The State Water Resources Control Board recently updated the Chief Plant Operators (CPOs) Brochure.
The new brochure highlights CPO responsibilities, lone operator requirements, examples of operator duties and disciplinary action items. Check it out here.
A message from the State Water Resources Control Board
State Water Board Staff released a combined draft Staff Report and Substitute Environmental Documentation broken down into document sections, including the “Core” document (The Table of Contents, the Executive Summary, and Chapters 1 – 10) and each of the individual appendices. This includes Appendix A, the “Proposed Provisions for Draft Part 2 of the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California—Tribal and Subsistence Fishing Beneficial Uses”, or the proposed Regulatory Language.
The website with the table is at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/mercury/
Delta Diablo was honored in Sacramento with a prestigious 2016 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). GEELA is California’s highest environmental honor, administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency. The program recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.
This award recognizes Delta Diablo for its commitment and achievements in sustainability. At Delta Diablo, sustainability is not just one project or program, but rather a mindset that is holistically expressed throughout the entire organization. This can be observed through the recycled water and renewable energy projects that we implement, the innovative technologies we pilot, and the regional coalitions we lead.
These projects and programs reflect how Delta Diablo embodies sustainability and excellence throughout the organization, achieving 12 consecutive years of 100% permit compliance, and awards at every level in the organization for public education, safety, financial reporting, human resources, labor relations, procurement, engineering, leadership and innovation. Delta Diablo is proud to help maintain sustainable facilities, practices, and communities, and desires to be a Utility of the Future to advance the state of the industry for water resource recovery, helping to create a sustainable California.
Delta Diablo’s Board of Directors’ Chair Pete Longmire confirms: “This award recognizes every aspect of Delta Diablo’s services and the efforts of all our dedicated employees across every department. It is a recognition of the daily work they do providing critical public health and resource recovery services to 200,000 people in Antioch, Bay Point and Pittsburg, as well as their leadership with several regional industry coalitions.”
Each year GEELA recipients are chosen from five categories and Delta Diablo was recognized under the “Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities” category.
- Water Pollution Control Facility Manager (City of Hayward)
Visit CAWaterJobs.org to see even more jobs…
Meet three CWEA members who fall into the “young professional” category of CWEA membership. We asked Kaitie Zusy, Noe Meza and Roya Joseph to join the discussion on the Workforce Impact from the Young Professional point of view. Here is what they have to say on what it’s like to work in an industry where the majority of people are older and closer to retirement age.
Kaitie Zusy has been working as a civil design engineer at Black and Veatch for over four years. She graduated from UC Irvine in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. Her major work experience thus far has consisted of providing construction phase services for a Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade project, the designing of large and small pump stations, UV disinfection, cloth media filtration, ballasted flocculation, dual media filtration, plate settlers, and pipelines. Kaitie has also prepared various reports and technical memoranda for both wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities.
What is it like to work in an industry where the majority of people are older and closer to retirement age?
When I first started at Black and Veatch in 2012 as a design engineer, I was the youngest in the office and the first engineer they had hired in a few years. This was at the end of the economic recession when nobody had a guaranteed job coming out of college. This recess in new hires throughout the country could have been a contributor to the knowledge gap that has been forming between the baby boomer generation and the incoming millennials.
Everyone in my office had at least five years of experience in the industry, while all I had was a summer internship watching sewer CCTV tapes.
On my first day, everyone was excited to hand over their tedious tasks to the new hire. When I had an assignment and had questions, I would go to those in the office with the most experience. If they did not have an answer, they would give a list of people to call within the company who would know the answer. It happened on more than one occasion that the expert I was told to call had retired. I would go through a network of others to find the new expert on the subject. Most of the time, the retired expert’s apprentice could provide me with the information needed, but other times, one small piece of information that would have made the execution of my assignment more efficient was lost in translation from the expert to the apprentice.
What is your advice to a young professional entering the industry?
As I gain more experience, I have learned that no piece of information you receive should be ignored. I started utilizing many different sources for information such as the Internet, peers at other companies, and networking events, particularly CWEA happenings.
CWEA will address issues like Workforce Impact at AC17 Palm Springs. See Workforce Impact sessions listed here. Attending as a young professional? We’ve got you covered. Check out the sessions, meetings and fun events planned for students and young professionals here.
Select “Workforce” from the Participant Challenges menu to see all Workforce related sessions.
