"Get to Know Your H2O!" During Drinking Water Week 2014: May 4-10

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The American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the water community officially kicked off Drinking Water Week 2014 across North America today by asking the question, “What do you know about H2O?”

waterglobeThroughout the week, the water community will celebrate the value of water by learning about the critical role it plays in our daily lives and in the quality of life we enjoy. Aligning with this year’s theme, special attention will be given to the ways in which all water consumers can get to know their H2O.
To commemorate the occasion, water utilities, environmental advocates, and others will celebrate drinking water through school events, public presentations, and community festivals. They will also provide their communities with vital information on how water consumers can get to know their H2O.
In addition, 2014 sees the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which works diligently to safeguard the quality of drinking water in the United States. The Safe Drinking Water Act is a federal law that went into effect in 1974, and it works through effectively setting health-based standards and regulations and overseeing drinking water suppliers. Amendments to the Act in 1986 and 1996 increased the effectiveness and protection of drinking water and drinking water sources.
Currently in the U.S., community water systems are required to test their drinking water for contaminants and to report any violations that may have occurred. More information about the Safe Drinking Water Act is available on the U.S. EPA’s website.
Finally, Tata & Howard joins the American Water Works Association and all water professionals across North America in urging consumers to evaluate how they currently value, use, and access water, and how to protect it into the future.
North America’s water systems are critical to maintaining public health, economic vitality, fire protection, and quality of life. However, current trends in population, economic growth, energy, climate, and pollution affect water usage and the critical infrastructure the system needs to function properly.
As our systems’ aging pipes are repaired and replaced over the next 25 years, addressing this issue may be costly, but not insurmountable. Facing it head-on by proactively investing in our water systems now is a smart, safe, and common sense investment that will pay off for generations to come. More information about water infrastructure investment is available on the AWWA website.
So what do you know about H2O? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know! Everyone who likes our page and leaves us a comment will be entered to win a Home Depot gift card! It’s as easy as clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/TataandHoward
Happy Drinking Water Week!
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Earth Day – Water Conservation

April 22nd marks the 44th annual Earth Day, and with it comes an increased urgency to protect our natural resources and to mitigate the damage that we are doing to our environment. Here at Tata & Howard, our passion is water. Only 1% of the world’s water is available for use as drinking water, and we support the goal to keep it safe, clean, and abundant. While government agencies such as the EPA aim to protect our nation’s water supplies from being depleted or contaminated, they can only do so much. True conservation comes at a grassroots level — from the individual. The average American uses 140-170 gallons of water per day, a number which can and should be reduced drastically. Below, we have collected some ideas to help save water in your home.

WATER CONSERVATION IN THE HOME

grifoLock up leaks
Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. Without flushing, let it sit for 30 minutes. If the color seeped into the bowl, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. In addition, a leaky faucet can waste 100 gallons a year. That’s the equivalent of 180 showers! The good news is that most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

Tame the trash
Dispose of tissues, insects, food, and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet. Every time you flush, five to seven gallons of water goes literally and figuratively down the toilet. Avoid flushing unnecessarily.

High_speed_shower_filteredShore up your shower
Showers can use five to ten gallons of water every minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to wash and rinse off. A 5-minute shower uses about 20 gallons of water, while a 10-minute shower uses over 40 gallons! Also, inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy to install. “Low-flow” means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.

Protect your pipes
It’s easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You’ll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.

Turn off the tap
Leaving the tap on while brushing your teeth or shaving wastes a whopping five gallons of water. Turn the water off while you brush. For shaving, fill the sink with a few inches of warm water in which to rinse your razor. When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing. Wash all dishes first, then rinse them all at once. And, don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or use a spray nozzle.

whirlpool-washerjpg-17cfac7dfb6bb944_largeLoad your loads
Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Don’t pre-rinse dishes. Most dish soap manufacturers recommend against it, and it saves additional water. With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an extra five gallons. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers with new Energy Star rated washers which use 35 – 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.

Cool your canister
Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.

Reuse the rest
Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or cleaning your home.

WATER CONSERVATION IN THE YARD AND GARDEN

Fresh.mulchPlant your property
If you are planting a new lawn, or overseeding an existing lawn, use drought-resistant grasses and choose shrubs and plants that thrive with less watering than other species. Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants, which use less water and are more resistant to local plant diseases. Plant slopes with varieties that will retain water and help reduce runoff, and group plants according to their watering needs.

