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Partnership at Two Rivers Helps Educate the Next Generation of Wastewater Specialists

Posted on: April 30th, 2018 by eric

Taken from the Spring 2018 edition of our Authority View newsletter

MONMOUTH BEACH – When Sharon Ham and the staff at the Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority launched a pilot program in 2016 to work with students from local schools, the initial plan was simply to offer tours – but before long, the program turned into a productive partnership.

“We’ve done a few projects, but it really went into full force in 2017,” said Ham, Lab Manager at the Authority. “Normally in the lab they come in for tours. In 2017, Dr. Josephine Blaha (a science teacher at Holmdel High School) approached me and asked if the students could come into the laboratory after hours and talk to me about their projects so I could guide them in specific areas.”

Students often have ideas for projects and research, but may not know how to apply their ideas. Or sometimes it’s just a matter of having access to the resources needed to see a project through. That’s where Ham and her staff come in. Such was the case with Holmdel High student Erica Wu, who made headlines recently for her project “Sewer Electricity: A Microbial Fuel Cell Powered by Sludge,” which generated voltage from wastewater sludge. That sludge was provided by the Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority.

“Erica was able to generate sustained voltage from, let’s say, ‘sewage,’ to use a kind word,” Dr. Blaha told the Holmdel Patch. “Most impressive was that this project was done completely in-house, and independently, with no outside help, except for the sludge provided by the Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority.”

Wu’s work earned her an invitation to present her project at the New Jersey Academy of Sciences symposium at Kean University. She ended up winning first place in the Environmental Science division, and also got an invitation to present at the American Junior Academy of Science Conference (AJAS) in Austin, TX, among other accolades.

And Wu’s project is just one of several that have resulted from this partnership. Ham said the students have an eye on the future and share similar goals as those working at the Authority.

“Part of what these students want to know about is sustainability in wastewater treatment. The same thing for drinking water. This really is the future in the industry,” she said.

The students come to the facility with a strong understanding of science – Ham has praise for the school systems the Authority works with – but not necessarily an understanding of everything that goes into wastewater management. In fact, she said, most people are surprised when they learn just how involved the process is from the moment they flush to the moment that water is released back out into the world. Permitting, compliance with local, state, and federal law, quality control and quality assurance. It’s a lot to take in.

“Educating the public is extremely important, especially with some of the new laws being passed,” Ham said. “I’m a big believer in that. When the teachers or professors come in, even the adults don’t know themselves what the full process is.”

Educating the public can be an essential part of a good future for the industry, often in some surprising ways. For Ham and the staff at the Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority, working with the students has become a two-way learning endeavor. The experts help the students develop into the next generation of water and wastewater professionals, while the students help veterans of the industry see their jobs in a new light.

“I think we both learned from the project. I’ve been in the field for 22 years and I learned a lot from the students when they came in,” Ham said.

With sustainability a mutual goal for both professionals and future professionals alike, the learning experience becomes about more than just teaching students about how wastewater management works. It also becomes a path to a better future for all.

Presentations from the 2018 Spring Conference now available

Posted on: April 9th, 2018 by eric

Our 2018 Spring Conference featured a number of speakers who offered presentations on a wide variety of topics important to those in the water / wastewater industry. With their permission, we are happy to share their PowerPoint presentations here, in both PDF and PowerPoint format. While this is just one part of the insightful presentations these valued guests provided, we hope you’ll find them useful.

CYBER SECURITY FOR WATER AND WASTEWATER UTILITIES

Presented by DAVID A. CHANDA, PE, of Suburban Consulting Engineers, Inc. at the 2018 Spring Conference.

Download: PDF / PowerPoint

Cyclical Status and Fundamental Structural Disruptions

A presentation by James W. Hughes, Ph.D. University Professor And Dean Emeritus at Rutgers, given at the 2018 Spring Conference of the Association of Environmental Authorities (AEA NJ).

Download: PDF / PowerPoint

PERACETIC ACID DISINFECTION

Presented by Chris Jepson of Van Cleef Engineering Assoc. and Tom McAndrew, Superintendent, WPCP, at the 2018 Spring Conference of the Association of Environmental Authorities.

