Distribution System Comprehensive Performance Evaluation

During the week of June 23rd, members of the Optimization Team, in partnership with the EPA Region 4 Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) members, demonstrated the Distribution System Comprehensive Performance Evaluation (DS CPE) to the Region 4 AWOP in Mt. Airy, NC. This was the second in a series of three planned training CPEs intended to transfer DS CPE skills to the State AWOP participants; ultimately enabling them to conduct DS CPEs with and/or provide technical assistance to water systems challenged with meeting the Stage 2 DBPR or with maintaining a disinfectant residual in their system. Nineteen trainees participated in the CPE, which included representatives from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and EPA Region 4. (Alison Dugan & Matthew Alexander US EPA, TSC)

Washington State’s Turbidity Verification Project

Inspired by an AWOP data integrity workshop in October 2013, regional office field staff from the Washington State Office of Drinking Water recently completed a turbidity data verification project.  We took the original AWOP workshop, which was a day-long effort involving three teams, and scaled it down to a 2 to 3 hour field visit with a team of two staff.  Over a period of about one year, we visited all 25 rapid rate filtration plants in our northwest region.   We found deficiencies in all 25 plants that could or did affect the accuracy of the turbidity data reported to the DOH.

Preparation

Prior to each field visit, we contacted the lead operator by phone or email to schedule a convenient date.  We explained the background and purpose of what we were doing and were careful to emphasize that this was not a regulatory compliance activity.  We used the following language in communicating with utilities:

“We are working on a turbidity verification project, with the goal of improving the integrity/reliability of the turbidity data that gets reported to DOH.  The project grew out of a EPA training on data integrity that was done at the Anacortes filter plant last October. We are looking at the turbidimeter/controller settings to gain an understanding of industry practices and possible areas for increased data integrity.”

Prior to each visit, we asked the operator to supply the make and model of each on-line turbidimeter and controller, so we could review the equipment manuals ahead of time.  We also retrieved a recent monthly operations report to bring along.

Field Visit/Data Collection

We started each visit explaining again the background of why we were there.  We then interviewed the operator(s) about turbidimeter setup and maintenance practices at their plant (see the operator interview sheet: TVP Operator Interview Questions).

After the interview we toured the plant and inspected each on-line turbidimeter.  All of our plants used HACH equipment, so we structured our data sheet around the most common configuration:  HACH 1720E with an SC100 or 200 controller.  Since many operators were not familiar with the instrument setup screens on their equipment, we found it useful to set up the data sheet to match the menu screens in the equipment.

HACH 1720E SC100 Turbidity Settings

We ended each visit with a review of the monthly operations report.  We found it worked best to pick a random day and ask the operator to retrieve the data from that day and show us how the four hour readings and the maximum daily reading were extracted from the data.

For the field visit we found a team of two was ideal:  with one person you have trouble capturing the information; with too many people the dynamics of your group dominates the discussion and the interaction with the operator is not as effective.

Documentation and Followup

We followed up each visit with a one page summary including recommendations for changes.  This was emailed to the operator within a week of our visit.

Turbidity Verify Project Form

Example Data Record Sheet

Project Followup

During the project we uncovered one case of data falsification, six systems that had non-functional or inaccurate data recording and thirteen systems that were not correctly reporting daily turbidity values.  We are following up with each of these systems to correct the problems identified.  Recognizing that we needed better written guidance for turbidimeter setup and turbidity reporting, we worked with our other two regional offices to develop consistent guidelines.

Turbidity Monitoring Guidelines NWRO

We are currently working to communicate these to operators through our Water Tap newsletter, and local operator training events.   Staff in our other regional offices are working to extend the project to rapid rate plants throughout the state.

