TOILET to TAP?
Check out one Texas towns potential solution to ease the shortage of water caused by the draught.
Want to learn more about Community Engineering Corps and how you can ake a difference by partnering with communities in the United States? Join the webinar.
Introduction to the Community Engineering Corps – Webinar
Phone Number: 215-383-1020 Access Code: 631-105-713 Audio PIN: Shown after joining training
Dates and Times: Feb. 26, 2014 2 p.m. Mountain Time; Mar. 13, 2014 6 pm. Mountain Time; Mar 24, 2014 4pm Mountain Time; Apr. 16, 2014 11 am. Mountain Time
Community Engineering Corps Project Process – Webinar
Phone Number: 484-589-1016 Access Code: 266-840-234 Audio Pin: Shown after joining webinar
Dates and Times: Feb. 27, 2014 5 pm Mountain Time; Mar. 11, 2014 10 am Mountain Time; Mar. 25, 2014 4 pm Mountain Time; Apr 14, 2014 9 am Mountain Time
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently published the findings of a survey to better understand the occurrence of methane in groundwater across south-central New York. This region is across the border from northeastern Pennsylvania where extensive shale-gas resource development has occurred. This study, which can be accessed on the web, found that methane in groundwater is common across the region. It varies widely in concentration, with the highest methane concentrations found in confined conditions in valleys bedrock.
The CUPSS Team is pleased to announce the Spring 2014 CUPSS Asset Management Training Series! This interactive training involves live demos, Q&A, and troubleshooting, as well as online self-paced training modules.
This series involves four sessions: one 30-minute Introductory Session followed by three 1-hour Training Sessions. In between sessions, participants will use the online training modules and prepare homework assignments. Participants who complete the assignments and participate in the webinars will recieve a CUPSS Trainers Certificate and will be included in the CUPSS Trainers Directory.
The dates are as follows:
March 27, 2014, 1:00-1:30 PM Eastern Time
BRIEF INTRODUCTION SESSION
April 10, 2014, 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern Time
LIVE DEMOS AND Q&A FOR LESSONS 1-3
April 17, 2014, 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern Time
LIVE DEMOS AND Q&A FOR LESSONS 4-5
April 24, 2014, 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern Time
LIVE DEMOS AND Q&A FOR LESSON 6
On March 4, 2014 from 1:00pm – 2:30pm EST, EPA’s green infrastructure program will host a webcaston implementing green infrastructure under enforcement orders, which will highlight two communities which have successfully integrated green infrastructure into EPA enforcement agreements to meet regulatory requirements, better manage combined sewer overflows and stormwater runoff, and meet other community goals. The webcast will feature Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and Andy Shively of Kansas City Water Services. This webcast is the second in a series geared toward public officials and practitioners just beginning to implement green infrastructure, as well as those looking to enhance established programs. Leading academics and professionals will cover a range of topics and applications, from operations and maintenance to the intersection of green infrastructure and climate change. Learn more & register here.
Out of sight of most New Yorkers is a sprawling underground labyrinth of about 7,500 miles of sewers, part of the city’s vast and, in many cases, aging subterranean infrastructure. Besides old age, the sewers, which are essential to the health of the city, are under assault from a nemesis above ground: grease.
Across the city, the remains of deep-fried this or pan-fried that are being carelessly and improperly poured down kitchen drains and other plumbing outlets. The grease often ends up sticking to other debris in the sewer system, until it hardens and blocks pipes, like clogged arteries.
Carter Strickland, the city’s environmental commissioner, said the cardiovascular analogy was overused — but accurate. “Grease clings to the surface and it builds on itself over time,” Mr. Strickland said. “The sewage cannot get through, and bad things happen.”
Bad things like sewage backing up into sinks and bathtubs, or onto city streets.
“At any one time, it’s such a big network,” Mr. Strickland said, “you’re going to have an issue.”
In fact, 62 percent of the 15,000 sewer backup complaints the city’s Environmental Protection Department logged last year were caused by buildups of fat, oil and grease, a combination known in the waste industry as FOG.
That percentage is comparable to the grease scourge faced by sewer systems elsewhere, but the challenge in New York is unique because of the sheer size of the system and the approximately 24,000 food establishments in the city that rely on grease.
“One thing these eateries have in common,” said Eric A. Goldstein, New York City environmental director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, “is that they use a large amount of grease and food oils. If we don’t find ways to recycle these food oils, it’s not surprising that we still have these problems.”
The city has now gone on the offensive, embarking on an aggressive multipronged campaign to make residents and businesses aware of the threat posed by grease, not only in creating foul messes, but also in requiring expenditures: Clearing backups caused by grease cost the city an estimated $4.65 million last year.
