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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World Water Week 2017 – Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse

World Water Week 2017 – Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse

world-water-weekWorld Water Week is an annual event organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) that focuses on global water issues, and this year’s theme is “Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse.” The main event takes place in Stockholm, Sweden where experts, innovators, stakeholders, and young professionals from various sectors around the globe will come together to share ideas, foster relationships, and develop innovative solutions to the world’s most urgent water-related problems. In 2016, over 3,300 individuals and over 330 organizations from 130 countries around the world participated in World Water Week, and the expectation is that 2017 will see at least those numbers. Through this year’s theme, World Water Week is focusing on two targets addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including improving water quality and reducing waste by 2030 in order to help achieve sustainable development in a rapidly changing world.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is most commonly defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This means that we cannot meet our current needs at the expense or depletion of our natural resources. Degradation of water quality not only has a negative environmental effect, but also limits the water supply available for human usage. Therefore, we must develop and implement innovative solutions to improving water quality if we are to plan for a sustainable future. Fortunately, there exist easily implementable methodologies for improving water quality throughout the water environment.

Utilize mores sustainable water treatment technologies that limit environmental impact

Chemical additives have a significant impact on the health of the environment and its inhabitants. Implementing alternative treatment methodologies such as ozonation, ultraviolet radiation, and biological media helps to minimize the impact that water treatment has on our natural world, and protect our water supply for the future.

 

Minimize, and eventually eliminate, using drinking quality water for non-potable purposes

Producing drinking quality water utilizes a significant amount of energy, resources, and treatment chemicals, all of which have a negative impact on the environment. Minimizing the use of potable drinking water for other functions, including agricultural, industrial, and non-potable residential, helps to ease the burden placed on resources, the environment, and budgets.

Reduce lost water in municipal distribution systems

Communities lose millions of gallons of water each year to leaks in the distribution system. While replacing compromised pipes seems like an easy solution, the problem is actually much more complicated. Municipalities do not have sufficient funds to implement large-scale replacement projects; therefore, many compromised pipes remain in use, contributing to distribution system water loss. This loss results in reduced supply, which in turn forces some systems to seek alternate sources at a cost to both the environment and their budgets.

Conducting water audits and pipe condition assessments should be the first step towards efficient, cost-effective pipe replacement programs. Water audits help to identify the causes of water loss while developing strategies to reduce this loss, while pipe condition assessments provide insight into the quality and reliability of water distribution systems. Drinking water infrastructure in the United States, particularly in the northeast, is typically many decades-old, and deteriorating distribution systems can be a significant source of water loss through leakage. Effective water loss control programs reduce the need for facility upgrades and expansions, and in many instances, can reduce the need to find additional sources. In addition, a water loss control program can help protect public health by reducing the number of entry points for disease‐causing pathogens.

Incorporate stormwater best management practices into the built environment

Rain gardens help manage stormwater with minimal impact to the environment

Stormwater management traditionally meant infrastructure such as catch basins. Modern day stormwater management takes a much more holistic approach and maximizes the use of both the natural and engineered landscape. Some examples include onsite catchment and use, reduction of impervious surfaces, stormwater engineering such as bumpouts and tree boxes, and stormwater landscaping such as rain gardens and grassed swales.

Minimize stormwater pollution

Stormwater pollution occurs when precipitation picks up debris, trash, fertilizers, animal waste, pesticides, and improperly discarded chemicals as it moves over the ground. Reducing fertilizer and pesticide usage, cleaning up after pets, and ensuring that trash and chemicals are disposed of properly help to reduce the amount of contamination entering our waterways.

Reuse wastewater

After adequate treatment of wastewater to remove all pollutants and pathogens, it should be reused as much as possible. Treated byproducts can be used for fertilizer and methane fuel, and highly treated water can be reused for aquifer recharging, and even for drinking water.

And of course – educate!

Promote conservation, efficiency, and innovation in water use by incentivizing water conservation, implementing public outreach and education, and encouraging the adoption of methodologies and the usage of products that utilize the latest in water-efficient technologies.

In Conclusion

Achieving sustainable development is only achievable if we focus on the protection of our natural resources at every level. From improving treatment plant efficiency to installing WaterSense fixtures in our homes, creating a truly water wise future requires involvement from governments to individuals on a global level. Since 1991, World Water Week has served as a forum for legislators, scientists, experts, and interested parties to form partnerships and alliances, and to collaboratively find solutions to today’s most urgent water-related issues.

Fix a Leak Week 2017

Fix-a-leak-week
The Facts on Leaks

March 19-25 is Fix a Leak Week 2017.

