Employee Spotlight: Paul Howard

Employee Spotlight #6 – Paul Howard

We are excited to shine this week’s employee spotlight on Senior Vice President, Paul Howard. Paul co-founded Tata & Howard nearly 30 years ago with the late Donald J. Tata, and has been dedicated to the company since day one, October 19, 1992.

Coming from a long line of engineers, Paul’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather owned Whitman & Howard, Inc., a prominent New England civil engineering firm founded in 1867. Growing up around engineers provided Paul the opportunity to be exposed to the field at a young age, and as early as 5-years-old, he could be found on construction sites with his father. By 14 he was working on a survey crew gaining even more experience before entering Worcester Polytechnic Institute to obtain a degree in civil engineering.

Paul’s favorite types of projects involve water treatment plants and water supply development. The most memorable project worked on, and the second official T&H project, was the Elm Bank Pump Station job, no. 1002. The Elm Bank Pump Station was the culmination of approximately 10 years of work to develop the water supply for the Towns of Natick, Wellesley, Needham, and Dover. Natick was the only Town to move forward with developing the source. At the time, the pump test for the supply was the largest pump test ever conducted in the state of Massachusetts. Four wells were pumped at 4 million gallons per day.  Seven thousand feet of discharge piping was used. The permitting for the project was extensive and in the end limited the Town to 2.2 mgd out of an approval yield of 7.0 mgd.

When he’s not at one of the T&H offices, Paul enjoys golfing and snowboarding, traveling, and spending time with family. A fond travel memory dates back to childhood when he went fishing at the Arctic Circle and the Northwest Territory of Canada. On this special trip he caught a 31.5 pound lake trout, an 11 pound arctic char, saw an albino wolverine, and piloted a six passenger airplane.

T&H Engineers Participate in ‘Fight For Air Climb’

American Lung Association Event Pushes T&H Engineers to the Top

Robert Sims, Project Manager, and Wiktor Tomkiewicz, Engineer recently participated in the American Lung Association’s (ALA) Annual ‘Fight For Air Climb”, an event dedicated to supporting the mission of the ALA.

The American Lung Association works to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Originally founded by volunteers 115 years ago with the end goal of eradicating the threat of tuberculosis, the ALA now focuses on defeating other respiratory diseases.

Their main strategic imperatives include:

  • Defeating lung disease
  • Championing clean air for all
  • Improving the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families
  • Creating a tobacco-free future.

By participating in the Fight For Air Climb, supporters are making a positive impact on those whose lives are affected by lung disease.

Robert and Wiktor created a team, Unum Montis, and raised $3,015 to support the ALA and to ‘climb for those who can’t.‘ Unum Montis was the 4th highest fundraising team, helping the organization to reach their $110,000 fundraising goal.

The Event

Team Unum Montis participated in the Providence, RI climb at Pierce Memorial Stadium on May 22, 2021. There were 350 stairs to climb (up and down) at the event, with ~ 700 steps in total, including the flat sections between stair sections, as well as the dash across the field.

The event times were logged by Racewire, and the results can be viewed here .

Training

  • Robert and Wiktor trained for three months leading up to the event. In addition to physical training, the two teammates engaged in some mental preparation – mainly some competitive trash talking as well as lots of conversations about race day strategy.
  • One of Robert’s secrets to preparation was to do a “natural blood doping”, which involved eating lots of red meat and staying away from leafy greens.
  • Although Wiktor was the overall winner, his initial goal was not to win the entire race, but to avoid losing to Robert. Looks like that motivation paid off!

Congratulations to Robert and Wiktor! Tata & Howard appreciates and supports such a great cause.

Emergency Preparedness – Why Staff Needs to Know the Plan Ahead of Time

Emergency Preparedness – Why Staff Needs to Know the Plan Ahead of Time

Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” While this remains true for all facets of life and community responsibility, the notion of emergency preparedness is critical, particularly within the water sector. Emergency preparedness strategies are designed to ensure that all processes can run smoothly during a crisis, and that clean, safe drinking water and sanitary services will continue to be provided to customers.