The Environmental Protection Department has increased regular sewer cleaning in grease hot spots in Queens, using trucks equipped with high-power vacuums or water hoses and a supply of degreasing agents.
The agency also uses cameras lowered into sewers to look for clogs. It has tripled the number of remote sewer-monitoring devices, which are placed inside manholes and send an alert if they detect rising wastewater.
And it has started an outreach program, Cease the Grease, to educate residents about the dos and don’ts of discarding food oils.
Queens has the dubious distinction of being the leader when it comes to the share of backups caused by grease — grease accounted for 74 percent of backups there last year. Staten Island was next at 55 percent, with Manhattan and the Bronx tied at 49 percent and Brooklyn at 46 percent.
Mr. Strickland said he had no definitive answer as to why Queens had such a big grease problem, “other than its neighborhoods are more settled, and it has a lot of single-family homes where people may be pouring grease down the drain.”
Buried below Queens is nearly 40 percent of the city’s sewer infrastructure, and the borough has historically been prone to sewer problems, particularly in flat and low-lying areas. Some neighborhoods have smaller mains, sometimes limiting capacity.
In the city, every business that generates fat, oil and grease must have grease interceptors to block the substances from reaching sewer lines, according to city sewer regulations. A trap is connected to a sink by pipes and separates grease from wastewater. In the interceptor, fat, oil and grease float to the top, where they build up until they can be removed, while the grease-free wastewater continues through the interceptor and into the sewer system.
City environmental inspectors check the equipment, making sure it is properly sized, installed, maintained and operated. Business owners can be fined up to $10,000 a day for each violation.
Despite the agency’s efforts, grease clogs remain a recurring issue.
“It’s prolific. It’s a really big problem,” said Ted Vitanza, who owns a Mr. Rooter plumbing service franchise in Queens and has been a licensed plumber for more than 30 years. He said he had seen wedges of grease reduce an eight-inch pipe to, in effect, a four-inch pipe. “There are far too many people who don’t understand it’s not a good thing to take a frying pan, after you’re done making chicken cutlets, and pour the grease down the drain,” Mr. Vitanza said. “It’s mostly innocent people, people who aren’t educated to these facts.”
The Environmental Protection Department has held more than 30 grease awareness workshops in over different neighborhoods and mounted a yearlong campaign at the Baruch Houses in Lower Manhattan.
The development, with more than 2,100 families in 17 buildings, is one of the New York City Housing Authority’s largest projects, and it has had repeated sewer backups over the years. Those sewer lines empty into a main under nearby Delancey Street, which also has recurring backups. Grease buildup has been the main cause.
The surrounding Lower East Side neighborhood has shifted over the years, with small dry goods shops and clothing stores giving way to bars, restaurants and hotels, the kind of commercial tenants that steadily produce grease.
Disposing of grease properly is simple, city officials said. Pour the hot liquid into a coffee can, tuna can or any other sealed container that will not burn or melt. Once the liquid has cooled, the container can be discarded with the rest of the garbage. Dishes should be cleared of oil, grease and food scraps with paper towels before they are washed.
Like many residents who came to a sparsely attended grease workshop at the Baruch Houses, Valerie Morgan, 46, has her own way of getting rid of grease. Ms. Morgan, a mother of five, pours her used grease into a coffee can. After she reuses the oil a few times, she lets it cool, then stuffs the can with paper towels, puts the can in a plastic bag, and tosses it in the incinerator.
But she said she had never considered how interconnected all the city’s pipes were. She recalled a clog in her kitchen sink that resulted in rust-colored water, dirt and clumps of hair spitting into her bathtub.
“It’s something that we have to think about,” Ms. Morgan said, “so we don’t have complications.”
“And,” she added, “having to go through the headache of having to wait for people to come fix it.”
We are so excited about the 35th NYRWA Annual Technical Conference coming up in April and are happy to report that all of our booth space is sold out. So please make plans to join us at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY April 14-17, 2014, and come shop with our vendors, attend great training classes, network with your peers from across the state and win some prizes. Looking forward to seeing you all soon. Be sure to register for this event.
Upcoming FREE webinar from M.O.S. to J-O-B: A Guide for applying Military Occupational Specialities (MOS) to Civilian Drinking Water and Wastewater Operations. Learn about EPA’s guide that translates military equivalent work experience to civilian drinking water and wastewater operations. This presentation will highlight how to use the guide to apply these jobs to water utilities.
Date: Thursday, March 6, 2104 Time: 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. (Eastern) Cost: FREE
Register for the webinar:
Federal, state and local drinking water program staff, technical assistance providers, drinking water and wastewater systems, Veterans Affairs Employment Counselors and military Veterans.