“Get to Know Your H2O! During Drinking Water Week 2014: May 4-10



The American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the water community officially kicked off Drinking Water Week 2014 across North America today by asking the question, “What do you know about H2O?”

waterglobeThroughout the week, the water community will celebrate the value of water by learning about the critical role it plays in our daily lives and in the quality of life we enjoy. Aligning with this year’s theme, special attention will be given to the ways in which all water consumers can get to know their H2O.

To commemorate the occasion, water utilities, environmental advocates, and others will celebrate drinking water through school events, public presentations, and community festivals. They will also provide their communities with vital information on how water consumers can get to know their H2O.

In addition, 2014 sees the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which works diligently to safeguard the quality of drinking water in the United States. The Safe Drinking Water Act is a federal law that went into effect in 1974, and it works through effectively setting health-based standards and regulations and overseeing drinking water suppliers. Amendments to the Act in 1986 and 1996 increased the effectiveness and protection of drinking water and drinking water sources.

Currently in the U.S., community water systems are required to test their drinking water for contaminants and to report any violations that may have occurred. More information about the Safe Drinking Water Act is available on the U.S. EPA’s website.

Finally, Tata & Howard joins the American Water Works Association and all water professionals across North America in urging consumers to evaluate how they currently value, use, and access water, and how to protect it into the future.

North America’s water systems are critical to maintaining public health, economic vitality, fire protection, and quality of life. However, current trends in population, economic growth, energy, climate, and pollution affect water usage and the critical infrastructure the system needs to function properly.

As our systems’ aging pipes are repaired and replaced over the next 25 years, addressing this issue may be costly, but not insurmountable. Facing it head-on by proactively investing in our water systems now is a smart, safe, and common sense investment that will pay off for generations to come. More information about water infrastructure investment is available on the AWWA website.

So what do you know about H2O? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know! Everyone who likes our page and leaves us a comment will be entered to win a Home Depot gift card! It’s as easy as clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/TataandHoward

Happy Drinking Water Week!

Engineering Week: February 21, 2014 – Five Engineering Feats That Forever Changed the World

Today is the last day of Engineering Week, and we thought we’d try to choose the five engineering feats that had the most proofed global impact. Do you agree? Let us know!

glass water against skyClean Water

Choosing clean water as having the most global impact was easy, and not because we are a water engineering firm. Read our blog from earlier this week, and you will see how dirty water causes more death than all forms of violence combined. Major disease epidemics from the past were caused by contaminated water, and still are to this day in developing countries. Clean water definitely gets our vote as #1 (even if we are a little biased.)


Try to think of what the world would be like without telephones. Telephones forever changed the way we communicate, and connected the world in a way it never had been. From the inception of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to the smartphones of today, the telephone deserves a spot in the top five.


Electricity modernized the world, and now affects nearly everything we do. It heats our homes, powers our world-changing computers, lights the darkness, and allows simple and quick automation of so many tasks that were once time-consuming (washboard, anyone?)


Like the telephone, the computer has changed the world on so many levels. From automated manufacturing to global communication to computer-assisted surgery and the internet, our lives would not be the same without the invention of the computer.


The airplane changed the world by allowing fast transportation of goods and people. Transcontinental voyages that once took weeks now take hours, and global trade is now commonplace. In today’s world, overnight shipping is not a luxury but an expectation, with internet super-retailer Amazon considering using drones for package shipments.

Engineering has certainly changed the face of the world in so many ways. Do you agree with our top five? And what will be the top five in the next 100 years? One thing is certain: the world wouldn’t be the same without engineers. Happy Engineering Week!

Engineering Week: Tuesday, February 18 – Engineers Save Lives, and You Can, Too

third world waterIt has recently been argued that engineers save more lives than doctors, and for a very clear reason. While doctors treat existing maladies and certainly save countless lives in the process, there is no debate that the greatest contributor to saving lives and preventing needless death and illness is access to clean water and sanitation. In developed countries like the U.S., we don’t give modern plumbing a second thought. Here, grabbing a glass of water from the sink or having working toilets is a right, not a privilege. However, as of this moment, one in six human beings does not have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s 1.1 billion people worldwide. Dirty water is responsible for 80% of all illness and disease and kills more people annually than all forms of violence combined – including war. Therefore, many underdeveloped countries are now looking to bring more engineers to their countries than doctors, maintaining that prevention of illness would be more effective in saving lives than treatment would be. And we here at Tata & Howard couldn’t agree more, which is why we support Water for People, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to all the people of the world. And it is an achievable goal. The U.N. estimates that the $30 billion dollars per year that the U.S. alone spends in bottled water would be enough money to provide worldwide clean water access.

