CLF Permit Appeals – A Constructive Approach?

In a letter sent recently to VT Digger, representatives of eight municipalites agreed that the Conservation Law Foundation’s wastewater permit appeals currently in process are neither based on fact nor the best strategy for dealing with phosphorous pollution in Lake Champlain. The letter’s signers include town/city managers, planning and public works directors, water quality superintendents, and stormwater coordinators.

The authors take issue with CLF’s claim that the permits would allow for increases of actual discharges.  In fact, they say, the nine permits challenged “collectively lower the allowed phosphorous releases to the lake by 13,271 pounds per year, or 68 percent below current permit limits.”  Ironically, the nine targeted plants are those that have been most effective at reducung phosphorous releases.

While supporting ambitious efforts to clean up the lake, the authors point out that wastewater treatment plants contribute only 3 percent of the phosphorous flow from Vermont sources; further reductions would functionally penalize wastewater plants that are outperforming their permits!  Meanwhile, phosphorous from agriculture and urban/rural stormwater (much from roads and built environments) constitute 66 percent of Vermont’s infows.

Admittedly, these sources are vastly more difficult to limit.  The letter’s authors suggest that a collaborative approach —  one that acknowledges real priorities, and takes on the hard technological and regulatory challenges these flows constitute — would benefit Lake Champlain more than the permit appeals.

To read the VT Digger letter in full, go to: https://vtdigger.org/2018/08/15/local-officials-clf-suit-unfairly-targets-wastewater-treatment/ 

 

NEWWA Conference $100 Discount Still Available!

GMWEA members now have an exceptional opportunity to participate in one of our region’s most important water quality career-development opportunities.

It’s New England Water Works Association’s annual conference, held this year in Stowe, Vermont.  The four-day event starts on September 16, but you can register – and receive an immediate $100 discount – now!

Don’t wait!  The discounts will be awarded only to the first 20 GMWEA members to register.

New England Water Works Association (NEWWA) will present its annual conference September 16 through 19, at Stowe Mountain Lodge.  Thanks to NEWWA/GMWEA mission-sharing agreements, we are able to offer GMWEA members a $100 discount for registration, whether you register for a single day or the whole event!

In addition to many technical sessions and expert presentations, the conference offers unparalleled networking opportunities for water quality professionals, a region-wide drinking water taste test, recreational activities, and a special town hall panel on PFOAs and PFAs in New England.

Click here to view the entire agenda: http://newwa.org/Portals/6/Events/Annual%20Conference/2018%20Annual%20Conference/Conference%20Program%20for%20Web%202018-05-29.pdf

To take advantage of the $100 discount, current GMWEA members (only!) can register by directly contacting Katelyn Todesco at NEWWA – ktodesco@newwa.org.

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Seven Facts About Water Quality Day 2018

Here’s what you need to know about Water Quality Day, August 3:

1. It has been proclaimed annually by every Vermont governor since 2014 because they feel it’s important for Vermonters to recognize the importance of “working water.”

2. Safe drinking water and clean rivers and lakes don’t just happen. We – the citizens – pollute our water resources with every flush, every load of laundry, every car wash, and that pollution needs to be removed if our natural waters are to stay healthy for people, plants, and animals.

3. We couldn’t live the way we do if our drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater treatment systems – all that equipment and high-tech, operated by skilled professionals – didn’t do their job.

4. They DO do their job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Water quality professionals work hard and with deep commitment because they know we can’t live without clean water.

5. On August 2nd in the City of Burlington, August 3rd elsewhere in Vermont, you can learn more about this amazing, mostly out of sight, publicly-owned infrastructure. We invite you to come to any of the tours/open houses on August 2nd and 3rd to check it out. Tours are FUN, surprising, and educational for people of all ages, and there will be snacks and souvenirs at all locations. 

6. This year GMWEA is coordinating Water Quality Day with the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s Clean Water Week. The week features scores of activities, statewide, celebrating our natural waters and the community organizations that protect them. Check them all out at http://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/cwi/clean-water-week .

7. Tours of water, wastewater, or stormwater plants will be offered at the the following:

AUGUST 2

  • Burlington Stormwater: Meet at ECHO Center! Tours start at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • Burlington Drinking Water: 235 Penny Lane. Tours at 9:45 and 2:15.
  • Burlington Wastewater: 53 Lavalley Lane. Tours at 11:00 and 1:00.

