Latest Post

CH2M HILL Partnering with Clean Water Services to Create Sustainable Solutions

By Lynne Chicoine, CH2M HILL Vice President and Principal Project Manager and Zeynep Erdal, CH2M HILL US West Region Sustainability Coordinator

CH2M HILL has partnered with Clean Water Services (CWS, District) in Washington County, Oregon for nearly 30 years to design and implement innovative wastewater treatment solutions. CWS provides sanitary sewer service and urban surface water management to a 123-square-mile area west of Portland, Oregon and serves a population of approximately 500,000 within 12 partner cities and unincorporated county areas. The District owns and operates four wastewater treatment facilities along the Tualatin River. A long standing national leader in all things wastewater, CWS has moved from meeting one of the most stringent nutrient discharge permits in the country with the first of its kind watershed based permit to being a pioneer in resource recovery and sustainable solutions. For example, the District is recovering phosphorus at their two largest facilities using the Ostara process and recycling it as commercial fertilizer.

CH2M HILL is proud to be working with CWS on the latest of their sustainable infrastructure projects.  At the Durham Facility, we are in final design on the Cogeneration and Brown Grease Receiving Facilities Project. When completed in 2014, the plant will produce up to 1,700 kW of power from gas produced from anaerobic digestion and up to 23,000 gallons/day of brown grease collected from restaurants and institutions in the service area. Currently landfilled, the brown grease will be beneficially recycled to meet approximately 50% of the Durham Facility’s energy needs.  CH2M HILL includes innovation to make even the most conventional projects sustainable.  The Durham Headworks Expansion project, completed in 2011, uses nearby grit wash water to sluice screenings to washer/compactors, eliminating the need for pumping 200 gpm from the facility’s non-potable water system.  

In addition to conventional treatment, CH2M HILL recently worked with the District to develop a conceptual design for a natural treatment system that will provide multiple benefits including habitat enhancement and opportunities for public education and recreation.  We just completed construction of the first phase of the Fernhill natural treatment wetlands near the District’s Forest Grove Facility.  Ultimately, the project will include 200 acres of constructed wetlands and 400 acres of irrigable land and provides nutrient polishing, temperature reduction and storage for reuse. 

If you have any questions about CH2M HILL or the firm’s sustainability initiatives, contact Zeynep Erdal.

Ms. Chicoine is a CH2M HILL Water Business Group Vice President and Principal Project Manager. She has 30 years of experience in civil engineering and project management on a wide range of water and wastewater projects. Her experience includes facilities planning, conceptual to detailed design, preparation of specifications and drawings and operation and maintenance, and provision of engineering services during construction for aeration basins, digesters, thickeners, centrifuges and belt filter presses. Her professional specialties include municipal wastewater collection and treatment and water distribution and treatment.

Dr. Erdal is a Senior Technologist in CH2M HILL’s Water Business Group, and is the Wastewater Treatment Technology Leader and Sustainability Coordinator for the U.S. West Region. Dr. Erdal has more than 15 years of experience in applying systems modeling and process technologies for engineering solutions. She has extensive experience in wastewater treatment, technology implementation, biological systems optimization, climate change regulations and sustainable solutions. She is also serving as the Program Manager of the California Wastewater Climate Change Group, advocating for the California public wastewater agencies in dealing with climate change regulations and renewable energy project opportunities.

Leave a Comment | No Comments

Beyond Sounding the Alarm—Promoting the Many Benefits of Contamination Warning System Implementation

By Ed Motley, P.E. and Mia Welch, P.E., members of CH2M HILL’s water supply and conveyance, water and wastewater treatment and master planning team

Ed Motley  and Mia Welch will present their paper, “Finding Diamonds in the Rough: Why Would a Utility Want to Implement a Water Contamination Warning System?” on Friday, April 12th at 9:30 a.m. at the 2013 Texas Water Conference, the Largest Regional Water Conference in the U. S. Texas Water is jointly sponsored by the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Association.  The 2013 event features more than 450 exhibitors, 150 technical presentations and posters and more than 2,500 attendees. Learn more about CH2M HILL’s Texas Water 2013 participation and technical sessions.

As part of its overall Water Security Initiative for the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Environmental Protection Association (USEPA) awarded grants to four large water utilities to institute a Contamination Warning System (CWS) pilot project.  The grants allowed the selected utilities to execute full scale contamination warning systems and to demonstrate the feasibility of CWS technology.  Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) was one of the four to receive a grant.

