Today, Tata & Howard joined elected officials, water utilities, community leaders, educators, and businesses from across the country as part of the fifth annual Imagine a Day Without Water, a nationwide day of education and advocacy about the value of water. Led by the Value of Water Campaign, a thousand organizations across the country will raise awareness about not taking water for granted and the crucial need for investment in our nation’s water systems.
Turning on the tap for clean, safe drinking water, and flushing the toilet with no second thought about what happens to wastewater, are actions most Americans take for granted every day. But drought, flooding, and population changes are stressing our water and wastewater systems. While most Americans enjoy reliable water service, our nation’s water infrastructure is aging and in need of investment. A day without water service is a public health and an economic disaster: a single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion in economic activity at risk.
As water engineers, the Tata & Howard teams knows the importance of clean and reliable water — but how would our daily lives be affected if we even had one single day without out? To put this into perspective, we asked members of our team to answer three questions in reference to this.
What does a day without water mean to you?
What would you miss the most during a day without water?
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.
In addition to keeping ourselves cool and hydrated during the summer months, we also have to pay mind to our plants and yards. With excess heat burning down, keeping plants and grass healthy requires a lot more water. Check out six tips for how you can conserve water and save money this summer.
Please feel free to print and share our 6 Tips to Conserve Water & Save Money Infographic with attribution to Tata & Howard, Inc. A high-resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.
Check For Leaks
Walk around your landscaped area to make sure there are no leaks your watering systems.
Sweep Up Messes
Rather than using a hose to spray a mess away, use a broom to clean patios, decks, and sidewalks.
Mindful Car Washing
Avoid wasting water with a running hose. Instead, fill a soapy bucket with water so you can wash and rinse as need.
Mulch Planted Areas
Mulching flower beds and planted areas can help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Two to three inches of mulch should do the trick.
Water your lawn and plants early in the morning or later in the evening. This will prevent the water from being quickly evaporated by the sun.
Collect water in rain barrels so you can later water your outdoor plants without running the hose.
We hope you will consider these tips as you aim to conserve water and save money this summer.
During the spring and summer months, stormwater pollution is especially prevalent. Water resulting from precipitation and snow/ice melt either soaks into exposed soil or remains on top of impervious surfaces. As stormwater flows as runoff to nearby waterways, it picks up pollutants including debris, sediment, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste and more.
A major contributor to stormwater pollution is traced back to residual excess from lawn care maintenance – particularly with fertilizers and lawn clippings.
Check out the five tips below for ways to reduce stormwater pollution when it comes to your lawn maintenance.
Please feel free to print and share our Stormwater Pollution and Lawn Maintenance Infographic with attribution to Tata & Howard, Inc. A high-resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.
Use Fertilizer Sparingly
A little goes a long way. Many plants don’t need as much fertilizer or need it as often as you think. Reduce stormwater pollution by minimizing your fertilizer during the spring and summer.
Use Organic, Phosphorous Free Fertilizers
In addition to reducing stormwater pollution with the amount of fertilizer you use, it’s equally important to use the proper type. Organic, phosphorous free fertilizers release nutrients slower and are less detrimental to the environment.
Proper Disposal of Waste
One of the best ways to reduce stormwater pollution is with the proper disposal of lawn waste. Leaves and grass clippings can wash into storm drains, adding unwanted nutrients to streams.
Stop pollutants from making their way into the storm drain by avoiding over-watering as well as fertilizing before a rainstorm.
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.
For Massachusetts natives, Patriots Day – or as we like to call it, ‘Marathon Monday’ – has become one of the most anticipated days of the year. On the third Monday of every April, the Boston Marathon takes place, hailing more than 30,000 runners and 500,000 spectators from around the world. While this special Boston event is celebrated by millions, it’s notorious for creating a tremendous amount of waste. From water bottles, disposable water cups, and food remains, to clothing items, Mylar blankets, and paper – the waste that floods the streets and storm drains quickly piles up. Interested in how runners and spectators can stay eco-conscious during the Boston Marathon this year and in the future? Read on and check out our infographic to find out.
Hydration Packs/Camelbacks/Personal Water Bottles
A great way for runners to help eliminate waste during the race is by using a hydration pack. Coming prepared with a personal water source means that runners will not have to waste the paper cups available at the hydration stations. While some hydration packs can be a little bulky, there are items like the Hydrapouch that are super lightweight and can be filled throughout the course of the race at water stations. Vacation Races, a racing organization that specializes in hosting races in the world’s most desirable destinations, implemented a cup free racing policy for their races. Vacation Races provides Hydrapouches for all their runners or gives them the option to bring their own water source. 83% of their runners found this process completely satisfactory.
Hydration packs can also help in reducing the number of disposable water bottles, a number that crept up to 62,000 in 2017.
