Tag Archives: VRWA

Water Quality Day: 2020 More Than Ever

True, in 2020, this important annual observance isn’t making the waves (pun noted) it has in past years.  This is because our main public awareness events – tours at drinking water and wastewater facilities – can’t take place due to COVID-19 restrictions.  Last year, 19 facilities throughout the state welcomed students, legislators, and the general public for fun, informative, eye-opening tours. 

This year, none are allowed to.

Ironically, though, the pandemic underscores the importance of our water quality infrastructure and the dedicated professionals who keep it running, 24/7/365.  How many times have we all been advised to wash our hands in the last four months?  Try doing it without clean, running water.  

Hospitals, public institutions, and essential businesses are on heightened sanitation protocols – relying on the water that comes so readily from the tap.  Vermonters sheltering in place at home rely on water coming to and leaving their sometimes claustrophobic residences for virtually every need.

Water Quality Day is a day to appreciate the systems and people who keep it clean and flowing.

And what about the water that leaves our hospitals, offices, and homes?  As it turns out, the SARS-Cov-2 virus can survive in human feces for up to 33 days.  A May 6 Science News article, reporting on recent studies, quoted researchers as saying “the potential spread of COVID-19 via sewage ‘must not be neglected’ in the battle to protect human health.”  Check out the article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200506133603.htm .

In a May 8 article on Fox News, Prof. Aaron Packman, of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, put it in even starker terms: “New information on COVID-19 indicates that the virus infects the human GI tract and is excreted into sewage. Our assessments indicate that there is a risk of waterborne transmission of the coronavirus.”   Read more of Packman’s comments here: https://www.foxnews.com/science/risk-of-covid-19-transmission-from-waste-water-higher-than-believed-study-claims .

That means Vermont’s 500 + wastewater operators are being pretty courageous every day, when they go to work to deal with the stuff up close and personal.  Fortunately, they’re smart, too, and have undertaken special facility sanitation, staff rotation, and personal protection protocols to keep themselves and the public healthy.  (Also, to help keep plants operating, GMWEA, VRWA, and the Vt. DEC have reactivated the VTWARN system, allowing facilities to get substitute personnel if one of their staff gets sick or quarantined: www.VTWARN.org.)

Water Quality Day 2019 at Wilmington WWTF

Are Vermonters at risk from COVID-19 transmission in wastewater?  Not likely – because those “first responders” at your local wastewater plant are making sure you’re not.  OSHA reports that coronaviruses are vulnerable to the same disinfection techniques used currently in the health care sector, and “Current disinfection conditions in wastewater treatment facilities is expected to be sufficient.”  Prof. Packman, cited above, says that transmission risk in sewage is “likely to be a problem . . . [primarily] in parts of the world that do not have good water infrastructure.”

So, on Water Quality Day 2020, I say we renew, with determination, our commitment to maintaining our good water infrastructure.  And let us give an extra big tip of the hat in gratitude to our water quality professionals, who put it on the line for us every day.

If you agree, please take a moment to circulate this post via Facebook or blog, or write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. 

To return to GMWEA’s website, CLICK HERE.

Deer Island In Photos

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!

It’s pretty big.
One of the “eggs” — sludge digesters — seen from below. Check out the “cap” at the top, then see it from the inside, below, to get a sense of scale.
Inside the top “cap” of one of the eggs.
The illustrious Charlie Taylor, who spent 25 years involved in planning, design, construction and process operations of the facility, gives the visitors an introduction.
Some of the tour group, with the eggs in the background.
Secondary clarifiers from horizon to horizon.

If you were a member of the tour group and have photos or comments to share, please send them! We’ll post them here.

To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.

Deer Island WW Tour Coming Up Oct. 3!

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. 

Deer Island Wastewater Treament Facility, Winthrop, Mass.

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 famous Deer Island “Eggs” (sludge digesters)

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.

If you are interested in attending, sign up at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScXvYC8OzSTBjphjdyjphRiXUEj8ugAjwJBEfOhFWeVzCzuBw/viewform?usp=sf_link . Payment is expected at the time of registration. Space is limited, so sign up now! If you have questions, please contact Ryan Peebles, GMWEA’s Membership Committee chair, at (802) 222-1762 or email at Ryan.peebles@cleanwaters.us .

Year of the Waynes

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.

Left to right: Wayne Graham, Chris Robinson, and Wayne Elliott

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 crobinson@shelburnevt.org.  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.

To return to GMWEA’s website, CLICK HERE.