Kirsten Hummel, E.I.T., is performing Resident Project Representative (RPR) responsibilities at the Combined Pump Station Chemical Feed Building for the Town of Marion, MA. The contractor, Barbato Construction Co., is exposing an intersection to tie in the raw and finished water mains.
Anticipated Project Completion Date: September 2022.
Our Cornhole Tournament was a Hole-In-Many! It was a great afternoon filled with friendly competition, food, laughs, and camaraderie! The sky was blue, and the warmth of the afternoon sun was perfect for the tossing arm.
Next step…cornhole league!
Team Unum Montis Champions "Fight For Air Climb" Competition With
Overall Lowest Time and Second Highest Fundraising Efforts!
Kudos to Team Unum Montis!
On Saturday, May 7th, Tata & Howard team members Robert Sims and Matt O’Dowd participated in the “Fight For Air Climb” at Pierce Memorial Stadium, Providence, RI. The “Unum Montis Team,” which included Robert and Matt, alongside Meagan Heslin, Shawn Giatas, and Wiktor Tomkiewicz, won the team competition (lowest total time of 5) by over 5 minutes.
In the eighth year of fundraising for the American Lung Association’s (ALA) “Fight for Air Climb,” the Unum Montis Team increased fundraising efforts finishing at $4,630. Congrats Team!
For more than 115 years, the American Lung Association (ALA) has been the champion of lung health. The fundraising monies contribute 90 cents of every dollar to program services, impacting more than 20 million Americans each year.
- 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.
To combat a long-standing water-quality problem, the Town of Shrewsbury Water and Sewer Division in Massachusetts recently completed a comprehensive unidirectional flushing project aimed at removing manganese from its water mains.
A local contractor performed the flushing using a plan developed by Tata & Howard, a firm that’s been the utility’s consultant since the 1990s. The water system features about 207 miles of mains, mostly made of asbestos cement, ductile iron and PVC pipes. It includes more than 11,000 service connections and serves about 38,000 people. This is a great article, read more
Patrick S. O’Neale P.E. Scholarship
Awardee – Joseph Diaz
The Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA), jointly with Tata & Howard, Inc., (TH) announced Joseph Diaz (JD) as the first recipient of the co-sponsored Patrick S. O’Neale P.E. Scholarship.
In May 2022, Joseph Diaz will graduate from Merrimack College, embark on a full-time job, and after graduation, pursue his Master of Science in Engineering Management degree in the evening. His favorite person in the Engineering field, Arthur Casagrande (1902 – 1981); per Joseph, “without him, our understanding of the liquid limit test of knowing the soil’s strength, consistency, and behavior would be limited.” We asked Joseph to share his “Greatest of All Time” experience, sparking his interest in engineering. His response was “a 7th-grade city-wide challenge to repurpose open spaces. My assignment; was to create a self-watering community garden. With a flip of a switch, the garden was self-watered, and so was my curiosity about how things work.” Our interview wouldn’t be complete without asking this last question, “What would you like to accomplish in the next ten years?” His answer: to complete my master’s degree; become a mentor to youth interested in S.T.E.M., and fulfill my dream of returning to my homeland, the Dominican Republic, to assist provinces with my engineering skills.
– Joseph, the Tata & Howard and MWWA teams congratulates you and wishes you much success!
Why You Need a Business Practice Evaluation
Have you thought lately about the overall health of your business? In today’s economy, it’s important to not only deliver your service, but to operate effectively and efficiently. An excellent way to gain insight into this is through conducting a Business Practice Evaluation (BPE). A BPE assesses the health of a utility by developing the framework for a structured approach to managing, operating, and maintaining assets in a more business-like manner. The goal would be to minimize the total cost of operating, managing and maintaining utility assets while still delivering exceptional service to customers. This is accomplished by providing more effective preventive maintenance to reduce capital investment.
The evaluation process will ultimately enable utility managers to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of their business practices in comparison to industry standards. Developing system specific plans, programmatic approaches, and realistic timelines to optimize utility programs are included in this process.
Similar to management consulting services, a BPE has potential to bring incredible value to your utility. While the list of benefits is copious, here are a few of the major advantages of conducting a Business Practice Evaluation.