Select “SYP” from the Practice Areas menu to see all Students & Young Professional related sessions.
By Ingrid Bella, BAYWORK Chair and Cheryl Davis, Past BAYWORK Chair
Article published in the January 2017 issue of the Wastewater Professional.
For over a decade, the water sector has been aware of the wave of Baby Boomer retirements that would, inevitably, hit our shores. The recession of 2008 and the extended process of economic recovery slowed the pace of this generational disruption. However, there were, in some agencies, factors that accelerated it – cuts to pay and benefits that encouraged experienced workers to leave jobs earlier than planned. Today, many Baby Boomers are already out the door while others prepare to go.
“Because the water sector under-invested in documentation, training materials, and knowledge-sharing systems, there may be no efficient way to help replacements acquire the knowledge learned by their predecessors.”
In the intervening years, BAYWORK has developed an understanding about the complex tangle of interrelated workforce challenges we face:
- Experienced staff members often vacate supervisory and management positions that can be filled by staff with reasonable credentials and some relevant experience. However, the knowledge and skills of individuals moving into these positions may not be equivalent to that of departing staff. Because the water sector under-invested in documentation, training materials, and knowledge sharing systems, there may be no efficient way to help replacements acquire the knowledge learned by their predecessors over an extended period of time. In many cases, the pride of agencies in their knowledgeable employees is being replaced by recognition employees have left, the knowledge was never documented, and they lost an asset they never really owned.
- The ability to find qualified candidates for journey-level skilled trade positions is hampered by (1) inadequate vocational training options (high school shop classes and union apprenticeships are in short supply), and (2), the fact that many high school graduates lack basic math, science, or communication skills.
- Retirements are occurring simultaneously with a number of other challenges to staff preparedness: new regulations; changes to infrastructure, equipment, and technologies; and rising customer expectations. The minimal technical training programs of many utilities would be swamped by these changes even if Baby Boomers kept working forever.
In a sea of change, staying on automatic pilot is not an effective strategy. In order for us to have the workforce we need to reliably perform the work we are obligated to do, utilities need to acquire new competencies, develop new working relationships, make different kinds of investments, and become proactive in areas previously considered beyond their scope.
If the public school system is not producing graduates with the basic or hands-on skills needed to become skilled trade workers, utilities may need to provide additional support. If a utility has weak programs in documentation and standard operating procedures, technical training, staff development, and inadequate knowledge transfer among employees, the utility may need to address knowledge as seriously as it addresses its physical assets.
Some utilities, such as Metro Vancouver, Colorado Springs Utilities, Littleton- Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Union Sanitary District, have made major shifts in the assessment of their responsibilities in relation to workforce reliability, resulting in measurable shifts in their allocation of resources. Their programs and investments, which are described in Staff Preparedness: Lessons Learned from Star Utilities (on the BAYWORK website www.bit.ly/2g5sfy0), prove that, with sufficient commitment and investment, even small utilities can achieve a lot.
This year’s Annual Conference will feature an entire track on Workforce Shortage. Check out all the sessions available by selecting “Workforce” from the drop down menu under Participant Challenges. http://ac17.cwea.org/sessions/
As the problem of “flushable” wipes clogging sewer pipes and pumps gets worse – every sewer agency is on its own in developing a public outreach campaign to share with people exactly what they should and should not flush down the toilet.
Clogged sewer lines were becoming a challenge for City of Santa Rosa crews, so their Environmental Compliance and Communication Teams came up with a catchy public outreach campaign called “Sewerman – Defender of the Pipes!” The campaign was rolled out in December 2016 and includes videos, social media outreach and a cool-looking cartoon strip.
The Sewerman video will immediately get your attention with its funny and memorable message. Which hopefully helps people remember to only flush the 3Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper. And that’s all.
We thought the campaign was so awesome, we wanted to learn more about this mysterious “Sewerman.” We reached out to Elise Howard, a Communications Coordinator at the City of Santa Rosa to tell us about the campaign.
Q1. Who thought up the superhero Sewerman and why?
Sewerman came to life in an internal brainstorming session with Santa Rosa Water’s Environmental Compliance and Communication teams.
His story started with the creation of the Sewerman video in-house and evolved into a comprehensive campaign with the help of a local firm, Ranch 7 Creative.
Special thanks to Sewerman and our Santa Rosa Water Team (Thomas Hare, Heather Johnson, Nicole Dorotinsky, Renae Gundy, Claire Meyers and Elise Howard) for creating this amazing video. Who knew it would be so easy to find a brown and yellow spandex superhero suit online?
