The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) in Irvine recently announced the release of WE&RF’s latest report on re-using wastewater/greywater inside buildings.

A report by NWRI recently released by the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF), “Risk-Based Framework for the Development of Public Health Guidance for Decentralized Non-Potable Water Systems,” offers guidelines to assist public health officials in developing programs to manage and oversee onsite water systems. 

Download the report (free report from WE&RF, sign-in required)

The city of Beverly Hills announced CWEA member, Shana Epstein from the city of Ventura as the new Director of Public Works. A former utilities manager for Beverly Hills, Ms. Epstein is expected to assume her new role on April 24. She replaces Public Works Director and Assistant City Manager George Chavez, who has been filling both positions for more than a year.

“I am honored to return to Beverly Hills and have this opportunity to address innovative challenges with familiar and new colleagues,” Ms. Epstein said.

The Beverly Hills Public Works Director oversees more than 200 employees who develop, construct, inspect, improve and maintain the City’s infrastructure, including traffic lights, sidewalks, street lights, roadways, urban forest and City parks. In addition, the department operates the water, solid waste, wastewater, storm water and parking enterprise operations.

“We are very fortunate to welcome Shana back to Beverly Hills,” said Beverly Hills City Manager Mahdi Aluzri. “Both in Beverly Hills and in Ventura she has proven herself to be an outstanding manager whose knowledge of public works operations and best practices will help guide our Public Works Department into the future.”

Ms. Epstein has served as Ventura’s Water General Manager since May 2011, where she oversaw the water and wastewater operations. Among her many accomplishments in Ventura, she and her staff built a potable reuse demonstration facility to gather data on advanced water purification and educate the public, provided reclaimed water for non-potable uses, wrote a Water Shortage Contingency Plan and oversaw the creation of a Water Commission. In addition, she was named as one of the top 50 Women in Business in 2016 by the Pacific Coast Business Times and Ventura was a National Mayor’s Challenge winner for 2016.

In Beverly Hills, Ms. Epstein was the City’s Environmental Utilities Manager, responsible for water, wastewater, solid waste and storm water services. Prior to Beverly Hills, Ms. Epstein served in the public utilities department for the City of Anaheim. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego.


We heard loud and clear from members today that they need more time to register for AC17 in Palm Springs. You got it! Early-bird registration is now extended until 3/24. But hurry get those registrations in soon!

Here’s a great educational opportunity at AC17 – catch HDR’s Kevin Calderwood leading a workshop on Wednesday about pipeline and pump station asset management.

The U.S. EPA, Water Boards, and Sacramento State Environmental Finance Center are co-sponsoring a pair of free, one-day forums to discuss municipal stormwater finance issues, sources, and strategies. The first forum is in Alhambra, near LA, on April 3rd. The second forum is in Oakland on April 5th. Anyone who wants to learn about these issues and share their views on how to address stormwater finance is invited. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Here’s some basic information about the forums and links to the registration website:

Funding Stormwater: The Next Great Challenge

How do we build successful stormwater finance strategies? These forums address important challenges municipal program managers face in building financial capacity including:

  • Key questions every local program manager must ask and answer before seeking funding
  • Defining your program scope and funding needs
  • Practical advice on developing stormwater program finance plans and budgets
  • Strategies for overcoming barriers to stormwater funding
  • Introduction to available public and private funding sources for capital and O&M needs
  • Advice on funding multi-purpose projects that address stormwater quality and other goals

April 3rd in LA/Alhambra: http://la.stormwater.co/

April 5th in Oakland: http://oakland.stormwater.co/

Admission is free but registration is required.

Logan Olds

Logan Olds, General Manager VVWRA

It’s a letter no agency would ever want to get. A draft FEMA Office of Inspector General report contains language the Victor Valley Water Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) may not have followed all FEMA guidelines for an emergency project contract. They may even ask the agency to refund $32 million.

The emergency project was to rebuild a large sewer interceptor, washed out in a 2010 storm. The report was released in the fall of 2016 after a year of talking with VVWRA managers about the project.

