New Law Affects Small Community Water Systems

A New Connecticut Law to Affect the State’s Water Industry

Effective October 1, 2018, Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (DPH) is requiring all small community water systems to complete Fiscal and Asset Management Plans by January 1, 2021 and update them annually. This new law effects small water companies that regularly serve communities of at least 25 but not more than 1,000 year-round residents.

The Fiscal and Asset Management Plan must include:

  1. A list of all the system’s capital assets;
  2. The asset’s (a) useful life, based on their current condition, (b) maintenance and service history, and (c) manufacturer’s recommendation;
  3. The small community water system’s plan for reconditioning, refurbishing, or replacing the assets; and
  4. Information on (a) whether the small community water system has any unaccounted-for water loss (i.e., water supplied to its distribution system that never reached consumers), (b) the amount and cause of such unaccounted-for water loss, and (c) measures the system is taking to reduce it.

Under the new law, each small community water system must also complete an initial assessment review of its hydropneumatic pressure tanks by May 2, 2019 on a form developed by the DPH.

Failure to complete or update their fiscal and asset management plans on or before January 1, 2021 maybe subject to civil penalties by DPH.

Compliance Concerns?

Tata & Howard has extensive experience with all facets of asset management planning and programming. Our services focus on condition assessment and analyses of critical capital assets, as well as operational evaluations, water audits to reduce unaccounted-for water, and long-term capital planning.  Initial hydropneumatic pressure tank inspections can be also be performed in time to comply with the DPH deadline of May 2, 2019.

In addition, Tata & Howard can help secure financing through grants, such as those available through the USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program.

More Info?

Asset Management

Tata & Howard has assisted numerous Water Companies with their Asset Management Planning.  Please contact us for more information.

State Revolving Fund Loan Program

Financial Assistance through the State Revolving Fund

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), is now accepting Project Evaluation Forms (PEFs) for new drinking water and wastewater projects seeking financial assistance in 2019 through the State Revolving Fund (SRF).  The SRF offers low interest loan options to Massachusetts cities and towns to help fund their drinking water and clean water projects. PEFs are due to the MassDEP Division of Municipal Services by August 24, 2018, 12:00 PM.

Water Main ReplacementFinancing for The Clean Water SRF Program helps municipalities with federal and state compliance water-quality requirements, focusing on stormwater and watershed management priorities, and green infrastructure. The Drinking Water SRF Program, provides low-interest loans to communities to improve their drinking water safety and water supply infrastructure.

This year, the MassDEP Division of Municipal Services (DMS) announced the following priorities for SRF proposals.

  • Water main rehabilitation projects which include full lead service replacement (to the meter) – this is a high priority for eligibly enhanced subsidy under the Drinking Water SRF.
  • Reducing Per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contaminants in drinking water.
  • Asset Management Planning to subsidize Clean Water programs.
  • Stormwater Management Planning for MS4 permit compliance and implementation.

In addition, Housing Choice Communities will receive a discount on their SRF interest rate of not less than 1.5%.

Summaries of the Intended Use Plans (IUP), will be published in the fall, which will list the project name, proponents, and costs for the selected projects. After a 30-public hearing and comment period, Congress will decide which programs may receive funding from the finalized IUPs.

To Apply for SRF Financing

Tata & Howard is experienced with the SRF financing process and is available to help municipalities develop Project Evaluation Forms along with supporting documentation, for their local infrastructure needs.

Please contact us for more information.

The MassDEP Division of Municipal Services are accepting Project Evaluation Forms until August 24, 2018 by 12:00 PM.

 

We Can Help

For more information on the MassDEP State Revolving Fund and assistance preparing a PEF contact us.

PFAS – Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

PFAS – Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

Health Advisory Guidelines for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances Detected in Public Water Systems

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced in early June, and through the Office of Research and Standards (ORS), its recommendations on the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR 3) for emerging contaminants-specifically Perflourinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS).

PFAS or Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of man-made compounds that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perffluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perflouroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), and perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS).

