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Sustainable Development project featured in local business Magazine


Mark Bartlett, the president of Norfolk Ram, has written an article about a sustainable project we are working on in the Town of Yarmouth. The article is featured in this month's issue of Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine.

The article is about a collaborative approach of our project team for the Yarmouth Village Center Project, which will be a multi-function project in which Norfolk will be designing the innovative wastewater treatment strategies. Please read the article by clicking here.

To learn more about the project or innovative wastewater treatment strategies, please contact Mark S. Bartlett, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 131. More information on wastewater treatment strategies is available from a white paper on our website here.

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Report preaches the potentials for Rainwater Re-use


 THe National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) just issued a report titled "Capturing Rainwater from Rooftops" highlighting the potential for rainwater re-use or rainwater harvesting as its sometimes referred to for complementing municipal water supply needs.

The NRDC analyzed the total volume of rooftop rainwater potentially available for capture and use (based on rooftop area and average annual rainfall) in eight U.S. cities, as well as the volume of water potentially available for use under various capture, storage and usage scenarios.  The result of the analyses showed that the volume of rooftop runoff, if it were to be completely captured, would be enough to meet the annual water supply needs of between 21 percent and 75 percent of each city’s population.

NRDC’s study shows that a substantial opportunity exists to use rooftop rainwater capture as an efficient, effective water resource management approach.
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There are several factors that could affect the use  and benefit of re-using rooftop runoff (local regulations, existing infrastructure, etc.) however this study shows the potential is there, and rainwater harvesting represents a valuable tool municipalities, developers, property managers and homeowners can use to meet their water supply needs.

To read the entire report from the NRDC please click this link.

For questions or more information about Rainwater re-use, please contact John B. McAllister, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

Second Round of Infrastructure Grants Announced


The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has announced that it has made available the application materials for its latest round of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program.

The program is a consolidation of six former grant programs and provides public infrastructure financing to support economic development and job and housing creation.  This includes transportation improvements in small, rural communities, mixed use developments, and redevelopment of previously developed sites.  All the relevant materials regardind the program are available at

The submission period for grant application runs between August 27 and September 10, 2012,  so there is still plenty of time to put together an application.  The grant award decisions will be made by the end of October. Last year's program awarded grants to 42 communities throughout Massachusetts; projects that are set to begin construction this spring.

If you have questions about the MassWorks Infrastructure Program or how it could apply to you or your organization, please contact Mark Bartlett at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.

Massachusetts Releases report on Water and Wastewater Infrastructure


The Massachusetts Water Infrastructure Finance Commission just released a report that the State is facing a $21 billion funding gap for water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years.

Former Norfolk Ram employee and co-chair of the commission Carolyn Dykema stated: “Water is one of our most basic needs, yet we often take the infrastructure that delivers it to our homes and businesses for granted. By making investment in our water system a priority, we are also prioritizing economic growth, job creation, and the sustainability of our communities. This report highlights the work we need to do to fund and maintain this important public asset and lays out a road map for creating a 21st-century water infrastructure system to meet the needs of our Commonwealth.”

Water Infrastructure Committee Chairs -Sen. Jaime Eldridge and Rep. Carolyn Dykema.

The Commission's report determined that a significant increase in spending and funding will be needed to address this funding gap and they have laid out several strategies to do this, including:

  • Sustaining current Revolving Fund investments
  • Establishing a trust fund
  • Promoting BMPs to reduce costs and find efficiencies
  • Promoting environmental sustainability and innovation

as well as several other strategies.

For more on the Water Infrastructure Commission's report, please see the release from Representative Dykema's website .

Using Algae for Wastewater Treatment and Biofuel Production


We  read a very interesting article recently in the April 2012 edition of Civil Engineering. The article by Jay Landers discusses a pilot study being done in San Lius Obispo's Water Reclamation facility.  The study is designed to test using solar energy and photosynthetic algae to treat wastewater, and then possibly using the algae to generate biofuel.  The goal is to develop an inexpensive method of treatment that will reduce nutrient levels and have a valuable byproduct (fertilizer, biofuels).  This treatment process could result in a more sustainable and cost effective approach when compared with conventional manners.

As part of the project, the facility uses raceway style algae ponds. The raceway style ponds produce algae at a much higher rate than conventional ponds, and can accelerate photosythetic oxygen production and nutrient assimilation by the algal cells.  Algae uses significantly les energy and lower volumes of chemicals than conventional approaches do, as it relies mainly on solar power. It is a more sustainable process, using much less energy than an activated sludge process.

One problem facing the systems is that solar energy requires a large amount of flat land, which may not always be available near a wastewater treatment plant facility.

