While it may seem difficult to Imagine a Day Without Water, it is estimated that two million Americans live without access to drinking water and wastewater services. The Value of Water Campaign also reports that more than six million people in rural areas experience water contamination problems. These are real issues that we here at Woodard & Curran are working daily to solve while embracing the seven goals outlined by the U.S. Water Alliance’s One Water movement:
With experts in drinking water, wastewater, and water reuse, these ideas sit at the forefront of the work we do.
Our drinking water experts keep their finger on the pulse of ever-changing regulatory requirements, while also exploring innovative approaches to optimize supply, improve resiliency, and ensure our communities have access to safe, clean drinking water.
Faced with new regulatory requirements and an aging treatment facility, the town of Cumberland, RI sought a unique solution to comply with its permit requirements. Rather than invest in a costly water treatment plant upgrade, we conducted engineering and hydrogeological assessments of area groundwater to source two entirely new supplies. Switching from a surface water supply to high-quality groundwater requiring only chemical treatment, will allow the town to decommission its surface water treatment plant and instead realize an annual savings that will recover the total project cost within just a few years.
As we work with our individual clients, we are also monitoring the Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR) coming out of the Environmental Protection Agency. We are expecting the new rules will be in effect starting December 16, with an initial compliance deadline of October 16, 2024. The LCRR seeks to strengthen water treatment practices, increase sampling, require testing in schools and childcare facilities, replace lead service lines, and improve public communication. We have already worked with several water agencies to mitigate lead exposure through various testing programs and remedial efforts and are positioned to help other communities comply with the upcoming rules.
Maintaining wastewater infrastructure is a critical component to protecting public health and preserving the waterways we love to enjoy. Innovative technologies and digital tools allow us to deliver projects that address today’s critical issues.
Aging infrastructure is one of today’s biggest challenges. Municipalities across the country need to tackle a long list of replacement and rehabilitation projects to maintain reliable collection and treatment systems. Regardless of the size and scope of these projects, maintaining service and minimizing disruption to area residents are key elements we factor into our design work. In working with the California city of Santa Clara, we had to tackle a trunk sewer line rehabilitation that ran through a main traffic artery in San Jose. We leveraged trenchless technology methods including cured-in-place pipe and an innovative grit trap design to execute the rehabilitation project, minimize impacts during construction, and improve the operability and longevity of the system.
Last year we also tapped the potential of testing wastewater to track and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Biomarkers of SARS-CoV-2 appear in wastewater days or even weeks before positive COVID-19 results are obtained and reported through individual testing. We worked with universities to develop sampling and testing protocols to provide the early warning needed to implement early identification and containment measures to help protect the student body population. Wastewater epidemiology is an important and evolving tool to protect public health.
The rapid advancement of digital technology is unlocking new opportunities to optimize system performance, reduce costs and carbon footprint, and provide tools to support operations and management of our water infrastructure. Woodard & Curran partnered with the city of Westfield, MA to demonstrate the benefits of ammonia-based aeration control (ABAC) at their water resource recovery facility. Use of this advanced, sensor-based control scheme resulted in a 15 percent reduction in blower energy costs and alkalinity adjustment chemicals.
While state regulators work toward legislation regarding direct potable reuse, our experts are leading the effort. Attendees at today’s California-Nevada AWWA Fall Conference are hearing from Regional Manager Erica Wolski and our client, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, about one of the city’s potable reuse demonstration projects. Meanwhile, our reuse experts have been supporting agencies that leverage non-potable reuse for irrigation and indirect potable reuse for groundwater and reservoir augmentation.
Our operations team has a long-standing relationship with Water Conserv II, largest reuse project of its kind in the world situated in Winter Garden, Florida. The cooperative water reuse project is a partnership between the city of Orlando, Orange County, and the area agricultural community that irrigates up to 2,737 acres of citrus groves annually. The internationally recognized project features two water reclamation facilities that not only provide irrigation, but also recharge the Floridian Aquifer.
In California, we are seeing the fruits of our engineers’ and planners’ labor in a one-of-a-kind project that took nearly a decade to complete. The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Project, operational since 2017, is helping the Del Puerto Water District (DPWD) survive the latest drought. The award-winning project, a partnership between DPWD and the cities of Modesto and Turlock, is a stellar example of an agriculture-utility partnership. With cutbacks in federally managed surface water supplies, the recycled water provides a critical base supply for the region, which is largely dependent on agriculture. Water District in a region whose economy depends on agriculture.
The One Water movement is leading us into the future, and we are actively embracing it!