Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where did 2011 go?

Wow, I can't believe 2011 has come and gone already. I was very busy in 2011 and will try to cover the most exciting things that happened last year in this post. The most exciting milestone by far was the 5 year anniversary of Great Blue Heron Management. I am so proud of the success of the company so far and incredibly grateful to all of my customers for trusting me to provide quality work.

I had the opportunity to work with the Shelton CT Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) and plant staff on process control and the implementation of the maintenance management program over the last few years. In 2011, the Shelton CT Wastewater Treatment Plant staff celebrated thier first full year of very good nitrogen removal. In fact, its the first year since the new plant was constructed that the WPCA didn't have to pay the State of Connecticut a fee for exceeding the nitrogen credit threshold. Shelton also fully implemented a maintenance management program which is helping them to track preventive and corrective maintenance that otherwise would not have been measured in the past. So cudo's go out to the staff of the Shelton facility for staying on top of the biological process while struggling through some serious equipment issues. There is a new consulting engineer working with the WPCA and the plant staff so hopefully the equipment issues will be resolved in 2012.

I had the pleasure of working with the folks at Cambridge Water Technologies (CWT) for several years now on multiple projects. None more satisfying than the Sturbridge, Massachusetts Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade this past year. The treatment plant was upgraded from 0.75 MGD to 1.3 MGD and now has the ability to remove total phosphorus below 0.2 mg/L and total nitrogen below 10 mg/L at design flows. Construction of the last process tank is almost complete and performance testing is about to begin in the first quarter of 2012. So far the two technologies (BioMag and CoMag) have been on line for many months and have performed very well. The consulting engineer for this project, Tighe and Bond, estimates that the Town of Sturbridge will save significant dollars over membrane technology during the life of this project.

Great Blue Heron Management added one additional water treatment plant to the company in 2011. This particular water treatment plant has a complex treatment process for its size. It removes radon gas and arsenic while filtering and disinfecting the water. So far, we have had to do a major housekeeping effort, stock critical spares where we had none, begin the task of identifying all of the major isolation gates in the distribution system, repair the auxiliary generator, and perform multiple repairs and updates to the electrical and mechanical systems. The facility is much more reliable today than it was one year ago. Thanks to Salisbury Management for being a great customer to work with on these complex systems.

EMC Corporation has been a customer of GBHM almost since day one. This past year the scope of work expanded to include several lift stations with added 24/7 alarm coverage. In addition, many of the existing assets are reaching the 10-12 life expentancy. So during the last part of 2011 and much of 2012, GBHM and EMC Corporation will be engaged in significant updates to pumping and control systems. We are also working together to identify all of the water and wastewater infrastructure assets and determine how best to manage these in the future.

Lastly, it was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to host the first annual outing for some of GBHM's customers in 2011. We headed to the Town of Orleans, MA for a fun day on the water fishing for striped bass. As much as I tried to allow my customers to catch the largest fish, it just wasn't possible becuase yours truly caught the big fish of the day. I'm hoping this is the first of many outings over the years. Hope you enjoy the post. Send me your comments.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Marylands First BioMag Project is a Resounding Success

I am wrapping up work on the BioMag Demonstration Project for the State of Maryland and Washington County in the town of Cascade, MD for Cambridge Water Technologies (CWT). I've spent the good part of seven months on site working with CWT and the operations staff. The project endured one of the coldest winters on record in Maryland with record snowfalls and inhospitable working conditions until lately. The project was not without its challenges however. We had to construct a 4 stage Bardenpho wastewater treatment facility out of an existing aerobic digester and utilize a primary clarifier as our secondary clarifier. A large number of temporary hoses, pumps and wiring needed to be installed in October of 2009. By February 2010, the facility was seeded and charged with magnetite and all of the bugs worked out to the point where reliable and accurate data began being recorded. The picture on the right is the BioMag reactor's first three stages of treatment. Notice the black color of the activated sludge which is a result of the biomass being impregnated with magnetite.