For more information on Burlington tours, contact water-resources@burlingtonvt.gov, (802) 863-4501.

AUGUST 3

  • Essex Junction Wastewater: 39 Cascade St.  Tours at 9:30, 11:00, and 1:00. For more information, contact: jim@essexjunction.org, (802) 878-6943 ext. 101.
  • Hinesburg Drinking Water: 149 Shelburne Falls Rd. Tours at 10:00 and 2:00. Contact: ebailey@hinesburg.org, (802)482-6097.
  • Middlebury Wastewater: 243 Industrial Ave.  Open house 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Contact bwells@townofmiddlbury.org. (802) 388-6514.
  • Montpelier Wastewater: 949 Dog River Rd. Tours at 10:00 and 2:00. Contact: ccox@montpelier-vt.org, (802)223-9511.
  • South Burlington Wastewater: 1015 Airport Parkway.  Tours at 8:00 and 12 noon. Contact: bob.fischer@gmwea.org, (802) 658-7964.
  • South Burlington Stormwater: Farrell Park, Farrell Street. Tours at 9:30 and 1:30.  Contact: tom.dipietro@sburl.com. (802) 658-7961.
  • Champlain Water District (South Burlington): 403 Queen City Park Rd.  Tours at 11:00 and 3:00. Contact: mike.barsotti@champlainwater.org. (802) 864-7454.

See you there!

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here: www.gmwea.org .

$100 NEWWA Conference Discount!

GMWEA members now have an exceptional opportunity to participate in one of our region’s most important water quality career-development opportunities.

It’s New England Water Works Association’s annual conference, held this year in Stowe, Vermont.  The four-day event starts on September 16, but you can register – and receive an immediate $100 discount – now!

Don’t wait!  The discounts will be awarded only to the first 20 GMWEA members to register.

New England Water Works Association (NEWWA) will present its annual conference September 16 through 19, at Stowe Mountain Lodge.  Thanks to NEWWA/GMWEA mission-sharing agreements, we are able to offer GMWEA members a $100 discount for registration, whether you register for a single day or the whole event!

In addition to many technical sessions and expert presentations, the conference offers unparalleled networking opportunities for water quality professionals, a region-wide drinking water taste test, recreational activities, and a special town hall panel on PFOAs and PFAs in New England.

Click here to view the entire agenda: http://newwa.org/Portals/6/Events/Annual%20Conference/2018%20Annual%20Conference/Conference%20Program%20for%20Web%202018-05-29.pdf

To take advantage of the $100 discount, current GMWEA members (only!) can register by directly contacting Katelyn Todesco at NEWWA – ktodesco@newwa.org.

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To return to GMWEA’s website, click here: www.gmwea.org

Who’s the Best in the Business?

Every year, GMWEA honors operators, facilities, organizations, and companies that have demonstrated exceptional service to Vermont’s water quality industry.  The 2017 awards were presented by outgoing president Rick Kenney at our 2018 Spring Meeting & Conference at the Killington Grand Hotel and Conference Center.

We’d love to publish all the winners’ photos, but due to space limitations, we need to select just a few.  Nevertheless,  congratulations to every one of the awardees, who are truly the best in the business!

  • Michael Garofono Water Operator Excellence: George Donovan, operator, Fair Haven Water Dept. (see photo, right); Mike Barsotti, director of water quality and production, Champlain Water District
  • Operator Excellence, Wastewater: Timothy Kingston, operator, Town of Brandon
  • Facility Excellence Award, Water: Grand Isle Consolidated Water District (SOS)
  • Facility Excellence Award, Wastewater: Town of Richford WWTF
  • Andrew D. Fish Laboratory Excellence Award: Mike Swindell, operator, City of Burlington Main Wastewater Plant
  • Outstanding Industrial Operator Award: Gary Audy, contract chief operator for The Alchemist Brewery, Trapp Lager Brewery, and Swan Valley Cheese (see photo, right) 
  • Bob Wood Young Professional Award: Nick Giannetti, Vermont DEC Wastewater Management Program
  • Stormwater Award (Individual): Annie Costandi, stormwater coordinator, Essex Town (see photo, right)
  • Corporate Sponsor Award: Clean Waters, Inc.
  • Outstanding Industrial Facility Award: Stone Corral Brewery, Richmond
  • Elizabeth A. Walker Meritorious Service Award: Mark Simon, principal, Simon Operation Services (posthumous)(see photo, below)