Mind the Mulch
Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2-4″ of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression, which will prevent or minimize water runoff.

Love your lawn
Water your grass and trees more heavily, but less often. This saves water and builds stronger roots. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty eco-safe tuna can on your lawn; when it’s full, you’ve watered about the right amount. Also, water your lawn only when it needs it. If you step on the grass and it springs back up when you move, it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, it needs water. Watering lawns during the early morning hours or evening when temperatures and wind speed are lowest reduces losses from evaporation. Most lawns only need about 1″ of water each week. In addition, allow your lawn to grow to 3″ before mowing. This practice promotes water retention in the soil. During dry spells, you can stop watering altogether and allow your lawn to go brown and dormant. Once cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to its usual vigor. This results in a brown summer lawn – and a green residence.

1280px-Alexander_Muir_flowerbedsGroom the gardens
Add organic matter and use efficient watering systems for shrubs and flowerbeds. Adding compost to your soil will help increase its absorption and water retention, and will improve the health of your plants. Avoid over-watering plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and cause yellowing of the leaves. When hand watering, use a variable spray nozzle for targeted watering.

Eco your auto
Clean the car using a pail of soapy water, and only use the hose for rinsing. This easily implemented practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car.

Sweep the street
Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks.

In 1990, 30 US states reported ‘water-stress’ conditions. In 2000, that number rose to 40. In 2009, the number rose again, to 45. Today, some states find themselves in an actual water crisis, and the number of water-stressed areas continues to rise at an alarming rate. One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to alleviate this water stress is to take measures within our own lives. Families should practice water mindfulness together, with parents teaching their children and leading by example. Saving water at home requires minimal effort and expenditure yet provides a positive and powerful environmental impact. And, if you are one of the 85% of Americans receiving your water from a public water supply, these ideas will save you a significant amount of money as well.

Happy Earth Day!

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Senators Introduce Legislation in Response to West Virginia Water Crisis

UNITED STATES - Jan 14: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVA., talks with reporters on the way to the Senate policy luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on January 14, 2014. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES – Jan 14: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVA., talks with reporters on the way to the Senate policy luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on January 14, 2014. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

In response to the recent water crisis that left over 300,000 West Virginians without water, a group of Senate Democrats have prepared a bill that aims to protect the American people from chemical spills that threaten public drinking water supplies. US Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) intend to introduce The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014, which includes both prevention of and preparedness for future chemical spills, to Congress when they return from recess this week.

Key principles of the bill include implementing regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities and requiring the industry to develop state-approved emergency response plans. In addition, the bill would allow states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies.

“No West Virginian or American should have to go through something like this again, and that is why I plan to introduce common sense legislation to make sure all chemicals are appropriately monitored,” Senator Manchin said. “We can work to improve the safety of Americans by ensuring that chemicals are properly managed, while also balancing the positive impact the chemical industry has made to our country.”

Senator Boxer said, “This legislation protects children and families across the nation by providing the tools necessary to help prevent dangerous chemical spills that threaten their drinking water.”

“The fact that there was a lack of regulations which allowed this particular storage facility to go uninspected for so many years is absurd,” Senator Rockefeller said. “I’m encouraged we are taking these steps to bring some accountability to industry that will help protect West Virginia families and our state’s economy.”

The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014 aims to implement the following initiatives:

State Programs: Establish state programs under the Safe Drinking Water Act to oversee and inspect chemical facilities that present a threat to sources of drinking water;

Build on Existing Drinking Water Protection Plans: Direct states to use existing source water protection plans developed under the Safe Drinking Water Act to identify facilities that present a risk to drinking water;

Minimum Federal Standards for State Programs: Establish minimum standards for chemical facilities subject to a state program, including the following:

  • Construction standards;
  • Leak detection and spill and overfill requirements;
  • Emergency response and communications plans;
  • Notification of the EPA, state officials, and public water systems of chemicals that are being stored at a facility.

Minimum Inspection Requirements: Require inspection of these facilities on a regular basis. Facilities identified in drinking water protection plans are inspected every 3 years and all other facilities are inspected every 5 years;

Ensure Drinking Water Systems Have Information: Require information on chemical facilities to be shared with drinking water systems in the same watershed;

Give Drinking Water Systems Tools to Address Emergencies: Allow drinking water systems to act in emergency situations to stop an immediate threat to people who receive drinking water from a public water system;

Ensure States Can Recover Costs for Response: Allow states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies.

