Distribution System Comprehensive Performance Evaluation

During the week of September 8th, members of the Optimization Team, in partnership with the EPA Region 6 and Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), conducted a 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 protocol is in the process of being modified to apply to chloraminated water systems, which was supported by the findings and experience gained from this event. The field event was hosted by two systems, Marion County Regional Water District, a parent system, and Yellville Water Works, one of their six consecutive systems. Typically DS CPEs are only conducted at a single water system, so this event allowed the unique opportunity of implementing the tool at two systems with a parent-consecutive system relationship. Both systems welcomed the feedback from the team during the exit meeting and the Optimization Team will request updates on their mutual pursuit of optimization from ADH staff. (Matthew Alexander, Alison Dugan, & Tom Waters, US EPA TSC)

Aim High Campaign Finalist

On September 17th, members of the optimization team from TSC and Region 4 participated in a video teleconference with Administrator McCarthy to discuss the Public Health Protection and Water Efficiency through the Drinking Water Optimization Program. This project, along with four others, was selected as a finalist in the Aim High Campaign on Protecting Water: A Precious, Limited Resource. The optimization project highlighted Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) efforts within the Region 4 states and a tribal system to effectively implement an enhanced backwashing procedure (Extended Terminal Subfluidization Wash, or ETSW). ETSW can significantly improve finished water quality and often has a secondary benefit of water savings during filter backwash. One example cited was from the State of Alabama, where AWOP efforts resulted in an annual savings of 500 million gallons of water among 14 water treatment plants. The Administrator appreciated that this work has a direct impact on public health protection, in addition to the resulting water savings. (Alison Dugan & Rick Lieberman, US EPA TSC)

Distribution System Comprehensive Performance Evaluation

During the week of August 26, members of the Optimization Team, in partnership with the Region 4 Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) team, demonstrated the Distribution System Comprehensive Performance Evaluation (DS CPE) in Lawrenceburg, KY. Sixteen trainees participated in this CPE, including representatives from Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Region 4. This CPE was the final in a series of three training CPEs conducted with this AWOP. States anticipate that they will implement this tool (either fully, or “pieces”) to support their Stage 2 DBPR compliance assistance activities, primarily targeting systems with compliance challenges who have a desire to optimize and improve water quality in their system. (Alison Dugan & Matthew Alexander, US EPA TSC)

Region 3 AWOP Training and Strategic Planning Meeting

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with Region 3 and ASDWA, led a strategic planning meeting and technical training event from August 12-13, 2014 in Petersburg, WV. Participants included state drinking water program representatives from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The workshop, held at the Petersburg water treatment plant, focused on disinfection data integrity (assessing the accuracy and consistency of the disinfection monitoring data from sampling through reporting). Other topics for the meeting included broad-scale implementation of distribution system optimization, membrane treatment and SCADA, and the use of third party technical assistance providers to support optimization. Meeting participants plan to incorporate the workshop concepts into their respective state’s PWSS program activities. (Rick Lieberman, US EPA TSC).

Distribution System Optimization Training

On July 29 and 30th the Optimization Team, in partnership with the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (BPH) Area Wide Optimization Team, provided distribution system optimization training to plant and distribution system operators from ten water systems. This training “module” is based on Performance Based Training (PBT) concepts and approach, with the intent of engaging more water systems (compared to a traditional PBT project) with limited facilitation (as opposed to PBT). The training focused on the importance of maintaining an adequate disinfectant residual and minimizing disinfection byproducts in the distribution system, as well as approaches for monitoring water quality (including site selection) and water quality data handling. The BPH provided hydrant samplers to all of the participating systems to help them accurately characterize water throughout their systems. Two members from the State of Virginia’s AWOP team also attended and are considering implementing this training with water systems in their state. A second module is planned for spring of 2015, focused on operational strategies to improve water quality once areas of poor water quality have been identified. (Alison Dugan & Tom Waters, US EPA TSC)

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.