While we have been celebrating all year, October 19, 2017 is the official day of our 25th anniversary! All offices enjoyed a catered luncheon, after which we heard a few words from Co-President Karen Gracey and Co-Founder & Senior Vice President Paul Howard. After their speeches, we all raised a champagne toast to our incredible success over the past 25 years, and for continued success over the next 25 years. All employee-owners were also gifted with Tata & Howard fleece jackets. The day was a great success, and everyone felt proud and humbled to be part of this momentous occasion.

Horizontal Directional Drilling, Falmouth, MA

Ryan Neyland, P.E., Project Manager, presented this webinar on Horizontal Direction Drilling of Raw Water Intakes into Long Pond, Falmouth MA. Regulatory and customer-based drivers led the Falmouth Water Department to construct a new water treatment plant (WTP) at Long Pond.  Due to the location of the new WTP in relation to the existing pump station facility and intake, new intakes and a raw water pump station were needed to pump water from Long Pond to the WTP.  This presentation will discuss pipe and screen installation utilizing horizontal directional drilling methods to minimize any potential impacts to the pond during construction.

View the full webinar below:

ESOP Month Update

As a 100% employee-owned company, Tata & Howard has a unique culture that celebrates teamwork, efficiency, integrity, positivity, philanthropy, sustainability, and yes, even fun. ESOP Month is celebrated by ESOP companies throughout the United States in October each year, and it serves as an excellent reminder of the many reasons why being part of an ESOP is such an exciting opportunity. Throughout the month, employee-owners (EOs) participate in challenges, activities, educational sessions, and philanthropic initiatives that embody the essence of ESOP culture and serve to remind EOs of the incredible benefits realized by being part of an ESOP company.

At Tata & Howard, our four ESOP committees – Communications, Green, Philanthropy, and Wellness – got together to plan a month’s worth of festivities. The month kicked off with cider donuts, cider, and coffee in all offices, after which EOs were sorted into houses, Harry Potter style. EOs will stay in their house for the month and houses will collect points based on participation and success in challenges. The house with the most points at the end of the month is declared the winner and receives the House Cup.

Our first challenge was a philanthropic initiative. EOs were asked to donate to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the company offered to match all donations dollar for dollar. Both participation and total donation amounts were important; therefore, lots of pledging took place over the next week. The houses were evenly matched and only after some last minute pledging did Ravenclaw win for total donation, while Slytherin took home the participation prize. The most impressive statistic is that 80% of our EOs participated in this important event. The total tally after the company match was $6,650!

Also during week 1, EOs celebrated National Taco Day, which officially fell on October 4. Some offices had a taco potluck and others grabbed tacos from a local restaurant, but all offices enjoyed National Taco Day and spending some downtime together.

Week 2 brought on a whole new set of challenges. EOs participated in a “Minute to Win It” challenge that included building the tallest possible tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows in five minutes, and three one minute challenges including moving piles of index cards by sucking them up with a straw, moving marshmallows with chopsticks, and eating a cookie from one’s forehead without using hands. Needless to say, laughs abounded and we learned who eats a lot of ramen and who has experience with forehead cookie eating! Points were again awarded for both participation and winning challenges.

On Friday of Week 2, EOs headed outside at all offices to pick up trash in their local communities. It was a beautiful, sunny day and EOs were successful in cleaning up their areas while enjoying camaraderie. Only participation points were awarded since we couldn’t get any volunteers to weigh the trash collected. At the end of week 2, the standings were as follows:

Slytherin: 120
Gryffindor: 75
Ravenclaw: 50
Hufflepuff: 40

Next week’s plans include a thank you note challenge and a paper airplane challenge, as well as our 25th anniversary celebration. Stay tuned for updates!





Tata & Howard donates over $6,000 to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Company matches employee-owners’ gifts to support Massachusetts-based cancer research center

karen gracey jenna rzasa
Tata & Howard Co-Presidents Jenna Rzasa and Karen Gracey

Tata & Howard recently raised $6,650 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, MA. Employee-owners donated $3,325 and the company provided a 100% match.

“Philanthropy has always been an important part of the Tata & Howard philosophy,” stated Karen L. Gracey, P.E., Co-President of Tata & Howard. “Because cancer has had such a profound impact on all of us at here at Tata & Howard, we felt called to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the life-saving research and treatments they provide to our local community.”

Enhancing the company’s support of DFCI, Tata & Howard Marketing Communications Manager Heidi White raised $4,290 for DFCI through their Run Any Race program in September, and Assistant Project Engineer Molly Coughlin is once again running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for Dana-Farber in 2018. Her personal goal is $15,000 after raising $9,400 in 2017.

“Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is the authoritative global leader in cancer research, and we are so fortunate to have this amazing organization right here in Massachusetts,” stated White. “I feel honored to run for Dana-Farber and am so incredibly proud of the Tata & Howard team’s unflagging support for cancer research and other philanthropic initiatives.”