Next Level Growth
Firstly, conducting a BPE will provide a baseline of exactly where a utility or company’s business practices currently are. Through a rating criterion, findings report, and subsequent scoresheet, the opportunities for improvement will become clear. A company can then make modifications to their business practices to reach the next level of efficiency and effectiveness.
As a manager, it may be hard to focus on the cause of an issue when you are immersed in it every day. Conducting a BPE will allow for an industry expert to look at a situation objectively and make the best-informed recommendations based on the BPE’s proven history of success.
A successful Business Practice Evaluation will help companies cut costs by simplifying and refocusing existing business practices. Expert BPE consultants can look at costs from a different lens and offer insights based on data and effective-practice knowledge.
Improved Communication and Relationships
In big and small companies alike, communication is key. An open line of communication is particularly critical between management and field personnel in water and wastewater utilities. Through field observations of current business practices, valuable insights in reference to efficiency and effectiveness will be provided. Management and field personnel can then identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement, as well as come to a consensus in all business practices. A successful BPE will help to eliminate the fissure between management and field staff, eliminating the ‘us versus them’ mentality.
A Business Practice Evaluation is completed through a series of interviews within a diagonal slice of utility staff. Recommendations from the BPE findings report will aid in staff accountability by identifying and implementing realistic performance measures. For example, the report may show within the Administration category that an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is not in place. Subsequently, a Public Water Supplier could then take the necessary steps to implement an ERP and provide staff with the required ERP training.
A Way Forward
One of the most valuable pieces of information obtained from conducting a BPE is knowing where a business stands from a micro-level view. Once the scoresheet is complete, a company can determine if their primary business functions are being efficiently and effectively managed (or not). Moreover, the risks and consequences of not moving forward with proposed recommendations are identified. Having this information allows management the ability to prioritize business practices and supporting attributes, and sets the business on the right path going forward.
Improved Quality of Life
Changes resulting from the completed Business Practice Evaluation have the potential to improve quality of life and staff morale by communicating and providing a clear management plan to move forward. While improvements may not always be evident prior to the BPE, management and staff alike will be happy when positive changes are made. With more efficient and effective business practices and improved communication, the business continues to thrive.
Interested in the full scope of the Business Practice Evaluation? See the step-by-step process below.
- Review utility documents and documentation of business practices
- Develop rating criteria to determine level of performance of business practices
- Develop business practice categories and supporting attributes scoresheet with the assistance of your utility staff
- Conduct kick-off, consensus, and findings workshops
- Conduct interviews within a diagonal slice of the organization
- Conduct field observations of current business practices (not people)
- Develop a BPE findings report
- Develop a BPE scoresheet from the findings report
In conclusion, it is critical to stay on top of internal functionality regardless of the type of business you operate. Keep in mind, no matter how well-oiled a machine is, there is always room for growth and improvements. Organizations that have conducted a BPE significantly improve the management, operations and maintenance efficiency of their utility.
Earth Day 2019: Make a Difference with Water
Happy Earth Day 2019! We hope you will do your part to keep our earth clean and read on to learn about the ways that you can make a difference when it comes to preserving water and keeping it clean.
Making a Difference since 1970
Since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, the environmental movement has continued to grow with each passing year. What started as a way to bring ecological awareness to the forefront of people’s minds, became the catalyst for greater causes including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. The Earth Day that we have grown to know encourages people from around the world to advocate for a cleaner earth.
Clean Water Act
As civil engineers in the water environment, we are particularly grateful for the CWA that stemmed from 1970 Earth Day efforts. When amended in 1972, this act:
- Established the basic structure for regulating pollutant discharges into the waters of the United States
- Gave the EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs
- Maintained existing requirements to set water quality standards
- Made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutants from a point source into navigable waters
- Funded the construction of sewage treatment plants
- Recognized the need for planning to address critical problems caused by nonpoint source pollution
Since 1972, many other laws have been put into place to aid in the cleanliness of our waters. In addition, clean water for all has become an issue that millions of people around the world care about.
Curious in how you can contribute to a better water environment this year?
Turn off Your Faucet
Did you know that you can save up to eight gallons of water each day by turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth, wash your face or shave? This equates to more than 200 gallons of water each month! This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to save water. Start this habit on Earth Day 2019 and carry it through every day!