While many utilities may be more prepared now than at the start of the pandemic, additional work may be needed to document plans and procedures. By preparing written plans, a utility can be stronger and more prepared for any emergency or crisis.

The most common (and required) method of emergency preparedness for water suppliers and utilities are Emergency Response Plans (ERP). ERPs are mandatory for all public water suppliers, and public water systems in Massachusetts are required to provide a minimum of 10 hours of Emergency Response training annually for all employees. Trainings help water system managers and staff explore vulnerabilities, make improvements, and establish procedures to follow during an emergency. Preparing and implementing a response plan can save lives, prevent illness, enhance system security, minimize property damage, and lessen liability.

There are many components to an ERP, each playing a key role in mitigating issues.

  • EPA Certification Form
  • Introduction
  • Response Plans
  • Emergency Planning
  • Mitigation
  • Emergency Response Plan Policies
  • Water System Policies
  • Telephone Contact Numbers
  • Critical Customers
  • System Information
  • Emergency Action Plans
  • Incident Specific Emergency Action Plans
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Interconnection Agreements
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Comprehensive Flushing Program

Outside of ERPs, many utilities are finding it helpful to implement additional emergency preparedness initiatives into their ERPs. Whether the crisis is a pandemic, a flood, or a natural disaster, keeping staff educated, informed, and in the loop will prevent additional issues from arising during an emergency.

By asking the right questions and preparing in advance, your utility can clarify the roles and responsibilities of personnel and identify any additional mitigation measures and preparedness needs.

Some important questions to raise in implementing additional emergency preparedness measures include:

  • Does the utility have all of the proper written protocols in place?
  • Has the utility defined all critical positions?
  • Have back-ups been identified for each critical position?
  • How do we keep staff safe?
  • Are there opportunities for improvement?
  • Are there gaps in knowledge of personnel, health and safety measures, or security that should be improved upon?

By answering these and other questions, a plan can be developed and easily followed by all staff members. A solid and well thought out plan leaves little room for interpretation and clearly defines roles and responsibilities, as well as the hierarchy of authority.

Once the emergency preparedness measures are in place, be sure that all staff and personnel are informed and properly trained. This will eliminate panic and provide additional assurance should a crisis arise in the future. Additionally, if staff are prepared and aware of their roles and responsibilities, there will be a smaller gap in service for customers.

Benefits to staff in being prepared for emergencies include:

  • Decreased feeling of vulnerability
  • Reduction of fear and anxiety
  • Confidence in roles and responsibilities
  • Increased awareness of utility’s commitment to the safety of the team
  • Knowing what to expect

Interested in implementing additional emergency preparedness training within your utility? Tata & Howard offers several training options and formats including:

  • ERP Training
  • Tabletop Exercises

For more information, please contact Karen Gracey at kgracey@tataandhoward.com or 508. 219.4021.

Current Infrastructure Proposals in the USA

Current Infrastructure Proposals in the USA

Earlier this year, President Biden announced his American Jobs Plan – a historic investment that will rebuild our country’s aging infrastructure while also providing millions of good jobs.

The nearly 2.3 trillion-dollar investment will aid in reimagining a new economy and positioning America to be the leader in infrastructure and innovation once again.

Within the total investment, 40 percent will target climate issues and clean infrastructure. In terms of improving infrastructure alone, President Biden’s new plan will:

Fix 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets; rebuild bridges in despair; and upgrade airports, ports and transit centers in the areas that need them most.

  • $115 billion to repair roads and bridges
  • $85 billion for public transit
  • $80 billion for Amtrak
  • $25 billion for airports
  • $17 billion for ports and waterways
  • $44 billion for transformative projects
  • $20 billion for safety
  • $20 billion to redress historic inequity (such as reconnecting neighborhoods divided by major roadways)

Rebuild clean drinking water infrastructure by removing all lead pipes and service lines; renew electric grid and cap orphan oil and gas wells; and bring affordable high-speed broadband to all including the 35% of rural Americans who currently lack access.

