Shared WW Treatment Facility Improvements Whitepaper

wastewater treatment facility improvements whitepaper

Abstract: The Towns of Canaan, Vermont and Stewartstown, New Hampshire operate a shared wastewater treatment facility, which required significant upgrades. The existing facilities were 40 years old and although a few upgrades were performed in the 90s, the facilities were not performing well, did not meet Life Safety codes, and required significant maintenance. The economical upgrade met all of the goals of the Client by providing for simple operation and maintenance requirements, meeting the Life Safety codes, eliminating confined spaces, lowering of electrical power costs, and meeting discharge parameters through production of high quality effluent.

T&H Welcomes Several New Hires!

We are constantly growing, and are thrilled to welcome several new hires as well as some summer interns. Interested in working with us? Visit our careers page for more info!

Our Connecticut office welcomes Natalia Close and Tatiana Prevalla to the team. Natalia has joined the firm as an Engineer after graduating from University of Connecticut this past May with a B.S. degree in Environmental Engineering. Tatiana is interning this summer and just finished up her sophomore year at University of Connecticut where she is majoring in Civil Engineering.

Stan Welch, P.E., has joined our Vermont office as a Project Engineer. Stan earned his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and has over nine years of engineering experience.

Our corporate office in Marlborough, Massachusetts is excited to welcome five new hires! Brian Biagini graduated in May with a B.S. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass) and has joined the firm as an Engineer. Ethan Peterson is majoring in Finance at UMass and is interning with the T&H finance department this summer. Jenna O’Connell graduated in May with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and has joined the firm as an Engineer.  Jack Garrett just finished up his junior year at UMass and is working toward a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He will be interning this summer. And finally, Justin Waters is currently studying Environmental Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and has just finished up his junior year. He will also be interning this summer.




Water Distribution Systems in New England


On July 1, 1847, Brattleboro postmaster Frederick Palmer had the idea of putting adhesive on the back of stamps, and so he produced and sold the first gummed postage stamp in America, now known as the 1847 Brattleboro Postmaster’s Provisional stamp.

New England is one of the oldest and most historically rich areas of the nation. Famous events such as the pilgrims founding Plimouth Plantation and Paul Revere’s midnight ride took place in Massachusetts. New Hampshire planted the first potato in America, Maine introduced the nation’s first sawmill, and Vermont produced the nation’s first gummed postage stamp. Connecticut has the most “firsts” of any state in the nation including the first newspaper, submarine, and hamburger, while tiny but mighty Rhode Island was the first colony in the nation to declare independence from Britain. New England also boasts another first: it is home to the nation’s first water distribution systems.

A Brief History

Wooden pipe and fire plug from colonial Boston on display at the Waterworks Museum, Boston, MA.

Boston, Massachusetts became home to the nation’s first waterworks in 1652. Distribution pipes at that time were made of wood, constructed from bored-out logs from the area’s plentiful hemlock and elm trees and attached together with pitch, tar, or iron hoops. While this rudimentary distribution system did supply some of the area’s residents, it was mainly used for fire protection as homes during that time — constructed of wood and heated with fireplaces —were particularly prone to fire.


It was over a century before other New England cities began installing wooden distribution pipes. Providence, Rhode Island, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Worcester, Massachusetts all laid wooden pipes during the late 1700s, and several other cities followed suit in the early 1800s. Contrary to some urban myths, wooden pipes are not still in use in any areas of New England today. The high pressure from modern water systems would instantly split any existing wooden pipes. Wooden pipes that are occasionally unearthed during some construction projects were disconnected years ago.


Wooden pipes were problematic for many reasons including warping and sagging, insect infestation, rotting, taste issues, and splitting. As iron became increasingly available during the early 1800s, cities began installing iron pipes. The first iron pipes in New England were installed in Portland, Maine in 1812, followed by Montpelier, Vermont in 1820, and in both instances the pipes were lead. Many other cities followed suit throughout the 19th century, utilizing wrought iron, cast iron, and lead pipe. In the 1950s, ductile iron piping was introduced and boasted the longevity of cast iron with the addition of increased strength, flexibility, and safety. It became widely used in the 1970s and it is still the material of choice throughout New England today.

Distribution Systems Today

Destruction caused by a water main break. Photo copyright Erin Nekervis

New England can be considered a pioneer of our nation’s water infrastructure. After all, distribution systems have grown from a few wooden pipes in Boston to the intricate, complicated underground infrastructure that we enjoy today. However, because much of the area’s infrastructure was laid so long ago, it has reached the end of its useful life. Water main breaks occur daily and are not only inconvenient to customers, they can also be dangerous, as evidenced by the November 2016 water main break in Boston, Massachusetts that caused manhole fires and forced evacuation of the area. Maintaining and updating our distribution systems is critical to the health and safety of our nation, its people, and the economy. But with limited budgets and resources, where do we start?