US map of PFASAccording the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all these UCMR 3 PFAS compounds have been detected in public water supplies across the US. Since PFAS are considered emerging contaminants, there are currently no established regulatory limits for levels in drinking water. However, in 2016, the EPA set Health Advisory levels (HA) of 0.07 micrograms per liter (µg/L) or 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for the combined concentrations of two PFAS compounds, PFOS and PFOA.

MassDEP’s ORS established drinking water guidelines that follows the EPA’s recommendations for health advisory levels at 70 ppt, which applies to the sum total of five PFAS chemicals – PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFHXS, and PFHpA.  And, if the level of contamination poses unacceptable health risks to its customers, Public Water Systems (PWS) must take action to achieve safe levels. They also must provide public notice.

The EPA and MassDEP’s recommended guidelines for PFAS include:

  • Public Water Suppliers take immediate action to reduce levels of the five PFAS to be below 70 ppt for all consumers.
  • Susceptible health-risk groups (pregnant women, infants, and nursing mothers) should stop consuming water when the level is above 70 ppt.
  • Public Water Systems must provide a public Health Advisory notice.

Water testingThe EPA also recommends that treatment be implemented for all five PFAS when one or more of these compounds are present.

Although, PFAS are no longer manufactured in the United States, PFAS are still produced internationally and can be imported in to the country1.  PFAS have been in use since the 1940’s and are persistent chemicals that don’t breakdown, accumulate over time in the environment and in the human body.  Evidence shows that prolonged exposure PFAS can have adverse effects on human health and the ecology.

PFAS can be found in:

  • Agricultural products grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water, and/or handled with PFAS-containing equipment and materials.
  • Drinking water contaminated from chemical groundwater pollution from stormwater runoff near landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and firefighter training facilities2.
  • Household products, including nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and stain and water-repellent fabrics.
  • Firefighting foams2, which is a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs.
  • Industrial facilities that manufactured chrome plating, electronics, and oil recovery that use PFAS.
  • Environmental contamination where PFAS have built-up and persisted over time – including in fish, animals and humans.

While most states are relying on the EPA’s Health Advisory levels (including Massachusetts), some, such as Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, Arizona, and Colorado have addressed other UCMR 3 PFAS pollutants as well.

Boy drinking waterMost research on the effects of PFAS on human health is based on animal studies. And, although there is no conclusive evidence that PFAS cause cancer, animal studies have shown there are possible links. However, PFAS ill-health effects are associated with changes in thyroid, kidney and liver function, as well as affects to the immune system.  These chemicals have also caused fetal development effects during pregnancy and low birth weights.

PFAS are found at low levels throughout our environment—in foods we consume and in household products we use daily. PFAS in drinking water at levels higher than the EPA’s recommendations does not necessarily mean health risks are likely. Routine showering and bathing are not considered significant sources of exposure. And, while it is nearly impossible to eliminate all exposure to these chemicals, the risk for adverse health effects would likely be of concern if an individual continuously consumed higher levels of PFAS than the guidelines established by the EPA’s Health Advisory.

MassDEP is continuing its research and testing for PFAS in Public Water Systems.  Large Public Drinking Water Systems have already been tested and sampling indicated that approximately 3% had levels of PFAS detected. MassDEP is currently working with smaller Public Water Systems to identify areas where PFAS may have been used or discharged to the environment.

As more information and regulations develop on this emerging contaminant, MassDEP will continue to communicate their findings. Tata & Howard is also available for any questions that may arise, as well as, assist with testing and recommend treatment options for our clients.

 

1 In 2006, the EPA and the PFA industry formed the PFOA Stewardship program to end the production of PFAs.

2 MassDEP in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (MassDFS), announced in May a take-back program to remove hazardous pre-2003 firefighting foam stockpiles and be neutralized. Manufacturers stopped making PFAS foam in 2002 and have since developed fluorine-free and more fluorine stable foams that are safer to the environment.