  • $101 billion to upgrade drinking, wastewater, and stormwater systems
  • $10 billion for PFAS remediation
  • $100 billion for energy grid buildouts
  • $50 billion to improve infrastructure resilience
  • $100 billion to improve rural broadband coverage (includes subsidies to make rates more affordable)

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will be funded by raising the corporate tax rate, part of his ‘Made in America Tax Plan’, which would hopefully pay for the American Jobs Plan within 15 years (if passed alongside each other).

In response to President Biden’s proposed plan, Senate Republicans offered a counterproposal in efforts to improve the country’s aging infrastructure. This plan is solely focused on infrastructure needs and endorses $568 billion for new spending over five years.

The funds will be allocated in the following ways:

 

  • $299 billion for repairing roads, highways, and bridges
  • $44 billion for airports
  • $61 billion for public transit
  • $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater systems
  • $14 billion for water storage
  • $20 billion for railways
  • $17 billion for ports and inland waterways
  • $13 billion for safety measures
  • $65 billion for broadband internet access

This infrastructure plan would be fully funded, potentially in part through user fees on electric vehicles as well as repurposing state and local relief passed as part of coronavirus aid bills.

President Biden will be meeting with six Republican senators to hopefully come to a mutual compromise later this week.

Employee Spotlight: Karen Gracey

Employee Spotlight #5 – Karen Gracey

We are pleased to shine this week’s employee spotlight on Karen Gracey. Over the last 23 years, she has held each role at the company, starting first as a summer intern, and working her way up to Co-President.

With a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Vermont, Karen is passionate about environmental engineering and fixing problems to make a positive impact with each project she is a part of. She enjoys hydraulic modeling and system analysis as each project offers an opportunity to figure out why certain issues are happening with a water system.

Karen’s favorite project at T&H to date was the company’s first Capital Efficiency Plan completed for the Connecticut Water Company for the Unionville System. Conducting research, collaborating on the various sections of the report, and then writing it from scratch was a fun and fulfilling task.

When she isn’t at T&H, Karen enjoys cooking, skiing, and relaxing at the beach. A trip to Napa Valley with her brother and sister a few years ago is one of her favorite travel memories. Driving in a limo to small vineyards in Sonoma Valley and Russian River provided lots of delicious wine, beautiful landscapes, and spending time with family.

Fun Fact: During the summer of her internship at T&H, Karen dove headfirst into hydraulic modeling and water main design. In addition, she also learned a lot about blueline machines. For those who are not familiar, blueline machines use black lights and ammonia to copy a drawing printed on vellum onto special paper. Copying one drawing would take a minute or two, so imagine making multiple copies of water treatment plant drawings! 

Thanks for all you do, Karen!

Drinking Water Week 2021

Water professionals are “There When You Need It”, during Drinking Water Week and every week

Taking place this week from May 2-8, Drinking Water Week offers consumers an opportunity to recognize the hardworking people performing various roles to ensure that clean and safe drinking water is “There When You Need It.”

Tata & Howard, Inc. and partners throughout North America are observing Drinking Water Week by recognizing the vital role water plays in daily life, the infrastructure that is required to carry it to and from homes and businesses, and the important work of water professionals behind the scenes.

Whether it’s a water engineer designing a water treatment facility, an operator ensuring the safety and quality of drinking water, or a member of a pipe crew maintaining the infrastructure in our community, water professionals work around the clock to ensure water is there when you need it.

“Providing clean, safe, and reliable drinking water is a critical role that water professionals dedicate their lives to,’ said Tata & Howard’s Co-President Karen Gracey. “Day in and day out, even when faced with a pandemic and added challenges, water professionals do their best to be prepared and ensure the water reaching everyone in the community is there when needed.”

The work they are performing throughout the pandemic, often sacrificing time with their family, is nothing short of heroic. I am proud to be associated with them,” said American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance.

To commemorate the week, water utilities, water organizations, government entities, environmental advocates, schools, and others throughout North America and beyond are encouraging consumers to learn more about the importance of water and water infrastructure, especially in times of crisis.

To learn more about the work that Tata & Howard performs to ensure safe drinking water, visit our website at http://www.tataandhoward.com.

About Drinking Water Week
For several decades, AWWA and its members have celebrated Drinking Water Week, a unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to join together in recognizing the vital role water plays in daily lives. Free materials for download and additional information about Drinking Water Week are available on the Drinking Water Week webpage.