To support DFCI and the life-saving research and treatment options they provide, please visit www.danafarbergiving.org.



New Urbanism and the Value of Site Cleanup

Site cleanup is well understood to be critical to the health of our planet. Since site contamination affects the quality of air, land, and water, it is clear that remediating contaminated sites is paramount to the environmental viability of the nation. However, site cleanup isn’t just about greening the nation; rather, site cleanup provides a myriad of environmental, health, and socioeconomic benefits, some of which may be surprising.

superfund site
View of the former Standard Chlorine site, later owned by Metachem Products, in New Castle, Delaware. The plant polluted groundwater, soil, and surface water with chlorobenzenes. EPA declared it a Superfund site in 1987. Photo shows deconstruction of manufacturing facility during the site remediation process. Wikipedia.

There are over 500,000 brownfields currently in the United States. A brownfield is defined as any land in the United States that is abandoned or underused because redevelopment of said site is complicated by environmental contamination. Brownfield sites are not to be confused with Superfund sites, of which there are over 1,300 in the United States. A Superfund site is a contaminated area of land that has been identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as needing cleanup due to the risk it poses to environmental and/or human health. Superfund sites are placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) and are eligible for government funding through the Superfund program that was established as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Unlike Superfund sites, brownfields generally do not pose an immediate or serious risk to the environment or human health, as they typically have a lesser degree of contamination. Brownfields do, however, compromise the economic and social viability of our nation by preventing development, which causes numerous problems.

urban sprawl
Toronto’s urban sprawl, Ontario, Canada, looking north from the CN Tower. Copyright 2006 Darren Kirby.

Because site cleanup can be expensive, brownfields are often left in states of ruin and decay. Brownfields disallow redevelopment, forcing communities to find new areas to develop, contributing to the degradation of inner cities and increased urban sprawl. Since we now understand that new urbanism — or the planning and development of compact cities that are walkable with accessible shopping and public spaces — promotes healthier cities and lifestyles, urban sprawl is also understood to be detrimental to the health of both cities and the environment. Cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields is one of the most effective ways to limit urban sprawl and to promote new urbanism, and fortunately, funding is available for brownfield remediation.

The EPA launched the Brownfields Program in 1995 to provide funding for brownfield remediation. The Brownfields Program includes the following grant programs:

  • Brownfields Assessment Grants: funding for Brownfields inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach
  • Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants: funding to capitalize loans that are used to clean up brownfields
  • Brownfields Cleanup Grants: funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the applicant
  • Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grants: funding to communities to research, plan, and develop implementation strategies for cleaning up and revitalizing a specific area affected by one or more brownfields sites
  • Brownfields Job Training Grants: funding for environmental training for residents of Brownfields communities

In 2002, the Program was expanded when Congress passed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, more commonly known as the Brownfields Law. Since the enactment of the Brownfields Law, the EPA has awarded over 1,000 grants totaling over $200 million to public and private sector organizations.

brownfield site cleanup
Tata & Howard assisted WORK Inc. with preparation of a Brownfields Grant application and with environmental remediation at the site. Click photo for info.

Cleaning up brownfields not only promotes new urbanism by reducing urban sprawl and inner city decay, but also increases surrounding property values, resulting in an increased tax base. These cleaned up sites allow for the utilization of existing infrastructure and transit and therefore contribute to the economic health of cities by eliminating the need for additional municipal infrastructure. Site cleanup also helps to eliminate urban arson, vandalism, and the threat of injury from dilapidated structures and areas. Since site cleanup also reduces the need to develop open land, brownfield remediation contributes to the protection of our natural resources and environment while beautifying urban landscapes. In some instances, brownfield remediation even allows for the preservation of historical landmarks and architecture that would otherwise require demolition.

And let’s not forget about health. Site cleanup eliminates the contamination that threatens our environment. Our water, air, and soil is protected from the initial contamination as well as future contamination. Even when contamination is initially minimal, deteriorating buildings and abandoned property have the potential to increase contamination as degrading building components leach into the soil and water.

brownfield remediation
T&H assisted with environmental remediation at a brownfield site in Franklin, MA. Click photo for info.

One thing to keep in mind is there is some potential risk associated with brownfield remediation. If not managed or handled properly, contaminated soil could potentially result in further contamination by migrating to surrounding land through groundwater or even runoff into surface water. To significantly reduce these risks, it is recommended and often required to utilize an environmental professional when cleaning up brownfields. In Massachusetts, for example, it is required to have a Licensed Site Professional provide evaluation both before and after cleanup to ensure that all regulations, technologies, and construction best practices were strictly followed and that the contamination has been successfully remediated.

Site cleanup clearly has significant value when it comes to the health of our nation’s environment, economy, and citizens. More and more, communities are seeking to implement new urbanism and the gentrification of cities, forcing developers to seek ways to redevelop previously unusable land. With smart city planning, the availability of brownfield grants, and the utilization of environmental professionals, site cleanup will continue to provide significant value to the economic, environmental, and physical health of communities throughout the country for years to come.