Download: PDF / PowerPoint

Resiliency for Today’s Cyber-Ecosystems

Presented by Chris Mangano to the 2018 Spring Conference of the Association of Environmental Authorities (AEA NJ)

DownloadPDF / PowerPoint

Retaining Top Talent

Presentation by BRIAN J. VALENTINO, MPA, CEAS, ICMA-CM, Executive Director of the Western Monmouth Utilities Authority and Director of the Environmental Professional Development Academy.

Download: PDF / PowerPoint

Rethink Backup

Presentation made by Michael DePalma at the 2018 Spring Conference of the Association of Environmental Authorities (AEA NJ)

Download: PDF / PowerPoint

Water Utility Data Management Systems

Presented by Sami F. Sarrouh, P.E., Steven Callahan, and Samer Sarrouh at the 2018 Spring Conference of the Association of Environmental Authorities (AEA NJ)

DownloadPDF / PowerPoint

AEA Response Testimony at Clean Water Council Public Hearing: Taking Stormwater Management to the Next Level

Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by eric

The below piece is a written follow-up to oral testimony given at an Oct. 19, 2017 public hearing at the Clean Water Council, c/o the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Trenton. This written testimony was provided Oct. 31. The Clean Water Council holds an annual hearing and this year the topic was stormwater management. The AEA comments deal with explaining the limited role authorities currently have and the conditions under which authorities may have a role in statewide efforts to address non-point source pollution. 

AEA Response Testimony at Clean Water Council Public Hearing:

Taking Stormwater Management to the Next Level

 

The Association of Environmental Authorities is a trade association that represents utilities authorities and municipal utilities owned by the public, along with private-sector businesses that support them. These members provide clean water and solid waste services to about eight million New Jerseyans. We are grateful for this opportunity to offer comments to the NJ Clean Water Council.

After the passage of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, local governments in New Jersey partnered to create county and regional authorities to address water and wastewater service needs. Individual municipalities created municipal utilities authorities to serve their own water and wastewater needs and in some cases those of neighbors as well. Through authorities and other service delivery models, New Jersey has achieved significant reductions in point-source pollution. Beach closings are now rare. Aquatic life has re-emerged. With new analytical methods for testing water that can detect ever-smaller concentrations of metals and toxic chemicals, there is every reason to hope for continued improvement in outcomes for point-source pollution reduction. Now, it is time for non-point source pollution to be addressed with the same systematic efforts.

 

AEA members have an interest in the dialogue about non-point source pollution reduction. Addressing stormwater pollution can help wastewater and drinking water service providers save money for their ratepayers in reduced treatment costs. Influxes of stormwater can damage the wastewater treatment process and threaten the ability of treatment plants to comply with discharge permits.

It makes sense to include existing drinking water and wastewater agencies in statewide efforts to address non-point source pollution. They already know about how to treat “raw” water to deliver safe “finished” drinking water and how to treat wastewater so that it can be safely discharged into rivers and streams. Authorities are experienced water infrastructure managers, handling operations and maintenances and engaging in long-term capital and financial planning (asset management).[1] However, authorities are not statutorily responsible for stormwater.  Engaging them as partners would require amending the statutes that govern authorities. The law would have to be amended to unequivocally permit authorities to work with MS-4 permittees on stormwater. It would have to permit a new funding mechanism as well— authorities cannot be asked to stretch existing drinking water and/or wastewater funding for stormwater. They need existing funding to maintain water quality and infrastructure.

In the event legislation is created to permit stormwater utilities, water/wastewater authorities should be among those permitted to participate and collect user fees. Legislation should address conditions under which a stormwater facility can be turned over to the stormwater utility and how access for on-going maintenance would be handled. Collaboration and efficient use of existing resources and service delivery systems should be encouraged*[2]. At the same time, authorities must be able to determine the impact participation might have on existing water/wastewater responsibilities and whether it would benefit existing customers. The best outcomes will be achieved if regulations take into account changing conditions, and if they are allow on site-specific investigation, proper sampling, appropriate testing, and an integrated approach to water quality management.

New Jersey can’t address stormwater or any of its environmental challenges effectively without the political will to do so. Citizens, business leaders and local officials must understand the consequences of ignoring the problems of non-point source pollution and the great benefits of addressing them. Many people and organizations, including the Clean Water Council, are working to increase the understanding and awareness that can lead to action. CSO owners like Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission and North Hudson Sewerage Authority are engaging with their communities. Authorities such as Landis Sewerage Authorities, Camden County MUA, Atlantic County Utilities Authority, Mount Laurel Township MUA, and Brick Township MUA reach beyond the gates of their treatment plants to connect with and educate the public. Many authorities work informally with public works departments on stormwater basin cleaning or similar activities.