The chemical facility that caused the West Virginia water crisis, Freedom Industries, had not been inspected in over 20 years, did not report the spill, and had no emergency response plan in place. Read about the crisis here.

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The West Virginia Water Crisis: a Warning for our Future

no water sign

Over the past several days, over 300,000 consumers in West Virginia have been unable to use their tap water for any purpose other than toilet flushing due to a chemical leak from coal manufacturer Freedom Industries. The chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), was stored in antiquated 40,000 gallon tanks very close to the Elk River. You can read about the leak here: https://nbcnews.to/1hT9Iz9

Questions are certainly being raised surrounding this crisis. Could it have been handled better? Could it have been avoided altogether? And finally, is there a way to prevent this type of disaster from happening again? And the answer to all is an unequivocal yes.

First, there are no regulations for MCHM, even though some warning flags had been raised. From the Charleston Saturday Gazette-Mail:

Last February, Freedom Industries sent state officials a form telling them the company stored thousands of pounds of a coal-cleaning chemical called 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol in the storage tanks at its Etowah River Terminal.

The facility, along the Elk River not far from downtown Charleston, is about 1.5 miles upstream from the intake West Virginia American Water uses to supply drinking water for 300,000 residents across the capital city and the surrounding region.

Freedom Industries filed its “Tier 2” form under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. State emergency response officials got a copy. So did emergency planners and responders from Kanawha County.

Under the law, government officials are supposed to use chemical inventory information on Tier 2 forms, like Freedom Industries’, to prepare for potential accidents.

Armed with the forms, they know what facilities could explode, where large quantities of dangerous substances are stockpiled, and what industries could pose threats to things such as drinking water supplies. They can plan how to evacuate residents, fight fires or contain toxic leaks.

On Thursday morning, an unknown amount of the chemical leaked from one of Freedom Industries’ tanks into the Elk River. By late afternoon, West Virginia American Water was warning residents across a nine-county region not only not to drink their water, but also not to use it for anything except flushing toilets or fighting fires.

Now, all manner of federal, state and local agencies are rushing to truck in water and otherwise see to residents’ needs, following Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s declaration of a “state of emergency” and President Obama’s order to provide federal assistance.

Those same agencies and public officials, though, have said they know little about the chemical involved. They’re all acting a bit surprised that this mystery substance was being stockpiled so close to a crucial water intake, and shocked that something like this could have happened.

Clearly, state officials were well informed on the location and volume of MCHM near a public water supply, yet they took no action, not even to inspect the tanks. And the reason is simple: there is very little information on the level of toxicity of MCHM, and it is therefore not regulated.

Freedom Industries plant along Elk River, Lawrence PierceFreedom Industries’ tanks do not fall under any jurisdiction and do not require any type of inspection because MCHM is not considered hazardous enough to require permitting, even though it causes skin irritation as well as nausea and vomiting. In fact, Freedom Industries wasn\’t under any type of state oversight, said Michael Dorsey, Chief of the State Department of Environmental Protection’s Homeland Security and Emergency Response office.

“In my world – I’m a hazmat guy – this stuff’s below my radar screen until this happens,” said Dorsey. “The tanks themselves, we don’t have the regulatory authority to inspect those tanks.”

Fortunately, that is likely to change. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman noted, “We are working on some ideas right now. I think a lot of folks will be calling for legislation and rightly so.”

In addition, Freedom Industries themselves failed the public in two ways. First, company executives knew full well that the tanks and retaining walls – dating back to the 1930’s and 40’s – were antiquated and desperately needed replacement. Multiple holes up to one inch in diameter were clearly visible in the tanks and walls, and it is generally accepted that the leak into the water supply was two-fold, through holes in both a tank and a retaining wall. Freedom Industries, in full knowledge of the chemicals they stored, the proximity to the public water supply, and the poor condition of their tanks and walls, clearly operated with gross negligence by failing to replace said tanks and walls. But their negligence doesn\’t stop there.

Freedom Industries did not report or respond appropriately. State law mandates immediate reporting of any chemical spill, yet state environmental workers arrived at the spill site at 11:15am on Thursday because of a phone call from West Virginia American Water Company – not Freedom Industries, said Huffman. The water company, who had received complaints from local residents about a licorice-like smell in the water starting at around 7:30am, was quick to alert authorities. Conversely, Freedom Industries was also aware of the leak yet failed to report it. Two Freedom Industries employees noted the smell as well as the leak at around 10:30am and informed company president Gary Southern, who did not report the spill or attempt any type of containment. This inaction very well may have exacerbated an already dire situation.