(Renae, Heather and Thomas are CWEA members)
Q2. Do you have any cost or time estimates associated with the flushable wipes problems?
Currently we do not have any quantitative data associated with the cost of wipes. That said Santa Rosa Water team does experience blockages in sewer pipes and pump stations and these not-so-flushable items end up at our treatment plant and increase cleaning and maintenance costs.
Q3. Who plays Sewerman? Or if his identity must remain a secret, what does Sewerman like to do in his downtime?
It is critical that Sewerman’s identity remain a secret, but I do happen to know that he loves playing the Ukelele in his downtime and modifying lyrics to popular songs to spread his message.
He also enjoys dancing and puns, and juggles a tiny bit, but not very well.
Q4. How did you get funding to develop the campaign, does the State Water Board help with public outreach dollars for what to flush outreach campaigns?
The campaign is primarily fueled by Sewerman’s superhuman effort to educate the community about fighting THE CLOG.
Santa Rosa Water is supporting his cause by funding a multi-media campaign featuring Sewerman in paid advertising on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), radio (local stations and Pandora), Before the Movie ads, and local print publications. Sewerman is also featured on our website at srcity.org/sewerman.
Q5. So what is Sewerman going to tackle next? Microbeads? Synthetic fibers? Silver nanoparticles? Pesticides? Dental amalgam? Wow we have so many things to tackle!
For now, Sewerman is very busy battling his nemesis, THE CLOG by swooping in to stop a not-so-flushable wipe from being flushed, warning citizens of the dangers of putting grease, oils, and other food products down the kitchen sink, and encouraging citizens to “Just Say No!” to flushing medications.!”
Q6. One last question inquiring sewer minds may want to know – any plans for Sewerwoman to join the wipes fighting team? And if we got Sewerman together with LA’s Grease Avenger, JWC’s Muffin Monster and the Texas Water Coalition’s Patty Potty – could we form our own Wastewater Justice League?
Sewerman is a big fan of teamwork and loves the idea of a Wastewater Justice League! He’s kicked around the idea of adding Water Woman as a partner and would be over the moon if he ever got the chance to meet his personal favorite, Patty Potty.
Thanks Elise for introducing us to Sewerman, we’ll see if we can set something up with Patty Potty from Texas!
Learn more about Sewerman at www.srcity.org/sewerman
The City of Santa Rosa’s new high-strength receiving station received some rave reviews from their local newspaper, the Press-Democrat. Finally, some positive coverage for California sewer agencies!
The story highlights the new receiving station for grease and liquid food waste at Santa Rosa’s Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant. The high-strength organic waste was being hauled from local breweries and food production facilities all the way to East Bay MUD in Oakland. The local Santa Rosa receiving station will save local companies hauling costs and allow the agency to turn the waste into biogas inside their digesters. The biogas is then moved to an engine to generate electricity via their on-site combined heat and power system.
“Projects like this help us keep rate increases as low as possible,” said Mike Prinz, Director of Subregional Operations for Santa Rosa Water and a CWEA member.
“It’s already achieving all of the project goals that we set out for it,” Adam Ross, PE told the newspaper.
Adam is a CWEA member and Senior Project Engineer for Brown and Caldwell, the project engineer for Santa Rosa’s new waste receiving facility.
The CWEA Redwood Empire Section hosted a tour and dinner meeting about the facility in May 2016. The receiving station will handle about 40,000 gallons per day and has four 12,000 gallon storage tanks with mixing and transfer capabilities, according to Adam.
“Grease is a high energy problem if it’s coming into the front door of the treatment plant, but it’s a high-benefit resource if it comes in via this side door,” Adam said during his dinner meeting presentation.
Adam also pointed to regulatory drivers for locating grease receiving stations at treatment plants: California regulations require the state to receive 33% of its power from renewable sources by 2020 and 50% by 2030.
Moreover, the State is requiring 75% of municipal solid waste get diverted away from landfills and one of the top priorities is to get food waste out of landfills and sent to composting facilities or pumped into digesters.
Flood Preparedness and Response Tools for Water Utilities Provided by the EPA
A powerful weather phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river” has dumped massive amounts of precipitation on the west coast, causing flooding and mudslides in many areas. Flood impacts are expected to continue as storms move south and floodwaters travel downstream.
