An article by Ariel Wittenberg in last week's Standard Times touched on the impending water use restrictions that may be put in place by 2015 for Towns that get their water supply from the Mattapoisett River Valley. These towns include Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester, which all draw from this aquifer.
The existing system for some of the municipalities is that when the Mattapoisett River flows below a certain level, the municipalites enact a water use restriction until the water levels rise past that certain threshold. In the future, however there may be annual water use restrictions enacted in the springtime through until the fall.
The MA Department of Environmental Protection is expected to review its water-use permits for the Towns abutting Buzzards Bay in 2015. The participating towns have formed the Mattapoisett River Valley Water Supply Protection Advisory Committee, which is exploring its options for annual water restrictions.
The DEP's goal is to implement water conservation measures that will balance the need for drinking water with the protection of the ecosystem in the area. In an area of the state where these restrictions historically haven't taken place, it may take some adjustments, but, it appears the Advisory committee is preparing for any potential changes so they can deal with it in stride.
Information from this post taken fro mteh January 21 article titled "Towns brace for potential 2015 water restrictions" by Ariel Wittenberg in the Standard Times.
For information about municipal water supplies, please contact Mark S. Bartlett, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 131. Or for more information about adjusting to municipal watering restrictions through rainwater re-use systems, please see our blog articles about Rainwater Harvesting
Every January the Massachusetts Municipal Association holds its annual conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. This year, as always, Norfolk is exhibiting at the conference. Please come by our booth (number 912), and say hi to Wayne and John. Or if you are going to be around on Saturday, come say hello to Mark.
A recent article in Opflow, a publication of the American Water Works Association provides a very detailed breakdown of the effects climate change can have of surface water supplies and how water utilities are struggling to deal with it.
The article touches on how certain aspects of weather, particularly temperature, precipitation and wind, have the biggest influence on surface water quality. For example, extended droughts are often followed by heavy rain events which generates a lot of runoff from the parched earth. The increased runoff will pick up sediment and nutrients on the ground surface and wash it into the water supply which will increase turbidity, contaminant concentrations, and organic matter in water supplies.
Extended droughts lead to lower reservoir volumes and the lower reservoir volumes are susceptible to increased inflow from point sources of pollution (such as municipal sewer discharges). Sea level rise can itensify drought effects by causing saltwater intrusion in tidally influenced sections of rivers that may feed surface water supplies. Increased temperatures can increase algae growth in surface water, in particular, the highly toxic cyanobacteria, which prefer higher temperatures. All of these events create challenges for water utilities to have to deal with.
The variations in weather patterns and extremes can make it very difficult for water utilities to plan for and adjust in their water supplies. The low Arctic sea-ice levels are expected to lead to more extreme weather events continuing. These frequent variations in weather events are going to lead to costlier process changes to our drinking water supplies. Water regulations are getting stricter and the weather is getting less predictable, so to cope, water utilities will need to have sophisticated treatment processes that will be able to deal with the extreme changes. Those sophisticated treatment processes will come with a hefty price tag, and given our economic climate, it's not all that certain where the funding for this will come from.
Information for this post taken from "Climate Change, How does weather affect surface water quality?" by Ben Wright, Ben Stanford, Josh Weiss, Jean Debroux, Jan Routt, and Stuart Khan, page 10-15 of the January 2013 edition of Opflow.
For more information of surface water drinking supplies and water supply engineering, please see our Water Supply Engineering page and contact Mark S. Bartlett, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.
An article in the Cape Cod Times annnounced that the Cape Cod Commission was expected to recieve a $3.35 million grant from the Massachusetts Water Abatement Trust. The grant is aimed at helping the Commission develop a water management plan as required by the US Clean Water Act.
Many people on the Cape and in the region support the move in addressing the excess nutrients and bacteria that are negatively affecting the embayments and waterbodies of the Cape. Current costs estimates show the need for between $3 billion and $8 billion to upgrade the infrastructure to effectively manage the wastewater in the region. The idea behind developing this regional plan is to set forth a clear strategy that will keep implementation costs on the lower end of the spectrum.
The Cape Cod Commission believes it could have a draft plan in place within a year if it recieves the grant. Within three years, they could have a complete plan, which would include more planning tools, a public outreach program and monitoring, according to Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Paul Niedzwiecki.
Information use for this post taken from the article titled "First drops being to flow" by Patrick Cassidy, from the Thursday, January 10, 2013 edition of the Cape Cod Times.
For more information about wastewater, including management and treatment options, please contact Kevin P. Klein, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 130 or email@example.com
Also available for those wanted to learn more about wastewater management, you can download our white paper on Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Options.
