By Rashi Gupta
Posted November 13, 2015 to the WEF Blog

As our industry advances towards resource recovery, enhancing energy production through the anaerobic digestion process remains a topic of much interest. Depending on digester feedstock and available co-generation systems, the process can produce enough biogas to power the entire plant…and sometimes, even enough power to export back to the grid! While a variety of feedstocks are available for co-digestion, this post deals with fats, oils, and grease (FOG) collected primarily from restaurant grease traps.

Facilities began implementing FOG receiving stations to reduce sewer clogs and overflows, reduce power purchases from utilities, increase the production of renewable energy, and meet the demands of FOG haulers seeking to reduce hauling distances. Many of these plants have seen significant increases in digester gas production. Those facilities that successfully charge tipping fees for FOG acceptance have received additional revenue. The reduction of clogs in collections systems and the provision of local disposal options for FOG haulers also provide benefits for the utility and community. However, as the number of such facilities has grown, so have reports of operational difficulties and higher than expected maintenance requirements.

[Read more]

The Graton Community Service District Wastewater Treatment Plant has been innovatively renovated and the plant designed, by Lescure Engineers, won the January 2015 American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) special merit award.

Graton WWTP

The overall concept was to modify the wastewater treatment plant so that it has zero discharge. In order to move towards this goal it has several eco-friendly designs that were combined with three major innovations.

One major innovation is a new disinfection system that pasteurizes the waste (heated for 10 seconds at 162 degrees) and therefore doesn’t use chlorine in the final treatment stage. This is both environmentally friendly and makes it safer for the operators. The operators do not have to worry about the possibility of excess chloroform exposure

Another of the major innovations is the suspended air floatation (SAF) that is used to remove algae. This is the first time this technology has been used in a municipal WWTP. The solids are removed and pumped to the composting area.

The third major innovation is the compressible media filter, or Fuzzy filter. It can adjust the percentage of compression and adjust the turbidity. Plate compresses the Fuzzy Filters (pink balls) at the lower end of the compression.

Fuzzy Filters at Graton WWTP

Fuzzy Filters at Graton WWTP

Robert Rawson, the former Chief Plant Operator realized that the holding ponds had an excessive amount of duckweed on the surface of the ponds. He knows firsthand the problem it creates when the diaphragm pump pulls the weeds in and it’s sucked into the pipe. He engineered an environmentally friendly solution by inventing a floatation box to skim the water and collect the duckweed, which in turn is added to the biosolids compost pile. The duckweed helps absorb nitrogen and phosphates in the composting process.

Renewable fuel source will power city’s Hyperion wastewater treatment facility, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support energy resiliency

Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, and  LA Sanitation today announced the start of construction of a 25-megawatt (net) biogas-fueled cogeneration plant, which will supply 100 percent of the steam and electricity produced to power LA Sanitation’s Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmember Mike Bonin, and representatives from LA Sanitation and Constellation attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the Hyperion site to mark the occasion.

The cogeneration plant is expected to generate more than 173 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and supply up to 70,000 pounds per hour of steam, using the methane captured through Hyperion’s sewage treatment process as its fuel source.

“At LA Sanitation, we are committed to protecting public health and our environment,” said LA Sanitation Director, Enrique C. Zaldivar, P.E. “Keeping our commitment means continually improving and finding innovative new ways to meet the sustainability goals that Mayor Garcetti has set for the entire city.  Today’s groundbreaking brings us closer to fulfilling our pledge to the people of Los Angeles.”

LA Sanitation selected Constellation as the project developer after a competitive bidding process. Constellation and its affiliate Exelon Generation will develop, construct and operate the cogeneration facility for 20 years, with an option to extend the agreement for two additional five-year terms. [Read more]

The CWEA Awards program recognizes outstanding professional achievements within the wastewater field. Being honored by the awards program improves the professional status of all personnel working in the wastewater industry and related fields and stimulates public awareness of the importance of wastewater treatment to public health and the water environment.

CWEA has a many special awards that are awarded to individuals in addition to the standard state awards. Follow the links to the nomination forms if you know someone who fits the categories below.

Crystal Crucible
The nominee for this award must promote pride and safety in the workplace, teamwork, education and the promotion of professionalism in the wastewater laboratory field.