AEA commends the Clean Water Council for choosing this topic for its public hearing and urges the Council to continue its important work with the Department of Environmental Protection and other stakeholders on non-point source pollution.

 

Respectfully submitted by Peggy Gallos

AEA Executive Director

 

Clean Water Council appointed Peggy in 2015 to a role as a technical advisor.  Jim Cosgrove chairs the CWC. His firm, Kleinfelder, has been a long-time member of AEA and Jim is an active member of the AEA NJPDES Committee. For more information about the CWC, click here. http://www.nj.gov/dep/cleanwatercouncil/

 

[1] Jackson Township MUA is an example of an authority that has managed its capital costs and debts in a balanced manner that has kept rates stable, with a minimum of increases.

[2] Lakewood Township MUA and Hamilton Township MUA (Atlantic County) are authorities that are useful examples of authority/municipal cooperation and collaboration.

AEA Making Strides in Embracing Social Media

Posted on: October 12th, 2017 by eric

One of the AEA’s core missions has always been to assist our membership in keeping up with current trends, methodologies, and technologies, all in order to ensure they stay abreast of our changing world. We recognize that we can’t do that without ensuring our own house is in order, which is why we are making strong strides in the digital realm, especially when it comes to social media.

social media

Our members use and interact with social media on a daily basis. So do the ratepayers they serve, the other agencies and authorities they deal with, and the government agencies they must contend with. Our goal is to stand alongside them as we adjust to the changing media landscape. With that in mind, the AEA is expanding its social media presence in a way we believe will benefit both our members and the public at large.

Your portal to seeing how we are expanding our digital efforts begins at our web page, aeanj.org. Newly redesigned and in the midst of changes still to come, you’ll not only have access to resources our membership finds extremely useful – both the Career Center and Document Library have proven to be invaluable resources – you’ll also find links to our social media channels.

First and foremost among those social media outlets is Facebook. You’ll find us at facebook.com/AEANJcleanwater. Facebook is a truly social platform, which is why your Public Information Officer or PR staff may have noticed us connecting our page to your agency or authority’s page. In keeping with the nature of the platform, our goals on Facebook are multi-faceted. On the simplest level, we’ll be more frequently delivering information via the platform, both to our membership (such as information on our upcoming Annual Conference) and to the general public (such as tips on how to use water efficiently or updates on laws that impact their lives).

Yet Facebook is not merely for broadcasting information. Expect to see us more frequently sharing posts and information from our members. Highlighting the amazing work they do is part of our mission, after all. We’ll also be using the platform as a means to connect our members to one another; to offer you another avenue by which to contact us; and to continue to advocate on your behalf. We have other exciting plans in the works, too, which we will announce in early 2018.

social media

Over at twitter.com/aeanjcleanwater, you’ll find us sharing updates from our members and other organizations we respect; sharing news we think might be relevant to you and the public; and perhaps occasionally enjoying the lighter side of social media. We make an effort to follow all our member organizations, so if we missed you, follow us or send us a DM so we can ensure we add you to our follow list.

These venues are only the start. In the months ahead we plan to expand the way we reach members and the public in a number of ways. The world we live in is now a multimedia world. There is no ignoring that. In order to best serve you, and in turn help you better serve your ratepayers, we have to keep pace with those changes in how we interact with one another. We aim to do exactly that.

We hope you’ll be along for the ride.

One Water Award to honor infrastructure projects

Posted on: July 15th, 2017 by eric

One Water Award to honor infrastructure projects. Includes category for public agencies.

More info —  Apply

Video: Members Explain Why They BelongWe asked  members what they value about AEA.

Congratulations to the Recipients of 2017 Wave Awards

Posted on: April 15th, 2017 by eric

Recipients of 2017 Wave Awards

Best Management Practices

Atlantic County UA
Hamilton Township MUA
Passaic Valley SC

Energy Savers
Toms River MUA

Public Education
Atlantic County UA
Cape May County MUA
Passaic Valley SC

Forward Thinking
Cape May County MUA
Somerset Raritan Valley SA
Toms River MUA