce energy costs. The other four deep dry pit pump stations were converted to wet wells and submersible pumps, eliminating confined spaces, and are equipped with emergency generators, eliminating the need for operator attention when power is lost.
The incorporation of highly energy efficient building components resulted in reducing annual operation and maintenance costs, which resulted in a more sustainable facility. All of the equipment and processes were thoughtfully selected to reduce both annual and future replacement costs.
The treatment system is a 3-cell aerated lagoon system, and the solar powered mixers were installed to enable reduction of the aeration needs and horsepower during the summer months when septage is added. The aeration blowers, which are housed in insulated enclosures, reduce noise and were sized to allow for the addition of septage to the lagoons, which is not common in Vermont. The aeration blowers are controlled with Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), which allow for greater operator control of aeration and provide energy cost savings. The operation is simple and safe for operators and others who need to maintain the facility and equipment. The design has provided flexibility to the operators and has resulted in an energy efficient, sustainable solution for this community.
Shrewsbury, MA Home Farm Water Treatment Plant Design
The Home Farm Water Treatment Plant (WTP) in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts was originally constructed in 1989. Although the WTP is still fully functional, its treatment capabilities are limited to chemical addition and air strippers for VOC removal, and the plant is capable of treating 6.0 million gallons per day (mgd). Manganese is present at all Home Farm wells, with widely varying levels from a low 0.03 parts per million (ppm) to a high 0.7 ppm. The existing treatment plant sequesters manganese, but does not have the ability to remove it from finished water.
Three treatment methodologies were piloted. The first two were greensand and pyrolucite, both commonly implemented catalytic media options for removing manganese and iron. The third was Mangazur®, a new technology. Mangazur® filter media contains the microscopic organism leptothrix ochracea, which consumes manganese and is naturally occurring in groundwater. Through consumption, the microbes oxidize the manganese to a state where it can precipitate onto the media. Unlike other media, Mangazur® does not require regeneration due to the continuous growth of microbes within the filter. Mangazur® technology also does not require chemical addition for pre-oxidation, minimizing the amount of chemical required for the plant.
Pilot testing for the biological treatment was performed over five one-week trials. Test parameters included a long shut-down on the filters, adding pre-oxidant, and adjusting pH or dissolved oxygen. The results of the testing indicated that although the Mangazur® does require a correct dissolved oxygen level and pH, it does not require a pre-oxidant, making the only chemical addition necessary for pretreatment potassium hydroxide for pH adjustment. Filter backwash efficiency is also a major benefit of the Mangazur® technology for the Home Farm application. With loading rates twice that of traditional catalytic media and filter runs exceeding 96 hours, the Town would only need to backwash the four filters once every four days rather than eight filters every day, saving a significant amount of water. The backwash flow rate and duration are also significantly lower for Mangazur® filters than for other traditional filter options. The results of the pilot tests indicated that all technologies were viable options to reduce manganese levels below 0.05 ppm; however, the biological treatment was the most efficient option.
Since the existing chemical feed equipment in the plant is aging and the existing building itself was also in need of rehabilitation, the decision was made to construct an entirely new standalone 7.0 mgd facility. The new facility will feature many energy efficient features including translucent panels for lighting efficiency, high efficiency water fixtures, high efficiency lighting, and stormwater bioretention areas for drainage. In addition, while the existing building will be demolished, the concrete slab slab will be kept for future installation of solar panels. The new facility also contains three deep bubble aerators for VOC removal. While Mangazur® technology has been approved in one other municipality in Massachusetts, there are few treatment plants in the northeast using this technology, and of those treatment plants, none have a design capacity above 5.0 mgd. Home Farm has a much higher design capacity and will be the largest Mangazur® water treatment plant in the northeast once completed. The Mangazur® filters at Home Farm will have the second highest design capacity in the country, after a 26.0 mgd treatment plant in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Tata & Howard provides on-call engineering services for water, wastewater, and energy related projects for the City of Flagstaff, Arizona. Several options for replacement of the blowers were evaluated and presented to the City in a report that recommended the installation of appropriately sized turbo blowers and upgrading the controls logic to automate dissolved oxygen controls.