Crystal Crucible Nomination Form

Quarter Century Recognition
The CWEA Quarter Century Recognition Program recognizes water professionals for their commitment to improving the quality of life and the protection of the environment. CWEA Quarter Century Recognition Program honorees have dedicated their careers in a challenging and most vital profession, the water environment field. These essential professionals who have spent countless hours improving our water environment include: Operators; Collection System, Maintenance, Laboratory, and Environmental Compliance personnel; Engineers; and Administrators. See the past recipients here.

Quarter Century Recognition Nomination Form

5S recognizes individuals active in protecting the water environment through participation in Local, State, and/or Federal sponsored activities.  Nominations are being accepted through March 1, 2016.  Please consider nominating your peers who have or are contributing to the advancement of the wastewater profession.  This is not a self-nominating award.  Your peers count on you to recognize their achievements and nominate them.

5S Nomination Form

Golden Manhole
CWEA’s Golden Manhole award honors the inductees and their employers for their combined contributions which promote increased professionalism in the collection systems field. The winners are chosen by the Collection Systems committee.

Golden Manhole Nomination Form

Richard D. Pomeroy Award
The Richard D. Pomeroy award is presented for the practical application of an original concept that expands known techniques of wastewater collection. The nominee’s service must have been in any of the following areas: management, overall planning, operation and maintenance, facility design, education or training. Publication of a formal report of achievement is not required but is desirable.

Richard D. Pomeroy Nomination Form

Gimmicks & Gadgets
Recognizes innovation and creativity in developing solutions to performing routine tasks or functions in maintenance, operations or construction of wastewater collection systems.

Gimmicks & Gadgets Nomination Form

Recognizes volunteer efforts to the CWEA Collection Systems Committee Meeting

PICK Nomination Form

CertPrepPath2Secure your spot today for our upcoming Certification Preparation Session to prepare for your next CWEA Technical Certification exam. Our knowledgeable moderators will share information on how to use the many resources and tools to get you on the path to your certification. Space is limited, register online now!

Thursday, December 3, 2015
CWEA/Tri-Counties Section
Oxnard Performing Arts & Convention Center
800 Hobson Way
Oxnard, CA  93030
Earn up to 6.6 CWEA Contact Hours

Join your colleagues at these interactive sessions to review the CWEA Path to Certification and delve into the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) that make up the core of your vocation.  You’ll use the newly developed KSA Gap Analysis Tool to identify areas to focus on during your studying.  Numerous and diverse sample questions will be reviewed as your moderator guides you through the highlights of your vocation.  Learn how to develop your own action plan tool for you to use throughout the day to track your action items and plan your next steps. You will leave this workshop with a better idea of what areas you need to focus on as you prepare for your exam.

ACsponsorshipCWEA’s Annual Conference in Santa Clara on April 26-29 is shaping up to be one of our largest. We’ve simplified sponsorship levels to give your firm more publicity and provide more exclusive opportunities for you to network with California’s water leaders.

View the AC2016 Sponsorship Brochure

AC16 sponsorship levels are:

  1. Pure Water Level
  2. Tertiary Level
  3. Secondary Level

Each sponsor can choose one high-profile event, conference feature or session to sponsor so you can maximize your connection with attendees. We publicize your sponsorship repeatedly in the 5 months leading up to AC16 to maximize your reach, so sign-up soon. Pure Water Level sponsors receive a full page promotion page inside the January conference brochure.

For your convenience Pure Water and Tertiary level sponsors receive conference pass(es) and ticket(s) to Wednesday’s VIP invitation only lunch.

Please contact AC16 Sponsorship Chair Marco Palilla at (916) 817-4878 / or Alec Mackie at (510) 382-7800 x114 / to discuss your options. And thank you for your support!

Want to sign-up for an AC16 exhibit booth? Please click here or feel free to contact Serena Miller.

Rag ball photo JWCE

Two Headed rag ball monster. Courtesy of JWC Environmental

On November 2 the Federal Trade Commission voted to finalize a settlement with wipes maker NicePak and accepted 37 public comments related to the settlement. NicePak is a manufacturer of store brand wipes and is one of the largest wipes manufacturers in North America.

According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) – the FTC sent a clear message to all manufacturers that flushable wipes “flunked” the flushable test.

The settlement was  negotiated between the FTC and NicePak in May of this year and banned an older type of wipe NicePak manufactured prior to 2014.  According to the company their current wipe technology complies with all FTC and industry standards and this newer flushable wipe technology will continue to be sold. “All claims related to our current flushable product portfolio are fully substantiated as safe to flush,” according to a company statement, “and the consent agreement does not require any change to our existing products or claims.”