According to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), 1.4 million paper water-cups were distributed to runners across the 26 hydration stations in 2017. Often, these cups are thrown on the ground as runners quickly take their sips and continue the race. Even though the cups are picked up by crews and volunteers post-race, many get left behind or fall into storm drains. Cities with large marathons would benefit from compostable cups since they are made exclusively with materials that can break down without leaving toxic residue. Compostable cups are also great because they are made with 40% less water than that of Styrofoam cups.
Place Garbage and Recycling in Designated Areas
There are designated trash and recycling bins along the route. If you see any trash or recyclable items on the ground, be sure to place them where they belong.
Limiting Printed Materials
Between program brochures, event schedules, and all the promotions included in each runner’s race packet, there is a wealth of paper material distributed throughout the course of the marathon. For example, during the 2017 Boston Marathon, 171,380 paper brochures and visitor’s guides were printed. The BAA said brochures are now smaller and that a lot of the race information is disseminated virtually in efforts to save paper.
Most questions for runners and spectators can be answered here.
The Future of Revolutionizing Marathon Waste
Although it may take some time for Boston to become a cup free race, there certainly is hope when it comes to eliminating waste. Oohoo Water is a startup company that makes ‘edible water bottles,’ an innovative alternative to disposable water bottles. This solution makes water available in little pods encapsulated in seaweed – so they can be nipped and sipped from or eaten whole. The London Marathon will trial these this year.
While Boston is making their best efforts to remain eco-conscious during Marathon Monday, there is still room for improvement. Events including the Chicago Marathon, Ironman Boulder, and Houston Marathon are among a group of certified events within the Council for Responsible Sport. These events have proven their methods to meet the new norms for social and environmental responsibility. For instance, the London Marathonannounced earlier this month that they aim to become a world leader in sustainable mass participation events.
Should you be running the Boston Marathon this year or watching, we hope you will do your part to stay eco-conscious and keep our streets and water clean!
Chances are that at some point in early spring, you have noticed fire hydrants being flushed and releasing large amounts of water into the streets. While it may appear that hundreds of gallons are going to waste, there are actually several benefits to this hydrant flushing process. Water main flushing is an important preventative maintenance activity that:
verifies proper operation of the hydrant
evaluates the available flow to the hydrant
allows utilities to deliver the highest quality water possible to their customers
removes mineral and sediment build up from the water mains
Proper Operation of the Hydrant
According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the process of water main flushing is one of the most critical practices carried out by public drinking water systems. This practice allows water operators to identify broken or inoperable valves and hydrants to assure that they are working at their maximum potential.
Fire & Emergency Needs
During the flushing of a hydrant, operators can assess the water pressure and available flow rate for firefighting purposes. It’s imperative that each hydrant is operating as firefighters rely on them for fire-ground operations.
Over time, water settles, ages, and is affected by biofilm (a thin layer of microorganisms) that grows on the inside of the distribution piping. Each of these factors affects the quality and taste of the water, so it is important to flush the water out of the mains and hydrants regularly. Flushing can remove water from areas of the distribution system that have low water use, since the older water may no longer have the desired chorine residual.
Mineral and Sediment Build Up
Throughout the course of several months or a year, loose sediment and mineral deposits may slowly build up inside of the water mains resulting in discolored water and reduced capacity. Flushing the water mains can remove the sediment and mineral build up, and improve the color, odor and taste of the water if it has been problematic. Unidirectional flushing at the minimum required velocity will improve the carrying capacity of the mains.
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of flushing our water mains and hydrants, you may have some questions about the process and how it will affect your day-to-day life. We’re here to help!
When will a hydrant near me be flushed?
Hydrant flushing normally takes place at the start of spring. Your Pubic Water Supplier (PWS) should notify you of what streets will be undergoing flushing and when.
What can I do to prepare for flushing?
Prior to local hydrants being flushed, you may want to obtain water (in pitchers prior to flushing) for your everyday use including drinking, cooking, etc.
When the flushing is taking place, water quality may temporarily be reduced. Using water for tasks such as dishwashing, laundry, or showering may result in the discoloration/staining of your clothes or household items. Plan ahead and be sure your laundry and dishes are done before the flushing process begins!
How does water main flushing work?
Water main flushing usually takes place in one of two ways – conventional flushing or unidirectional flushing (UDF). WATER Finance & Management does a good job describing the difference between the two methods. In conventional flushing, hydrants are opened in different targeted areas and discharge water until accumulations are removed and water runs clear. While easy to conduct by water operators and crews, this method requires a lot of water, and may not always clean the pipe completely. With UDF, each pipeline is isolated to create flow in a single direction and quickly clean the pipe. By concentrating the flow, UDF creates higher velocities to clear the pipes and requires less water.