“Had they put containment measures in place the instant they knew, it’s logical to deduce that there wouldn’t have been as much product in the stream,” Huffman said.

In response to this gross negligence, there have already been six lawsuits filed against Freedom Industries. On January 13, the DEP demanded that Freedom Industries cease its operation and immediately conduct integrity tests of all storage tanks and secondary containment structures, and on Wednesday, January 15, the DEP issued five citations against Freedom Industries.

emergency responseLastly, there was no plan in place for dealing with such an emergency. The EPA mandates an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) as well as training for utilities servicing over 3,300 customers in case of emergency. The Bioterrorism Act, which went into effect in 2002 in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, requires the preparation of an initial ERP, but not its maintenance. The EPA has noted that an ERP is a living document that should be updated annually at a minimum.  Without these updates, an ERP quickly loses its efficacy. A sampling of required action items within an ERP include partnerships with law enforcement, public health officials, emergency workers, and first responders from local to federal levels; general emergency response policies and procedures; identification of alternative water sources; chain-of-command chart; communication procedures and notification lists; personnel safety; property protection; training, exercises, and drills; assessment; and general and incident-specific emergency action procedures. Clearly, an ERP is a comprehensive and crucial tool in maintaining public safety and in mitigating damage and difficulty in times of emergency.

The water crisis in West Virginia was certainly stressful and inconvenient, impacting local residents and businesses both emotionally and financially. However, West Virginians are fortunate that the leaked chemical was not overly toxic and that, so far, nobody has suffered any long-term effects or lost their life. Hopefully, this crisis will be limited to an inconvenience and used as a warning of how we need to be better prepared in case of a serious water-related emergency. Americans take running water for granted, and we don’t realize our dependence on it until disaster strikes. State and federal agencies need to mandate regulations and inspections to prevent such a spill from reoccurring, and water supplies must update and maintain their ERPs. Because let’s face it: water is something that we simply cannot live without.

The Criticality of Water: EPA Aims to Bring Awareness to the Nation

heron and fishWater: our world’s most precious resource. We need water for food production, manufacturing, livestock, tourism, electric power, energy resource extraction, mining, forestry, and recreation. Water is critical to a thriving economy, and is essential either directly or indirectly in every aspect of our lives. So why aren’t we doing more to protect it?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hoping to change that. The Importance of Water to the US Economy, an EPA report addressing the intrinsic value of water, was issued earlier this month. The 37-page report discusses the vital role water plays in all aspects of our economy, and why we urgently need to address the sustainable management of our nation’s water resources. This report also supplies additional evidence for the expanded Clean Water Act jurisdiction expected to pass in 2014, which you can read about here.

The reality is that sustainable management will not only necessitate increased EPA jurisdiction to ensure protection of our nation’s finite water resources, but will also come with a pricetag. Aging infrastructure – some built around the time of the Civil War – continues to fail at an alarming rate, and EPA’s Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment: Fifth Report to Congress, issued in June of this year, estimated that $384 billion would be necessary simply for the maintenance of our nation\’s tap water systems through 2030.

Yet people continue to balk at rising water and sewer prices, even in the wake of such compelling evidence. General Manager of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) George S. Hawkins, whose job includes convincing residents of the necessity for rate increases, explains in a way that allows no room for argument: “People pay more for their cellphones and cable television than for water. You can go a day without a phone or TV. You can’t go a day without water.”

Indeed, Mr. Hawkins.

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5 Delicious Ways to Drink More Water This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, a joyful day when we reflect upon all we have and offer thanks. While we all enjoy some well-deserved time off with family, friends, and (of course) food, let’s not forget to drink our water. Staying hydrated offers a myriad of health benefits, including aiding in the digestion of our Thanksgiving feast. So take advantage of the fresh, clean water provided by our public water suppliers and brew up some healthful flavored waters. We have included some festive holiday recipes below to entice everyone in the family to drink more water. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rosemary-orange Workout WaterRosemary-Orange Water

Ingredients (serves 4):
8 whole sprigs fresh rosemary
4 whole slices fresh orange
4 scoop Ice
Water
Directions:
  1. Place two rosemary sprigs in each glass.
  2. Place one orange slice in each glass.
  3. Using a spoon, gently bruise the rosemary and orange by pressing.
  4. Fill glasses with ice; top with water and stir.
  5. Serve cold.