Since February the demonstration project has performed extremely well. Plant performance was as follows:


BOD 250mg/L
TSS 120 mg/L
TKN 40 mg/L
TP 2.0 mg/L


BOD <2.0 mg/L
TSS <2.0 mg/L
TN <2.0 mg/L
TP <0.1 mg/L

The plant has performed so well that the State of Maryland is considering this technology as a replacement for denitrification filters throughout the State. Not only does BioMag allow for a significant improvement in quality of effluent but the quantity of influent treated is increased substantially which makes it very attractive to budget strapped owners. Keep in mind that this project has no filters following the secondary clarifier. This performance is very typical of a BioMag project as demonstrated already in Sturbridge, MA in 2008 and Upper Gwynedd Township, PA in 2009.

Cambridge Water Technologies has two full scale BioMag facilities under construction in Sturbridge, MA and Allenstown, NH. Both facilities will be upgraded to BioMag and will be on line sometime in 2011.
This picture on the left is of Steve Woodard , inventor of BioMag and employee of CWT, A Maryland Department of the Environment (MDDOE) employee, and yours truly. This picture was taken during a tour of the BioMag equipment after a presentation of data to MDDOE, engineers and the owner of the Cascade, MD facility.

Its worth mentioning that this Maryland project would not have been such a success without the help of the staff at the Winebrenner WWTF. Mike the CPO and operators, Mark, Robin and Ryan performed like they have been working with activated sludge their entire life. Fact is, Winebrenner has RBC's for biological treatment and the combined total of activated sludge experience between the four of them was less than 5 years. So a huge thank you goes to them for plowing snow, shoveling snow and performing about 7,000 grab tests during this trial.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2010 Project Update

I wrapped up the Shelton CT project several months ago. The project continues to have success with total nitrogen however an important equipment problems still exists. The customer and their consulting engineer are currently working towards a resolution of the problem.

I began two pilot projects with Cambridge Water Technologies (CWT) at the end of 2009. One project was located in Mystic, CT and was considered a success by the owner and their consulting engineer. This project ended in January 2010 and is currently moving towards full design.

The other CWT project is located in MD. This project continues to challenge everyone involved. We have a basic 4 stage Bardenpho process treating a side stream flow. This side stream flow is very weak due to inflow and is very cold with temperatures averaging 7 degrees celcius in January. Project goals include meeting a TN limit of 3 ppm with traditional loadings. The project continues to move ahead and I will provide an update in the near future.

CWT is growing rapidly and I hope to work closely with them in MD, TX and FL in 2010. I might even hire some employees by the end of the year.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shelton CT Operations Assistance

I began working for Maguire Engineers and the Shelton Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) by doing a preliminary operations review on May 16, 2009. After preparing a written report and reviewing my findings with the WPCA several weeks later, it was decided to have me spend a few months working with staff on some solutions to the ongoing operational problems. The major challenges facing the WPCA and the staff was unpredictable nitrogen removal and uncontrolled cost relating to the operation of the facility. After having spent a full month of working directly with the staff, which included 9 days on site so far, the following challenges were identified:

  • Recycle loads from the sludge thickening process were overloading the plant with BOD and TN
  • Odors associated with sludge handling were creating a nuisance in the neighborhood and needed to be controlled
  • Numerous issues related to the SBR operation were identified including air flow meters that were not reading correctly, clogged decant valves from accumulated debris, and poor biomass quality related to widely fluctuating F:M.
  • Consumable costs related to supplemental bacteria, polymer use and enzymes were becoming a burden for the WPCA

As a result of the initial findings, the highest priority item was to get the sludge thickening operation under control. The waste sludge holding tank was typically operated at over half full and without the ability to aerate the tank, anaerobic conditions were created which impacted sludge thickening efficiency, odors and filtrate quality. The sludge holding tank was emptied and now the staff keeps the tank empty daily. This significantly reduced the BOD and TN loading on the SBR's and allowed the staff to eliminate one of four SBR's from operation. Odors have also been reduced significantly.