According to press reports, the OIG never mentioned any reporting issues to VVWRA managers during their meetings. They found out about the OIG’s concerns after the draft report ended up in the local newspaper.

The draft report came out of the blue so quickly, the local newspaper the Daily Press called it “A routine call, then a biting audit for VVWRA.” 

In a recent Daily Press Op-Ed VVWRA General Manager Logan Olds, a past CWEA Board Member, defended the project…

To say that we were caught off-guard by the report would be a massive understatement. Only six months earlier, we were told that the audit was 95 percent complete and that our expenses and accounting were “generally acceptable.”

While we appreciate the federal government’s checks and balances, this particular audit trail leaves us baffled — because of both what we were led to believe and the nature of the pipeline project itself…

Whatever the internal dynamics are within OIG and FEMA, we stand ready to defend how this critically important project was managed and accounted for.

Continue reading Logan’s op-ed

Additional news coverage…

 Auditors: VVWRA Mismanaged $32 million in emergency funds

With scathing audit, high desert rate payers might be losers



by Elaine Connors

Despite the public using infrastructure every moment of every day, from roads to fresh water to waste removal, this important part of the economy is often ignored or taken for granted.  ‘Infra’ means ‘hidden’ or ‘out of sight’ and in many cases vital portions of infrastructure are hidden from public view.

Government on all levels – federal, state, municipal – react to the priorities of those who elect & will re-elect them.

“It is our duty to bring our communities’ and country’s public works infrastructure before those who can do the most to affect change:  the ratepayers and voters.”

“We need to engage the ratepayers. It is their infrastructure. Local governments, Boards of Supervisors and Town Councils all need to be kept informed.  ASCE’s studies have shown that local and regional infrastructure is better cared for when the money stays within the local community.”

Nick Arhontes

Nick Arhontes

Nicholas J. (Nick) Arhontes, P.E. runs a consulting practice focusing on public works and infrastructure. Prior to this he held various positions at the Orange County Sanitation District in Fountain Valley, retiring in March 2016 after over 28 years with OCSD. He is a CWEA, WEF and ASCE member.

“Wastewater collection and treatment, roads, flood control systems and other infrastructure, power grids, water and natural gas pipelines aren’t exciting to most people. The only time they’ll make the news is if something goes wrong with them. We have legions of public servants and private sector service providers dedicating their working lives to making sure things function well. My fellow members of CWEA already know the importance of Infrastructure. They work with it, plan it, maintain and operate it every day.”

How can CWEA members convey the importance of the planning, designing, building, maintaining and renewing of these essential elements?

One way is participating in the creation of an ASCE “Infrastructure Report Card.”  The information contained in an infrastructure report card is used to inform the general public and all levels of government.  Information is always needed to help allocate funding. The Report Card has become an important way water professional communicate with the public about the state of infrastructure. 

The Report Card has been featured on NBC Nightly News, 60 Minutes, NPR and thousands of media outlets. [Read more]

The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world’s largest advanced water purification facility of its kind, has been online since January 2008. The project is a joint partnership between the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD).

On January 22-23, 2017, OCSD saw influent flows that had not been seen since 1995. OCSD experienced peak flows of up to 586 million gallons per day (mgd) coming into both of their wastewater treatment plants. As events started to unfold, OCSD staff worked tirelessly to ensure that its facilities could handle the unprecedented flows and OCWD staff worked to ensure that the GWRS would continue to run at its normal 100 mgd flow rate. This alleviated any concerns that flows would exceed their discharge capacity of the five mile outfall line and force OCSD to use its one mile outfall, which would have resulted in beach closures.

“I am very proud to be part of this organization,” said OCSD Board Chairman Greg
Sebourn. “Facing the highest flows ever seen at OCSD, we were able to keep the flow in the
pipes without any interruption in service to our customers. This was possible through the hard work and dedication of our staff, and the sound policy making, foresight and commitment of our past and current board to invest in infrastructure for the future. All of these factors came into play to allow OCSD to stay true to our mission of protecting public health and the environment, even during challenging times.”