Nancy Feagin, PE
Regional Engineer
Washington State Department of Health
nancy.feagin@doh.wa.gov
253-395-6765

Steve Deem, PE
Regional Engineer
Washington State Department of Health
steve.deem@doh.wa.gov
253-395-6767

Region 10 AWOP Training and Strategic Planning Meeting

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with US EPA Region 10 and ASDWA, facilitated a strategic implementation meeting and technical workshop from May 20-22, 2014. Participants included representatives of drinking water programs from Alaska, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The EPA Region 10 office hosted the meeting in Seattle, where the participants reported on individual state AWOP implementation efforts. This was followed by a discussion of technical and implementation topics which resulted in action items to move the program forward. The workshop was conducted at the Deer Creek water treatment plant in cooperation with the Olympic View (WA) Water & Sewer District. The workshop objectives included identification and development of optimization strategies for contact adsorption clarifiers using buoyant media.

During the strategic implementation portion of the meeting, Bill Mundy (Regional Municipality of Halton, Ontario Canada) provided a presentation through Adobe Connect on the effective use of particle counters for indirect integrity monitoring of a membrane filtration plant. This information is directly applicable to the development of membrane optimization procedures by the Region 10 AWOP participants. (Rick Lieberman, US EPA, TSC).

Chloraminated Distribution System Field Event

During the week of May 12th, members of the Optimization Team, in partnership with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) and Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), conducted the first field event to support the development of a Distribution System Comprehensive Performance Evaluation (DS CPE) for chloraminated water systems. The DS CPE protocol was originally developed for water systems that use free chlorine as a secondary disinfectant. As a result, the existing DS CPE is in the process of being adapted to apply to chloraminated water systems. The field event provided an opportunity to field test aspects of the
DS CPE that were recently modified (e.g., additional monitoring parameters) or added (e.g., evaluation of chlorine and ammonia practices) to apply to chloraminated water systems. The event also provided an opportunity to assess the system’s performance relative to the proposed goals for chloraminated water systems. The host system, Oakmont Water Authority, welcomed the feedback from the team during the exit meeting and TSC will request updates on their pursuit of optimization from DEP and the ACHD staff. (Matthew Alexander, Alison Dugan, & Tom Waters US EPA, TSC)

Denny Krieder (Oakmont Water Authority) provides a tour of Oakmont Water Authority’s Hulton Purification Plant to Bill Davis (PAI) and Larry DeMers (PAI).

Denny Krieder (Oakmont Water Authority) provides a tour of Oakmont Water Authority’s Hulton Purification Plant to Bill Davis (PAI) and Larry DeMers (PAI).

 

Tom Waters (USEPA TSC) and Paul Handke (PA DEP) prepare to collect water quality samples as part of the storage tank assessment special study.

Tom Waters (USEPA TSC) and Paul Handke (PA DEP) prepare to collect water quality samples as part of the storage tank assessment special study.

Region 6 AWOP Strategic Planning Meeting

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with EPA Region 6 and ASDWA, led a strategic planning meeting and technical training event from May 6-8, 2014 in Texarkana, AR. Participants included state drinking water program representatives from Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and US EPA Region 7. The technical training workshop, held at a nearby water system, provided participants an approach to assess disinfection and nitrification in a chloraminated distribution system. During the planning meeting, states discussed a variety of topics, including feedback on the proposed goals for chloraminated water systems, suggested “next steps” for Missouri’s recently established optimization program, and how to integrate CPE training into capacity development. This was the first AWOP training and planning meeting where a representative from US EPA Region 7 was able to attend. With the recent addition of Missouri, two of the four Region 7 states now participate in AWOP. US EPA Region 7 plans to send a representative to future Region 6 AWOP meetings to support their states’ participation in AWOP. (Matthew Alexander US EPA, TSC)

Maher Jaafari (MO DNR) tours the Texarkana Water Utilities’ Millwood Treatment Plant during the workshop.

Maher Jaafari (MO DNR) tours the Texarkana Water Utilities’ Millwood Treatment Plant during the workshop.

Steven Hoffman (ODEQ) and Jennifer Bunton (IDNR) analyzing water quality samples that were collected during the workshop.