Tata & Howard provided design, bidding, and construction administration for a water main replacement in Milford, Massachusetts, identified in a Capital Efficiency Plan.

Strategically prioritizing improvements is imperative to today’s water systems, as the rehabilitation and replacement of our nation’s buried infrastructure is an ongoing task. Asset management provides a roadmap for utilities, allowing them to maximize their limited infrastructure dollars by planning for the replacement of critical infrastructure over time. Tata & Howard’s Capital Efficiency Plan™ (CEP) methodology takes it one step further by combining the concepts of asset management, hydraulic modeling, and system criticality into a single comprehensive report. The final report provides utilities with a database and Geographic Information System (GIS) representation for each pipe segment within their underground piping system, prioritizes water distribution system piping improvements, and provides estimated costs for water main replacement and rehabilitation.

Tata & Howard provided water system distribution evaluation as well as design, bidding, and construction administration for a water tank replacement project in Paxton, MA.

Since the firm’s inception in 1992, Tata & Howard has remained a niche firm with deep experience and expertise in the water environment, and has provided CEP and hydraulic modeling services for countless municipalities throughout New England. Tata & Howard has one of the largest pipe asset management databases of any consulting engineering firm in New England. In fact, we have data on over 5,000 miles of New England pipe, providing utilities with critical information about their systems such as condition and probability of failure of certain pipe cohorts.

In Conclusion

Water distribution systems have come a long way since the days of hollowed out logs providing fire protection to colonial Bostonians. The underground network of distribution pipes has grown astronomically and now incorporates safer, stronger, and more cost-effective materials. As distribution systems are updated and expanded, it is critical that accurate, up-to-date information is available to water systems so that they may invest their limited capital wisely.

Ribbon Cutting on New $4.1 Million Wastewater Treatment Plant in Canaan, VT

l to r: April Hyde, Chief Operator, Town of Canaan; Greg Noyes, Canaan VT Board Member; Chris Hebert, Project Manager, The General Contractor - Daniel Hebert, Inc.; Gary Leach, P.E., Vice President, The Engineer - Tata & Howard, Inc.; Noreen Labrecque, Canaan VT Town Clerk; Ted Brady, State Director, The Funding Agency - USDA; Rita Hibbard, Stewartstown NH Town Clerk; Hasen Burns, Stewartstown NH Board Member
l to r: April Hyde, Chief Operator, Town of Canaan; Greg Noyes, Canaan VT Board Member; Chris Hebert, Project Manager, The General Contractor – Daniel Hebert, Inc.; Gary Leach, P.E., Vice President, The Engineer – Tata & Howard, Inc.; Noreen Labrecque, Canaan VT Town Clerk; Ted Brady, State Director, The Funding Agency – USDA; Rita Hibbard, Stewartstown NH Town Clerk; Hasen Burns, Stewartstown NH Board Member

The towns of Canaan, VT and Stewartstown, NH celebrated the completion of their shared $4.1 million wastewater treatment plant with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 25, in Canaan. The total cost of the facility improvements was $4.12 million and the towns received $2.41 million in grant money as well as a $1.69 million low interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. The new system replaces a decades-old facility that was costly to operate and did not meet state and federal water quality standards.

Tata & Howard, Inc. provided complete consulting engineering services for the design and construction of the wastewater treatment facility project that consisted of a complete upgrade of four pump stations and the 0.185-MGD, 3-cell lagoon wastewater treatment facility. The upgrades provide the towns with a state-of-the-art, reliable wastewater treatment facility that meets stringent Effluent Discharge limits to the Connecticut River and allows for a more efficient treatment process. The new influent screening and grit removal processes extend the life of the treatment facility components, and septage receiving allows for additional income and also provides service to the other residents of the town that are not on public sewer. The design incorporated numerous energy efficient features, including variable-frequency drives on all motors and aeration blowers, a wood pellet boiler for heat, energy efficient windows, and insulated concrete block walls, resulting in a reduction in annual operation and maintenance costs. The pump stations were upgraded to eliminate the operator from entering below grade structures and allow for low-cost future replacement.

Saxtons River, VT Considers UV Light Treatment for Wastewater

Saxtons River in Vermont
Saxtons River in Vermont

Saxtons River, Vermont is considering an upgrade to their aging wastewater treatment facility. Engineering firm Marquise & Morano introduced three plans to Saxtons River Trustees at a meeting, and Gary A. Leach, P.E., Vice President of Tata & Howard, presented an option using sequencing batch reactors (SBR) as the best option. The SBR process uses ultraviolet (UV) light instead of chlorine to treat wastewater. Not only is the SBR option the most economical, but it is also a green initiative. UV utilizes only light, and therefore eliminates all processes associated with the handling and transport of chemicals, and it is safer for operators and aquatic life. For more information on the Saxtons River wastewater treatment project, click here.