Team Tata & Howard joined 3,000+ volunteers participating in the 23rd Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup! It was a beautiful Saturday to get out of the house and lend a helping hand to Mother Nature!
Our team picked, tugged, lugged, and hauled away litter around the Upper Falls Playground. We even made a new friend, neighbor Barry Soroka, who lives close to the park; looking forward to seeing you next year, Barry!
Location:Upper Falls Playground, Newton Upper Falls, MA
TATA & HOWARD, INC. (T&H), founded in 1992, is a 100% employee-owned water, wastewater, and stormwater services engineering firm. We are dedicated to consistently delivering the highest quality and innovative engineering solutions in the water environment.
As an industry leader in the Northeast, we believe the key to quality engineers for the future begins with education. Together with industry associations, high schools, and colleges, we demonstrate that belief through our scholarship programs. T&H scholarships recognize outstanding, graduating high school seniors who maintained an overall GPA of at least 3.0, excel in math or science, and will be enrolled full-time at a college majoring in engineering.
To learn how you can apply for consideration, check out our current programs.
Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship Awarded to Marlborough and Natick High School Seniors
TATA & HOWARD, INC. announced it’s 2018 Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship winners. Graduating seniors from Marlborough High School, Igor De Moraes and Amanda Vilensky; and seniors from Natick High School, Kevin Zheng and Rebecca McCue, each received the $1,000 scholarship sponsored by TATA & HOWARD, INC. and the Tata family. Learn more
TATA & HOWARD, INC. Announces Paul E. Cote Engineering Scholarship Nomination, Jared Hamilton.
Jared Hamilton, an A.P. Scholar, graduated from Ellsworth High School with high honors and is a recent graduate of the University of Maine, B.S. in Civil Engineering, with a dual concentration in water resources and structural design. Jared recently passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exams (F.E.). He is a member of the Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a past member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
Jared commented on his “Greatest of All Time” (G.O.A.T.) engineering experience – while observing the construction of a substation as an intern – “I could see the foundations, forms, rebar, etc. and I knew then I had chosen the right career path.” Jared recently took a full-time position with an engineering company in Maine, setting his goal to obtain engineering knowledge through hands-on experience. – Jared, the TATA & HOWARD team congratulates you and wishes you much success!
Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E. Engineering Scholarship Award
Tata & Howard, Inc. is pleased to co-sponsor the Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E. Engineering Scholarship Award through the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA).
Patrick had a passion for quality control, quality assurance, and the development and protection of Massachusetts water supply and water infrastructure. He held a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Southeastern Massachusetts University and served as president of MWWA. His twenty-year career at Tata & Howard, Inc. served in many leadership roles, with his final position as Sr. Vice President.
This awardis open to students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil or Environmental Engineering at an accredited academic institution in the United States, with preference given to those candidates whose programs of study are related to waterworks practice.
Click here to learn more about applying for the O’Neale Scholarship Application through MWWA. Deadline: June 1st of each year.
Donations, if you wish to donate to this fund, please click here.
Water is the common denominator for every living thing on earth. Without it, we simply cannot survive.
But even though this resource is so critical, 785 million people around the world lack access to safe water. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is the #4 global risk in terms of impact to society.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan that identifies priority actions supporting the reuse of water for human consumption, agriculture, business, industry, recreation and healthy ecosystems. Items proposed in the draft will require the collaboration between governmental and nongovernmental organizations to implement the actions.
What is Water Reuse?
Water reuse is an innovative and dynamic strategy that can dramatically change the future of water availability in the U.S. Water reuse can be used to meet water demands and mitigate the risks posed by droughts. Recycled water can be used for a wide variety of applications, including agriculture, potable water supplies, groundwater replenishment, industrial processes and environmental restoration. The water reuse process can stem from sources such as industrial process water, agricultural return flows, municipal wastewater, oil and gas produced water, and stormwater.
Why Implement a Water Reuse Action Plan?
The draft National Water Reuse Action Plan is the first initiative of its kind to be coordinated across the water sector. According to EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, David Ross, forty states anticipate shortages of fresh water within their borders over the next decade. Water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy and provide safe and reliable drinking water for years to come.
After extensive research and outreach, it was determined that meaningful advancement of water reuse would best be accomplished by working cooperatively with all water sector stakeholders including federal, state, tribal, and local water perspectives. The EPA hopes to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will increase the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources.
What Does the Plan Entail?