Steven Hoffman (ODEQ) and Jennifer Bunton (IDNR) analyzing water quality samples that were collected during the workshop.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) Filter Assessment Manual

SCDHEC’s Filter Assessment Manual is a compilation of proven filter testing techniques gathered from various sources, including AWWA conference proceedings, EPA guidance manuals, and water treatment textbooks. The manual describes in detail how to conduct a filter assessment and how to establish a filter surveillance program, two activities that can and should be practiced at drinking water treatment plants to optimize filter performance. Both of these optimization activities make use of a number of physical and operational filter tests designed to pinpoint various factors that may be limiting filter performance. A filter assessment is a single event during which most or all of the different filter tests are conducted in a comprehensive, full-scale investigation of filter performance. A filter assessment is often done when poor filtered water quality indicates that there may be a problem with a filter’s physical condition or its operation. A filter surveillance program is the routine testing of filter performance on an ongoing basis, incorporating each of the various filter tests according to a set schedule. A filter surveillance program is designed to monitor filter performance and to prevent problems from occurring. The SCDHEC Filter Assessment Manual contains a description of each of the different filter tests, including setup, equipment needed, and step-by-step procedures, complete with photographs and worksheets. The manual also explains how to interpret the test results and to apply the results to corrective actions that can optimize filter performance and filtered water quality.

For more information about using this tool, please contact Rick Hiers (hiersrs@dhec.sc.gov, (803)898-4202) or Rich Welch (welchra@dhec.sc.gov, (803)898-3546).

Filter Assessment Manual-Dec2003

DBP Precursor Removal Special Study in Irvine, KY

On April 29, the Optimization Team conducted a special study to evaluate bench-scale removal of DBP precursors at the drinking water treatment plant in Irvine, KY. During this study, jar test simulations of the drinking water clarification processes were conducted, comparing TOC removal under the plant’s operational conditions and under alternative plant settings. The outcome of this – and potentially future – studies will shape future DBP optimization training approaches. The system that hosted the team is a “graduate” of a 2011 DBP Performance Based Training project. The plant has maintained optimization as a “way of doing business” to produce excellent water quality in the plant and minimize water quality degredation in their distribution system. (Ouro Koumai & Alison Dugan US EPA TSC)

Alabama’s April Drawing the Graph Newsletter

Alabama’s Area Wide Optimization Program has recently released its newest “Drawing the Graph” newsletter.  This issue covers the status of the Alabama AWOP – 55% of their surface water treatment plants are optimized.  There is an article on the wrap up of the Cullman project, a Performance Based Training pilot for distribution systems.  Another article highlights the importance of data integrity.  The newsletter also includes the state’s optimization goals and a list of optimized plants.  The complete newsletter is attached to this post.

Drawing the Graph – April 2014 Issue

 

Region 4 AWOP Strategic Planning Meeting

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with EPA Region 4, led a strategic planning meeting from March 11-13, 2014 in Tampa, FL. Participants included state drinking water program representatives from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  This meeting provided Florida staff members with an opportunity to learn more about their peers’ programs as Florida revives their own program. States provided their annual AWOP reports, and many reported an increase in population served optimized water over the previous year.  Other discussion topics included approaches to disseminate AWOP concepts to small systems that are expected to have Stage 2 DBPR compliance concerns (possibly with the use of third-party technical assistance providers), next steps for Florida’s AWOP, and the use of AWOP-concepts to support RTCR implementation. Technical training focused on special studies that can be done to investigate turbidity data integrity issues at a water system (i.e., instrument calibration, data recording or reporting errors, etc.). All states plan to incorporate aspects of this training into their routine inspection activities.  (Alison Dugan, US EPA TSC)

Region 3 AWOP Training and Strategic Planning Meeting

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with EPA Region 3 and ASDWA, led a strategic planning meeting and technical training event from March 18-19, 2014 in Leesburg, VA.  Participants included state drinking water program representatives from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.  The technical training workshop, held at the Leesburg water treatment plant, focused on turbidity data integrity.  The objective of the workshop was to assess the accuracy and consistency of the turbidity monitoring data over its entire life cycle (i.e., sampling through reporting).

Topics for the strategic planning portion of the meeting included incorporation of AWOP concepts into RTCR Level 1 and Level 2 assessments; data integrity evaluations conducted in the state of Washington; and a summary of groundwater optimization efforts conducted by other AWOP states. Meeting participants plan to incorporate these concepts into their respective state’s PWSS program activities. (Tom Waters & Rick Lieberman, US EPA TSC)