Fix a Leak Week is celebrated in March of each year as a time to remind Americans to check their household fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks. In addition, it is a good time to address the leaks that we cannot see — those in our underground infrastructure. By addressing leaks in our homes and in our water systems, we can help to save our world’s most precious resource.

Leaks in the Home

  • The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
  • Household leaks can waste more than one trillion gallons annually nationwide. That’s equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes.
  • 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10%  on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet flappers, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don’t require a major investment.
  • Most common leaks can be eliminated after retrofitting a household with new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances.

Leak Detection:

  • fix-a-leak-week-2017A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water usage. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 10 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank.

Faucets and Showerheads:

  • leaking-faucetA leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!
  • Leaky faucets can be fixed by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary. If you are replacing a faucet, look for the WaterSense label.
  • A showerhead leaking at ten drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher.
  • Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench. If you are replacing a showerhead, look for one that has earned the WaterSense label.

Toilets:

  • If your toilet is leaking, the cause is often an old, faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It’s usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
  • If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model. If the average family replaces its older, inefficient toilets with new WaterSense labeled ones, it could save 13,000 gallons per year. Retrofitting the house could save the family nearly $2,400 in water and wastewater bills over the lifetime of the toilets.

Outdoors:

  • leaking-hoseAn irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.
  • An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • To ensure that your in-ground irrigation system is not leaking water, consult with a WaterSense irrigation partner who has passed a certification program focused on water efficiency; look for a WaterSense irrigation partner.
  • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.

If you find any of these leaks, and need assistance on how to fix them, visit the EPA’s “Fixing Leaks at Home” page.

Leaks in Our Nation’s Infrastructure

water-main-break
A 20-inch water main break in Portland, Maine’s Bayside neighborhood. The rupture of a century-old water main flooded Somerset Street, disrupted 4,000 homes and businesses, and prompted a 24-hour boil-water notice. Most of Portland’s pipes are old. John Patriquin / Portland Press Herald Staff Photographer

About 20% of our nation’s drinking water is “lost” before it reaches the consumer, amounting to about seven billion gallons of clean, treated water lost in this way every day. Also called non-revenue water, this lost water would be enough to supply the ten largest cities in the United States for a full year. It also accounts for billions of dollars in lost revenue each year – funds that utilities desperately need to keep their systems running smoothly and safely. Most of this non-revenue water is the result of our nation’s leaking, aging pipes, which received a grade of D on the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2017 Report Card.

Fixing our Nation’s Infrastructure:

  • Conduct water audits, which take into account both real and apparent losses and are the most efficient, cost-effective way to accurately assess non-revenue water.
  • Conduct Capital Efficiency Plans™, which pinpoint and prioritize areas in a system most in need of improvement.
  • Pass legislation that increases available funding for water systems.
  • Conduct Business Practice Evaluations to allow utilities to function more efficiently and to utilize their limited dollars more effectively.

Feel free to share the above infographic (with attribution), download a printable PDF, or request a printed poster.

During Fix a Leak Week, while we focus on leaks and repairs in our homes, let’s also give attention to our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Through careful management and capital planning, efficient use of infrastructure budgets, and increased infrastructure funding, we can assure we have a sufficient, safe, sustainable water supply for generations to come.

www.epa.gov

A DPW Director’s Guide to Improving Utilities with Limited Capital

dpw-directorWater systems today face a set of problems that are unique to this generation. While our nation’s buried infrastructure is crumbling beneath our feet as it reaches the end of its useful life, supplies are dwindling, budgets are shrinking, and federal and state funding is drying up. At the same time, regulatory requirements continue to increase as emerging contaminants are identified. Water systems often find themselves in the quandary of whether to upgrade treatment systems to comply with these new regulations or update assets that are long overdue for replacement or rehabilitation.

Savvy DPW directors recognize the need for thinking outside the box when it comes to water system management. Gone are the days of simply allocating annual budgets to the required maintenance of assets. Instead, careful planning, thoughtful operations, and superior efficiency are the new requirements for successful utility management, and can all be accomplished with limited capital investment.

Planning for the Future with Capital Efficiency Plans™

Asset management planning is critical to the health and maintenance of water utilities. Part of a successful asset management plan is the development of a planned, systematic approach that provides for the rehabilitation and replacement of assets over time, while also maintaining an acceptable level of service for existing assets. But how are utilities able to determine which assets should be prioritized? The answer is through a multi-faceted approach to asset management.

