Posts

North San Diego County fire agencies teamed up in November with the Vallecitos Water District for confined space training drills. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Training Preps Firefighters for Wastewater Plant Emergencies

North San Diego County fire agencies teamed up in November with the Vallecitos Water District for confined space training drills. The drills, held over a two-week period, prepare firefighting professionals to respond to emergencies in facilities such as wastewater treatment plants and maintain their confined space certification.

The recent training took place at the Vallecitos Water District’s Meadowlark Reclamation Facility. Firefighters saw how the wastewater plant operates while getting a walk through of the facility. Fire personnel worked with Vallecitos staff and both groups benefited from the opportunity to understand each other’s equipment and protocols.

Meadowlark Wastewater Plant Supervisor Dawn McDougle led the confined space training with North County firefighting agencies on behalf of the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Meadowlark Wastewater Plant Supervisor Dawn McDougle led the confined space training with North County firefighting agencies on behalf of the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“The confined space training with the fire agencies has helped prepare us for future scenarios that could happen at the plant,” said Dawn McDougle, wastewater plant supervisor.

Video of the training drills conducted by the fire agencies and Vallecitos Water District.

The Meadowlark facility was chosen because it provided both vertical and horizontal confined spaces for training drills. McDougle suggested the facility storm wet well be used for the confined space exercise since it is relatively environmentally clean.

Collaboration results in more efficient response to emergencies

Firefighters are briefed on scene at the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Firefighters are briefed at the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Eight different fire agencies trained during morning or afternoon sessions, breaking up groups for various skill set station drills. Stations included an “Arizona vortex,” a new piece of equipment fire agencies use for rescues; a review of confined space rescue equipment; and training in confined space permit requirements. Confined space permits are required by OSHA before making any kind of confined space entry or rescue.

Meadowlark staff reviewed the conditions and possible actions within filter station space with fire crews. Staff also explained decision-making for confined space entry, and conditions they might encounter, such as chemical exposure, and lock-out/tag-out requirements.

A firefighter prepares to access the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

A firefighter prepares to access the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The training wrapped up with an all-hands mock confined space drill scenario at the Meadowlark storm wet well. Participants were required to respond to a simulated mechanical failure with a station pump, leaving Vallecitos staff “trapped” in a hole. First responders needed to “rescue” Vallecitos staff. Fire department personnel used the vortex system to rescue personnel trapped in the stormwater wet well. As part of the rescue scenario, fire teams incorporated Vallecitos staff involvement in the rescue mission.

Vallecitos wastewater collection crews also completed the confined space training with the firefighters.

Fire agencies were impressed with the staff and their operation of the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility. As a result of training, fire agencies can now respond more efficiently and with confidence.

“We appreciate the collaboration with fire agencies and the time they took to explain their procedures to Vallecitos District staff,” said McDougle. “We look forward to future training with the fire agencies.” 

Firefighting agencies participating in the training included crews from the cities of Carlsbad, San Marcos, Del Mar, Vista, Escondido, Oceanside, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Valley Center, and crews from North County Fire (Fallbrook), San Pasqual and Rincon.

San Francisco Recycled Water Program Pushing Wastewater Towards Drinkability

By design, the San Francisco Public Utilities Building is exceedingly green. It opened in 2012 and for years the building has been recycling its wastewater for things like flushing the toilets. Now, that water can be consumed.

“Everything that’s connected in this room to the transparent pipe is part of our research project,” explains Manisha Kothari, Project Manager for the SFPUC.

Down in the bowels of this building that houses some 900 employees, you will find the equipment that treats all of their wastewater.

 

Yorkshire Water Launches World’s First Poo-Powered Pub

In what will be the first time a public space has been powered by electricity made from poo, The Number Two Tavern is launching for a limited time in The Light, Leeds from 7th until 9th November.

The company is holding its first ever carbon week to spread the word and share knowledge about how we can all reduce our carbon footprint.

The power for The Number Two Tavern is coming from a ground-breaking process, called “anaerobic digestion,” which converts waste into biogas that can be used to generate heat and electricity. Yorkshire Water has charged a Hybrid Power battery with the poo-power, which is being created at Yorkshire Water’s Knostrop Recycling Centre.

Opinion: We Must Press California, Federal Officials to Clean Up Toxic Rivers

Contamination of soil and groundwater takes a huge toll on California’s environment.

In 2017, the amount of untreated sewage and industrial waste dumped into Southern California rivers was equal to at least 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. More than 100 million gallons of untreated sewage were dumped into the Tijuana River near Imperial Beach in September 2019.

The problem is getting worse.

Ukiah’s Wastewater No Longer Being Wasted

The city of Ukiah made its first delivery of recycled water through its extensive Purple Pipe system this week, putting about 2 million gallons of water reclaimed from local sinks, showers and toilets into an irrigation pond just south of the Ukiah Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A Look Inside Ventura’s Wastewater Operations. What’s The Future of its Estuary Discharge?