OCWD originally planned to develop a project to replace and increase flows of its predecessor Water Factory 21, a sophisticated treatment plant that provided high-quality water for the Talbert Seawater Intrusion Barrier. Injection of freshwater into the barrier formed a ridge that kept seawater of the Pacific Ocean from contaminating the Orange County Groundwater Basin. The basin provides about 75 percent of the drinking water needs for north and central Orange County, California. [Read more]

We are so sad to share the news Bruce Zimmerman has passed away. Bruce was a member of CWEA and WEF for 25 years and served as Chief Operating Officer for Coomb-Hopkins, a manufacturers rep firm with a long history of serving water and wastewater utilities in California, Arizona and Utah.

Bruce was always there for CWEA members and always willing to help. He was frequently seen at CWEA events and conferences throughout the state and always willing to lend his support. We appreciate his dedication to fellow water and wastewater professionals and we will remember his legacy as someone who genuinely cared about the men and women who work on California’s water and wastewater systems. Thank you Bruce for all you’ve done! – CWEA Staff

An announcement from Coombs-Hopkins…

Our great friend Bruce Zimmerman lost his heroic battle with cancer Saturday morning. He was comforted by the love of his family, his faith in God and the comfort of knowing he was destined for a glorious place in the kingdom of heaven. It is impossible to put into words all that we are feeling by the loss of such a great person, family man and dear friend.

The response we received after sending our most recent notice of Bruce being placed into hospice has been remarkable. It is a testament to the man he was and the impact he had on so many, both in and out of the business world. He was a man who lived his faith, led by example and always conducted his personal and business dealings with honesty and integrity. A true gentleman.

We are going to miss our friend Bruce even more than we realize today. His absence leaves a void in our hearts and in our daily lives. His selfless nature and good cheer will be missed. The mold was broken and we shall never see another quite like him. God bless you dear friend. We love and miss you.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the following. These causes were very near and dear to Bruce’s heart.

Tri-City Christian School
303 North Emerald Drive
Vista, CA 92083
Please note on check “Building Fund”


North Coast Church
2405 North Santa Fe
Vista, CA 92084
Please note on check “Eleven/Twelve Mission Trips”


Radhika Fox, CEO of the US Water Alliance and based in San Francisco, will be the facilitator for our AC17 One Water workshop “From Vision to Reality”. But what does “one water” mean? Radhika explains in an op-ed originally published by the US Water Alliance and reprinted with permission.

Building 21st Century Infrastructure for 21st Century Cities

Radhika Fox, CEO US Water Alliance

Radhika Fox, CEO US Water Alliance

The creation of modern water and wastewater systems was one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. Drinking water treatment and systems brought safe, reliable drinking water to homes and businesses. Clean water systems eliminated deadly diseases such as cholera and typhoid and helped extend life expectancy in the U.S. by 30 years. But the systems built 100 year ago were for communities that look completely different than today.

After working around the clock for 70, 80 and even 100 years, water and wastewater infrastructure has been the victim of deferred maintenance for decades, putting our infrastructure and resources at risk.

About 650 water main breaks occur every day – that’s one every 2 minutes—leading to 7 billion gallons of water and $2.6 billion lost through leaky pipes.

In addition to aging infrastructure, water and wastewater systems face additional stresses that builders of the 20th century never expected. They were designed for cities and towns with much smaller populations than they have today. That growth is straining water systems. And in the face of changing climates, intense rainfall, extreme drought, and rising sea levels make it increasingly difficult to maintain safe and reliable operation.

[Read more]

CWEA members are invited to attend CWEA’s Annual Business Meeting and vote on the incoming CWEA Slate of Officers.

This year, the voting session will occur April 28 at 11:00 AM—11:30 AM at the beginning of the Awards Luncheon at CWEA’s Annual Conference.