EPA has developed tools to help utilities both mitigate the threat of flooding and take action during an emergency. Water systems can use the resources below to increase their overall flood resilience and emergency preparedness.
Flooding Incident Action Checklist
Use this “rip and run” checklist to respond to and recover from flooding in your area. It outlines key actions that can be taken immediately before, during, and after the event to mitigate impacts.
Flood Resilience Guide
This interactive, user-friendly guide contains worksheets, best practices, videos and key resources to help water utilities build resilience to flooding. The Guide’s four main sections include:
- Overview of flood resilience
- Devising an approach to flood resilience
- Identifying flood mitigation measures
- Flood resilience pilot project
The Federal Funding for Utilities in National Disasters (Fed FUNDS) tool helps drinking water and wastewater utilities identify pre- and post-disaster funding opportunities and offers tips on how to apply.
On November 10th 2016 CWEA’s Southern Sections Collection Systems Committee (SSCSC) held it 64th successful Workshop. The host site was at the city of San Diego’s Water Utility Center on Topaz Way. Two hundred fifty (250) attendees traveled from San Diego County, the Inland Empire and Orange County areas. Seventeen vendor firms and their representatives participated and assisted with various mobile equipment and numerous table top displays. Rolling stock included eight sewer cleaning trucks.
- Sewage Spill Reporting and the basis of the state’s requirements
- Hydro Nozzle Selection
- Leadership Development
- Bucketing Machine applications
Four CWEA Contact hours of pre-approved continuing education were available towards renewal of each attendees CWEA Collection Systems Maintenance Technical Certification.
A customary morning greeting with coffee and donuts and vendor interaction was followed by a great BBQ lunch and more time for vendor interaction.
SSCSC also thanks the CWEA San Diego Section officers and members as well as numerous City of San Diego staff and their leadership for their planning, logistics and hosting as well as assisting throughout the day from set up to clean up. This was the Fifth Annual event held in San Diego as demand for training continues in the region. The First Annual event had approximately 80 paid attendees. The Workshop In 2015 had 305 paid attendees.
SSCSC has already scheduled its 65th Workshop. It will be hosted by Eastern Municipal Water District in Menifee.
As reported by City of Santa Rosa:
Regarding this appointment, Mr. McGlynn stated, “I believe Ben’s extensive experience working in two high performing public utility agencies, complemented by his leadership skills and professional engineering licensure and certification, made him the obvious choice. Ben is a recognized leader in the public utility sector, with leadership roles at the regional, state and national levels. I look forward to working with Ben as a member of the city’s executive team.”
Mr. Horenstein brings approximately 30 years of extensive experience and increasing levels of responsibility in a wide range of wastewater and water recycling programs and activities. These include the management of operations in wastewater treatment and water recycling facilities, oversight of the full range of regulatory issues and associated activities, capital program planning and implementation, budget and rate development, union relations and renewable energy/sustainability programs. Most recently, he served as the Director of the Wastewater Department for the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) where he was responsible for an annual budget of $105M with a 5-year $250M Capital Improvement Projects and a staff of 275.
Prior to joining the EBMUD team, Mr. Horenstein worked as a Process Engineer with the City of Los Angeles, working for the Bureau of Sanitation for 5 years. During his tenure with the City of Los Angeles, Mr. Horenstein worked on projects ranging from routine operations support to process optimization, regulatory compliance and small-scale design and construction management.
Regarding his appointment, Mr. Horenstein stated, “It is quite a privilege to have this opportunity, to come work for the City’s Water Department, which has done such great work over the years, including receiving recognition at the national level.”
Mr. Horenstein holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida, is a registered Professional Engineer, and holds a Wastewater Operator, Grade V Certification.
Mr. Horenstein is currently a board member of both the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the Bay Area Clean Water Agencies, and is the chair of the Utility Leadership Committee of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.
On Jan. 10, 2017, the EPA issued in the Federal Registry a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the new Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. Organizations interested in applying for low-interest loans and loan guarantees have until April 10, 2017, to submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) to the EPA.
Visit the EPA’s WIFIA website: www.epa.gov/wifia
The new WIFIA program received a $20 million appropriation in the recently completed Continuing Resolution passed by Congress. The EPA estimates that current budget authority may provide more than $1 billion in credit assistance to borrowers, which has the potential to finance over $2 billion in new water infrastructure investments. Minimum projects size is $20 million or more, or for communities under 25,000 people, $5 million or more. WEF and other water associations worked hard to create the new program and obtain funding for it, and encourage interested applicants to closely review the NOFA on how to apply.