It was apparent the SBR's had accumulated large amounts of debris (screening) as a result of the headworks barscreen being out of service for several months. The WPCA funded the cleaning of the SBR's which is now in progress. When the first of four SBR's were cleaned, twelve out of fifty decant valves were fouled with hair and rags. This contributed to the poor performance of the SBR's . Once the SBR was emptied, the decant valves were cleaned, all mechanical equipment was inspected and tightened and the SBR placed back on line. The remaining three SBR's will be cleaned over the next month and the plant will continue in three SBR mode going forward.

As a result of these changes to the operation of the plant it is expected the WPCA will save significant dollars on power, consumables and avoid paying nitrogen fees to the State. Once I have some firm figures, I will post the anticipated cost savings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Membrane Replacement Project Successful

On June 16, 2009, the team of Great Blue Heron Management and Applied Water Management replaced four GE Zenon ZeeWeed hollow fiber membrane modules at the Outdoor World Vacation Resort in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The wastewater treatment facility, operated by Great Blue Heron Management, was in need of replacing membranes that had been in operation for over five years. Typical membranes of this type might have had a longer life span however this facility is not equipped with a pretreatment tank. Consequently, the bioreactor accumulates debris, hair and rags that shorten the life of the individual strands through a process called delamination. In essence what happens is the rags force their way inbetween the membrane strands which puts stress on them causing them to stretch, delaminate and ultimately break. Once the strands delaminate or break, you begin to pull suspended solids into the permeate which results in compliance problems.

The entire process required about ten hours from start to finish. Once the installation was complete the membranes were tested for vacuum and permeate flow and both were within a very good range for new membranes. The wastewater facility should be able to produce excellent quality effluent for the foreseeable future!

Here, Steve puts the finishing touches on the new membranes just prior to testing. Thanks to the Applied Water Team of Aram, Steve and Roger for their work on this project. Thanks also go out to the owners representatives Donna and Don!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BioMag Pilot Plant Facility

We've just completed managing all aspects of a full scale pilot of BioMag technology by Cambridge Water Technologies at Upper Gwynedd Township Wastewater Treatment Plant in Pennsylvania.

The goal of the pilot was to prove that BioMag would allow the existing 6 MGD facility to treat sustained wet weather flows of up to 12 MGD while maintaining permit compliance particularly with regards to suspended solids capture in the secondary clarifiers.

The pilot was constructed by Interstate Water and Wastewater Specialists in three weeks and officially kicked off on March 18, 2009. The plant was separated into a control section and BioMag section in essence creating the potential for each side to treat 6 MGD for a total plant flow of 12 MGD. During the first month both sides treated similar flows while the system was charged with magnetite.

Once the magnetite to biosolids ratio reached a desired level, several high flow tests were conducted for 8 hr periods culminating with a 24 hour test all greater than 6 MGD. Total suspended solids averaged less than 10 ppm and the sludge blanket was maintained less than 3 feet during the testing. Cambridge Water Technologies, EERM (Environmental Engineer and Management Associates - owners consultant) and the owner were excited about the results and all parties are considering it a success. The final report will be published in the very near future.

I have the opportunity to meet some great folks on this job. Thanks go to Lee Honeywell and his staff for making my stay in Upper Gwynedd a pleasure. Also thanks to Ed Gillette and his staff for setting the bar high enough to make me sweat!

Next on the BioMag Pilot world tour are several possible eastern US cities and towns. Stay tuned......

Welcome to the Great Blue Heron Blog

In an industry that is constantly changing with evolving technologies and regulations, it's important to keep updated on the latest happenings in your local and regional plants and facilities.

This blog is designed to give water and wastewater industry professionals an idea of some of the more interesting technologies and challenges our company faces on a day to day level.

We also hope to educate and inform our clients, partners and website visitors of some of the new advancements we are providing, as well as ways to work with older, established systems to make them more efficient.

We look forward to your comments and feedback!

- Roy