Region 10 Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) Meeting

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with ASDWA, led a program implementation meeting on October 4-6, 2016 in Portland, OR. Representatives of drinking water programs from Oregon, Washington, Montana and Utah reported on ongoing AWOP implementation efforts. Program representatives from Region 8, Colorado, and Idaho also participated in the meeting remotely. A technical workshop focused on contact adsorption clarifier (CAC) optimization at the City of Seaside, OR water treatment plant. The goal of the workshop was to further identify and develop water treatment optimization strategies for CACs. Following the workshop, the group discussed optimization for harmful algal blooms, membrane treatment, and approaches for demonstrating impacts of the optimization program (Tom Waters, US EPA, TSC).

Montana Drinking Water Optimization Training

During the week of September 12 – 16, 2016, the TSC Optimization Team led a training class for drinking water program staff with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in Helena, MT. Attendees from EPA Region 8 also participated. Topics covered during the 2½-day class included an overview of surface water treatment plant optimization, plant performance assessment (including data trending and analyses) and turbidity data handling from sampling through reporting. A turbidity data integrity workshop was conducted at the Ten Mile Water Treatment Plant in Helena, MT. The in-plant workshop provided participants and water system staff the opportunity to identify the many potential influences on data quality that may impact process control decisions and water quality reporting. Participants concluded the training by summarizing their findings and developing action steps. (Tom Waters, US EPA, TSC).

Region 4 AWOP Strategic Planning Meeting and Workshop

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with Region 4 and ASDWA, led a training exercise and strategic planning meeting August 16-18, 2016 in Marion, NC. Participants included state drinking water program representatives from Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. States presented an overview of AWOP activities and accomplishments and discussed a variety of implementation issues. The technical workshop focused on distribution system optimization (DSO). Water system maps, historical water quality data, and results from investigative sampling performed by NC staff members were utilized by the participants to identify areas of the DS susceptible to water quality issues and propose studies to address those issues. State action plans were developed to support implementation of DSO approaches, including collaboration with Technical Assistance providers as appropriate. (Richard Lieberman, US EPA, TSC)

Microbial / Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Comprehensive Performance Evaluation (CPE)

The TSC Optimization team, in partnership with Ohio EPA, conducted a developmental HAB CPE at the Ottawa County Regional Water Treatment Plant in Port Clinton, OH during the week of August 1-5, 2016. This CPE was the first of a series of pilot CPEs to develop an optimization evaluation tool for water treatment plants (WTPs) challenged by HABs. The CPE also served as a training opportunity for Ohio EPA staff, which included participants from most of the state’s district offices and central office. The evaluation at the Ottawa County WTP identified factors that could limit the plant’s performance during a HAB. Ottawa County staff indicated that the CPE findings were informative and indicated plans to implement changes to address the identified factors. Two additional CPEs, as part of the pilot project, are scheduled for January 2017 and April 2017. (Tom Waters, Rick Lieberman & Alison Dugan, US EPA, TSC)

Kansas Kick-off Meeting

The TSC Optimization Team and ASDWA held a kick-off meeting with Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) drinking water program representatives in Topeka July 12-13, 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to review the Area-wide Optimization Program (AWOP) structure, activities, benefits, and participant roles/responsibilities. Based on that review, KDHE representatives decided to formally commit to the program. The meeting then focused on the details of: data management and other activities needed to adopt the program goals; informing water utilities of the state’s commitment to the program; and monitoring water treatment plant performance against optimization goals. KDHE staff explored methods of tracking plant performance within the existing state data collection activities and developed action steps to begin program implementation. The optimization team is excited to welcome the KDHE as the most recent addition to the AWOP network. (Rick Lieberman, US EPA, TSC)

Hydrant Sampler Website and Training Video

On May 4, the website was launched with a YouTube training video produced by the Optimization Team to describe how to use a hydrant sampler. This tool, developed by the team, allows users to collect representative distribution system water quality samples in a controlled, safe manner. The website describes the parts required to assemble a hydrant sampler as well as the procedure for appropriately using it.

Optimization Potential of the Human Infrastructure

At the 2015 National AWOP Meeting, a workshop session was devoted to the topic of how to assess “optimization potential” and incorporate it into Status Component ranking criteria.  One potential tool is the Major Unit Process Evaluation which helps to determine if a plant has adequate design capability.  Existing CCP handbooks for water and wastewater plants provide guidance for conducting a Major Unit Process Evaluation.  Another aspect of optimization potential relates to the suitability and level of interest of plant managers and operators who would potentially participate in optimization activities.  Clearly, optimization resources are more wisely spent at facilities where there is motivation and capability on the part of its operators and managers.

As a follow-up activity to this workshop, a document was developed that provides potential interview questions to help assess the human infrastructure component of “optimization potential”.  Three sets of interview questions (for state drinking water personnel, plant managers, plant operators) were prepared to help gain insight into a plant’s interest in and suitability for optimization activities.  This approach is roughly the equivalent of a “job interview” for a candidate applying for an optimization training opportunity.

The document linked to this article may be useful to AWOP states when identifying utilities to consider for training activities.  If others in the AWOP network have ideas or approaches on how to assess the human infrastructure capability, they are encouraged to share them on AWOP News or by providing comments to this article. OptPot_25Apr2016

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Water Treatment Optimization Approach Development Meeting with Ohio EPA

TSC’s Optimization Team met with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) on April 19, 2016 to discuss a joint water treatment optimization pilot project for HABs. Project objectives include developing optimization tools and approaches for water systems and state staff, including a Comprehensive Performance Evaluation (CPE) to identify factors that could limit plant performance during a HAB. Meeting attendees included Ohio EPA managers, Central Office staff, and staff from each of Ohio EPA’s five district offices. Discussions focused on understanding Ohio EPA’s experience with HAB treatment, and developing and prioritizing site selection criteria. The team also discussed project scope, vision, and schedule, roles and responsibilities, and next steps. (Tom Waters, Rick Lieberman, & Alison Dugan, US EPA, TSC).

Automated Hydrant Flushing Program in Flint, MI

TSC’s Optimization Team, in collaboration with ORD, developed a low-flow automated flushing program to improve chlorine residual throughout the City of Flint while not disturbing the development of scale in pipes. During the week of April 11th, approximately 130 samples were collected throughout the City to identify areas of low chlorine residual. During the week of April 18th, 13 automated flushing devices were installed on hydrants in areas where low chlorine residual was identified. Both of these activities included training for utility staff by the Optimization Team. TSC will continue to support the City of Flint as they carry out and expand their automated flushing program and engage in other distribution system optimization activities.  (Matthew Alexander,  Alison Dugan, & Ouro Koumai, US EPA, TSC)

Alabama’s “Drawing the Graph” Newsletter

Alabama’s Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) has recently published Drawing the Graph – April 2016 Issue highlighting optimization activities in the state.  This newsletter includes information about the status of Alabama’s water systems compared to the optimization goals and a model news release to help the plants receiving awards publicize their success.  The newsletter also includes a listing of all the optimization goals for Alabama.  Check out this newsletter to see how your colleagues in Alabama are doing with AWOP.