Around the Water Cooler

EPA Awards $4.8 Million for Research on Drinking Water Safety
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded six university research grants totaling $4.8 million for research on drinking water safety and techniques to reduce risks to public water systems. The grants were awarded through EPA's Science to Achieve Results program for research in environmental science and engineering.

Grant recipients include: the University of Kentucky, which will work on an early warning tool for surface water treatment plants to detect unsafe levels of bacteria; and the Lovelace Clinic Foundation in Albuquerque, N.M., which will research the health risks associated with a type of water filtration called bank filtration.

More information on the projects is available at . To learn more about EPA's STAR program, see:

Utility-Grade Relays Protect Motors at Denver Area Wastewater Plant
The Denver-based Metro Wastewater Reclamation District (Metro), the largest wastewater treatment plant between the Mississippi River and the West Coast, has some daunting challenges in its disposal of solid waste and return of clean water to the community. To provide necessary assurance of critical blower system uptime, Metro replaced its aging motor protection relays with SEL-701 "utility-grade" relays, which offered more durability, robust features and improved availability -- at a lower price than conventional relays, company representatives say.

Metro's water throughput from its 380-square-mile district is 150 million gallons per day. The water it purifies contributes 90 percent of the South Platte River's annual flow at the point of discharge. Any sustained interruption of reclamation processes could therefore have a devastating impact on this vital natural resource.

"The usual 'industrial-grade' relays that were already in use didn't provide the reliability or security we wanted," says Andy Leoni, manager of engineering at NEI Electric Power Engineering, which engineers the design and service of Metro's electrical and communications systems. "Inconsistent performance and lack of product support were causing a great deal of coordination problems and occasional equipment failures, including relay and control logic failures. When one or more blower motors quit, part of Metro's treatment capacity would be temporarily disabled. Worse yet, if such an event were to go undetected, EPA violations could occur -- a situation that Metro was determined to prevent."

Dissatisfied with the idea of replacing worn or failed relays with similar equipment, in mid-1999 NEI began to look for more rugged relays to protect the Metro aeration blower motors. The relays they selected were from Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL).

Metro's maintenance planner, Larry Dulworth, says, "This utility-grade device was not only more durable and robust than the industrial-grade counterpart, but it was also less expensive and required much less lead time for delivery.

For more information about SEL products, visit

California Utility Earns Payback on Pump Retrofit
The Cupertino Sanitary District (CSD), which serves 52,000 South Bay residents within a 15-square-mile area approximately 35 miles outside of San Francisco, has seen significant reductions in operating costs following equipment upgrades at the district's lift stations and a number of other proactive measures. The district's submersible pumps now operate with a new generation of impeller designed to virtually eliminate blockages.

An emergency crew dispatched to a clogged station will typically cost CSD up to $1,000 per incident, and they occurred almost monthly at one or more stations, according to Dave E. Ross, PE, the manager-engineer of the utility. During the year following the pump retrofit program, the utility saved several thousand dollars by preventing all but one blockage. Additional energy savings are also being realized due to the suspended high operating efficiency offered by the new pumps.

CSD includes 21,000 service connections that extend throughout the City of Cupertino and parts of Saratoga, Los Altos, Sunnyvale and unincorporated Santa Clara County. The system conveys approximately five million gallons per day (mgd) with a combination of gravity lines and pumps to the 143-mgd San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant.

"The arrangement has worked very well here," noted Ross. "The staff is kept to a minimum, the need for major field equipment eliminated, and competitive pricing and productivity seem more assured by contracting out our projects. These have all contributed to reasonable rates as the population increased within the service area."

"The $19,600 N-pump impeller upgrade program involved nine locations in May 2001 and still had effectively prevented any further blockages well over a year after the improvements," Ross said.

Of the nine stations that received the ITT Flygt pump impeller upgrades, only one had experienced a blockage by the summer of 2002. The incident involved an older 2-hp unit with little torque to overcome a particularly thick sock. This problem-prone station had a previous record of clogging every two months to three months.

Honored with several engineering awards, the new generation technology from ITT Flygt benefits from a self-cleaning channel impeller that is innately less susceptible to the fouling that eventually causes blockages. CSD could also experience improved energy efficiency at the stations. In field tests where recurring blockages had been an issue elsewhere, the ITT Flygt innovation not only eliminated clogging but also is delivering power savings throughout the expected service life period of over 50 years. For more information on ITT Flygt's units, visit

Environmental Law Specialist Fights for Marshlands
Atlanta-based Smith, Gambrell & Russell's Environmental Law Practice Group's lead partner, Steve O'Day, is making a fight against a development near Savannah, Ga., his personal cause. O'Day has been named senior litigation counsel by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) of Charlottesville, Va., and will take over SELC's fight against Emerald Pointe, a development that recently was granted a permit to build three bridges across state-owned marshlands.