The ballots are counted and results announced. Now the question is: “What does the recent presidential, congressional and the Massachusetts election results mean?” To shed some light on this topic, the ACEC/MA Program Committee sponsored an election wrap-up on November 8, 2012. Speakers included Larry Rasky, Chairman of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and Ernest Paicopolos, Principal of Opinion Dynamic Corporation.
Larry Rasky led off the presentations. He felt that the main points of the election were: several crucial issues were debated during the election; the money spent on the campaigns was enormous; and the public made a statement to the government, as witnessed by the support to the President relative to the President’s action on the auto industry bail out.
Prior to President Obama’s first election in 2008, Mr. Rasky believes that the President did not understand how bad the economy was. Mr. Rasky felt that the mid-term election signaled the end of the “on the job training,” so in November 2010, the Republicans took over in the congress. However, the pubic appears to have approved of the stimulus money that went to hiring teachers, fire and police forces, as illustrated by the voters support and election results in industrial heartland states.
Mr. Rasky noted that the debates took on a sense of a political version of “Saturday Night Live.” The first debate gave Romney a “second life” but he never performed in a way which would change the public’s opinion and the presidential race. Mr. Rasky felt that the handling of a series of actions early on forced Romney into severe conservatism even though he was already a moderate conservatist. The President took aim at the Republicans forcing Romney to appear even more conservative, as shown by the “etch a sketch” incident. The 47% video demonstrated how disconnected Romney was from the public and escalated a poor public opinion.
Ernie Paicoplos discussed the lessons learned and offered his overall impressions of the election. According to Mr. Paicopolos President Obama was set to beat the challenger, even though there was still health care concerns and high unemployment. The Democratic team had re-framed the issues to help themselves and secure a win at the election. Hurricane Sandy clearly helped the re-election of President Obama. Mitt Romney did not know how to address the new voting group in the country.
According to Mr. Paicopolos, other key takeaways include:
• There was not a large margin to the win, suggesting that the US is still divided on who should run the country.
• Pre-election polling was validated in that the election was as close as the polls had predicted.
• Party identification still matters.
• The shift in demographics matters, such as marital status rather than gender, and independent voters not being as big an issue as it was in 2008.
• The Republican party needs to re-cast themselves to address the changed make-up of the voters, such as changes in white voters vs. non-white voters, and the increasing younger population of voters.
• Issue targeting works, when campaigning in target areas.
• There was a “super storm surge.” Hurricane Sandy clearly effected the election; 42% of voters said responses to “Sandy” by the Obama administration were important and appropriate. Even Governor Christy’s opinion of the administration had changed.
• “It was the improving economy stupid”—people believed this point of view, as noted by the 6 out of 10 who voted in Ohio in favor of the President and his car industry bailout.
Mr. Paicopolos stated that “in politics you never know what will happen.” When asked what he thought the upcoming areas of concern and attention would be, he predicted that clean energy, the energy/security bill and transportation would see a renewed focus in the next Congress, as a result of Hurricane Sandy and a renewed awareness on infrastructure. He further commented that the future for the engineering community appeared to be strong, with considerable opportunities for new work expected to be coming out in the near future.
This article comes from the Winter 2013 edition of ACEC Insights publication and was written by Associate Wayne C. Perry, who currently serves as a member of the ACEC/MA Programs Committee. He can be reached at 508-747-7900, Ext. 193 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Massachusetts State Legislature recently passed a bill that would set aside $17 million for the repair or removal of unsafe, abandoned dams or dams that have outlived their usefulness. This bill should make it easier for cities and towns to repair or remove weakening dams or seawalls.
The bill would require emergency plans be created for all dams that are inspected and found to be at a high or significant hazard of failure. The bill would also set up a State Revolving Loan Fund, similar to what is in place for Clean Water projects, to provide low-interest loans to private dam owners and to cities and towns to inspect, repair and remove dams.
In addition to the inland dam provisions of the bill, a portion of the money will also go towards coastal infrastructure improvements, including jetties, retaining walls and levies. A report from the Department of Conservation and Recreation had identified $1 billion in needed repairs to over 140 miles of sea walls on Massachusetts' coast.
The bill will help improve the health of rivers and the marine wildlife by restoring the natural flow of waterways that have been blocked by dams that have outlived their usefulness.
The last notable provision of the bill is that it will set up an inspection schedule to ensure that all "high hazard dams" are inspected at least every two years and all "significant hazard dam" are inspected at least every five years.