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Founded in 1992, Tata & Howard, Inc. is a 100% employee-owned water, wastewater, and stormwater consulting engineering firm dedicated to consistently delivering innovative, cost-effective solutions in the water environment. Tata & Howard has gained a solid reputation as an industry leader in the Northeast by bringing knowledge, integrity, and dedicated service to all-sized markets, both public and private. The firm has offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Arizona. For more information, visit http://www.tataandhoward.com.

View press release here.

In Loving Memory: Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E.

In Loving Memory: Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E.

It is with a heavy heart that we note the passing of our dear friend and colleague Patrick O’Neale.

Patrick joined Tata & Howard, Inc. in April 2000 as a Project Manager.  He served as Manager for the Lakeville office where he was instrumental in growing business in the southeast region of Massachusetts.   He was promoted to Associate in 2003 and Vice President in 2006.  Patrick was appointed to the T&H Board of Directors in 2008 and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2017.

During his tenure, Patrick held various management positions including leading the Quality Control and Quality Assurance Team.  Patrick dedicated his professional life to client service.  He was an excellent engineer, mastering the technical side of engineering, as well as becoming a role model for client service.  He spent many evenings solving problems, assisting clients, and attending countless meetings to advance the development and protection of water supply and water infrastructure in Massachusetts.

He was instrumental in helping the Town of Falmouth with their Long Pond Water Treatment Plant, which went online in 2017. For the work done by Patrick and the team at Tata & Howard, Inc. the plant was recognized with a 2018 Silver Engineering Excellence Award for engineering services by The American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA).

Patrick was also instrumental in the formation of the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District which includes water supply sources operated by the towns of Fairhaven, Marion, and Mattapoisett, and also serves the Town of Rochester. Rather than constructing several treatment facilities for the eight wells, the towns teamed to construct a single advanced water treatment facility saving the towns approximately $5 million by building the plant jointly – a model for how regionalization can be successful.

Patrick was also a very active member of several water works organizations in Massachusetts and was well regarded among his peers. He served on Mass Water Works Associations’ Board of Directors, having been elected in 2015 and advancing to President in 2019. Patrick was also involved on the Program Committee for Mass Water Works, serving as co-chair for several years. He was chair of the Vendor Relations Committee for Plymouth County Waterworks Association and was a frequent presenter on water-related topics at association meetings. He was a recipient of Plymouth County Waterworks Associations’ David L. Regan Associate Member Award in 2006 for his outstanding service to the water works profession.

Known as Grandad, Patrick loved spending time with his family, especially his three grandsons who were the love of his life.

Patrick will be greatly missed, but his drive, pursuit of excellence and dedication to client service will live on at T&H and provide inspiration for future generations of engineers.

Earth Day 2021: Save Water

Save Water on Earth Day and Every Day

April 22nd marks the 44th annual Earth Day, and with it comes an increased urgency to protect our natural resources and to mitigate the damage that we are doing to our environment. Here at Tata & Howard, our passion is water. Only 1% of the world’s water is available for use as drinking water, and we support the goal to keep it safe, clean, and abundant. While government agencies such as the EPA aim to protect our nation’s water supplies from being depleted or contaminated, they can only do so much. True conservation comes at a grassroots level — from the individual. The average American uses 140-170 gallons of water per day, a number which can and should be reduced drastically. Below, we have collected some ideas to help save water in your home.

Water conservation in the home

Lock up leaks

Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

A leaky faucet can waste 100 gallons a day.  That’s the equivalent of 270 loads of laundry!

Tame the trash

Dispose of tissues, insects, food, and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet. Every time you flush, five to seven gallons of water goes literally and figuratively down the toilet. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily.

Shore up your shower

Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy to install. “Low-flow” means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute. Also, showers can use five to ten gallons every minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to wash and rinse off. A 5-minute shower uses over 20 gallons of water, while a 10-minute shower uses over 40 gallons!

Protect your pipes

It’s easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

Turn off the tap

Leaving the tap on while brushing your teeth or shaving wastes a whopping five gallons of water. Turn the water off while you brush.  For shaving, fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.  When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing. Wash all dishes first, then rinse them all at once.  Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or use a spray nozzle.

