They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so for our report on the Deer Island tour, let’s see a few. A tour group from GMWEA. VRWA, and NHWPCA visited the huge, state-of-the-art wastewater plant on October 3 and got a good eyeful. Thanks to Elizabeth Walker and Wayne Graham for the photos!
If you were a member of the tour group and have photos or comments to share, please send them! We’ll post them here.
NOTE: This tour is at capacity, and no more registrations are being accepted. Sorry! But return to this site in October for more about the Deer Island WW plant and the tour.
Operators, administrators, engineers, planners, educators – don’t miss the bus! Join GMWEA, VRWA, and NHWPCA for a tour of the huge, state-of-the-art Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in Winthrop, Massachusetts! This is a rare opportunity to get a close-up view of one of the 20th century’s most challenging and successful environmental improvement projects — and to earn 2 TCHs.
Serving 2.3 million people in 43 Boston-area communities, Deer Island is the largest waste water facility in New England and the second or third largest in the US. Its average influent flow of over 300 mgd and maximum storm-influenced flow of over 1,280 mgd are accommodated while discharging consistently clear effluent through its 24-foot diameter, deep-ocean, gravity-fed 9.5-mile outfall tunnel. A total of 5,000 miles of sewer pipe serves the facility.
Completed in 2001, this mammoth plant’s design and construction reflect the desire to minimize environmental impacts, of every kind, on Massachusetts Bay. Its renewable energy systems, for example, provide more than half of the island’s electricity through a combination of methane biodigesters, wind turbines, solar power, and hydro-electric generation.
The tour will be guided by plant process engineering staff. Adding a deep insider’s knowledge, they will tentatively be accompanied by their former colleague, Charlie Tyler, who retired from the plant in 2017 after over 25 years of involvement in planning, design, construction, start-up, and process operations there.
GMWEA has chartered a bus for Thursday, Oct. 3, to transport attendees to the plant. The bus will depart from the South Burlington Department of Public Works (104 Landfill Road, South Burlington, Vt.) at 6:45 a.m. It will make two additional stops: at the Upper Valley Plaza/JC Penney Plaza (250 N. Plainfield Rd., Unit 202, West Lebanon, N.H.) at 8:15 a.m., and at the New Hampshire Mall (1500 S. Willow St., Manchester, N.H.) at 9:45 a.m. Attendees can be picked up any of the locations.
After the tour, the bus will leave Deer Island at 2:30 p.m. Passengers will be dropped off in Manchester at 4:00 p.m.; in West Lebanon at 5:30 p.m.; and in South Burlington at 7:00 p.m.
The Vermont DEC has confirmed that tour participants will receive 2 TCHs (for the tour, but not the bus ride!).
The charge for the day’s activities is $65 per person. Attendees need to pack a lunch and dinner — meals are not provided, and stops for food are not planned. Light refreshments and snacks will be available on the bus, or you can bring your own. Alcohol is not permitted.
This is the third post in my “What’s the Big Idea?” series — this time, more of a photo essay or info-graphic. There is method to the madness here – I’m working around to the seven Big Ideas developed by the U.S. Water Alliance as part of their One Water policy framework.
But the sheer scale of water and wastewater management is SO huge, and issues of physical scale are SO important to water use and policy (and cost!), I figure readers can use another bigness to grapple with: How much is a million gallons? That number comes to mind because here in Montpelier, Vermont — a town of about 8,000 hardy souls — we use an average of one million gallons of treated water every day.
“A million gallons” is easy to say, but how much is it, really? Sometimes I think even the drinking water and wastewater people I work with don’t really get it.
Well, everyone knows how big a gallon of milk (or water) is. Here’s an illustration of one gallon, in the usual plastic jug, with a young man about six feet tall.
Below, here he is again, having just stacked 1,000 of those jugs. I have made every effort to keep the scale accurate — though I admit those jugs put some air between the gallons.
Below, here he is again, with 100,000 such gallon jugs.
And, at last, with one million gallons.
Here in Montpelier, we use that much, on average, every day. Makes you think about, say, New York City’s one billion gallons per day – one thousand times more. If you stacked that amount in one-gallon plastic milk jugs, as I’ve done here, it would look about like midtown Manhattan – many dense blocks of skyscrapers.
A whole city-scape poured, drunk, washed with, flushed, and drained — and replaced — every day. Oh — and it all then goes to a wastewater treatment facility to be cleaned up afterward.
The scale of our water use and pollution is mind-boggling, and the science, engineering, technology, infrastructure, and professional community that manages it deserve our awe and admiration.
Looking at my blank computer screen now, I am wondering what I can say that would be different. How can I describe my wastewater operator exchange experience in Vermont?