During the process, you might experience a difference in the water pressure in your faucets as well as some discoloration in the water.
How long does it take to flush the hydrant?
Typically, this process takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
When will my water be back to normal?
Once the hydrants in your area have completed their flushing, it won’t be long until your water is ready for normal use again. In most cases, water should run clear with just a few minutes of faucet flow. Turn your faucets on cold and let the water run for 5 minutes or so. If you are still seeing discolored water or sediments in the water, continue running cold water on all your faucets until it is clear. Should your water still be discolored after several hours, please contact your water supplier.
Is water main/hydrant flushing a waste of water?
Although you will see water flowing for up to an hour, rest assured that most of the water that was flushed will return to a river, stream, or aquifer. Flushing is a necessary process to help keep our water mains clean and clear of sediment, allowing your public water supplier to provide excellent water quality, and increased pressure and flow.
In the small, landlocked country of Rwanda, situated amid a dense population of nearly 12 million inhabitants, Water for People (WFP) expanded their mission of promoting the development of high-quality drinking water and sanitation services. The ‘Everyone Forever’ model was built out of Water for People’s Rwanda office in Kigali and is a programmatic effort to provide water and sanitation to Everyone in targeted districts, Forever.
To understand the full scope of Water for People’s vision while also supporting their mission, two Tata & Howard employee owners will be heading off to visit Water for People’s Rwanda site as part of their Impact Tour in September of this year.
Water for People’s Impact Tours were created in efforts to show stakeholders how the organization is strengthening communities and fostering independence within defined geographical areas – that is, by bringing clean water and sanitation to every family, clinic, and school.
Throughout the course of an Impact Tour, participants will visit one of Water for People’s sites for a week to visit country staff, see the work they are doing, and witness firsthand what supporting Water for People truly looks like. Participants will interact directly with community leaders, local staff, government officials and people whose lives have been changed for the better due to the support and work in their area.
There are typically two Impact Tours each year – the first of 2019 will be taking place in Bolivia from April 13-18. The Rwanda Impact Tour that our team members will be participating in will take place from September 7-12.
The Lucky Winner
James Hoyt, Project Manager, was chosen through a company-wide raffle that was put together through our ESOP Committee. This raffle encouraged employees to continue supporting an organization we have been heavily involved with as a company, while also increasing employee engagement.
James is excited and honored for the opportunity to represent T&H for the Rwanda Impact Tour. He looks forward to meeting and interacting with Water for People staff and the local community while learning from their experiences.
“It is meaningful to have the opportunity to bring this experience back to the company and to be an advocate for the positive changes the organization is making,” he said.
Tata & Howard Co-President, Jenna Rzasa will also be accompanying James on the Rwanda Impact Tour this September. As a donor and supporter of Water for People for the last 15+ years, Jenna saw the Impact Tour as a wonderful opportunity to see the positive benefits that come as a result of providing safe drinking water to the people of Rwanda.
“Not only is WFP important to me, but also to the late Don Tata (co-founder of Tata & Howard), who was passionate about the organization and the winner of the 2018 Kenneth J. Miller Founders’ Award,” said Jenna. “By choosing to attend the trip with the Tata & Howard Raffle Winner, it serves a tribute to Don as well,” she added.
To participate in the raffle, Tata & Howard team members were given several opportunities to earn raffle tickets for the Impact Tour trip, including:
Payroll Contribution to Water for People*
*The only requirement for raffle eligibility was a payroll contribution to Water for People. Subsequently, employee owners could then participate in other activities and company events to earn more tickets.
Time at Tata & Howard
Participation in ESOP Month Activities
Donations for the November Food Drive
Gifts for the DARE or Toys for Tots Giving Trees
Donations to the Animal Shelter Drive
Participation in the February ESOP event
A Second Opportunity
Because many of our team members have children, families, and other commitments – we were pleased to offer those unable to travel to Africa with the opportunity to use their raffle tickets elsewhere. Within a second raffle bucket, employee owners could also be eligible to win a $500 gift card to an airline of their choice. Raffle entries were collected in the same way they were for the Impact Tour.
The lucky winner for this prize was T&H Associate, Ryan Neyland.
While Ryan has yet to pick a destination to take advantage of his prize, he is thankful for the opportunity and is thankful to be part of Tata & Howard’s ESOP.
“I value the ESOP knowing that the long-term ownership of the company will remain with its employees, and that we all have a direct impact on the stability and value of our company,” said Ryan.
Special opportunities such as supporting a truly impactful organization are just some of the perks that come with being a part of an ESOP. While the Impact Tour trip to Africa may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we are always looking for ways to keep our employees working hard, engaged, and happy about the difference they can make in our company and the world.
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