The Importance of Incorporating Sustainability and Energy Efficiency into Modern Water Treatment

sustainability conceptThe Importance of Incorporating Sustainability and Energy Efficiency into Modern Water Treatment

Municipal water treatment and distribution requires an exorbitant amount of resources, wreaking havoc on the environment and on budgets. And it’s getting worse. Over the past several years, operating costs have consistently been on the rise, while municipal budgets continue to shrink. In addition, regulatory requirements are increasing, forcing municipalities to upgrade treatment processes ahead of schedule. These changes result in limited unsustainable systems and utilities scrambling to find ways to manage their insufficient operational budgets while maintaining levels of service. The good news is that low-cost initiatives exist that can provide quick and significant cost and environmental savings and increase system sustainability.

When incorporating sustainability into water systems, utilities consistently rank capital cost, life-cycle costs, and service lifetime as the top three considerations, while climate change and habitat protection are the lowest ranked factors. These statistics highlight the extreme fiscal challenges facing utilities today. While environmental factors are certainly important, water systems simply do not have the luxury to place them above financial concerns, as budgets are reaching a critical juncture. In short, cost drives decision-making. Fortunately, energy efficiency and sustainability result in a healthier environment, even when implemented primarily for cost-savings.

wayland water treatment plant
Tata & Howard recently completed a water audit for the Town of Wayland, MA.

There are many technologies and practices that water systems employ to increase sustainability and energy efficiency, the most common of which is reducing non-revenue water (NRW). NRW includes real losses, the majority of which is the result of leaks in the distribution system. In fact, the United States loses about seven billion gallons of water every day to leaking pipes — enough to supply the nation’s ten largest cities with water — and this lost water puts a strain on supply, budgets, and the environment. Reducing NRW is most easily accomplished with a water audit, which helps water systems identify the causes and true costs of water loss, and develop strategies to reduce water loss and recapture lost revenue. Water audits are often the most cost-effective and efficient solution to increasing demand, and the return on investment of a water audit is typically less than one year. Effective water loss control programs reduce the need for facility upgrades and expansions as well as the need to find additional sources, while the recovered water helps systems to generate revenue and meet demand. In addition, an effective water loss control program protects public health by identifying the leaks from which disease‐causing pathogens can enter the system.

energy audit arizona
Tata & Howard completed energy audits for two water systems in Arizona.

Other technologies and practices include educating customers on water conservation, source water protection planning, automated meter reading, and trenchless pipe repair, as well as energy audits. Energy audits consider the efficiency of equipment and possible replacement, operational changes, and process control, and the audit itself includes monitoring power costs and usage, testing systems and equipment, and conducting on-site observations. By considering all aspects of a utilities’ operations, an energy audit is a roadmap for a plan of action that provides optimal energy savings, and may include such initiatives as establishing a required minimum efficiency for new installations and a “pay for performance” standard; monitoring power usage, costs, efficiency, and horsepower requirements in real time or on a schedule to maintain lowest possible costs; developing strategies to limit demand charges and provide training to understand power rates structures; instituting employee training and improving communication to establish efficiency standards; replacing pumps and equipment that test low in efficiency; reviewing operations to best match flow requirements to use pumping equipment at best efficiency points; and reviewing system piping for efficiency. When water utilities decide to integrate sustainability and efficiency into their operations and infrastructure, the best place to start is with energy and water loss. Energy saving and water loss reduction initiatives tend to have a quick return on investment while providing significant cost and environmental savings. Once the effects of these savings are realized, implementing other green initiatives becomes more appealing and justifiable to management and water boards.

long pond water treatment plant
The newly completed 8.0 mgd DAF Long Pond Water Treatment Plant incorporates several energy efficiency and sustainability features.

For new treatment plants, incorporating sustainability and efficiency features into the initial design allows the plant to function at a superior efficiency level right from the start. As an example, Tata & Howard provided design, permitting, and construction services for the new Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) Long Pond Water Treatment Plant in Falmouth, MA. The project consisted of the construction of a new 8.0 mgd water treatment plant (WTP) for the existing Long Pond surface water supply.  The existing Long Pond Pump Station, constructed in the 1890s, operated under a Filtration Waiver issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and did not include filtration processes to remove algae, organics, or particulates from the water.  The new WTP provides the Town with several key benefits:

  • Meets the current regulatory requirements of the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule;
  • Reduces disinfection by-products and organics;
  • Removes pathogens, taste, odor, and algae/algae toxins;
  • Produces stable water quality;
  • Provides the flexibility to meet uncertain future regulatory and water quality challenges.