The draft National Water Reuse Action Plan identifies 46 proposed actions across ten strategic objectives.
Enable consideration of water reuse with integrated and collaborative action at the watershed scale.
Coordinate and integrate federal, state, tribal, and local water reuse programs and policies.
Compile and refine fit-for-purpose specifications.
Promote technology development, deployment, and validation.
Improve availability of water information.
Facilitate financial support of water reuse.
Integrate and coordinate research on water reuse.
Improve outreach and communication on water reuse.
Support a talented and dynamic workforce.
Develop water reuse metrics that support goals and measure progress.
The EPA is soliciting public input through a 90-day public comment period. This period will seek to:
Identify the most important actions to be taken in the near term.
Identify and describe the specific attributes and characteristics of the actions that will achieve success.
Secure specific commitments to lead/partner/collaborate on implementation of actions.
Runoff of phosphorus and nitrogen from farming, stormwater, and wastewater treatment plants is an increasing issue for aquatic environments around the world. While phosphate and nitrogen are natural and necessary components of aquatic ecosystems, too much can be dangerous. Excess amounts of these nutrients, also known as nutrient pollution, is detrimental to plants, wildlife, waterways, and our own public health. Although this issue is not new, there’s been an uptick in awareness as water and wastewater utilities aim to improve drinking water quality and meet regulatory requirements.
Problems with Excess Nutrients
Nutrient pollution is a widespread problem that affects rivers, streams, lakes, bays, and coastal waters across the country.
Increased levels of phosphorus and nitrogen can cause harmful algal blooms that ultimately lead to the production of toxins and elevated bacteria levels that are harmful to people and wildlife. In fact, nutrient pollution can cause issues in water quality both near and far from the location where the nutrients enter the water source. A study from the US Water Alliance noted an instance of water pollution where excess nutrients from the Mississippi River Basin caused toxic algal blooms 2,300 miles downstream in the Gulf of Mexico. The algae later decomposed, all while consuming large amounts of oxygen and creating dead zones in which aquatic organisms could not survive.
When it comes to treating wastewater and providing high-quality drinking water to customers, costs will rise for water utilities should the water be saturated with excess nutrients.
The problems that stem from excess nutrients in water bodies negatively impact the livelihood of those who use the water for recreational purposes. According to the EPA, the US tourism industry loses nearly $1 billion each year, while the commercial fishing industry loses tens of millions.
Sources of Excess Nutrients
Most excess nutrients in the water originate from agricultural runoff, urban stormwater, and discharge from wastewater treatment plants. There are two types of sources – “point” sources and “nonpoint” sources. Point sources typically refer to industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants. Nonpoint sources refer to agricultural and stormwater runoff.
$1.4 trillion in public funding has been invested in improving municipal wastewater treatment facilities to address nutrient pollution since 1972.
The primary approach to reducing nutrient pollution of agricultural nonpoint sources has been the implementation of ‘Best Management Practices’. Best practices vary on a farm-by-farm basis and have the potential to be cost-effective or expensive, depending on several factors. Because farm practices are unpredictable due to cropping patterns, soil properties, hydrology, and weather, many farmers are hesitant to change their current practice. Compared to point sources, a mere $5 billion has bene spent by the federal government to incentivize farmers to implement strategies for nutrient reduction. Additionally, when it comes to nonpoint sources of excess nutrients including stormwater, a lot more can be done on the ground level. Being mindful of what goes down the drain in our yards, and on the streets, can have a huge impact.
This Act regulates point source discharge and requires all dischargers to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the state. NPDES permits enforce limits on the concentration of nutrients that can be discharged into surface waters. Under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, the EPA also supports state efforts to reduce nonpoint sources of nutrient pollution with its $160 million grant program. According to the EPA, activities supported by these programs may include implementation of state nonpoint source management plans, state regulatory and non-regulatory programs, watershed prioritization and planning, and nonpoint source monitoring.
Several loans exist specifically for upgrades and construction of wastewater facilities. The State Revolving Fund program offers low-interest loans for wastewater treatment infrastructure, and the USDA’s Rural Development Water and Environmental Programs provide long-term, low-interest loans and grants for the construction of these facilities in rural communities. The USDA and EPA also support the reduction of nutrient pollution by incentivizing voluntary action by nonpoint sources. There are a handful of programs that provide a mix of funding directly to farmers, or to groups at the community or state level.