O'Day, who is a member of SELC's board of trustees, will represent three environmental groups (Sierra Club, Center for a Sustainable Coast and Altamaha Riverkeeper) in the case. The groups are opposing the decision of an administrative law judge in March 2002 that granted the developer the ability to proceed with constructing the bridges.

In February 2001, the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee of the State Department of Natural Resources approved a permit request by Emerald Pointe Development to build three private bridges over state-owned marshland off the mainland in Savannah. The bridges would allow Emerald Pointe to proceed with plans to build up to 40 high-end houses with a community dock or marina. The bridges would link three marsh hammocks, which are higher-elevated islands surrounded by tidal marsh that help slow mainland erosion and provide refuge for marsh wildlife.

According to the organizations O'Day is defending, the bridges would shade marshland, killing plant and animal life and disrupting the marine ecosystem. Polluted runoff from the residential and marina development pose additional risk to the ecosystem. The approval of this permit also worries environmental groups as it sets a precedent for the approval of other development permits on the approximately 730 hammocks in coastal Georgia counties. The permit was contested in 2001, and was upheld in March 2002.

A graduate of Furman University and Harvard Law School, Mr. O'Day has focused his practice on environmental litigation, consultation and negotiations during his 20 plus years. He has advised clients in connection with the full range of environmental legislation and common law issues, including issues related to Georgia's coast and its valuable coastal marshlands.

For more information on SELC, the organization's web address is

Calgon Carbon and Mitsubishi Chemical Form Joint Venture
Calgon Carbon Corp. of Pittsburgh has formed a joint venture partnership with Mitsubishi Corp. of Tokyo to produce and sell activated carbon and related services throughout Japan.

Mitsubishi Chemical will own 51 percent of the joint venture, while Calgon Carbon will own 49 percent. As the minority owner, Calgon Carbon will report results under the equity method of accounting. While this will reduce total consolidated sales for Calgon Carbon by about $7 million annually, the company predicts it will have a positive effect on its net income.

Concerning the partnership, Calgon Carbon's chair and CEO Jim Cerderna said, "The joint venture is consistent with Calgon Carbon's strategy to expand our business globally and remain the world leader in activated carbon and services. Calgon Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. will be the largest provider of activated carbon solutions for air and water purification in Japan."

New Hires and Promotions

  • The Municipal WaterWorks division of Flowtronex PSI Inc.
  • , a Dallas-based designer and manufacturer of irrigation pumping systems for municipal, landscape, golf courses and sports turf facilities, has announced that Stephen H. Jeffus has joined the company as manager of application engineering. Jeffus was hired to lead "Operation Trident," a Flowtronex initiative that the company hopes "will raise the bar on municipal pump station production." Jeffus comes to Flowtronex from Instrument & Supply, a manufacturer's rep firm offering water and wastewater pump and process equipment to municipal and industrial markets. He earned a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1989 from the University of Arkansas. He has also completed over 30 hours of graduate engineering courses, studying water and wastewater environmental engineering.
  • CSA Group
  • , Toronto, has appointed Randall W. Luecke to vice president, certification, of CSA International. Under Mr. Luecke's leadership, operational efforts are underway that are designed to streamline how the organization manages the certification process and increases the company's use of technology to drive efficiency. Previously vice president, finance, CSA Group, Mr. Luecke joined CSA in 1994 as a member of the executive team at International Approval Services (IAS), the certification and testing arm of the American and Canadian Gas Associations.
  • Severn Trent Services
  • , Fort Washington, Pa., has appointed Leonard F. Graziano as president and chief executive officer. Graziano joined the company in January 2000 as senior vice president of Severn Trent's Operating Services and Water Purification groups. Prior to joining the company, Graziano was president of Chemineer Inc, a Dayton, Ohio, unit of Robbins & Myers specializing in global industrial mixer equipment. He also served as president of Johnston Pump Inc., a global pump company based in Brookshire, Texas, that specializes in the municipal, power and petroleum markets. Graziano earned a master of business administration from Temple University, Pa., and a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. He serves on the board of directors of the Water Partnership Council and Severn Trent Services. In conjunction with Graziano's appointment, Severn Trent Services has undertaken a global reorganization, centralizing the management of its businesses across the world to better serve its customers.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2003 issue of Environmental Protection.

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