In addition to providing a solution to the water challenges faced by the Town of Falmouth, the Long Pond WTP also provided more sustainable and efficient operations, saving the Town money while also protecting the environment. Some of these initiatives included the following:

  • Recycling spent backwash water to head of plant and back into the treatment process, after it passes through a plate settler to remove solids;
  • Recycling laboratory analyzer and filter influent piping gallery analyzer discharges back into the treatment process;
  • Using filter-to-waste water after a filter backwash sequence as supply water for the next backwash, instead of using finished water for backwashing;
  • Discharging cleaner supernatant water off the top of the lined lagoons to an unlined infiltration lagoon and back into the ground to minimize residuals;
  • Use of local/native plants for landscaping, including an irrigation system using collected rainwater from roof drainage;
  • Interior and exterior LED lighting fixtures; and
  • Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) on HVAC equipment and process equipment motors.

sustainability conceptEnergy efficiency and sustainability are no longer considered luxuries for water systems. Rather, incorporating green initiatives into infrastructure design and operational standards has become crucial to the future sustainability of water systems. And while utilities today value cost-effectiveness over environmentalism due to the criticality of their budgets, there will likely be a shift in thinking as these systems ease the burden of their unsustainable operational costs through effective practices such as energy efficiency and water loss reduction.

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Prioritizing Asset Management in Ontario, Canada

water-infrastructurePrioritizing Asset Management in Ontario, Canada

Each municipality and utility is responsible for making sure that its assets, including water, wastewater, and/or stormwater systems, stay in good working order, regardless of the age of its components or the availability of additional funds. This requirement makes properly maintaining and monitoring assets paramount. With limited resources, an asset management plan can help municipalities and utilities maximize the value of their capital as well as their operations and maintenance dollars. Asset management is a scalable approach that can be utilized by all types of systems, of any size.

A Nation’s Infrastructure in Crisis

The 2016 Canadian Infrastructure Report card states that over one-third of Canada’s municipal infrastructure is in fair, poor, or very poor condition, and at risk of rapid decline. With the support of the federal government, Ontario municipalities are embarking on an unprecedented renewal phase of these critical assets, recognizing that Canadians rely on this infrastructure for their quality of life.  The Ministry of Infrastructure released its guide to asset management planning and has made funding available to small, rural, and northern municipalities in Ontario to develop and implement asset management plans.

In addition, as part of the New Building Canada Plan, the renewed federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF) was announced in the 2013 Economic Action Plan as a long-term, stable source of funding for municipal infrastructure. Implemented as a means of addressing the infrastructure funding gap, the GTF will provide $10.4 billion to Canada’s municipalities through 2018. Because Canada recognizes the criticality of an up-to-date asset management plan, the renewed GTF prioritizes long-term capital planning and asset management. The Province of Ontario has moved a step further, actually requiring each municipality to build and implement an asset management plan.

Setting Rates Based on Sound Financial Planning

water-funding It is apparent that financial planning for municipalities and utilities must be based on sound asset condition projections from an engineering and operations perspective – not just financial assumptions. Customers are often adamantly against rate and tax increases; however, these sometimes-unavoidable increases are easier for customers to understand — and accept — when they are backed up with clear data showing exactly what system improvements are needed and why. There are many costs associated with municipality and utility operations and maintenance. One of these is the cost of asset ownership, a cost element not currently present in the audited financial statements of many municipalities and utilities. An asset management approach can aid municipalities and utilities in understanding the true costs associated with ownership and operation along with complying with government regulations.