  • GMWEA President’s Award: Eileen Toomey, customer service specialist, Endyne Labs; Town of Hartford 

Two Vermont facilities and one individual also won U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards, which were presented by NEWEA’s Ray Vermette:

  • U.S. EPA Operations & Mantenance Award: Town of Milton
  • U.S. EPA Operator of the Year Award: Nate Lavallee, chief operator, Burlington North and East Plants​
  • U.S. EPA Energy Efficiency Award: Village of Essex Junction

Who do you think deserves recognition? GMWEA award winners are considered based on nominations received from our membership!  We invite you to put forward names of colleagues, facilities, or organizations you think have made exceptional contributions to the industry.

To return to the GMWEA website, click here.

Welcome, New GMWEA Board Members!

GMWEA  is governed by a 12-member board of directors, all of whom are association members and water quality professionals; they are elected by the membership at our annual Spring Meeting and Training Conference.

This year, we’re especially pleased to welcome two individuals who will be serving on the board for the first time, even if they’re not new to GMWEA.  We look forward to an exciting year of growth and change with their expertise and enthusiasm helping to guide the association!

Amy Macrellis is a project water quality specialist in the water resources management group at Stone Environmental. Amy started her career in Michigan, turning a love for rock-hounding into a bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences from Albion College, and then a master’s degree in Environmental Geoscience from Michigan State University. Since coming to Vermont in 2000, it’s been all about communities, water, and soil, and she has developed a great respect for our state’s clean water professionals.

Amy now has over a decade of experience supporting Stone’s clients by providing technical leadership and editorial support for stormwater and wastewater management plans and feasibility studies, policy development, and applied water quality research projects. Her recent work focuses on implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in policy and practice for municipalities, stewardship organizations, and state agencies, including VTrans and VTANR.

Amy remains involved in community wastewater planning with an  emphasis on Vermont’s unsewered villages. She still gets her hands dirty some days by completing site, soil, and hydrogeologic evaluations in preparation for design and construction of stormwater BMPs and community wastewater systems.

Amy has been a member of GMWEA’s Government Affairs Committee since  2017. As a new board member, she says she is excited—and humbled—to bring her knowledge and perspectives in service to all of GMWEA’s members during a time of rapidly changing state and federal regulations and policies.

Eileen Toomey began her environmental career in 1990 at Spectrum Laboratory, where she learned basic chemistry and acquired a great interest in wastewater.  In 2000, she began working as lab tech at Morrisville Wastewater Treatment Plant, then served for eight years as operator at the facility, where she learned a great deal about the field.  She is known to many in the water sciences industries in her role as customer support specialist at  Endyne Laboratory Services Labs, which she feels is good preparation for a role on the GMWEA board – she says she looks forward to serving GMWEA’s membership with the same attentiveness.

A mother of two, grandmother of four going on five, a proud seventh-generation Vermont woodchuck, she lives in Morrisville. She has been chair of GMWEA’s Continuing Education Committee since 2017.

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.

Water’s Worth It!

Water awareness is growing, thanks to a number of increasingly coordinated celebrations, activities, and public outreach efforts by public agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Here in North America, most people have ready access to clean drinking water.  In fact, we’re so used to water being available, on demand, that we forget how important it is.  Much of the world’s population lives without the assurance of safe drinking water.

If we’re going to keep our water wealth, we need to recognize its real value, in the many ways we use and enjoy it.  We need to learn more about how our natural water ecosystems and human-made water infrastructure works.

To that end, May has been declared Water’s Worth It Month – a time to remember, learn about, and celebrate water.  Many communities, municipal water and wastewater utilities, schools, and environmental organizations are presenting entertaining and informative events in May. For an overview of the month, useful facts, ideas for ways your community or company can participate, along with schedules of local activities, visit  http://www.waters-worth-it.org/

Appropriately, May 6 through 12 is National Drinking Water Week.  First established over 40 years ago by the American Water Works Association, this week-long observance  was declared in a joint congressional resolution and signed by President Ronald Reagan.