June of 2017, I had no idea this program existed — until my plant
superintendent shared an e-mail from New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services,
asking if we were interested in sending an operator. I corresponded with N.H.
contact Mike Carle, and he got my name submitted as an alternate with Sean
Later, my exchange confirmed, Chris Robinson — water quality superintendent of Shelburne, Vermont — contacted me with a final itinerary for my visit, Nov. 6, 7, and 8, 2018. Chris was also gracious enough to take me around to the plants on the second day of my tour. He explained the processes these plants use and the type of work they do to avoid having a negative impact on the environment.
treatment plant tours, on the first two days, were very interesting. I was led
through plants by operators with experience ranging from two months to
over 30 years. In every case, they explained each step of their process with me
and shared insights about how they keep things running — in some cases, while
dealing with storm flows and equipment failures.
my tour, I also spoke with lab techs at each plant, asking what types of tests
they run and where they grab samples when they do checks on equipment. There
was even time to look through the microscope on the Shelburne tour and talk
about the installation of DO and ORP monitoring probes.
was also lucky enough to meet a local farmer and ride along on a land
application of treated liquid fertilizer fresh from the plant.
discovered that plants use disk filters to polish effluent before it
passes through UV lights for disinfection; operators explained that the
filters help extend the service life between cleanings on light racks.
of the plants running digesters were using the methane gas for heating and
power generation, and some, coupled with solar, were able to greatly cut power
were not set up for sludge thickening and have to truck the material to
other plants to process. The plant where
I work is in the same situation, so our town is considering upgrades to
add machinery that will eliminate trucking costs. In the past, our facility was rarely used by
haulers, but recently surrounding towns have set limits on daily amounts being
accepted. Along with rate changes, this results in an increase in truck
Vermont tour allowed me to ask people about maintenance issues with the septage
receiving units, as I noticed we all share the same brand of equipment. There
are so many different thoughts on septage; some plants are able to handle the
loads better, while others are limited in capacity.
spent my final day at GMWEA’s trade show, where I was able to meet with sales
reps and get information on all of the newest technology for treatment plants. The
event also included trainings for operators;
I went to the morning Basic Math class and was pleasantly surprised at how much
information they got across in an hour, with a very good instructor who
understood how to keep it simple. Later, I sat in on the polymer course, and I
was pleased to walk away with useful information that I can share with
I had to pick out one thing that stuck with me from the exchange program, it’s
how well every one worked together between the different towns and
operators. You get the sense that everyone
is working toward the same goal: protecting the environment and producing
skilled professional operators.
As operators we need to take time to thank groups like Green Mountain Water, who are willing to invest in us. Consider signing up and being a part of something that can make a difference!
Congratulations to Wayne Elliott and Wayne Graham!! Both were honored at the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Awards Banquet in January, held at the Marriott Copley Place in Boston. The awards were presented in recognition of their dedication and contributions to the wastewater industry.
Wayne Elliott, principal at Aldrich & Elliott, Essex Junction, Vermont, received the 2018 Alfred E. Peloquin award. This award is given annually to an individual who has shown a high level of interest and performance in wastewater operations and who has made a significant contribution to the wastewater field in such areas as improvements to the environment, cost effective plant operations, public relations, innovative process controls, industrial pre-treatment, training, Association contributions and related activities.
Wayne Graham, wastewater specialist at Vermont Rural Water
Association, also based in Essex Junction, Vermont, received the 2018 Operator
award. This award is given annually to
an individual who has shown a high interest and performance in wastewater
operations and has made a significant contribution to the wastewater field.
If you happen to know someone who is deserving of either of
these awards, please contact your NEWEA State Director, Chris Robinson, at email@example.com. Nominations close on June 1st.
Contributed by Chris Robinson, GMWEA board member, NEWEA state representative, and water quality superintendent of the Town of Shelburne. Photos by Shannon Robinson.
Written by Tom DiPietro. Photos courtesy of James Sherrard.
The skies threatened rain, but that did not dampen spirits aboard the Melosira, the University of Vermont’s Lake Champlain research vessel. It was on this cool September afternoon that over a dozen GMWEA members joined UVM Sea Grant staff aboard the vessel for a tour of Lake Champlain. It was a scenic tour — but one with a focus on water quality monitoring and management.
The tour set off near the ECHO Center in Burlington, made a stop above the effluent pipe from the Burlington Main plant, and then headed north to the mouth of the Winooski River before returning to shore. During the tour, GMWEA members learned about some of the sampling conducted as part of research conducted by UVM and Sea Grant. The Melosira’s crew demonstrated use of their CTD (Conductivity Temperature and Depth) meter near the Burlington plant’s effluent pipe and then again at the mouth of the Winooski river. This instrument collects valuable water quality data for researchers as they continually assess lake conditions.
(Left: The CTD meter used by researchers aboard the Melosira.)
In between stops and sampling, UVM Sea Grant staff shared their on-going research efforts with the group. This included discussions on “data buoys” located throughout the lake, phosphorous pollution and blue-green algae, lake sturgeon migration, microplastics in the water column, and the impacts of road salt on the lake.
Also aboard was Joel Banner Baird, a staff writer for the Burlington Free Press. Joel had the opportunity to engage with GMWEA members and also learn a little more about the lake. In the article that he prepared for the Burlington Free Press he recapped, “Lake Champlain is much more vulnerable to terrestrial pollution than are the Great Lakes… The land area that drains into Lake Champlain, measured against the lake itself, is huge compared to the ratio of watershed to water of the Great Lakes. That unusually high ratio means that the consequences of what happens upstream can add up quickly.”
(Above photo: GMWEA members Karen Adams, Chelsea Mandingo, and Tom DiPietro aboard the Melosira.)
The event was well received and the attendees are looking forward to a similar event next year. Special thanks to the Melosira crew, Kris Stepenuck and the rest of Sea Grant team for organizing the event.
If you were also aboard the Melosira, or are interested in Lake Champlain and its waters, please leave a comment on this post!