Budgeting Focused on Critical Activities

An asset management program helps to identify exactly what maintenance and repair work is necessary, eliminating guesswork. Targeting municipalities’ admittedly limited funds to pipes, roads, structures, and other critical assets that are most in need of rehabilitation or replacement, rather than randomly selected  assets, allows municipalities to stretch their infrastructure dollars and to proactively avoid critical asset failure. This methodology also creates the opportunity to utilize the savings to accomplish other system goals. Examples of the opportunities are as follows:

Meeting Consumer Demands with a Focus on System Sustainability

ontario-manhole-coverFinding and detecting failures such as leaks in the system can prevent water loss as well as reduce energy consumption of treating and pumping water that never makes it to the customer. Reducing water loss eases demand on water systems, allowing for smaller, lower cost infrastructure and reducing water shortages. Also, reduced energy consumption allows systems to run greener and more cost-effectively. Thoughtful investments in critical assets can extend the life of those assets by several years, providing a significant return on investment. And by maintaining critical assets rather than prematurely replacing them, customers enjoy better, more consistent service for lower cost.

Better Data Management

Through accurate data collection, municipalities and utilities can expect significant benefits from an asset management approach. Collecting, sharing, and analyzing data about a distribution system helps utilities make better informed decisions on maintaining, rehabilitating, and replacing aging assets. Utilities can also use this data to better communicate with their governing bodies and the public. In addition, asset management helps communicate information across departments and coordinate planning and decision-making related to infrastructure needs and improvement plans.

In Conclusion

There is a difference between a cost and an investment, and asset management is a true investment in municipalities’ and utilities’ future.  It helps systems to provide better service at a lower cost with reduced risk and improved financial planning options. Asset management results in better decision-making and supports the long-term success of a municipality or utility’s mission, goals, and objectives. With Ontario’s groundbreaking legislation, municipalities and utilities now have an unprecedented opportunity to improve and rehabilitate crucial assets with the full support of local government.


Rhonda E. Harris, P.E., MBA, WEF Fellow, IAM Certified

Rhonda E. Harris, P.E., MBA, WEF Fellow, IAM Certified
Vice President and Global Director of Asset Management

Rhonda has over 40 years of experience in managing and administering a variety of facilities and programs in the water environment industry. She has been actively involved on an international level in addressing issues of water and sanitation through leadership and participation in the top water professional organizations in the world. As a Past President of WEF, an elected member of The International Water Academy (TIWA), an Honorary Member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), a member of the Executive Committees of LakeNet and The Inter-American Water Resource Network (IWRN), and participant in a number of additional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the water sector, she has worked for change and improvement of the global water environment for many years. She holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and an M.B.A. degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

Rhonda can be reached at 214-697-0109 or rharris@tataandhoward.com.

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How to Handle Increased Summer Water Demand

The summer months often go hand in hand with increased water demand and decreased supply. An influx of tourists combined with summer drought and increased outdoor water usage often leaves water systems feeling the pinch. Traditionally, water conservation has been limited to water use restrictions. However, increasing water efficiency is another way to address limited water supplies, with the added boon of providing economic and environmental benefit.

Efficiency = Conservation

Water efficiency reduces water usage that is unnecessary or wasteful. Rather than focusing on limiting the minutes per day a homeowner can water his lawn, efficiency focuses on accomplishing water objectives by utilizing only as much water as is needed. For example, we now know that flushing a toilet is just as effective with a 1.6 gallon flush as it is with a 3.5-7 gallon flush. Further, we know that water that drips out of a leaky faucet can waste up to 20 gallons per day, and that leaking municipal pipes waste exponentially more water. Increasing efficiency and reducing waste are two major ways in which we can all help to conserve water.

Municipal Efficiency

Considering that 10-30% of our nation’s clean, treated drinking water, or seven billion gallons per day, is “lost” before it ever even reaches the consumer, municipal efficiency is best accomplished by conducting routine water audits. Water audits help to identify the causes of water loss and develop strategies to reduce this loss — and recapture lost revenue. Most utilities in the U.S. conduct infrequent water audits and are likely suffering substantial losses without even knowing it. Repairing our nation’s hidden underground infrastructure will also increase water availability, lower operation and maintenance costs, reduce the need for new sources and costly treatment plants, and diminish impacts from drought and climate change. But repairing and replacing pipes is costly, so utilities require a methodology by which they can accurately pinpoint the most problematic areas in the distribution system, thus investing their limited infrastructure dollars where they are needed most. Water audits, which consider both real and apparent losses, are the most efficient, cost-effective way to accurately assess and address lost water.