You do not have to register for the Annual Conference to attend the Annual Business portion of the Awards Lunch; however, you need to notify staff at the conference registration desk if you wish to attend that portion without registering for the conference or the lunch. Be there promptly at 11:00 AM to exercise your vote. If you can’t attend, submit a proxy by April 7th.

This proxy allows you to grant another member in attendance the right to vote on your behalf. Contact Victoria Thornton at CWEA to obtain the form or download from CWEA’s website.

For more information on nominees, go to: www.cwea.BoardNominees_2017.pdf

  • Vice President from the North—Kevin Calderwood
  • Director from the North (to be Treasurer)—Kenneth Merkle
  • Director from the South—Victoria Conway
  • WEF Delegate Director from the North—Matt Winkelman


  • Southern Regional Committee Chair/Director—Nikki Crumpler
  • Technical Certification Program Chair/Director—Anthony Pirondini

Proxy forms can be found here: www.cwea.org/pdf/board/proxy2017.doc

Significant Risk of Flooding in Northern California Flood Preparedness and Response Tools for Water Utilities
Widespread flooding can cause major power outages and damage to drinking water and wastewater utilities. EPA has developed tools to help you mitigate the threat of flooding and take action during an emergency. You can use the resources below to increase your 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
  • Developing 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.

Additional Resources
EPA Emergency Response for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities

The following CWEA members recently became WEF Life Members. Congratulations!

  • Richard F. Luthy
  • Roger V. Stephenson
  • Adam Olivieri
  • Walter Bishop

Individuals who have been a member of WEF and one or more WEF Member Association for 35 or more consecutive years, and are at age 65 or older, are eligible to apply for WEF Life Membership. The WEF Life Membership application should be completed and sent to:

Nick Bardis
601 Wythe St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone:  (703) 684-2400 x7731
Fax: 703-684-2481

Melissa Morton

Melissa Morton

Melissa Morton graduated with dual degrees in materials science and civil engineering from the University of California, Davis and has been employed in public works for 30 years. When the Assistant Public Works Director of the City of Benicia announced she was retiring, she asked Melissa about the job. Melissa says she always looked at these types of changes as opportunities to learn and grow. She had to learn quickly as her experience in water treatment and wastewater was minimal. Melissa now operates as District Manager of the Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District, which was also the result of a retirement vacancy. Now with almost three years under her belt at Vallejo, we asked Melissa what impacts the retirement wave has made on her current role and how she breathed new life into this roll at Vallejo.

How were you introduced to the water/wastewater treatment profession?

I have been working in the Public Works Field for 30 years, and had some exposure to small water and sewer districts under assessment districts at Contra Costa County.  However, I didn’t work for a full service City until Benicia in 2010.  When the Assistant Public Works Director retired a year later, the Public Works and Community Development Director asked me whether I was interested in her position.  Because I am a firm believer in the opportunity to learn new things, I was excited about the chance to work in water and sewer and jumped headlong into an effort to complete a fee study for both the water and sewer utilities, which included master plans and the associated budget modifications for both utilities.

How have retirements impacted Vallejo’s leadership and what have been the highlights and challenges of building a new leadership team?
This time next year, all of the Leadership Team (department heads) but one will be new.  Retirements have precipitated hiring a District Clerk, District Engineer, Finance Director, Director of Safety and Risk Management, and a Field Operations Superintendent.  Two others are planning retirements in the next year.  I am very fortunate to have inherited a tightly knit, hardworking team, and with each new addition to the leadership team, the entire team has been involved in assessing potential candidates.  While I make the final decision, interactions between the top two or three candidates and the rest of the team are important to assure the group continues to be high-functioning in their efforts.  All of the new department heads are very different from their predecessors, but collectively, the new qualities they bring to the table enhance the team as a whole.

What was your focus in the first few years as DM and what are your longer term goals?

In a goal setting session with our Board of Trustees in October 2014, we discussed several new programs with the Trustees and gained their support in pursuing all of these objectives.  We have a new performance evaluation system that is goal-based being implemented, and we have completed the first year of a three year asset management program that will not only define staffing levels needed for ongoing plant maintenance, but will define replacement costs and schedules for infrastructure renewal.  This important information will be incorporated into a long range financial plan, and rate study that will also establish a recommended reserve for the Trustees to consider for adoption.  We are also in the process of branding to simplify the District’s name, logo and mission to clearly define to the community, the services we provide for improved customer service and accessibility.