Our Capital Efficiency Plan™ (CEP) methodology is unique in that it combines the concepts of asset management, hydraulic modeling, and system criticality into a single comprehensive report that is entirely customized to the individual utility distribution system. 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. Because the CEP takes a highly structured, three-pronged approach, utilities can decisively prioritize those assets most in need of repair or replacement, and are able to justify the costs of those critical projects when preparing annual budgets.

Increasing Operational Efficiency with Business Practice Evaluations

water-operations-evaluationIn addition to addressing capital efficiency, water utilities of today must also address operational efficiency. Because water systems are required to do so much with so little, efficiency in all aspects of water system management is critical. Tata & Howard appreciates the unique set of challenges faced by water systems today, and we have experts on staff who understand the inner workings of a water utility – and how to improve them.

Our Business Practice Evaluation (BPE) was designed by James J. “Jim” Courchaine, Vice President and National Director of Business Practices, who has over 45 years of experience in every facet of water and wastewater management, operations, and maintenance. He is a certified Water Treatment and Distribution System Operator, Grade 4c (MA) and RAM-W (Risk Assessment Methodology for Water). He also taught courses at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell for ten years on water system operations. Jim does not approach utility operations from the perspective of an engineer; rather, he has deep experience in utility operations and management as an actual operator.

Our BPEs assess the health of a utility’s work practices by implementing a framework for a structured approach to managing, operating, and maintaining in a well-defined manner. 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. The BPE encourages utilities to operate as a for-profit business rather than as a public supplier, which results in more efficient, cost effective operational and managerial procedures — and an improved bottom line. Water systems that have conducted a BPE have found significant improvement in the operational efficiency of their utility.

Improving the Environment — and the Bottom Line — with Water Audits

water-meters-water-auditsBesides improving operational and capital efficiency, water systems of today must reduce non-revenue water. Non-revenue water is treated drinking water that has been pumped but is lost before it ever reaches the customer, either through real losses such as leaks, or through apparent losses such as theft or metering issues. In the United States, water utilities lose about 20% of their supply to non-revenue water. Non-revenue water not only affects the financial health of water systems, but also contributes to our nation’s decreasing water supply. In fact, the amount of water “lost” over the course of a year is enough to supply the entire State of California for that same year. Therefore, the AWWA recommends that every water system conduct an annual water audit using M36: Water Audits and Loss Control methodology to accurately account for real and apparent losses.

A water audit helps water systems identify the causes of water loss, as well as the true costs of this loss. An effective water audit will help a water system reduce water loss, thus recapturing lost revenue. Water loss typically comes as a result of aging, and deteriorating infrastructure, particularly in the northeast, as well as policies and procedures that lead to inaccurate accounting of water use. Water audits are the most cost-effective and efficient solution to increasing demand, and, like BPEs, water audits usually pay for themselves in less than a year.

In Conclusion

Today’s DPW Directors are faced with the burden of increasing regulations along with decreasing supply, budgets, and funding. For water systems to continue to effectively function, they must remain profitable, which means they must implement efficiencies on all fronts. CEPs, BPEs, and water audits are all low-cost methodologies that improve efficiency with an extremely short return on investment. In addition, water systems that proactively plan for the future will more easily weather the threats of climate change and population growth. Capital and operational efficiency combined with identifying and addressing sources of non-revenue water will position water system to continue to provide safe, clean drinking water for future generations.

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The Real Cost of Non-Revenue Water and How a Water Audit Can Help

Physical losses such as leaking or broken water mains are known as real losses. There are about 240,000 water main breaks per year in the US.
Physical losses such as leaking or broken water mains are known as real losses. There are about 240,000 water main breaks per year in the US.

Every day, United States utilities lose around seven billion gallons of clean, treated drinking water. This “lost” water, referred to as non-revenue water (NRW), is caused by a number of factors, including leaking pipes, water main breaks, theft, and improper accounting of water. In fact, we lose enough water each year to supply our ten largest cities. Of the estimated $200 billion needed over the next 20 years to upgrade our water distribution systems, $97 billion is needed for water loss control. With water crises occurring throughout the country, NRW is a big deal.

How NRW Affects You

Non-revenue water affects everyone in a water distribution system. Although it is considered “non-revenue” water, many utilities include these costs in their rates, which is reflected in your bill. The less NRW a water utility produces, the lower its total costs will be. And let’s face it: no one wants to pay for things they don’t use. Also, a lower percentage of NRW reflects positively on your local water utility’s performance. Utilities with low NRW percentages typically perform well at replacing broken water mains and meters, and defending against theft.

Metering errors, theft, and billing errors result in water "appearing" to be lost. These non-physical losses are called apparent losses.
Metering errors, theft, and billing errors result in water “appearing” to be lost. These non-physical losses are called apparent losses.