It’s going to take a little time, and a little money, and the dedication of some charitable engineers, but we look forward to a time when clean, safe drinking water is a right – and not a privilege – to all the people who inhabit this earth. For more information on Water For People and how you can help, visit www.waterforpeople.org.

Senators Introduce Legislation in Response to West Virginia Water Crisis

UNITED STATES - Jan 14: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVA., talks with reporters on the way to the Senate policy luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on January 14, 2014. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES – Jan 14: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVA., talks with reporters on the way to the Senate policy luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on January 14, 2014. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

In response to the recent water crisis that left over 300,000 West Virginians without water, a group of Senate Democrats have prepared a bill that aims to protect the American people from chemical spills that threaten public drinking water supplies. US Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) intend to introduce The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014, which includes both prevention of and preparedness for future chemical spills, to Congress when they return from recess this week.

Key principles of the bill include implementing regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities and requiring the industry to develop state-approved emergency response plans. In addition, the bill would allow states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies.

“No West Virginian or American should have to go through something like this again, and that is why I plan to introduce common sense legislation to make sure all chemicals are appropriately monitored,” Senator Manchin said. “We can work to improve the safety of Americans by ensuring that chemicals are properly managed, while also balancing the positive impact the chemical industry has made to our country.”

Senator Boxer said, “This legislation protects children and families across the nation by providing the tools necessary to help prevent dangerous chemical spills that threaten their drinking water.”

“The fact that there was a lack of regulations which allowed this particular storage facility to go uninspected for so many years is absurd,” Senator Rockefeller said. “I’m encouraged we are taking these steps to bring some accountability to industry that will help protect West Virginia families and our state’s economy.”

The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014 aims to implement the following initiatives:

State Programs: Establish state programs under the Safe Drinking Water Act to oversee and inspect chemical facilities that present a threat to sources of drinking water;

Build on Existing Drinking Water Protection Plans: Direct states to use existing source water protection plans developed under the Safe Drinking Water Act to identify facilities that present a risk to drinking water;

Minimum Federal Standards for State Programs: Establish minimum standards for chemical facilities subject to a state program, including the following:

  • Construction standards;
  • Leak detection and spill and overfill requirements;
  • Emergency response and communications plans;
  • Notification of the EPA, state officials, and public water systems of chemicals that are being stored at a facility.

Minimum Inspection Requirements: Require inspection of these facilities on a regular basis. Facilities identified in drinking water protection plans are inspected every 3 years and all other facilities are inspected every 5 years;

Ensure Drinking Water Systems Have Information: Require information on chemical facilities to be shared with drinking water systems in the same watershed;

Give Drinking Water Systems Tools to Address Emergencies: Allow drinking water systems to act in emergency situations to stop an immediate threat to people who receive drinking water from a public water system;

Ensure States Can Recover Costs for Response: Allow states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies.

The chemical facility that caused the West Virginia water crisis, Freedom Industries, had not been inspected in over 20 years, did not report the spill, and had no emergency response plan in place. Read about the crisis here.

Contractor for Greensboro Fire District #1 Project Wins Best Builder Award

best builder plaqueContractor for Greensboro Fire District #1 Project Wins Best Builder Award

We would like to extend our sincerest congratulations to Munson Earth-Moving Corp. for receiving the Associated General Contractors of Vermont’s 2013 Best Builders Award.