Load your loads

Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation.  Don’t pre-rinse dishes. Most auto dish soap manufacturers recommend against it, and it saves additional water.

With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an extra five gallons. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers with new Energy Star rated washers which use 35 – 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.

Cool your canister

Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.

Reuse the rest

Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or cleaning your home.

Water conservation in the yard and garden

Plant your property

If you are planting a new lawn, or overseeding an existing lawn, use drought-resistant grasses.  Choose shrubs and plants that thrive with less watering than other species.  Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Native plants will use less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases.

Plant slopes with plants that will retain water and help reduce runoff.

Group plants according to their watering needs.

Mind the Mulch

Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2-4” of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression, which will prevent or minimize water runoff.

Love your lawn

Water your grass and trees more heavily, but less often. This saves water and builds stronger roots. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty eco-safe tuna can on your lawn; when it’s full, you’ve watered about the right amount.

Water your lawn only when it needs it. If you step on the grass and it springs back up when you move, it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, it needs water. Water lawns during the early morning hours, or evening when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation. Most lawns only need about 1″ of water each week.

Allow your lawn to grow to 3” before mowing. This practice promotes water retention in the soil.

During dry spells, you can stop watering altogether and allow your lawn to go brown and dormant. Once cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to its usual vigor. This results in a brown summer lawn…and a green residence.

Groom the gardens

Add organic matter and use efficient watering systems for shrubs and flowerbeds. Adding compost to your soil will help increase its absorption and water retention, and will improve the health of your plants.  Avoid over-watering plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and cause yellowing of the leaves.  When hand watering, use a variable spray nozzle for targeted watering.

Eco your auto

Clean the car using a pail of soapy water, and only use the hose for rinsing. This easily implemented practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car.

Sweep the street

Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks

In 1990, 30 US states reported ‘water-stress’ conditions. In 2000, that number rose to 40. In 2009, the number rose again, to 45. Today, some states find themselves in an actual water crisis, and the number of water-stressed areas continues to rise. One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to alleviate this water stress is to take measures in our own lives. Families should practice water mindfulness together, with parents teaching their children and leading by example. Saving water at home requires minimal effort and expenditure yet provides a positive and powerful environmental impact. And, if you are one of the 85% of Americans receiving your water from a public water supply, these ideas will save you money as well.

Happy Earth Day!

NEWEA 2021 Silver Sponsor

NEWEA 2021 Silver Sponsor

Tata & Howard was pleased to participate in the 2021 NEWEA Sponsorship Program and is grateful to be a supporter of NEWEA each year.

Employee Spotlight: Robert Sims

Employee Spotlight #4 – Robert Sims

We are delighted to shine our employee spotlight on Robert Sims. Southerner by birth, Robert was  born in Kentucky and raised in Austin, TX before relocating to Massachusetts 35 years ago. Having a long line of engineers/surveyors in his family, including an ancestor who performed the survey of record for the Common in Cambridge, MA in the 17th century, he knew from a young age that he wanted a career in the field.

He attended the University of Texas at Austin with initial sights on Electrical Engineering, but quickly changed to Civil Engineering after hearing a presentation from the Dean of the UT Cockrell School of Engineering.

With more than thirty years of design and construction project management experience under his belt, Robert joined Tata & Howard in 2018 as a PM. He has most enjoyed working on two water quality studies for the towns of South Deerfield and Mattapoisett, as he was able to form a great working relationship with his team and clients, and produced solid reports with PF’s above 3.

Around the office, Robert is known for his friendly personality, fascinating hobbies, and amusing stories. He enjoys woodworking, beekeeping, fantasy football, and gardening. To stay active, he participates in stair climb races for the American Lung Association, the Scottish Highland Games, and the occasional 5k race.

Robert is passionate about his Scottish heritage and can often be seen wearing his kilt. In fact, he sat in the X-wing fighter from Star Wars…while wearing a kilt, and flew in a WWII vintage P-51 fighter…while wearing a kilt.

Thanks for all you do, Robert!