February 2013, Vol. 25, No.2

Los Angeles Environmental Learning Center

Demonstrating and teaching sustainable water resources management

LA ELC art Ron Mayuyu, Michael Sarullo, and Heather Boyle VanMeter

Recognizing the need to educate children and adults about sustainable water and solid resources management as a catalyst to change behavior, the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works’ bureaus of Sanitation and Engineering developed the Los Angeles Environmental Learning Center (ELC). It is ELC’s vision to become the leading center for environmental learning, inspiring future generations to protect public health and the environment through sustainable practices.

ELC, which has been designated by the U.S. Green Building Council (Washington, D.C.) as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold facility, demonstrates sustainable water management through its design and operation, and provides space to teach sustainable water management with interactive learning exhibits. Read full article (login required) 


Value engineering saves $740M

Indianapolis built a technical consensus and amended a consent decree for CSO controls

Value engineering art Chris Ranck, Mark Jacob, and Steve Nielsen
Within 2 years of entering into a consent decree to implement combined sewer overflow (CSO) control measures, the City of Indianapolis returned with proposed modifications that would capture overflow earlier and reduce escalating program costs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management recognized these revisions as mutually beneficial: The city would lower its expenditures while the community would reap the rewards of controlling additional CSO discharge. Read full article (open access)  


Starting over

Moving closer to energy independence in water reclamation

Starting over art Graham J.G. Juby

In 2015, the 16,000 or so water resource recovery facilities in the U.S. will consume about 25 billion kWh of electricity, according to predictions in Water & Sustainability: U.S. Electricity Consumption for Water Supply and Treatment — The Next Half Century, a 2002 report by the Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, Calif.). The report further predicts that electricity use will reach 30 billion kWh by 2050.

At the same time, water utilities are recognizing the benefits of water reclamation for reuse, wherein larger-scale projects are more cost-effective than smaller ones.

One solution to reducing energy consumption while simultaneously gaining reclaimed-water resources is to take the treatment processes back to the drawing board. By examining the energy needs and sources within different treatment schemes, utilities can move closer to energy independence even when producing high-quality reverse-osmosis product water. Read full article (login required)  


Operations Forum Features

What to do when the bubble has burst

A Georgia water utility has to respond quickly to historic personnel loss

Bubble_Art Kendall M. Jacob

In 2010, the Cobb County (Ga.) Water System (CCWS) lost 8% of its work force, representing 38% of total employee tenure.

From a local standpoint, a few key factors were at play and led to this exodus. First, there was the inordinately large number of personnel eligible for retirement. Second, Cobb County found itself deeply affected by the 2008–2009 recession. Third, the CCWS budget also was negatively affected by lost revenue from declining residential water use, which began its decline in 2001 due in part to the advent of high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and CCWS customer water conservation education programs. This was followed by mandated extreme conservation measures that were the result of a multiyear statewide drought and long-simmering contention with two neighboring states about water rights.

Responding to both local and national impacts, CCWS developed several countermeasures that were varied but interconnected. Read full article (login required)  


Michigan stormwater utility woes not over

The City of Jackson, Mich., created a stormwater utility using court guidelines and awaits results of lawsuits to see how well it did

Stormwater art Vic Cooperwasser and Jon Dowling
The creation of new stormwater utilities in Michigan came to a halt in 1998 when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Lansing, Mich., stormwater utility did not meet the three-part test for establishing a valid user fee. The City of Jackson is the first community in Michigan to implement a new stormwater utility since the legal challenge to Lansing. Jackson’s stormwater utility was designed in 2011 to comply with the guidance given in that court opinion. Read full article (login required)  


Motors matter

When it comes to motors for pumps, one size definitely does not fit all

Motors art Tim Albers
When selecting a motor for a water or wastewater application, it’s not as simple as saying, “A big pump needs a big motor.” In fact, many factors should be considered when choosing a pump motor. And the work doesn’t end with the decision: Proper maintenance and the age-old debate of “repair versus replace” also are important factors. Read full article (login required)