The City had been experiencing long term maintenance issues with the existing biogas piping at the Wildcat Wastewater Reclamation Facility. The piping to the co-generator was not providing an adequate supply of gas from the digesters which, if operating, could save the City approximately $200,000 in annual power costs. The goals of this project were the restoration of the ability to run the generator on biogas, utilize the heat generated by the sludge digestion process to further reduce energy costs, reduce maintenance time to operate the biogas system, and have a positive impact on the environment, since methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases.
In addition, Tata & Howard conducted an energy efficiency study on the aeration blowers and pumps at two treatment plants. Pumping systems had efficiencies as low as 20%. Pumps and blowers were oversized to meet peak and future demands but not efficient at low flows or off peak flows. The testing showed that modifications to these systems had the potential to save the City approximately $250,000 in annual electrical costs and $445,000 in APS rebate funds for the modifications.
While these three case studies are all extremely different projects, the goals are the same: increased energy efficiency, greener operations, and sustainability, all while meeting project objectives, budgets, and deadlines. Increasing energy efficiency in water and wastewater treatment is no longer optional; rather, it is a necessity to remain operational by meeting both budgetary and sustainability objectives. By incorporating innovative thinking and tailored methodologies into rehabilitation and repair projects, water and wastewater systems can ensure sustainable operations and a greener environment while protecting our world’s most precious resource for generations to come.
Seasoned water and wastewater expert enhances and expands key service offerings in the southwest for growing environmental firm
Tata & Howard, Inc. is pleased to announce that Jerald A. Postema has joined the firm as Client Service Specialist. Mr. Postema brings over 44 years of water and wastewater operations and management experience to the team and will lead the firm’s business development efforts in the southwest. He is working out of the company’s Goodyear, Arizona office.
“I am thrilled to join the Tata & Howard team to help grow the firm’s presence in Arizona,” commented Postema. “In the past, I have worked with Tata & Howard as a client, and therefore know first-hand the technical quality and innovation that they bring to the table, and the exceptional client care they provide. I am excited to bring this exemplary level of service and commitment to water and wastewater systems in the southwest.”
“Jerry is a key addition to the Tata & Howard team,” stated Karen L. Gracey, P.E., Co-President of Tata & Howard. “His wealth of experience with the business and management side of water and wastewater operations strengthens our innovative Business Practice Evaluation services. The demand for these services led us to search for someone with an extensive water and wastewater business and operational background who would embrace our culture of innovation and service, and we feel extremely fortunate that we were able to find someone with such unparalleled credentials and integrity as Jerry.”
Mr. Postema holds licenses in the State of Arizona for Water Distribution Systems, Classification 4; Water Treatment Systems, Classification 4; Wastewater Collections, Classification 2; and Wastewater Treatment, Classification 2. Prior to joining Tata & Howard, Mr. Postema served as Public Works Director for the City of Tualatin, Oregon, Environmental Services Manager for the City of Goodyear, Arizona, Public Works Director for the City of Grandville, Michigan, and Administrative Services Officer for the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to his extensive water and wastewater operations and management experience, Mr. Postema received the AWWA Silver Drop Award and the Michigan Section AWWA Edward Dunbar Rich Service Award, has served as Vice Chairman of Grand Haven Area Wide Recreation, Chair of the Public Awareness Committee, Grand Haven Township Parks Board, and Ambucs Hospital Equipment, Board Member of the Grandville Parks and Recreation Department, and Member of the Northwest Ottawa Water Executive Committee, the Grand Haven/Spring Lake Wastewater Authority, the Ottawa County Townships/Road Commission Planning Organization, and the Grand Haven Township Bicycle Path Committee. He is currently a member of the AZWater Distribution Committee, AZWater Wastewater Treatment Committee, American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation, American Society for Public Administration, and American Public Works Association.