The Importance of Incorporating Sustainability and Efficiency into Modern Water Treatment

sustainability conceptMunicipal water treatment and distribution requires an exorbitant amount of resources, wreaking havoc on the environment and on budgets. And it’s getting worse. Over the past several years, operating costs have consistently been on the rise, while municipal budgets continue to shrink. In addition, regulatory requirements are increasing, forcing municipalities to upgrade treatment processes ahead of schedule. These changes result in limited unsustainable systems and utilities scrambling to find ways to manage their insufficient operational budgets while maintaining levels of service. The good news is that low-cost initiatives exist that can provide quick and significant cost and environmental savings and increase system sustainability.

When incorporating sustainability into water systems, utilities consistently rank capital cost, life-cycle costs, and service lifetime as the top three considerations, while climate change and habitat protection are the lowest ranked factors. These statistics highlight the extreme fiscal challenges facing utilities today. While environmental factors are certainly important, water systems simply do not have the luxury to place them above financial concerns, as budgets are reaching a critical juncture. In short, cost drives decision-making. Fortunately, energy efficiency and sustainability result in a healthier environment, even when implemented primarily for cost-savings.

wayland water treatment plant
Tata & Howard completed a water audit for the Town of Wayland, MA.

There are many technologies and practices that water systems employ to increase sustainability and energy efficiency, the most common of which is reducing non-revenue water (NRW). NRW includes real losses, the majority of which is the result of leaks in the distribution system. In fact, the United States loses about seven billion gallons of water every day to leaking pipes — enough to supply the nation’s ten largest cities with water — and this lost water puts a strain on supply, budgets, and the environment. Reducing NRW is most easily accomplished with a water audit, which helps water systems identify the causes and true costs of water loss, and develop strategies to reduce water loss and recapture lost revenue. Water audits are often the most cost-effective and efficient solution to increasing demand, and the return on investment of a water audit is typically less than one year. Effective water loss control programs reduce the need for facility upgrades and expansions as well as the need to find additional sources, while the recovered water helps systems to generate revenue and meet demand. In addition, an effective water loss control program protects public health by identifying the leaks from which disease‐causing pathogens can enter the system.

Other technologies and practices include educating customers on water conservation, source water protection planning, automated meter reading, and trenchless pipe repair, as well as energy audits. When water utilities decide to integrate sustainability and efficiency into their operations and infrastructure, the best place to start is with water loss. Water loss reduction initiatives tend to have a quick return on investment while providing significant cost and environmental savings. Once the effects of these savings are realized, implementing other green initiatives becomes more appealing and justifiable to management and water boards.

long pond water treatment plant
The newly completed 8.0 mgd DAF Long Pond Water Treatment Plant incorporates several energy efficiency and sustainability features.

For new treatment plants, incorporating sustainability and efficiency features into the initial design allows the plant to function at a superior efficiency level right from the start. As an example, Tata & Howard provided design, permitting, and construction services for the new Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) Long Pond Water Treatment Plant in Falmouth, MA. The project consisted of the construction of a new 8.0 mgd water treatment plant (WTP) for the existing Long Pond surface water supply.  The existing Long Pond Pump Station, constructed in the 1890s, operated under a Filtration Waiver issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and did not include filtration processes to remove algae, organics, or particulates from the water.  The new WTP provides the Town with several key benefits:

  • Meets the current regulatory requirements of the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule;
  • Reduces disinfection by-products and organics;
  • Removes pathogens, taste, odor, and algae/algae toxins;
  • Produces stable water quality;
  • Provides the flexibility to meet uncertain future regulatory and water quality challenges.

In addition to providing a solution to the water challenges faced by the Town of Falmouth, the Long Pond WTP also provided more sustainable and efficient operations, saving the Town money while also protecting the environment. Some of these initiatives included the following:

  • Recycling spent backwash water to head of plant and back into the treatment process, after it passes through a plate settler to remove solids;
  • Recycling laboratory analyzer and filter influent piping gallery analyzer discharges back into the treatment process;
  • Using filter-to-waste water after a filter backwash sequence as supply water for the next backwash, instead of using finished water for backwashing;
  • Discharging cleaner supernatant water off the top of the lined lagoons to an unlined infiltration lagoon and back into the ground to minimize residuals;
  • Use of local/native plants for landscaping, including an irrigation system using collected rainwater from roof drainage;
  • Interior and exterior LED lighting fixtures; and
  • Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) on HVAC equipment and process equipment motors.

sustainability conceptEfficiency and sustainability are no longer considered luxuries for water systems. Rather, incorporating green initiatives into infrastructure design and operational standards has become crucial to the future sustainability of water systems. And while utilities today value cost-effectiveness over environmentalism due to the criticality of their budgets, there will likely be a shift in thinking as these systems ease the burden of their unsustainable operational costs through effective practices such as efficiency and water loss reduction.