We’re often most aware of water when we’re having fun with it, so Vermont Rural Water Association has been hosting an annual Drinking Water Tasting Contest, a contest between competing municipal water systems’ for product flavor, to be held on May 10 at in Fairlee, Vermont.

To get a more comprehensive overview of the week, you can view a recent post by the national Centers for Disease Control : https://www.cdc.gov/features/drinkingwater/index.html

Check out the Water’s Worth It link above for more water-related activities.  If you can’t catch one this month, though, remember that water awareness through fun and informative events won’t end in May.

Every year since 2014,  GMWEA has presented Water Quality Day, featuring open houses and tours of water and wastewater facilities throughout the state, in May.  This year, however, we’ve decided to hold the event in conjunction with Vermont Clean Water Week activities, July 30 through August 3.  The week, established by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and proclaimed by Governor Phil Scott, will also include a wide range of recreational activities, contests, and facility tours, presented by GMWEA and over 100 other organizations!

 

Electrical Power from Drinking Water?

Portland, Oregon, seems optimistic about the recent installation of hydro-electric turbines in some of their city’s drinking water pipes.  The project has been getting a lot of press of late; check out this January 17, 2018 feature:

https://www.citylab.com/environment/2018/01/portlands-drinking-water-is-powering-the-grid/550721/

PBS also detailed the project in this six-minute feature: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/water-power .

It’s an exciting idea, but can it work in Vermont?

Offhand, one would think so. Water’s electrical energy potential is largely a matter of “head” (how far water falls) and “flow” (how many gallons per minute).  We have good precipitation to provide flow, and most areas have enough head thanks to high hills and  a population concentrated mostly in river valleys.

In fact, the potential for in-conduit microhydro has been considered in Vermont for years.  In 2013, Barre hired Rentricity, Inc., to construct a 12 kW demonstration project, using grant funds from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund and Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.  It diverts, and returns, 400 GPM of the city’s approximately 4,000 GPM average flow.

According to William Ahearn, Barre’s director of Public Works, the unit is still up and running. However, it has never delivered its theoretical full output capacity.  Ahearn blames nuances of pressure and electrical management technologies, and says the city and manufacturer are continuing efforts to improve its performance.  Below: The Barre unit.

You can read about the Barre City case study, and see photos, at: https://rentricity.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/City-of-Barre-Case-Study-7-14.pdf .  Fuss & O’Neil partnered with EcoStrategies to create this presentation about Barre’s potential:  http://www.vecan.net/wp-content/uploads/jeff-McDonald_VECAN_Barre-Micro-Hydro-Project.pdf

Bennington also installed a small in-conduit unit in 2014, about the same generation capacity as Barre’s. According to Bennington water operator Brian Billert, it works well most of the time, but high silt levels brought by heavy rains can impair function.  Below: Bennington’s setup.

Does your town have what it takes?

For a seat-of-the-pants guesstimate: Power (in watts) = Head (height, in vertical feet, between your source and your treatment plant) X Flow (in gallons per minute) X 0.09 (factor for turbine efficiency, pipe losses, friction, etc.).  H X F X .09 = generator’s watt capacity.

Example: Your reservoir intake is 300 feet above your treatment plant, and it feeds you 2,000 gallons per minute.  300 x 2,000 = 600,000.  Now, factor in the 0.09, and you get 54,000 Watts, or about 54 kiloWatts (kW) maximum electrical generation potential.

If a 54 kW (average capacity) turbine runs all day every day, you get enough juice to supply electricity to 69 Vermont homes (per Green Mountain Power residential 2016 averages).

Of course, it depends on how much of your total flow you divert to the unit.  Also, daily water volume use and electrical demand vary, and maintenance downtime can change this equation.  And, to the H X F X .09 calculation, add an unknown factor for a town’s enthusiasm for innovating — and spending money.

For more information, here’s a more detailed discussion from the Water Power Magazine: “Energy Recovery from Public Water Systems” article: http://www.canyonhydro.com/news/SOAR_IWPDC.pdf

If you have any questions, or have experience with in-conduit micro-hydro, please leave a comment!  To return to GMWEA’s website, click here: www.gmwea.org.

Congrats to Our 2018 Vt. STEM Fair Winners!