Tata & Howard has been working with Greensboro Fire District #1 in Greensboro, Vermont to assist with responses to the Water Supply Divisions Sanitary Survey and to develop alternatives for the long term plan that would address all deficiencies and meet compliance with the Federal and State drinking water rules. Part of the solution included the replacement of water mains to meet required system pressures and to address the old leaking pipes. Munson Earth-Moving Corp. provided construction services and Tata & Howard provided construction administration. Munson Earth-Moving Corp. received the prestigious 2013 Best Builder Award and garnered praise from local residents. To read the project narrative, please click here: Greensboro Best Builder Narrative

For a project description, please click here: Greensboro Fire District #1 Project Description

7 Tips to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, and while it is indeed a joyous and festive time of year, it can also be a difficult one. We have put together some tips for maintaining physical and mental health during this bustling time.

xmas cookiesEat frequently.
We all know the holidays are a time for cookies, cakes, and candy canes, and enjoying the tastes of the season is part of the festivities. However, overindulging in sweet treats can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and illness. Try to eat small, healthy meals, including lean protein and a variety of vegetables, every 3-4 hours; that way, you’ll stay satisfied all day and be less likely to overeat those tempting trifles. And when you do indulge, keep the portion to one serving: enjoy a small piece of cake, one cookie, or a single truffle. By maintaining balance, you won’t feel deprived and will still keep your diet and health in check.

Get enough sleep.
A good night\’s sleep does a lot more than just banish those pesky under-eye circles. A full night’s sleep – 7-9 hours per night – boosts memory, aids in disease prevention, allows the body to make necessary repairs to itself, assists in maintaining a healthy weight, increases creativity, and helps the body resist illness. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Adequate sleep, once greatly overlooked, is now touted as one of the most important factors in maintaining overall health. So go ahead, hit the snooze button. Your body and mind will thank you.

worcester skate2Stay active.
Let’s face it, the chilly, short days and frenetic schedule this time of year make squeezing in daily exercise a challenge. However, staying active year-round helps stave off illness and disease, boosts metabolism, supports mental health, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Some tips for exercising around the holidays include joining a gym (they always have specials this time of year), skiing, iceskating, working out with your smartphone or tablet (there’s an app for that!), or signing up for a fitness class. Be creative! Even choosing to take the stairs, wash your windows, or to park at the opposite end of the parking lot at work will help you sneak in extra daily activity.

Stress is one of the largest factors in contributing to illness, disease, and weight gain. The holidays are particularly difficult for many people due to a variety of stressors, such as harried schedules, crowded shopping centers, and familial and monetary worries. Don’t let the holidays stress you out! Practice breathing techniques, take a yoga class, relax with a cup of peppermint tea, or meditate. These are simple, yet effective measures in reducing stress and allowing you to enjoy the season. And speaking of ways to de-stress…

Practice positive thinking.
It is so simple, and really pays off. Consistent positive thinking does take some conscious effort, but with a little practice, it will become second nature – and you’ll be on your way to a much calmer and happier outlook. Somebody cut you off on the highway? Be grateful you weren’t in an accident. Heating oil delivery costs are through the roof? Be thankful for that roof. Be mindful of everyday aggravations, and find a way to turn them into moments of gratitude.

woman with water glass smilingDrink your water.
This one is our favorite! Adequate water consumption – half your body weight in ounces per day – offers a myriad of health benefits, including disease prevention, heightened metabolism, weight maintenance, illness prevention, mental clarity, and joint health. In addition, staying hydrated gives you shiny hair, strong nails, and healthy skin. Providing clean, safe water is something we are passionate about here at Tata & Howard. We hope you will drink your water and enjoy the many benefits it has to offer this holiday season. And last but not least…

While the adage “It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile” is largely an old spouse’s tale, the premise behind it holds firm: smiling and spreading cheer is easy and infectious. So give it a try, along with our other tips, and enjoy the happiest, healthiest holiday season possible!

EPA Releases Draft Report in Preparation for Expanded Clean Water Act Jurisidiction

globe water hands smallThere is no question that clean water remains our nation\’s most valuable natural resource. It is not only necessary for providing drinking water and maintaining public health, but also for manufacturing, farming, fishing, tourism, recreation, and energy development. And while the need for an abudant supply of clean water impacts us all, the methods used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect our nation’s waters has come under heated debate.