If the pilot study is successful, the algae will be generated efficiently, and the removed without coagulants, hopefully by settling out to allow for harvesting. The harvested algae can be dewatered for use as fertilizer or biofuel production.

This pilot study is set to run through April 2013. We'll be very interested to see how the study works out. If you have questions about wastewater treatment processes or innovative approaches to wastewater treatment, please contact Kevin P. Klein, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 130.

Information for this blog post taken from article entitled "Pilot Plant Used to Evaluation Algae for Wastewater Treatment and Biofuel Production" p40-41, Civil Engineering,  April 2012, by Jay Landers.


Section 319 Non-point Source Pollution Grants to be released


Norfolk engineers met last week with representatives from MA DEP and the US EPA regarding the annual 319 Nonpoint source pollution grant program. Norfolk has worked on several successful grant projects in the past for Towns like Cohasset and Yarmouth, and is currently working on projects in Cohasset, Hull, Sherborn, and Westport.

The grant program aims to address non point source pollutants affecting Massachusett's bodies of water.   One of the ways Norfolk has been able to help its clients win the grants and implement them is through engineering design incorporating low impact development. Raingarden, Bioretention cell We have helped design and implement bioretention cells, also known as raingardens, grassed swales, sediments forebays, constructed wetlands, and subsurface recharge systems, all known as stormwater Best Management Practices.

 To find out more about the grant opportunities available either through the 319 program or other state and federal grants, please contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

Download our Free Grant Application Success Roadmap. 

The coming global urbanization and its consequences on water provision


Designing and maintaining the urban water provision infrastructure is daily work for thousands of people in the US, including associations such as American Water Works Association (AWWA). Providing people with adequate freshwater becomes a challenge with the urbanization of the world. To meet this worldwide challenge, three conditions must be observed:

  • Water availability : there must be an adequate volume of water available
  • Quality : it must be clean enough to use, either before or after the treatment
  • Delivery : the infrastructure must exist to deliver it where it is needed

The demographic reality of rapid urbanization

Rural-to-urban migration and the growth over time of families already in cities lead to an increasing and rapid urbanization. According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2009, between now and 2050, 3 billion more people will live in cities. This urbanization coupled with climate change, which makes dry periods of the year even dryer, will have consequences on urban water delivery systems.

There are three criteria that must be met to adequately provide residents with fresh water:

  1. Water availability

In 20 years, humanity has to build an urban water delivery system five times bigger, in terms of people served, than the one that has developed in Europe over the centuries.

Water shortages will become a burning issue in the world. They will result from two different occurences:

  • Perennial water shortages: a recent study emphasized that there are 150 million people in cities with perennial water shortages, which means that there is not 100L/person/day available if all water within a greater metropolitan area is harvested. This number is going to rise to 993 million people in consequence of demographic growth and climate change.
  • Seasonal water shortages: they are shortages lasting one or more months. They affect 886 million people in the developing world.

These calculations rely on the fact that cities can use all available water, essentially drinking rivers and streams dry. Overuse of these water sources would have consequences with the extinction of many freshwater species and the destruction of the natural benefits of freshwater systems (fishing, recreation). We must leave some baseline amount of water in a river system as an environmental flow to avoid damaging the ecosystem. 

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The amount of available water on the Earth’s surface compared with the location of major cities in the developing world. Yellow and orange indicate dry areas, green indicates moderate areas, and blue indicates major river systems. Urban areas are shown as red circles, with the diameter of the circles proportional to the population of the urban area.

  1. Quality

A study in the journal Ambio (Mc Donald, 2011b) highlighted the fact that water quality problems are a growing issue in even more cities. Because of the urbanization, there is an increasing rate of density (people/hectare) upstream that leads to excessive nitrate concentrations, which is a detriment to drinking water.

  1. Delivery

Cities have relatively few resources to address water quality and water delivery issues. For example, water delivery challenges must be solved in Africa with roughly 1/200 of the economic resources as would be available in some developed countries.

To combine urbanization and water shortages, cities can use two different means:

  • ’Gray’’ infrastructure solution: try to find new sources of water while mitigating the environmental impact of further water withdrawal and storage
  • ‘’Green’’ infrastructure solution: try to change the way cities use water by using it more wisely. For example : improve the efficiency of agricultural irrigation

The challenge now is to face the coming global urbanization and climate change by finding a sustainable way to provide the cities with freshwater. Professional organizations such as AWWA or US Water professionals can act effectively in that way to find an adequate solution.  


 Information in this article is taken from October 2011, article ‘’The coming global urbanization: what it means for freshwater provision’’ by Robert McDonald, in Journal AWWA. 



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