Buy Products with Minimal Chemicals
If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients list on the back of any bathroom or kitchen product, you likely saw a number of words you can’t pronounce. While these ingredients serve their purpose, many are not good for the environment. Because of this, it’s important to be mindful of what gets washed down the drain. Although the water that comes through our showers and faucets has been treated, there are still many chemicals that end up in our water supply that cannot be removed.
Stop Polluted Stormwater Runoff
One of the most detrimental sources of pollution in rivers is polluted stormwater runoff. Chemicals and harmful pollutants that collect on impermeable surfaces like pavement and concrete get washed into rivers, streams and creeks. Fertilizers, road salt, pesticides, trash, car oil and more are just a few examples of harmful pollutants that flow into storm drains and straight into natural water sources. This kills fish, erodes streams, pollutes swimming areas, floods homes, and amongst other problems.
You can do your part in preventing polluted stormwater runoff by using products that are not harmful to the environment. Using organic fertilizer, green soap solutions, and minimizing the use of salt during winter will help tremendously. Being mindful of what goes into storm drains will help as well. So, keep in mind – only rain goes in the drain.
Another solution is to use native plants to capture and filter polluted runoff. Rain gardens, rain barrels, downspout diversions and permeable pavements are also excellent at-home solutions.
Use Refillable Water Bottles
Each year, Americans use an average of 50 billion plastic water bottles. Of that, roughly 9 percent of them are recycled. The rest go into landfills, or become litter, polluting our rivers, streams, and oceans and harming wildlife. Invest in a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day to save the environment, and your wallet!
The best way you can help contribute to cleaner water for all is to get involved. There are programs in your community, and around the country and world that are dedicated to keeping waters clean. Water for People and Water Mission are among the hundreds of organizations whose mission is to provide clean, safe water for all. In addition, getting out in your own neighborhood and collecting garbage from streets and water is an excellent starting point!
Happy Earth Day 2019!
Six Great Reasons to Work with a Small Engineering Firm
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to addressing your water needs and ultimately awarding a project to the most qualified bidder. Whether you’re in need of a large scale project such as the design and construction administration of a water treatment plant, or something smaller like a new water main, the deciding factors are equally important. Although it may seem daunting to weigh the magnitude of experience and qualifications across all the competing bids, we are big proponents for small engineering firms. Read on to see six great reasons why working with a small engineering firm could be a huge benefit to your company, institution, or municipality.
True Experts in the Field
In choosing a small engineering firm, you’ll have the opportunity to work with engineers who have expertise in both a specialized service as well as experience across multiple facets of the business. It is common to see groups of small teams within a firm that focus on particular segments of the business, be it water, wastewater, stormwater, or construction. Given the nature of a small firm however, there are large opportunities for teamwork and collaboration across the different services. For example, an engineer with a focus on stormwater, may have contributed their knowledge to a wastewater project.
Folks in smaller, privately owned firms, also tend to stay at the company for longer periods of time. With a feeling of trust and community within the company, experience will always increase with longevity.
Client Focused and Reliable
From first interaction to project completion, the team will be there to assist through every step. Teams within small engineering firms are known to go the extra mile to meet the needs of their clients and stop at nothing to make sure all expectations are exceeded. More so than the project itself, a solid client-firm relationship is critically important. When a company is small, team members are often more accessible and eager to help.
Familiar with the Area
Most small, regional firms tend to have a majority of clients close to their headquarters and satellite offices. Having a level of familiarity within a tighter geographic region provides huge benefits for firms and clients alike. For example, when a firm works with a town, they learn the ins and outs of new and existing systems. When it comes time for another project in the same town, the small, local firm is then one step ahead of the competition. Firms that are more local to the client also are more likely to have greater connections with other contractors and utilities nearby.
According to a 2017 study by Gallup, smaller companies have higher levels of employee engagement. From 2012-2016, the percentage of engagement levels in small companies grew by five percentage points. In the same time frame, engagement levels in larger companies barely budged. Similarly, 42% of employees working at companies of 10 or fewer were engaged at work versus the 30% who worked at larger companies. Use this stat when you’re thinking about the team of engineers working on a project (i.e. 10 person companies can easily be equivalent to 10 person teams.)
A big component of a solid working relationship is honesty. In any project, big or small, there will always be bumps in the road. A small engineering firm is more inclined to reveal challenges and concerns and face them throughout the course of the project. With full transparency, the firm and client can then work together to address all needs and achieve the end goal.