The EPA and five other federal agencies co-lead the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force. This federal initiative was developed in 2008 (and adopted by 12 states) to reduce nutrient loads by 20 percent by 2025 and by 45 percent by 2035. Other partnerships created to reduce the impacts of nutrient pollution include Source Water Collaborative and the Animal Agriculture Discussion Group.
The EPA is working with its partners to combat nutrient pollution in water bodies throughout the country. They’ve created a wealth of communication and outreach materials to increase awareness of the causes, effects, and solutions to nutrient pollution.
In conclusion, we must continue addressing the problem of nutrient pollution in water bodies across the country. While there are several initiatives in place to combat the harmful effects of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the environment, nutrient pollution is increasing at a quicker rate than what is being done to eliminate it. Federal and state agencies, farmers, and even you can play a tremendous role in reducing nutrient pollution. Learn what you can do within your community here.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (the Trust) are currently promoting Asset Management Programs (AMPs) by offering subsidized State Revolving Fund (SRF) financing for communities looking to improve one or more of their water-related utilities.
With the help of Asset Management Programs, water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities are poised to make beneficial financial decisions for the future. The goal of AMPs is to achieve long-term sustainability and deliver the required level of service in a cost-efficient manner. Financial decisions surrounding asset repairs, replacements, or rehabilitations, as well as the development and implementation of a long-term funding strategy can only help a utility.
Through the Asset Management Grant Program, MassDEP and the Trust are encouraging water utilities to focus on AMP development, maintenance, or improvements. This program is also aimed at helping communities and their utilities meet the Engineering Plan and Financial Sustainability Plan requirements for SRF construction loans. With that, the program will award grants with a maximum award of $150,000 or 60% of the total eligible project cost (whatever is less).
If awarded a grant, the recipient will be required to supply documentation of a full appropriation of funding mechanisms for the entire cost of the project to qualify. There are no requirements on the size or scope of the project. MassDEP will favor proposals that include a clear description of the applicant’s current asset management status and goals, and those that demonstrate a strong commitment to participate in their AMP.
Tata & Howard encourages all MA utilities to apply for this special grant funding. Proposals and Project Evaluation Forms are due on August 23, 2019 by 12 pm.
From May 13-20, the seventh annual Infrastructure Week is taking place with the support of hundreds of affiliates across the country. Infrastructure Week was created to help raise awareness for our country’s growing infrastructure needs and stress the message that we must #BuildForTomorrow. Led by a coalition of businesses, labor organizations and policy organizations, this week will unite the public and private sector to send this important message to leaders in Washington and beyond.
No matter where you live, your age, your education, if you drive a car or a truck or take the bus or a bicycle, infrastructure has a profound impact on your daily life. We all have to get around. We all need lights to come on and water to come out of the tap.
Consequently, too much of our nation’s infrastructure is under-maintained, too old, and over capacity. When it comes to water infrastructure alone, we are dealing with a massive network of pipes that are well over 100 years old. In short, droughts in western states have caused wells and reservoirs to fall dangerously low; saltwater intrusion of Florida’s drinking water infrastructure, and dam and levee failures in California, South Carolina, and Louisiana have caused evacuations and put hundreds of thousands of people and homes at risk.
The High Cost of Water Infrastructure
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. A study conducted by the American Water Works Association revealed that the cost to replace our nation’s water infrastructures would cost more than one trillion dollars over the next 25 years.
No state, city, or county alone can tackle the growing backlog of projects of regional and national importance, and Americans get it: more than 79 percent of voters think it is extremely important for Congress and the White House to work together to invest in infrastructure.
For years, near-unanimous, bipartisan support for infrastructure investment has been steadily increasing. Leaders and voters have been rolling up their sleeves to spark efforts in the rebuilding and modernizing of transportation, water, and energy systems. Certainly, large strides have been made as a country, but there is still a lot to be done.
Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which grades the current state of the nation’s infrastructure on a scale between A and F. The last survey from 2017 gave tremendous insight into the state of our infrastructure surrounding drinking water, dams, and wastewater.
Drinking Water Infrastructure
The drinking water that we get in our homes and businesses all comes from about one million miles of pipes across the country. While the majority of those pipes were laid in the early to mid-20th century, many are showing signs of deterioration. There are many reasons for a water main to break including localized influences such as aggressive soil and weather conditions, as well as poor design/construction. Approximately 240,000 occur each year, consequently resulting in the waste of two trillion gallons of treated drinking water. Drinking Water received a grade of D.