[Read more]


Carol Harris, CWEA Customer Service Manager

CWEA would like to welcome Carol Harris as the new Customer Service Manager.

Carol brings many years’ experience in call center management and customer support to her new role at CWEA. She has an extraordinary passion for excellence in customer service and quality assurance. She will be responsible for high degree of quality of customer service as well as ensuring data entry efficiency and accuracy.

Welcome to CWEA Carol!


Wondering what emotional intelligence is and why you need it? CWEA’s Leadership Workshop will provide some answers.

Studies have shown emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs. We’ll also continue exploring 21st Century Learning through this interactive session.

We invite and encourage CWEA members, leaders, volunteers and prospective volunteers to attend.If you attended Leadership 2014 and you’re thinking this is a repeat-it’s not. The 2015 focus will be on developing your emotional intelligence, a critical leadership skill.

The workshop will be led by Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President, Education and Engagement with Velvet Chainsaw, a consulting firm CWEA is using to improve how we educate water environment professionals in the 21st Century.


Thursday, November 19
Renaissance Club Sport Hotel
Walnut Creek, CA
9:00am – 3:30pm
Friday, November 20
Ontario, CA
9:00am – 3:30pm
$21.00 Includes Continental Breakfast and Lunch
Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 9.40.47 PM


The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) is opening the application process for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP), an annual water research competition for California high school students. Applications are due by April 15, 2016.

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition is the world’s most prestigious water-science competition for students. The winner of the California competition will advance to the national level, and the winner of that event will represent America at the global competition in Sweden.

Previous winners of the California SJWP have developed systems which detect pathogens; analyze the formation of trihalomethanes; remove nanoparticles from water and screen for toxic chemicals. The purpose of the SJWP program is to increase students’ interest in water-related issues and research and to raise awareness about global water challenges.

The 2015 winner of the California prize is Michele Eggleston from Mt. Everest Academy in San Diego with her research project “Is It Clear? Is it Clean? Correlating Turbidity and Bacterial Contamination Using a Home Made Nephelometer.” Her science teacher is Trudy Pachon. The 2015 winner of the global SJWP is American Perry Alagappan from Houston, Texas. [Read more]

Robert Gerena
Volunteer TCP Moderator
Operations & Maintenance Supervisor
City of Hayward Utilities
Mechanical Technologist, Grade 4

How did you get your first job in the wastewater profession?
After getting out of the Navy, I worked for the federal government at Camp Pendleton as a Boiler Plant Operator. I saw that as a dead-end job and looked for a way to a different career path. I was living in San Diego at the time, and several community colleges down there had extensive water/wastewater classes. I started taking classes, getting certified and interviewing, finally getting a job as a Wastewater Treatment Plant Mechanic with the City of Oceanside. I did that for two years, before getting hired by the City of San Diego as a Cross-Connection Specialist for two years, then Reclaimed Water Inspector for two years, finally as a GIS Supervisor for four years. In 2005, I came to the City of Hayward as a Utilities Operations & Maintenance Supervisor.

How did you get involved as a CWEA volunteer? What do you enjoy about being involved?
I was asked by Vivien Malig to participate in the Mechanical Technologist Exam Validation Project in 2013. It sounded like an interesting project, and I figured it’d be pretty neat to see how these exams are developed and updated. It also gave me a chance to actively deal with issues on exams that are my pet-peeves; grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, questions that are limited in relevance to the subject matter and other issues I’ve noticed on certifications exams I’ve taken. I enjoyed being able to deal with these “pet-peeve” issues and also meeting colleagues from other agencies and finding out what their experiences were.

[Read more]

“We need to do big projects, we need plans for reusing Hyperion water. But as clean water producers, before we start any new project we want to ensure we have the systems and technologies in place to protect public health.”
– Traci Minamide, City of Los Angeles

Traci Minamide (r) speaks during the LA Drought Symposium panel. Photo by Adel Hagekhalil.

During an October 13th Drought Symposium hosted by the Los Angeles Basin Section of CWEA and WateReuse California, local water leaders discussed the regions resilience in surviving this drought and their preparations for El Niño. The discussion was moderated by Patrick Healy from NBC Southern California.