Small Firms – Big Hearts
In this day and age, ‘giving back’ is incredibly important to consumers. You want to know the company you’re doing business with cares about the world around them. Often times, you will see smaller firms participating in ways well beyond dollars. Giving time, partnering with local charities, and finding a cause that employees truly want to be a part of are what small companies tend to excel in.
Everything You Need to Know About Water Main Flushing
Chances are that at some point in early spring, you have noticed fire hydrants being flushed and releasing large amounts of water into the streets. While it may appear that hundreds of gallons are going to waste, there are actually several benefits to this hydrant flushing process. Water main flushing is an important preventative maintenance activity that:
- verifies proper operation of the hydrant
- evaluates the available flow to the hydrant
- allows utilities to deliver the highest quality water possible to their customers
- removes mineral and sediment build up from the water mains
Proper Operation of the Hydrant
According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the process of water main flushing is one of the most critical practices carried out by public drinking water systems. This practice allows water operators to identify broken or inoperable valves and hydrants to assure that they are working at their maximum potential.
Fire & Emergency Needs
During the flushing of a hydrant, operators can assess the water pressure and available flow rate for firefighting purposes. It’s imperative that each hydrant is operating as firefighters rely on them for fire-ground operations.
Over time, water settles, ages, and is affected by biofilm (a thin layer of microorganisms) that grows on the inside of the distribution piping. Each of these factors affects the quality and taste of the water, so it is important to flush the water out of the mains and hydrants regularly. Flushing can remove water from areas of the distribution system that have low water use, since the older water may no longer have the desired chorine residual.
Mineral and Sediment Build Up
Throughout the course of several months or a year, loose sediment and mineral deposits may slowly build up inside of the water mains resulting in discolored water and reduced capacity. Flushing the water mains can remove the sediment and mineral build up, and improve the color, odor and taste of the water if it has been problematic. Unidirectional flushing at the minimum required velocity will improve the carrying capacity of the mains.
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of flushing our water mains and hydrants, you may have some questions about the process and how it will affect your day-to-day life. We’re here to help!
When will a hydrant near me be flushed?
Hydrant flushing normally takes place at the start of spring. Your Pubic Water Supplier (PWS) should notify you of what streets will be undergoing flushing and when.
What can I do to prepare for flushing?
Prior to local hydrants being flushed, you may want to obtain water (in pitchers prior to flushing) for your everyday use including drinking, cooking, etc.
When the flushing is taking place, water quality may temporarily be reduced. Using water for tasks such as dishwashing, laundry, or showering may result in the discoloration/staining of your clothes or household items. Plan ahead and be sure your laundry and dishes are done before the flushing process begins!
How does water main flushing work?
Water main flushing usually takes place in one of two ways – conventional flushing or unidirectional flushing (UDF). WATER Finance & Management does a good job describing the difference between the two methods. In conventional flushing, hydrants are opened in different targeted areas and discharge water until accumulations are removed and water runs clear. While easy to conduct by water operators and crews, this method requires a lot of water, and may not always clean the pipe completely. With UDF, each pipeline is isolated to create flow in a single direction and quickly clean the pipe. By concentrating the flow, UDF creates higher velocities to clear the pipes and requires less water.
Learn more about the benefits of unidirectional flushing in our infographic here.
How will flushing affect my water?
During the process, you might experience a difference in the water pressure in your faucets as well as some discoloration in the water.
How long does it take to flush the hydrant?
Typically, this process takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
When will my water be back to normal?
Once the hydrants in your area have completed their flushing, it won’t be long until your water is ready for normal use again. In most cases, water should run clear with just a few minutes of faucet flow. Turn your faucets on cold and let the water run for 5 minutes or so. If you are still seeing discolored water or sediments in the water, continue running cold water on all your faucets until it is clear. Should your water still be discolored after several hours, please contact your water supplier.
Is water main/hydrant flushing a waste of water?
Although you will see water flowing for up to an hour, rest assured that most of the water that was flushed will return to a river, stream, or aquifer. Flushing is a necessary process to help keep our water mains clean and clear of sediment, allowing your public water supplier to provide excellent water quality, and increased pressure and flow.
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