Residential Efficiency

Washing vehicles on the lawn without detergent is environmentally friendly.

Residential water usage is also a key factor in water conservation. The biggest residential outdoor water guzzlers are summer activities such as lawn and garden watering, car washing, and water-based recreation, while the biggest water indoor guzzlers are, in order, toilets, washing machines, showers, sinks, and leaks. One of the keys to successful conservation is to stop thinking about limiting water usage as “going without” and to start thinking about it as doing the same — or more — but with less. Challenging ourselves to accomplish our water-based tasks with less usage will naturally lead to a more water and cost efficient household. The best part is that conservation doesn’t just ease our wallets, but also provides endless benefit to the environment and our community.

Lawns

When seeding a lawn, select a turf mix that matches your site conditions and climate, and improve the health of your lawn by regularly aerating, dethatching, and adding compost. Mow lawns to the highest mower setting so that the roots are shaded and help the soil to retain more moisture. And speaking of water, water deeply but infrequently, and only in the early morning to avoid evaporation. This will encourage drought resistance and deep, healthy plant roots.

Gardens

native-plants
Root systems of Non-Native vs. Native Mid-Atlantic Plants. Source: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Choose native, drought-resistant plants and group plants with the same watering needs together, preventing over- or under-watering as well as minimizing the need for supplemental watering. Also, mulch around plants to help the soil retain moisture and to reduce evaporation. Finally, think about installing a rain barrel to be used to water non-edible plants.

Maintenance and Recreation

Clean walkways and driveways with a broom, not the hose, and inspect all outdoor water fixtures for leaks. Check pools and spas for leaks, regularly service pumps, and cover them when not in use to reduce evaporation. Finally, don’t leave the hose running when washing vehicles, or better yet, drive through a car wash. Commercial car washes use less water than washing the car at home, and are legally required to manage their gray water runoff to avoid pollution.

Indoors

Install water efficient toilets that use only 1.6 gallons per flush, and regularly check toilets for leaks. Leaky toilets are most often fixable by simply installing a new flapper. Try taking shorter showers and install water efficient showerheads. Only run the laundry or dishwasher when completely full, and consider replacing older models with newer, more water efficient ones. Repair leaking faucets and install water efficient faucet aerators to reduce water usage, and wash fruits and vegetables in a pan of water rather than running the faucet. Bonus: use the spent wash water to water house plants.

In Conclusion

Summertime is a time for family and fun, and water restrictions shouldn’t put a damper on summer activities. Conscientious residential water usage combined with consistent, well-implemented municipal water audits results in a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly water system. Water conservation and efficiency benefits both consumers and municipalities, and provides a more sustainable water system for future generations.

 

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What Municipal Water Systems Need to Know to Increase Efficiency

global_water_supply

A common problem facing municipal water systems today is the need to maintain safe water supplies in the midst of increasing demand, limited supply, crumbling infrastructure, decreasing budgets, dwindling governmental funding, and more stringent regulations. Never before have municipal suppliers been faced with such a daunting task, and utilities are scrambling to find ways to make ends meet. And while there are technologies today that are more efficient than the decades-old systems still in use at many facilities, most utilities simply do not have the resources to upgrade in light of limited local, state, and federal funding and budgetary constraints.

Fortunately, there are many steps that municipal water systems can take to increase efficiency without having to upgrade entire facilities and piping systems. Implementing a few comparatively inexpensive initiatives can save utilities significant, much-needed funds that can be used for future upgrades required for regulatory compliance.

Business Practice Evaluations

water_treatment_facility_interior
North Chelmsford, MA water treatment plant interior

Very often, operational procedures of municipal water systems are overshadowed by the need to provide safe, clean drinking water to the public, and understandably so — the dedication that water utilities show to their customers is commendable. However, the fact remains that operational procedures typically have the potential for drastic improvement, resulting in reduced operational expenses and smoother utility management.