For questions or more information about dam inspections and dam safety, please contact Mark S. Bartlett at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.
Information for this post taken from a January 1, 2013 Cape Cod Times article entitled "Mass. lawmakers OK bill to repair, remove old dams" by Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press and a January 2, 2013 article in the Boston Globe titled "Mass OK's bill to fund seawalls, dam work" by Kathy McCabe.
Survey entitled "Water for All? A study of Water Utilities' Preparedness to meet supply challenges to 2030" was released in October that surveyed water utility leaders in 10 nations about their expectations for their countries to keep pace with rising demand through 2030. The world's population is expected to grow by 1 billion people by the year 2030 while the world's overall water supply will essentially remain constant. The increase in demand will be felt particularly in developing countries, where a growing middle class is expected to really strain existing supplies in those countries.
THe utilities will continue to make technological improvements to their systems, but they will also need to change consumer behavior to reduce the amount of water wasted. 45 percent of the respondents stated that the biggest barrier to provide adequate supplies was "wasteful consumer behavior." The second largest barrier was "insufficient capital resources for investment" at 35%.
Survey participants also seemed to think that the biggest struggle for the utlities will not be technological, rather a political, sociological and managerial problem. Raising rates, which are usually set through regulators, will face a lot of resistance from the regulators, and thus revenue may not keep pace with the costs of system operations. Participants felt that water metering would be the most effective way to show the increase in demand and to educate consumers about the need for conservation.
For questions or information on public water supplies or drinking water programs, please contact Mark S. Bartlett, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.
Information for this blog post taken from an article entitled "Water Supplies Will Keep Pace with Demand through 2030, Survey Says" by Jay Landers, pages 27-29, Civil Engineering Magazine, December 2012
The federal clean water act requires that any facility that has a potential for oil spills to take all steps possible to prevent oil discharge to our nations waters through the implementation of a Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan. Any facility that stores more than 1,320 gallons of oil in an aboveground storage tank is required to develop and implement the SPCC.
EPA recently sent out a news release about a local fuel storage and distribution company facing possible fines for violations of the Clean Water Act as it was unprepared to carry out its Facility Response Plan.
Norfolk Ram is experienced in developing SPCC plans and understands the regulations of the Clean Water Act so we can assist our clients to comply with all applicable regulations. Beyond just creating an SPCC plan that may sit on a shelf somewhere, Norfolk Ram will tailor a site-specific plan with useful and applicable information and will work with the client and provide training if necessary to help the client know to how handle a potential spill. Part of the reason that local fuel company is facing fines was due to the fact that its employees were not adequately trained, and the facility had an unsuccessful response to a unnannounced oil spill simulation at its site.
To learn more about SPCC plans, areas regulated, and the information needed, please download our SPCC Compliance Kit and feel free to contact Brian Moran or Wayne Perry, P.E> at (508) 747-7900 extensions 189 and 193 to discuss SPCC plans.
To many Towns, closed municipal landfills can be an eyesore, but also a financial burden, as they require significant monitoring and oversight given the environmental risks they pose. These closed landfills are often large open areas of low vegetation with little potential uses given the environmental factors. One emerging opportunity for municipalities is to develop renewable energy facilities, in the form of solar arrays or wind turbines, on them. The renewable energy facilities have the obvious environmental benefit of a resource source of electricity, but they can also have an economic benefit to the municipality through the production of this energy on a site that may not have been used for another function.
Norfolk recently aided the Town of Norfolk in developing a 1.6 MW solar generation project. The project was the first solar landfill project permitted through the MA DEP Central Region. Construction was finished in the summer of 2012.
To learn more about renewable energy facilities available to your Town, please see our municipal services page , the MA DEP's renewable energy on closed landfills page, or contact Wayne Perry, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 193.
In this holiday shortened week, we thought we'd provide a couple of links to some neighbors of ours making national headlines this.
The first story is about our neighbors in New Bedford. You may recall last week we wrote about the Superfund Settlement in New Bedford Harbor, well this week EPA had a new press release about New Bedford Harbor. EPA has announced the approval of the construction of the South Terminal Project in New Bedford. The project "consisting of approximately seven acres of filled waters and 21 acres of upland area, as well as the navigational dredging of 47 acres of the harbor associated with that construction, including creation of a confined aquatic disposal cell for disposal of contaminated soils" should provide public health precuations and address the contaminants in the Harbor.
Also in the news this week, a story on NPR's and APM's Marketplace about the impact of climate change on the cranberry industry. Here in Plymouth county, cranberries are a pretty significant part of the culture here, so it was interesting to hear about the issues facing the industry.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!