When water leaks from pipes, it can erode the subsurface underneath roads and other public
infrastructure. When the erosion reaches a critical point, the road collapses or a building’s foundation can fail. The better your water utility performs in NRW reduction, the less likely your community will need to replace its public infrastructure, especially roads. Our population is continuously growing and without improved efficiency, water supply expansion and treatment projects will be necessary — significantly increasing the cost of water. Improving water use efficiency by reducing NRW defers the expense of water supply expansion and treatment. If we can prevent clean, treated water from getting “lost,” there will be less of a need to find new sources or increase capacity.

Leaking pipes contributing to non-revenue water also can pose a health risk to communities. Contaminated groundwater from leaking sewage or pollution can find its way into drinking water pipes during low pressure events. Contaminated drinking water then has the potential to spread disease and other harmful substances.

Water Audits and NRW

Non-Revenue Water infographic 11x17
Infographic of the high costs of NRW. Click the image to see it full size.

The best way to reduce a utility’s NRW is through routine water audits. Most utilities in the U.S. conduct infrequent water audits and, therefore, are likely suffering substantial losses without even being aware of it. Since 2005, a number of state and regional water resource agencies in the United States have established water audit reporting requirements for water utilities. In addition, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) has developed and published a methodology for identifying and controlling NRW, M36 Water Audits and Loss Control Programs, now in its fourth edition. Tata & Howard Vice President Steve Rupar, P.E. co-authored chapters 4 and 5 of the new M36 manual, which focus on the causes of apparent loss and what can be done to control it. An expert in water loss control, Steve has also given presentations and a webinar on the subject, which can be found here. Water audits help utilities identify the causes and costs associated with water loss, and develop strategies to avoid NRW. They also help to identify areas of a distribution system requiring repairs or maintenance. Water audits are important, especially in the northeast, where some infrastructure is over 100 years old. Preventing NRW helps save our infrastructure, our money, and most importantly, our water.

In Conclusion

NRW affects everyone, and it’s important to monitor and continuously improve water Dripping-Faucet-300x225distribution systems. Water audits are a vital step toward reducing lost water while improving water infrastructure. We lose billions of dollars every year to NRW — money that could be used to improve our infrastructure or to support other clean water initiatives. Water lost is water and money wasted, and the less NRW a utility has, the better off it — and its customers — will be.

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The High Cost of Non-Revenue Water Infographic

The High Cost of Non-Revenue Water Infographic

Fix a Leak Week is celebrated in the United States each March in order to remind people to check their homes for leaks, both indoors and out. Household leaks account for more than one trillion gallons of wasted water annually in the United States. To put it into perspective, that’s equal to the annual household water use of over 11 million homes. Fix a Leak Week encourages homeowners to repair their dripping faucets, leaky toilets, old showerheads, and faulty irrigation systems in an effort to save our nation’s water. But that’s only part of the problem.

10-30% of our nation’s clean, treated drinking water is “lost” before it ever even reaches the consumer. In fact, about seven billion gallons of water are lost in this way every single day. Lost water, also called non-revenue water, accounts for billions of dollars in lost revenue each year. Most of this non-revenue water is the result of our nation’s leaking, aging pipes, which received a grade of D+ on the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2013 Report Card.

So while fixing the leaks in our homes is certainly valuable, fixing the leaks in our nation’s pipes is critical to a sustainable future. Not only will repairing our nation’s crumbling underground infrastructure save money, but it will also increase water availability, lowering operation and maintenance costs, reducing the need for new sources and treatment plants, and diminishing impacts from drought and climate change. Unfortunately, repairing and replacing pipes is costly. Therefore, utilities need to accurately pinpoint the most problematic areas in the distribution system so they can invest their limited infrastructure dollars where they are needed most. Water audits, which take into account both real and apparent losses, are the most efficient, cost-effective way to accurately assess non-revenue water.

Feel free to share the infographic below, with attribution, download a printable PDF, or request a printed poster. During Fix a Leak Week, let’s not only repair our faulty flappers, but also our nation’s leaking underground pipes. The future depends on it.

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Water Loss Control

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Water Loss Control

Moving Beyond Unaccounted-for Water Using the New M36 Methodology

waterleaks1Steve Rupar, P.E., Vice President and Manager of Tata & Howard’s Waterbury, CT office, gave a webinar of new approaches to water loss control based on the latest revisions to methodology in AWWA M36. The webinar used information from case studies to illustrate that water loss control is about more than just finding and stopping leaks. New performance indicators and tools have been developed that can help utilities understand and reduce water loss in a cost-effective manner. The webinar is approximately 30 minutes.

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