The average age of the 90,000+ dams in the United States is 56. Nearly 16,000 (~17%) have been classified as high-hazard potential. Dam failures not only risk public safety, they also can cost our economy millions of dollars in damages as well as the impairment of many other infrastructure systems, such as roads, bridges, and water systems. As a result, emergency action plans (EAPs) for use in the event of a dam failure or other uncontrolled release of water are vital. As of 2015, 77% of dams have EAPs – up from 66% in the last 2013 Report Card. Dams received a grade of D.
There are approximately 15,000 wastewater treatment plants across the U.S that are critical for protecting public health and the environment. In the next 15 years, it is expected that there will be 56 million new users connected to the centralized treatment system. This need comes with an estimated $271 billion cost. Maintaining our nation’s wastewater infrastructure is imperative for the health and well being of the 76% of the country that rely on these plants for sanitary water. Wastewater received a grade of D+.
In the water sector alone, it’s clear how heavily we rely on solid infrastructure. If the issues in our nation’s water infrastructure are not addressed, millions of people as well as our environment will be at risk. Many communities around the country are working hard to deliver projects to solve these problems – but there is always more to be done. Reversing the trajectory after decades of under-investment requires transformative action from Congress, states, infrastructure owners, and the American people. Join us this week to help spotlight the continued advocacy and education of infrastructure needs. Afterall, this is the true foundation that connects our country’s communities, businesses, and people.
Water and Wastewater Professional Mike Knox to Run Emergency Response Training Programs
Tata & Howard, Inc., a leading innovator in water, wastewater, and stormwater engineering solutions, is pleased to announce that Michael F. Knox, has joined the firm as a Client Service Specialist. In this newly created role, Mr. Knox will concentrate on developing Emergency Response Training Programs to be offered starting this fall.
Prior to joining Tata & Howard, Mr. Knox worked as the Superintendent and Chief Operator for the Cherry Valley and Rochdale Water & Sewer District in Leicester, Massachusetts. He holds a 2C and 3T drinking water license and a 3M wastewater license, and he has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
In addition, Mr. Knox served as a member of the Massachusetts Water and Wastewater Agency Responses Network (MAWARN) Steering Committee and was the MAWARN Chair from 2008 to 2011. He is a member and Past President of the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA).
“As a former Superintendent and Chief Operator of a Water & Sewer District, Mike brings a unique perspective to this position,” Paul B. Howard, P.E., T&H Senior Vice President stated. “Having worked with Mike in the past, we knew of his experience and expertise improving the safety and security of municipal assets and implementing emergency response programs.”
“We’re excited to have Mike on our team,” Karen L. Gracey, P.E., T&H Co-President said. “Mike’s knowledge and thorough understanding of critical emergency response methodologies and training skills will not only benefit municipal water operations but also help improve their service to the community water systems they manage.”
Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) are mandatory for all public water suppliers, and a minimum of 10 hours of Emergency Response Training is required. ERP training is a process that helps water system managers and staff explore vulnerabilities, make improvements, and establish procedures to follow during an emergency. Preparing and practicing an ERP can save lives, prevent illness, enhance system security, minimize property damage, and lessen liability.
Climate Change Brings New Innovation to the Water Environment
The summer of 2018 saw devastating fires blazing all over the world. Nearly 100 people died in raging fires across the southern coast of Greece. More than 50 wildfires scorched Sweden where the temperature north of the Arctic Circle soared into the 90’s causing drought conditions. Record breaking temperatures across the globe from Montreal to Great Britain topped 98 degrees this summer. In Japan, 22,000 people were hospitalized when temps climbed to 106 degrees. And, in normally cool Oslo, the thermometer climbed to 86 degrees for 16 consecutive days. From Southern California and Arizona to India and Pakistan, withering heat reached a deadly 110 degrees that parched the environment.
The most alarming news is the hottest temperature ever reliably recorded reached 124.3 degrees in Algeria this July.
Fires, heat and drought of this scope and scale seem to be becoming the new normal. These extreme events point to a planet that is warming and perhaps faster than scientists have predicted.
Although the effects of climate change may vary widely in different geographic regions, those areas already hardest hit with drought and arid conditions may be in the most critical need of clean drinking water.
This crisis will only get worse as the earth’s population conceivably could grow exponentially in the next 50 years and adequate supplies of water become even more scarce. In addition to supplying all these thirsty people with clean water, the chilling paradox is the increased demand on already-scarce resources means there is a greater chance that existing water sources will become polluted by human waste, industrial toxins, and contaminated agricultural runoff.