The borrower selection process is a two-step process. The first step is for potential borrowers to submit a LOI, which includes explanation about the project to be financed and limited financial information about the borrower, as explained in greater detail in the NOFA. The second step will be for the EPA, based upon the LOIs, to notify selected applicants to submit a full application, which will include more extensive details about the project, financial information and fees associated with the application and review process.
The NOFA details the project requirements criteria, which includes the kinds of entities that are eligible to apply, the kinds of projects that are eligible to receive financing, threshold requirements for projects, and federal regulatory requirements. The NOFA also details the necessary information to be included in the LOI, and the EPA’s selection criteria and process.
For more information, please contact Claudio H. Ternieden, WEF’s Senior Director, Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at email@example.com or at (703) 684-2416.
Paul Cockrell’s unique side job has likely given him the distinction of having visited more treatment plants than anyone else in the country.
As the sun sets in the California foothills, a shadowy figure stands in silent regard, looking down on a wastewater treatment plant from the catwalks. His name is Paul Cockrell, and he’s setting up a camera and tripod to capture the splendor of the facility in its magic hour.
Being a water/wastewater design engineer, you might think Cockrell gets enough of treatment plants and their design during daylight hours. But you’d be wrong. There’s something inescapable about the finished product for the Placerville native, who has made a lasting side business out of treatment plant photography.
It started more than 20 years ago as a hobby. At that time, he worked for a design consulting firm called HDR Inc. and had taken a photo of a secondary clarifier as the sun was going down.
“There were nice reflections on the water, so I took a few photographs,” says Cockrell. “I gave the photos to HDR’s marekting people, and they forwarded them on.”
Water and wastewater treatment plants are surprisingly beautiful to photograph, according to Cockrell.
“There’s the geometric shapes, reflecting water surfaces, ample night lighting on site and the ability to get on top of buildings and processes for an elevated view,” he says. “At dusk or dawn, with the right mix of sky light and site lighting, the plants just glow. I call those images the ‘glamour shots.’”
A California city gears up for a biogas production project that will convert food waste from schools and businesses into clean gas for vehicles.
Removing food from solid waste streams to preserve landfill space is nothing new, but one utility in California has plans to turn that waste into a big cost benefit.
In a few years, if plans in Manteca bear fruit, city trucks will be essentially running on food — more specifically, methane generated from anaerobic digestion of food waste.
The project is the result of two sets of state regulations. One is the standard to reduce food waste entering landfills. The other is the set of air pollution rules from the California Air Resources Board that provide an incentive to leave diesel engines behind in the quest for cleaner air.
“Solid waste and wastewater are now partners in this project, and we are working on the facilities we’ll need,” says Heather Grove, wastewater systems superintendent. The plan is to construct two receiving stations, one for the food slurry and another for fats, oils and grease. There will be a new control building, two new digesters, gas compressors and fueling stations. The estimated cost for the projects, including the separator, is $29 million.”
Marijuana is now legal in California, but the new law states that employers still have the right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace and can keep policies that prohibit the use of cannabis by employees and prospective workers. What does that mean for the public sector workplace? Will drug policies be eliminated? Legal experts and advocates say loosened drug screening for marijuana is already happening in some industries.
Medical marijuana, legal in California since 1996, is not exempted under employer drug testing policies. In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that because marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law, employers do not have to accommodate their employees’ medical marijuana use, even if it is during non-work hours.
Ray Marin who has a genetic liver disease has difficulty filtering out toxins. He cannot drink alcohol or take opioid pain killers for a back injury. With his doctor’s blessing and following all pertinent state laws, he used medical marijuana vapor to find relief. A few weeks later, he was fired from his job at a Madera winery. He had failed a drug test upon returning to work, causing him to lose a position he had held for five years and, crucially, his medical benefits.
Because marijuana can show up in urine or saliva tests several days after use, and those concentrations found aren’t necessarily indicative of usage patterns there’s no clear consensus on how much marijuana is considered too much to drive safely or operate machinery.
Employees should be familiar with their companies’ drug policies and not just assume that procedures have changed, said Tamar Todd, director of legal affairs at Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group and major backer of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use in California. Driving under the influence of marijuana is still a crime under California law.
Employment lawyers are telling companies to update their employee handbooks to clarify that drug screenings will still test for marijuana.