There’s a lot of confusion and concern about what will happen once the city of Ventura no longer discharges millions of gallons of water into the Santa Clara River Estuary.

There are questions over what will happen to the birds, fish, turtles, ducks and other critters once their environment dramatically changes.

Progress Made on Calexico Sewer and Water Plant Upgrades

Although preliminary work and the replacement of aging water lines are already underway, the bulk of about $40 million in upgrades to Calexico’s water and wastewater treatment plants won’t start until 2020, a city official explained. The process to reach the point of construction is a lengthy one, but the city is making steady progress, Assistant City Manager Miguel Figueroa said.

How PFAS Poses An Emerging Problem For Wastewater

The intrusion of PFAS into source water supplies has grabbed the regulatory spotlight. As more scientists and health professionals raise concerns about the compounds — technically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — federal and state environmental agencies are under increasing pressure to impose limits for public protection. Now, it seems that municipalities have another looming headache as PFAS is finding its way into wastewater.

Escondido Plant Maintenance Technician Joseph Lucero won third place in the 2019 California Water Environmental Association Awards for his safety device.

Innovation Improves Safety, Wins Award for Escondido Wastewater Technician

An Escondido water employee’s ingenuity improved safety at a city treatment plant and won a statewide water industry award.

City of Escondido Plant Maintenance Technician Joseph Lucero won third place in the “Gimmicks/Gadgets” category in the 2019 California Water Environmental Association Awards competition. His innovative safety device turns a difficult two-person job working on wastewater pumps into a safer process one person can complete alone.

Lucero, a 20-year veteran in the water and wastewater industry, recently transferred to his current assignment at the city’s Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility (HARRF), a secondary treatment facility which can treat a flow of 18 million gallons per day for the City of Escondido and the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego.

“When I transferred and started working on the grit pumps, I understood why it was among the least favorite jobs to do,” said Lucero.

Brainstorming creates innovative approach

The bulky cover originally required two men in tight quarters to move safety. Lucero's device allows it to be removed and replaced safely by one person. Photo: Courtesy John Del Fante

The bulky cover originally required two men in tight quarters to move safety. Lucero’s device allows it to be removed and replaced safely by one person. Photo: Courtesy John Del Fante, CIty of Escondido

Workers found it difficult to maneuver the heavy, bulky cover over the rotor assembly of the pump. Two people were needed to muscle the cover in tight quarters, and it carried a risk of back strain.

Lucero says he started to brainstorm, tapping his water industry experience.

“I was determined to come up with a device or a technique to eliminate the back fatigue, reduce time, and increase safety,” he said.

Without an existing device or specialty tool available to perform necessary maintenance or repairs, it meant Lucero had to design and fabricate something brand new.

Team effort results in improved safety

Lucero worked on the project during his off-hours.

He first designed the cover device on paper from an original concept, and then made a cardboard sample to produce a mock-up he could work with for placement, fit, and accuracy. A prototype was created which consisted of a bracket, a height adjustment all thread, chain sling device, and the pump cover attachment plates.

After testing the design, Lucero says he received key help from Raul Adame, a Plant Systems Technician at HARRF. Adame fabricated alignment tabs at his machine shop at home to help improve the device.

Lucero always believed in his innovative tool, but said it worked even better than he expected.

New device saves time and costs

“It was an immediate hit with those that work on the grit pumps,” Lucero said. “It saves time, money, and more importantly creates a safer work environment.”

Lucero’s innovative creation is used by all personnel when performing predicative maintenance and repairs on the grit pumps.

“The device turned a two-person job into a one-person job,” said John Del Fante, operations superintendent at the facility. “This device allows an individual to support the full weight of the pump cover, clean the interior easily, and reinstall. It used to take two people to muscle this piece in and out of place.”

For Lucero, winning his award for innovation was an unexpected and welcome surprise.

Plant System Technician Jason Blacksher, a co-worker Lucero calls “my biggest supporter in designing the device,” submitted the CWEA award nomination.

“We are going through a safety culture change at HARRF and it’s working,” said Lucero. “I am surrounded by talented, knowledgeable and innovative co-workers. I learn from them every day as we grow as a team on the path to a safety conscious and innovative culture.”

 

Moulton Niguel Water District Agrees To Pay $4.8 Million In Wastewater Dispute

The Moulton Niguel Water District has agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle a 3-year dispute with South Orange County Wastewater Authority, which processes a portion of the district’s wastewater, according to a settlement agreement released Monday. Moulton Niguel wanted to terminate funding obligations for a treatment plant run by the wastewater authority, the Coastal Treatment Plant, because the water district has rarely needed the sewage capacity since signing a use-agreement in 1999. Instead, it has been able to rely on other plants and has said its customers shouldn’t have to pay for something they didn’t use.