sassy spicedSassy Spiced Water

Ingredients (serves 16):
3 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops grapefruit essential oil
1 drop ginger essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
1 drop cinnamon essential oil
1 gallon water
Ice
Lime wedges
Directions:
  1. Place drops of each essential oil into a gallon of cold water.
  2. Shake well to mix the flavors together.
  3. Pour over ice and garnish with lime. Enjoy!

peachesPeaches ‘n Cream Water

Ingredients (serves 8):
5 very ripe peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
8 vanilla beans sliced down the middle
2 T organic honey
2 liters of water
Directions:
  1. Warm the honey and stir into the water.
  2. Allow water and honey mixture to cool.
  3. Add in the peaches and vanilla beans to the water.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  5. Add ice to glasses and serve!

apple1Apple Cinnamon Water

Ingredients (serves 8):
1 organic apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
Ice
2 liter pitcher of water
Directions:
  1. Add sliced apple and cinnamon to pitcher.
  2. Cover with ice.
  3. Fill the pitcher with water and allow it to set in the fridge for 15 minutes before drinking.

pomegranatePomegranate Blueberry Water

Ingredients (serves 8):
1 pint organic blueberries
1-2 cups pomegranate seeds
Ice
2 liters water
Directions:
  1. Add blueberries, pomegranate seeds, and water to pitcher.
  2. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.
  3. Add ice to glasses just before serving.
  4. Add skewers of blueberries to each glass for a festive touch.

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Leach Engineering Consultants Joins the Tata & Howard Team

Leach Engineering Consultants Joins the Tata & Howard Team

Tata & Howard enhances its wastewater, water, and stormwater consulting engineering services by acquiring the assets of wastewater and grant procurement expert Leach Engineering Consultants

MARLBOROUGH, MA, October 3, 2013 Tata & Howard, Inc., a leading innovator in water, wastewater, stormwater, and hazardous waste engineering solutions, announced today that it has acquired the assets of Leach Engineering Consultants, PA, a civil engineering consulting firm located in St. Johnsbury, VT.  Founded in 1990, Leach Engineering Consultants specializes in environmental engineering with targeted expertise in creative and cost-effective wastewater solutions. Dedicated to meeting and responding to diverse client needs, Leach Engineering Consultants is highly skilled in obtaining municipal, state, and federal approvals and in securing grant and low interest loan funding.  Additional services include treatment, land development, and site engineering; and the planning, design, and construction of municipal water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.

“Leach Engineering Consultants’ exemplary service to the northern New England water, wastewater, and stormwater market, with key focus on delivering cost-effective and innovative solutions, fits the Tata & Howard philosophy perfectly,” said Donald J. Tata, P.E., co-founder and President of Tata & Howard, Inc. “After working with the high level of talent on Leach’s staff, it became apparent that a long term business relationship would be invaluable. Their client dedication and expertise in wastewater engineering and funding procurement, combined with a 23-year history of superior performance and long-term client retention, is entirely congruous with our culture of teamwork, innovation, and unparalleled client support.”

In addition, Leach brings a significant client base to Tata & Howard. Tata noted, “Leach will provide Tata & Howard with geographic expansion into northern New England and strengthen existing client relationships.”

Gary A. Leach, P.E., founder and Chief Executive Officer of Leach Engineering Consultants, will continue to lead the Vermont office as a Vice President of Tata & Howard. “We are eager to combine our individual proficiencies and resources to serve our clients’ needs in the best way possible,” he commented. “We are very excited about being part of the Tata & Howard team and know that together we can continue to provide unprecedented solutions and service to our clients.”

About Tata & Howard, Inc.

Founded in 1992, Tata & Howard, Inc. is a specialized water, wastewater, stormwater, and hazardous waste consulting engineering firm with offices in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, and Arizona. Tata & Howard utilizes a team approach with clients to provide a full range of innovative engineering services, from concept to completion, including reports, design, construction administration, resident observation, and start-up. In addition, Tata & Howard has worked with all sized markets, both public and private, to provide effective, inventive solutions.  For more information, please visit tataandhoward.com.

Contact:

Karen Gracey, P.E.
Tata & Howard, Inc.
508-303-9400 x120
kgracey@tatandhoward.com
tataandhoward.com