One way to address operational inefficiencies is with a Business Practice Evaluation (BPE), which assesses the health of a utility’s work practices by implementing a framework for a structured approach to managing, operating, and maintaining in a more business-like manner. In other words, approaching a municipal water supply as a for-profit business rather than as a public supplier results in better operational and managerial procedures, and an improved bottom line.

water_storage_tank
Water storage tank in Meriden, CT

The overall goal of the assessment process is more efficient and effective work practices, and the assessment includes documentation of current business practices, identification of opportunities for improvement, conducting interviews including a diagonal slice of the organization, and observation of work practices in the field.

This assessment provides a birds-eye view of the utility along with objective recommendations to improve system performance. As no two utilities are alike, the structured approach is fully customized and includes all functions of the utility — from administration and technical to operations and maintenance. The result is an organized, systematic plan and timeline to optimize the overall utility by implementing specific steps including developing rating criteria to determine level of performance of work practices; conducting kick-off, consensus, and findings workshops; reviewing utility documents and documentation of work practices; conducting interviews with employees; and observing field operations of current work practices.

Organizations that have conducted a BPE significantly improve the operational efficiency of their utility, and the evaluation typically pays for itself in well under a year.

Non-Revenue Water and Water Audits

water_meterBesides improving operational efficiency, utilities of today need to find ways to reduce non-revenue water. Non-revenue water is water that has been pumped but is lost before it ever reaches the customer, either through real — or physical — losses such as leaks, or through apparent losses such as theft or meter inaccuracy. Globally, water utilities lose 34% of their supply to non-revenue water, and in the United States, that number is about 20%, with 75% of that loss being easily recoverable. Because non-revenue water is both detrimental to the financial health of a utility as well as our nation’s limited water resources, the AWWA recommends that utilities conduct annual water audits using M36: Water Audits and Loss Control methodology to accurately account for real and apparent losses.

Tata & Howard Vice President Steve Rupar, P.E., served as co-chair of the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) Non-Revenue Water Goal Team, which completed the first water audit of the RWA system based on the AWWA M36 third edition methodology in 2010. Recently, Mr. Rupar was part of the AWWA Water Loss Control Committee and in charge of writing two new chapters on apparent loss control for the 4th edition update to AWWA M36.

A water audit can help water systems identify the causes and true costs of water loss, and develop strategies to reduce water loss and recapture lost revenue. In the northeast, drinking water infrastructure is typically several decades old, sometimes over a century, and deteriorating distribution systems can be a significant source of water loss through leakage. In addition, policies and procedures that lead to inaccurate accounting of water use along with customer metering inaccuracies also contribute to NRW. Of the estimated $200 billion that the United States will need to spend over the next 20 years to upgrade water distribution systems, almost half of that is needed for water loss control.

leaking_pipeWater audits are often the most cost-effective and efficient solution to increasing demand. And like BPEs, the cost of a water audit is typically recovered in under a year. Effective water loss control programs significantly reduce the need for costly facility upgrades, and the recovered water can be sold to consumers, generating desperately needed revenue while meeting water demands. Another benefit of a water loss control program is the reduction of entry points for disease-causing pathogens, resulting in increased public health.

In Conclusion

Municipal water systems of today face a number of significant challenges including water quantity and quality concerns, aging infrastructure, population growth, increased regulatory requirements, climate change, and depleted resources. In order for water systems to remain profitable, and therefore functional, they must implement efficiencies that will increase revenue and decrease water loss, all with the least capital expenditure possible. Both BPEs and water audits are inexpensive ways to improve efficiency and to realize a return on investment in less than one year, saving limited funds for future upgrades and expansions.
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The Value of Hospital Water Audits

Hospitals guzzle water.

hospital water auditsConsider this: a typical American uses about 150 gallons of water per day, the average German uses about 50 gallons per day, and the average African uses just 5 gallons, while United States hospitals utilize 570 gallons of water per staffed bed per day – almost quadruple the already tremendous amount utilized by the average American. In fact, hospitals account for 7% of the total commercial and institutional water usage in the United States. Admittedly, hospitals require a significant volume of water to support critical functions such as sterlization, sanitation, and heating and cooling, but there are certainly areas in which improvements can be made. Many areas of the United States are currently plagued by severe drought, depleted supply, and increased demand, as well as water and sewer rates that are rising far faster than the rate of inflation, and while many hospitals have been quick to address their energy usage and to implement energy-efficient practices, few have considered water efficiency. However, that is about to change.