What advice do you have for a new executive who takes on the top leadership post at a utility?

Get to know the managers and supervisors in the organization.  Focus on their skills and their strengths, and tap into the areas where they have a passion for improving the organization.  Make changes to how your utility does business very deliberately so that the team clearly understands the expectations.  I want to be moving forward on changes or new initiatives, not backward because of unforeseen consequences.

Tell us about how you achieved the role of District Manager of Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control and what does it take to be a utility leader today?

By training and experience, I am a Civil Engineer with 30 years of experience in public works projects and programs.  That education and experience is the foundation I rely on when making decisions.  However, being a leader is not something you absorb.  I have read books, taken classes, hired an executive coach and studied people and their needs right alongside developing my technical skills.  I have worked with, and for many good managers, visionaries and leaders.  Each one has taught me positive and negative things that I have used to become the kind of leader I want to be.  There is no better feeling than knowing that you have mentored someone to success, and you learn a lot about yourself helping them achieve that success.

What would you recommend to someone entering the water/wastewater profession who wants to become a top leader?

Learn how best to coach and mentor people; make considered decisions to move your organization forward; and spend the time and energy necessary to learn to be the kind of leader you would be excited to work for.



Sponsored Webinar – CWEA Tech Talk
Know What’s Going on Inside Your Sewer System with Rehab Certification and Flow Monitoring

Join the discussion on the latest digital sewer system monitoring, testing and certification devices and find out how to monitor, manage and maintain your sewer system for maximum performance. This is webinar is sponsored by Electro Scan and ADS, sorry contact hours are not available.

Thursday, March 30th
11:00am to Noon
This is a free webinar

Register for the webinar >


Speakers include (l-r) Chuck Hansen and Mark Grabowski, Electro Scan; and Rob Larson, ADS

Presentation 1 by Electro Scan:
New Standards for Testing & Certification of Rehabilitation using Electro Scanning Inspection

New guidelines to certify rehabilitation, authored by Ken Kerri, Ph.D., P.E. & published in the new Wastewater Collection O&M manual, finds defects missed by CCTV.

Mark Grabowski, General Manager, Electro Scan, Inc.
Chuck Hansen, Hansen Holdings, LLC

What you will learn:

  1. Implement new guidelines to use Electro Scanning Inspection to prioritize critical sewers by potential infiltration – measured in gallons per minute – before rehabilitation.
  2. Why CCTV inspection should no longer be used to accept CIPP lining projects.
  3. Why California agencies are upgrading rehabilitation specifications requiring Electro Scanning Inspection to certify and accept trenchless lining, point repair, and new pipe installation projects.

Presentation 2 by ADS Echo:
Finally, a low cost, high performance manhole depth meter (ADS ECHO) that optimizes your collection system!

Learn about the many uses of affordable ECHO sewer depth meter and how the ECHO can make the lives of collection system operators much easier.

Rob Larson, Senior Account Executive, ADS Environmental Services

What you will learn:

  1. Learn about equipment and software that will prevent sewer overflows and avoid costly fines.
  2. Learn how to reduce un-needed sewer cleaning operations saving time and money
  3. Learn how to cost-effectively and quickly isolate inflow/infiltration in small basins.

Register for the webinar >

Have a new sewer technology you want to share during a future CWEA Tech Talk? Contact Alec Mackie (510.382.7800 x114) with your ideas.


There are no industry standards for biosolids quality and little information for where and how to use high quality biosolids (HQB) products. WE&RF’s HQB from Wastewater project is evaluating selected HQB products in order to develop criteria that render a material qualified for use in high value markets. Join researchers on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 as they discuss the findings to date, including odor characterization and detection threshold, respiratory activity, and house fly attraction.

Webinar details here>