The panelists emphasized three messages: first, there’s only one water, so let’s treat all sources of water with respect; second, the time is now to fund and build the recycled water and stormwater projects we’ve talked about for decades; and finally, water projects take a decade to build so let’s start building. For the LA area to be resilient through future droughts and floods, more local water projects will need to be built.

The panel included Martin Adams, Senior Assistant General Manager of LADWP; Robert Ferrante, Assistant General Manager of the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County; Gary Hildebrand, Deputy Director Water Resources of LA County Department of Public Works; and Traci Minamide, the Chief Operating Officer for the City of LA’s Bureau of Sanitation.
[Read more]

Drought symposium 2015

Master of Ceremonies and WEF Past President Jim Clark from Black & Veatch kicks-off the LA Drought Symposium organized by our Los Angeles Basin Section and WateReuse California.

On Tuesday October 13th 170 water professionals gathered in Downtown Los Angeles for a drought symposium sponsored by the Los Angeles Basin Section of CWEA and WateReuse California. Speakers provided technical updates on water supplies that agencies can tap into right here in the LA Basin – including recycled water, desal and stormwater. The theme of the event was building a more resilient and reliable water supply for LA by embracing the one water concept.

Increasing the Use of Recycled Water

For the Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water ensuring consistent and reliable recycled water regulations are a key focus as more projects enter the final planning stages according to Kurt Souza, a Deputy Director of DDW’s Southern California office. On April 1st the Governor implemented mandatory conservation and required regulators to speed the permitting process for local water supply projects including recycled water projects.

This includes looking at new regulations for surface water augmentation and direct potable reuse (DPR).

“The supply situation is serious. Reservoirs are at record lows and that’s going back to the 1880s.” – Kurt Souza, SWRCB DDW

“In the Central Valley, recent groundwater levels are more than 100 feet below previous historic lows. There is good news – the Governor set a goal of saving 1.2 million acre feet of water and as of August we are half-way to the goal. We’ve saved 612,000 acre feet so far, pretty incredible,” said Souza.

Last year DDW assembled a panel of experts to look at surface water augmentation and once that report is complete shift to analyzing direct potable reuse regulations (DPR). A draft surface water augmentation report will be issued in Spring 2016 and the process will start for public workshops, CEQA review and State Board consideration. For DPR regulations, a report will be issued around September 2016, according to Souza.

[Read more]

Chuck-Rogers-HCTPChuck Rogers
Superintendent (Retired)
City of Thousand Oaks
Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant

Over the hill? Hardly! Hill Canyon’s Plant Manager Chuck Rogers has some great advice and strong viewpoints to share after 31 years as a wastewater professional. He recently stepped down as Plant Manager of this award winning facility and is heading into retirement. The facility is generating its own electricity from solar and biogas energy projects installed under his watch and producing high quality recycled water.

We sat down with him at the City of Thousand Oaks’ beautiful Hill Canyon Treatment Plant recently to get his thoughts before he rode down the canyon road one last time in his Prius. Oh – and you really should call this place “Hill Canyon Inc.,” read on to learn why…

1. How did you get into the wastewater profession?

I was living in Michigan and my wife and I were asking ourselves – why live in Michigan? It really hit home one night when my wife and I were driving home on a cold night and we hit a snow drift. The car was dead. So as we’re walking the 1 mile back to the house– I told my wife about a flyer from the USC Fine Arts Department advertising their Masters Program. In short time, we found ourselves in sunny and warm Southern California. [Read more]

A letter from Radhika Fox, CEO, US Water Alliance, Director, Value of Water Coalition

Dear Colleagues:

Last month, millions of people engaged in the Value of Water Coalition’s inaugural national education campaign, Imagine a Day Without Water. Because of your participation, we collectively brought together water and wastewater utilities, mayors and city councils, business leaders, advocates, educators, students, community organizations, and other like-minded allies to raise awareness about the need to invest in water infrastructure.

We weren’t sure what to expect when we launched Imagine a Day Without Water, but you all rose to the challenge. One hundred and eighty five organizations signed up to participate in Imagine a Day Without Water, far exceeding our expectations!

Major highlights included events in Atlanta and Los Angeles hosted by our Coalition members, where Mayor Reed and Mayor Garcetti both addressed the critical nature of water security. Both mayors described how unimaginable it would be for their cities to go a day without water and discussed projects underway to create a more secure water future for residents. [Read more]