Saving water not only protects our most precious resource, it also provides an attractive return on investment (ROI) for most hospitals. But reducing water usage in hospitals isn’t as simple as turning off the faucet — it requires careful research and consideration of a variety of factors including cost and ease of implementation, rate of return, and staff support. Hospital water audits can help healthcare facilities determine which operational and capital measures to implement and in what order, and can pinpoint the measures that will provide the largest ROI and most significant environmental impact while being the least disruptive to hospital operations.

blue showerOn average, implementing water efficiency measures decreases operational costs by 11% and water usage by 15%, and results in greater patient and staff satisfaction. Also, by installing water-efficient equipment, hospitals can take advantage of utility rebates and financial incentives that, when combined with operational savings, often result in equipment upgrades easily paying for themselves. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Larger hospitals can take their water efficiency even further by collecting rainwater and condensate and utilizing it for non-potable functions such as irrigation and toilet flushing, like this state-of-the-art New Orleans hospital has done.

For smaller facilities that simply don’t have the capital expenditure needed for large-scale capital improvements, even inexpensive upgrades such as low-flow showerheads, reduced gallon-per-flush kits, and flow-control valves on sinks can add up to big savings. For example, Tata & Howard completed a water audit for the MetroWest Medical Center (MWMC) in Framingham, Massachusetts and estimated that the facility could save almost $30,000 per year after investing just $5,000 per year over a six-year period. And as an added bonus, savings from low-cost upgrades enable hospitals to fund future water saving measures.

With water becoming scarcer and more expensive, hospitals need to look to conservation and efficiency in order to remain profitable. Water audits provide the information, prioritization, and justification needed to implement a successful conservation and efficiency program, and typically pay for themselves in a very short time period. Hospitals that design water conservation strategies today will find themselves ahead of the curve and enjoying significant savings well into the future.

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NHDES leak detection survey grant applications due

NHDES new typeNHDES Leak Detection Survey Grant Application for Community Water Systems, Water Division/Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) is pleased to announce the opening of the grant application period for the 2015/2016 Community Water System Leak Detection Survey grant. Applications will be accepted through 4:00 pm on July 17, 2015. Community water systems in New Hampshire are encouraged to send the below grant application to NHDES for consideration to receive a free acoustic leak detection survey during the 2016 field season. Proactive leak detection and repair can reduce a water system’s pumping and treatment costs, provide an opportunity to better manage and prioritize system projects, and protect water supply quality and quantity.

Leaks may be found on water mains, service lines, hydrants and valves. While some leaks are easy to identify as they are visible, there are many leaks that go unseen – from smaller leaks to leaks in well-drained soils to those that find their way underground into a storm drain. Through a competitive bid process, a professional leak detection specialist will be retained by NHDES to identify these difficult-to-find leaks using mechanical and electronic listening equipment to detect leakage sounds and pinpoint leaks.

To be considered for a leak detection survey, by no later than July 17, 2015 by 4:00 PM, please submit a complete grant application to Kelsey Vaughn via e-mail at kelsey.vaughn@des.nh.gov or by mail:

NHDES – Drinking Water & Groundwater Bureau
Water Use & Conservation Program
c/o Kelsey Vaughn
29 Hazen Drive, PO Box 95
Concord, NH 03302-0095

Leak detection is one component of a complete water system asset management program, and is one of the quickest ways to recover lost water and reduce revenue losses. However, in combination with a leak detection program, a water audit can further help water utilities reduce water and revenue losses, make better use of water resources, and reduce or eliminate the need for upgrades and expansions. For more information on water audits, please click here.

You may download the NHDES grant application here: NHDES Leak Detection Survey Grant Application