In 1972, in an effort to protect our nation’s water supply, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted the Clean Water Act (CWA), which defined “Waters of the United States.” The Act provided protection to these defined streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and other waterways from the high levels of pollution to which they were being subjected. Since 2001, some of these waters and wetlands have lost federal protection due to misinterpretations and confusion over Supreme Court rulings in regard to which waterways fall under CWA jurisdiction. Citing our nation’s imperative need for clean water, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) determined that clarification of CWA jurisdiction was necessary.

The Report
On August 24, 2013, the EPA solicited public comment on a new draft science report titled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence. Public comments received by November 6, 2013 will be provided to the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), an independent peer review panel, prior to their December 16-18, 2013 meeting. The purpose of this draft science report is to provide compelling scientific evidence in support of a joint EPA/Corps rulemaking to increase protection of US water by clarifying the authority of the CWA. This clarification has been requested by many entities including members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public.

EPA and the Corps’ primary focus is jurisidiction over our nation’s network of smaller waters – waters that feed larger ones, and, according to EPA, need protection in order to keep our water safe from upstream pollutants. In addition, EPA and the Corps are including protection for non-drinking water wetlands, maintaining that these wetlands provide community benefits, such as pollution containment and filtering, water storage, flood safety, as well as economic benefits for US businesses, including energy producers and farmers, who rely on ample sources of clean water.

The EPA states, “This draft science report presents a review and synthesis of the scientific literature pertaining to physical, chemical, and biological connections from streams, wetlands, and open-waters to downstream waters such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. This review of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed publications summarizes the current scientific understanding of the connectivity of small or temporary streams, wetlands, and certain open-waters, evaluated singly or in aggregate, and the mechanisms by which they affect the function or condition of downstream waters. The goals of the report are to (1) provide a context for considering the evidence of connections between rivers and their tributary waters, (2) summarize current understanding about these connections and associated downstream effects, and (3) discuss factors that influence the degree of connectivity or the magnitude of a downstream effect.”

The draft science report makes three initial conclusions:

  1. All streams, regardless of their size or how frequently they flow, are connected to and have important effects on downstream waters. These streams supply most of the water in rivers, transport sediment and organic matter, provide habitat for many species, and take up or change nutrients that could otherwise impair downstream waters.
  2. Wetlands and open-waters in floodplains of streams and rivers and in riparian areas (transition areas between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems) are integrated with streams and rivers. They strongly influence downstream waters by affecting the flow of water, trapping and reducing nonpoint source pollution, and exchanging biological species.
  3. Additional information is necessary for wetlands and open-waters located outside of floodplains and riparian areas before determining that they do not directly impact downstream waters.

The proposed rule maintains existing exemptions and exclusions, including those pertaining to agriculture and the production of food, materials, and fuel, as detailed below:

  • Agricultural stormwater discharges
  • Return flows from irrigated agriculture
  • Normal farming, silvicultural, and ranching activities
  • Upland soil and water conservation practices
  • Construction and maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches
  • Maintenance of drainage ditches
  • Construction or maintenance of farm, forest, and temporary mining roads
  • Prior Converted Cropland, including the role of USDA
  • Waste Treatment Systems

In addition to existing exclusions, the rule also proposes the following new exemptions:

  • Non-tidal drainage, including tiles, and irrigation ditches excavated on dry land
  • Artificially irrigated areas that would be dry if irrigation stops
  • Artificial lakes or ponds used for purposes such as stock watering or irrigation
  • Areas artificially flooded for rice growing
  • Artificial ornamental waters created for primarily aesthetic reasons
  • Water-filled depressions created as a result of construction activity
  • Pits excavated in uplands for fill, sand, or gravel that fill with water

In short, the report finds that all of the nation’s streams and most of its wetlands are connected and have biological, chemical, and physical impact on our nation’s rivers and lakes, and therefore fall under CWA jurisdiction.

EPA has stated that their final report will take into consideration all public comment as well as the findings of the independent peer review from their upcoming December meeting. When finalized, this report will provide scientific evidence on the connectivity of almost all of our nation’s waters, and will in turn pave the way for broad CWA jurisdiction, including over private property. While protection of our nation’s waters needs to be of primary focus, greatly expanded CWA jurisdiction will increase permitting burdens and significantly impact landowners across the country.