Here’s an annual event all at GMWEA look forward to. It’s fun, informative, and always leaves us with an optimistic vision of the future.

On Saturday, March 24, we sent a panel of seven special judges – GMWEA board officers, staff, association members, and a family member or two — to the annual Vermont Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fair.

Our goal was to seek out the best student research projects of the year and encourage K-12 inquiry into water quality science by giving scholarship awards to the most promising investigators.

Hosted each year by Norwich University, the show features exhibits by about 200 middle school and high school students from throughout the state, all of them winners of their schools’ science (and tech, engineering, and math) project competitions. We were pleased to see so many focused on water quality, and choosing winners was not easy for the judges!

Our awards were based on the relevance of the subject matter to water quality, the merit of research, quality of exhibit, and enthusiasm for and commitment to the field.

Congratulations to our five winners and to the teachers who worked with them to produce such excellent projects and results!

Sunthoshini Premsankar impressed us with “Neutralization of Pharmaceutical Pollution in Lake Champlain.”  She tackled this difficult — and too-seldom addressed – issue with an experiment on the effect of acetaminophen on duckweed, testing alternate absorbents and measuring results with chromatography. Sunthoshini, a 9th-grader at Champlain Valley Union H.S., received our $150 scholarship prize.

Christina Gregory also won a $150 scholarship prize for “Pond Regulation.”  This  complex project dealt with the integrity of a local pond not only in terms of ecosystemic viability, but in terms of the regulatory environment that does, or should, control human impacts on our surface waters.  Christina is in 11th grade at Windsor schools.

James Stephens, a 10th grader at Northfield High School, won a $100 scholarship for “The Efficacy of Different Water Purification Methods.”  James investigated the relative merits of ceramic filters, carbon filters, boiling, and distillation, focusing on conductivity, pH, and turbidity, and presented persuasive research methodology and a fine display.

Brooke Rouse looked for a different approach to water filtration: She compared coagulants derived from (plant-derived) moringa oleifera seed and aluminum sulfate in their ability to affect water’s turbidity and pH. Brooke, in 7th grade at Milton Middle School and a student of Rob Decicco, won a $50 prize.

 

Philip Skidd’s exhibit “Don’t Get Clammy Over River Pollution,” also won a $50 prize. His research explored the potential for freshwater clams to absorb nitrates, ammonia, and phosphate, thereby reducing saturation levels in natural waters.  Philip is in 7th grade at Mater Christi School in Burlington.

Winners, parents, teachers, and friends, we’d love to hear from you – please comment on this post!

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.

In Memoriam: Mark Simon

We regret to inform our members that Mark Simon passed away on March 6.  Mark was a longtime and greatly-admired member of Vermont’s water quality professional community, who founded Simon Operation Services, coincidentally, the same year that GMWEA was born, in 1993.

GMWEA board members heard the news with sorrow, and many have shared fond memories of working with him. Mark was well known and had a large influence in the water and wastewater industry throughout Vermont.  He was instrumental in training many new wastewater operators over the decades by teaching the Sacramento Course.  To acknowledge his outstanding contributions to the industry and to the Association during its formative years, GMWEA gratefully awarded Mark its Founder’s Award in 2011.

Mark was born on February 3, 1949 in the Bronx, N.Y.  He and his wife Phyllis met in kindergarten and while they went their separate ways for many years, they finally got together in 1985 in San Francisco. Mark founded Simon Operation Services in 1993 in Waterbury, Vermont.

GMWEA board member Steve Crosby’s first job in wastewater was working under Mark at the North Branch Fire District in Dover, Vermont.  Bob Wells, now Middlebury’s wastewater superintendent, worked for SOS early on.  He recalls that “Mark’s business was used by a number of young operators in the state.  Some used this as a test of ‘Do I want to work in the municipal field of water and/or wastewater?’  One might even say it was a training area which many communities benefited from. I will definitely miss Mark.”

Per Mark’s request, no services will be held at this time, but family will hold a memorial gathering in Vermont during the summer. His family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Central Vermont Humane Society , 1589 VT-14, East Montpelier, VT 05651.

The GMWEA Board of Directors and the 500 members of the association extend sincere condolences to his wife Phyllis and their family.  Mark will certainly be missed.

If you have memories of Mark you would like to share, we invite you to send a comment.

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.