It is human nature to postpone change and sacrifice as long as possible. But it is clear that public service announcements warning residents to save water, take shorter showers, plant resilient gardens, and conserve, is not going to be enough to help avoid a global water shortage. Fortunately, scientists and researchers are working diligently to solve some very complex problems to provide innovative and sustainable clean water solutions for the future.
Here are three cutting edge ideas for sustainable water supplies that just may help a warming world.
Ancient Bacteria for Modern Water Purification
Anaerobic or oxygen-averse bacteria to treat wastewater is back in vogue… after a billion years. When the earth was a toxic primordial goo, anaerobic bacteria thrived in the oxygen deprived world forming the first signs of life. Environmental engineers at Stamford University are now bringing back these ancient microorganisms as a more cost-effective wastewater treatment process.
Wastewater treatment plants that use aerobic bacteria must provide oxygen with huge and costly electrically powered blowers for these microorganisms to survive. Anaerobic bacteria treatment processes do not need oxygen and use considerably less energy, making the wastewater treatment process more economical to operate. In addition to saving money, engineers believe these anaerobes can filter household and industrial chemicals better than conventional treatment plants.
Full-scale plants utilizing anaerobic bacteria may soon be capable of processing millions of gallons of wastewater per day into refreshing clean water.
Mega Scale Desalination
Desalination plants may not have been around as long as ancient bacteria, but this technology is not a new concept either. What is news however, is the increasing role desalination will have in the future. Israel’s Sorek desalination plant is the largest seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant in the world providing 627,000 cubic meters per day (m3/d) or the equivalent to about 166,000,000 gallons of water per day (gpd) to Israelis.
Desalination plants which were notoriously expensive energy hogs have become less energy-intensive as technologies have improved. Using renewable energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal along with advanced technologies including thin-film nanocomposite membranes, captive deionization (most suitable for brackish water), forward osmosis, and metal–organic framework (MOF) biological cell membranes that requires very little water pressure, water desalination is becoming more efficient and cost effective. The new cutting-edge membranes can even filter out precious metals such as lithium used in batteries.
Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of desalinated water in the world with its 32 desalination plants and growing, will soon be producing a historic 5 million m3/d or the equivalent of about 1,321,000,000 gpd, a global record of desalinated water. Benefiting from this leading-edge technology, Cape Town South Africa may have averted a catastrophic “Day Zero” when the City’s first desalination plant went online, preventing a water doomsday for its residents.With the world’s oceans holding about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water and with more innovation, desalination may prove to be this thirsty world’s salvation.
Drinking Water from the Air
Another old idea that is gaining favor is converting fog into drinking water. Super-sized moisture collection systems could allow people living in coastal or mountainous areas to convert fog into safe drinking water. Collection traps are made from a 3D mesh that can withstand high wind speeds, while still retaining and accumulating water in storage tanks. With a variety of sizes available, these fog systems can be used for individual needs or supplying water for entire villages.
Combine this idea with giant Atmosphere Water Generators (AWG), which takes moisture or humidity directly out of the air and converts it into potable water. Even in the driest of lands, the air is loaded with water molecules and enough drinking water converted from AWG’s could provide communities with a continuous and sustainable source of clean water.
On a large scale, the AWG units can be mounted on the roof-tops of commercial or residential buildings. When powered by renewable energy, these systems can create safe local drinking water efficiently and economically. Water districts and municipalities managing these units, can provide as much as 55 m3 /d or about 14,500 gallons per day, enough to service each building independently with water.
Collected water from both fog collection systems or AWG’s may seem farfetched. But consider this, 80 percent of California’s water goes to irrigate farms and the other 20 percent of water use goes to urban use. Collected water from the air could be used to irrigate crops or other commercial watering needs.
Water conservation and alternative technologies such as fog collection systems and AWG units can supplement our increasing demand for clean water and these ideas just might may make a difference.
The Future is for Innovation
Combating climate change and managing our depleting water resources is a reality we can’t ignore. The devasting fires, drought and heat from 2018, is a reminder that our actions today may help avert a global catastrophe in the future. These innovative ideas and others still in development are one step forward to a more sustainable world.
Our future depends on it!
Join Our Team
Tata & Howard is interested in motivated environmental professionals dedicated to providing great client service and high quality, efficient work. Please send your resume and cover letter to HR@tataandhoward.com.
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