Entries for October 2010

Today Is Blog Action Day
Blog Action Day is an annual event held October 15 that gets bloggers worldwide to post about one topic, all on the same day.  This year, the topic that was chosen is "water" and so we decided to participate as well.  This is no small event, looking at their website this morning, there are over 4500 blogs participating from 135 countries with a readership of over 35 million.  Wow, thats impressive.
But What Does That Mean To Us?
Well, as a small water or wastewater operator, it means that today there will be more of a chance that your water board, mayor, and customers will have water on their mind.  I imagine there will be a mention on the news tonight, so I see this as an opportunity for you to provide some information to your constituents.
There Are Water Issues In Our Own Backyard
Many of the blogs out there are going to write today about global water issues, the fact that there are estimates of 1 billion people who don't have safe drinking water, and issues related to pollution, etc.  But there are water issues in many small communities in the US as well, many stemming from the general public's lack of understanding of the value of having safe, dependable water, and an understanding of what the real cost of providing that water is.
I was at a meeting in 2006 with a group of small communities that weren't going to meet the new Arsenic standard.  One of the mayors came up to me at the break and said that they were going to need a new treatment plant and he wouldn't be re-elected because he would be the first mayor in 20 years to raise water rates.  It amazes me that the people in that community have no understanding of the value of their water supply.  They will pay $80 a month for cable television, but complain about a $30 water bill.
So What Should We Do?
We should begin to focus on informing the public.  There are pamphlets, brochures, and handouts from a number of organizations around the US that talk about the value of water, explain what an operator does, and what it takes to maintain and sustain a community water system.  You can search for some of those resources right here on our website, and below are links to some of the resources we suggest you take a look at.
Should you be interested in any of these resources, we would be glad to get them for you, or print them for you, and send them to you for free.  Just call us, let us know what you want and how many (up to 1000).
I've attended several national meetings recently that included state drinking water folks and small systems issues are always a big part of the discussion.  Things like proper rates and understanding what it takes to be sustainable are always mentioned as problems for small systems.  Usually, its not the operator that doesn't understand, its the mayor, water board, or the community members themselves that are unwilling to operate their community supply this way because they just don't understand the real costs of running a system.  Today, start sending the message.
Some Resources To Consider
These resources cover a number of topics, from factsheets about water issues, to understanding treatment systems, to what a wastewater system is.  Hopefully, you will find some of these useful for your situation.  One thing I realized is that I couldn't find a great resource (that isn't a book) that fully describes the issues small systems face and describes the information every consumer should know to better understand how to properly maintain and run a sustainable system. If you know of a resource I missed, please share it in the comments. USEPA has some great information on their webpages about small systems (water) and small communities (wastewater) too.
http://www.epa.gov/safewater/sdwa/pdfs/fs_30ann_waterfacts_web.pdf - Good handout for customers, has facts, info, talks about how to get involved.
http://www.nwbiosolids.org/pubs/Wastwaterweb.pdf - Describes basic wastewater treatment.
http://water.epa.gov/aboutow/ogwdw/upload/2001_11_15_consumer_hist.pdf - history of water treatment, includes diagram of a typical system
http://www.epa.gov/safewater/sdwa/pdfs/fs_30ann_monitoring_web.pdf - drinking water monitoring, compliance and enforcement information
http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/sdwa/upload/2009_08_28_sdwa_fs_30ann_publicinvolve_web.pdf - public access to information and public involvement.  If you want to engage your customers, then show them where to look for information on your water supply. 
http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/dw/Publications/331-084_6-30-03_Owning-and_Managing_a_Drinking_Water_System.pdf - For someone interested in starting a water system, this brochure outlines all of the responsibilities of a water system owner.  It is a great resource for explaining what it takes to run a system.
http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/occguide/waterop.pdf - occupational guide for water and wastewater operators from California.  Does a great job of describing the skills needed, duties, and occupational information.  Salary info is obviously for large systems!


Next Wednesday, from 1-3pm eastern time, there will be a lead and copper control webinar that will cover all of the basics of lead and copper speciation, solubility and treatment.  It's a free webinar, you just need to sign up in advance.
Topics Covered
The webinar will cover the following topics:   
  • Oxidizing power of disinfectants
  • Copper speciation and solubility
  • Lead speciation and solubility
  • pH adjustment and phosphate treatment
  • Stagnation behavior of lead versus copper
  • Sequential sampling and contributions of different plumbing materials
  • Effects of different metal deposits
How To Sign Up
To reserve your "seat" at the webinar, sign up here.  After registering, you will get a confirmation email with information for joining the webinar.  Seating is limited, so don't delay.  This is the registration page, click to sign up!


We launched an operator forum that allows operators and TA providers to ask and answer questions on any topics related to water and wastewater.  We just made it viewable to the public, but to ask or answer questions, you need to register.
Operators Helping Operators
The idea here is to get a group of operators together who have experience with different aspects of treatment, operation, maintenance, etc, so that when someone has a problem or question about an issue, they can ask and get an answer from someone who has already dealt with that issue.  Our hope is that operators, trainers, and technical assistance providers, who all have an operator background, will use the forum to share experiences that will make it easier on someone dealing with the same issue down the road.
Why Do I Have To Register
Registering is to make sure that those who are participating in the forum are operators, technical assistance providers, trainers, and industry professionals. This forum is for you to talk among your peers to find answers and ask questions of other operators. When you register, you can pick a username that keeps your identity protected if you like, but it's really up to you. Registering allows you to describe yourself in terms of the size of your system, your experience, and the type of system you run.  If you want more information about what registering means, please feel free to contact us directly using the website email or phone number.  We can answer any questions you might have.
So Take A Look
Click on "Forums" at the top of the page and look through the posts that have gotten started.  There isn't any advertising or selling of products on the forum and anyone who does will get booted off.  There are a growing number of operators participating, and we hope you will decide to join the discussion.  It's all free and truly a safe place to ask questions and find answers.  Soon we will have a short tutorial video that describes how to use the forum, similar to the two videos at the bottom of the home page that describe the document and calendar tabs.  But in the mean time, if you have questions about how to use the forum, once you have registered, please contact us.


A New "Liquid Assets"
When I heard CNBC was going to air Liquid Assets, I assumed it was the Penn State documenatary from 2008, and that's the information I gave out on Wednesday's blog post.  Well, if you watched the CNBC video last night, it was a different documentary that highlighted water use, saving water, bottled water, etc., but really carries the same message: its up to everyone to understand how important water is to our lives.  The correct link for information about the CNBC documentary is here, if you want to follow up.  You can tell them what you thought of the show, take a quiz testing your knowledge of bottled water, or view a slideshow that talks about the water footprint of various consumer foods and products.
But What About The Penn State Documentary
We are going to get a copy of the Penn State Liquid Assets Documentary and will loan it to any community that is interested. (I'm looking into who might have more copies to distribute to communities.) If you look on their webpage though, I encourage you to look at their impacts tab.  There you will see how many public television stations have already broadcast it, how many videos have been distributed, and how many communities have gotten involved.  If you haven't gotten involved yet, you definately should.
Honest Mistakes
Sorry again for the mixup regarding the two videos, but maybe its a good thing, its really worthwhile to watch them both.