Although the overarching goal of the CWS program is to reduce detection and response times to water distribution contamination events, the USEPA realized that in order for a full or partial CWS to be feasible for a utility, a CWS must create benefits beyond early detection to justify the substantial costs.  The DWU pilot program resulted in numerous additional institutional and operational benefits. 

During system implementation, several DWU data streams were refined and incorporated into the CWS, including Consumer Complaint Surveillance, Public Health Surveillance, Enhanced Security Monitoring, Online Water Quality Monitoring, and Sampling and Analysis.  Data from each of these streams was channeled into a single database where a set of algorithms, called an event detection system, analyzed the data and alerted DWU staff to potential water quality anomalies.  DWU staff members have access to the analyzed data on a computerized dashboard along with other geospatial data sets.  As part of the Consequence Management Plan developed in conjunction with the CWS, DWU staff and response partners were trained on the use of the CWS and contamination incident response procedures.

Four years in duration, the CWS pilot was completed last month.  Although instituting the departmental changes required to implement all aspects of the CWS was challenging, DWU has realized a number of benefits not only to its Water Production and Delivery programs, but across multiple DWU and City of Dallas departments. Our presentation at Texas Water will focus on the dual-use benefits experienced by DWU through the project’s completion and demonstrate that there is more to be gained by implementing a CWS than just streamlined water quality event detection.

Among many others, we will discuss the following positive results of the CWS pilot program at DWU:

  • Improved distribution system security and overall utility security awareness
  • Expanded knowledge of distribution system water quality
  • More timely and accurate conveyance of consumer complaint information to water system operators
  • Enhanced interdepartmental communication
  • Accessibility of data to upper management not readily available in the past

Mr. Motley has 37 years of experience in planning, designing, engineering and construction administration of advanced water, wastewater treatment and conveyance projects. His water supply planning experience includes long-range water supply planning, developing population and water demand projections, and identifying water supply alternatives and finance options for infrastructure improvements. He was a co-author of Water Works Engineering—Planning Design & Operation, a widely used text that presents the state-of-the-art in water treatment facility design and end guidance for successful planning, design, and operations.

Ms. Welch has 15 years of experience in environmental engineering, water distribution system modeling and master plan development. Her project experience includes the design and construction of wastewater and water treatment plants and systems, water distribution and wastewater collection systems.

Leave a Comment | No Comments

Examining the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing Operations on the SAWS Regional Carrizo Project

By Kenneth Nichols, P.E., CH2M HILL Water Resources Engineer and Brian Ellis, CH2M HILL Project Engineer

Kenneth Nichols,  CH2M HILL, along with co-authors Brian Ellis, CH2M HILL, and Adam Eddy of the San Antonio Water System, will present their paper, “Qualitative Risk Assessment for Hydraulic Fracturing Operations in Proximity to the SAWS Regional Carrizo Project” on Thursday, April 11 at 2:45 p.m. at the 2013 Texas Water Conference, jointly sponsored by the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Association.  Learn more about CH2M HILL’s Texas Water 2013 participation and technical sessions.

The potential effects of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling on the environment have recently gained global attention and continue to generate public controversy and conflict among environmentalists and the oil industry.  Concerned with the possible adverse impacts of nearby oil drilling activities on the Buckhorn Wellfield in Gonzales County, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) engaged CH2M HILL to conduct an overall assessment of the oil field activities to identify and mitigate potential risks as part of its Regional Carrizo Project. There is historic and ongoing oil and gas development activity within the wellfield boundaries, targeting deep hydrocarbon-bearing units in the Austin Chalk and, more recently, the Eagle Ford Shale. Therefore, for much of the useful life of the project, SAWS’ wellfield facilities will coexist with numerous oil and gas operations. 

Our presentation provides a summary of the fracturing process, the specific oilfield activities near the Regional Carrizo Project and our qualitative assessment of the potential risks. Based on review of past, current, and future oilfield activities planned for the area, we determined that the direct risk of hydraulic fracturing to the Buckhorn production wells appears to be minimal despite the relatively close proximity of the operations.  The key conclusions of our study were:

1) Migration of fracturing chemicals or hydrocarbons from the production zone through overlying strata is very unlikely due to the multiple formation changes between the Eagle Ford and the Carrizo including the Austin Chalk, a formation that has historically produced large quantities of oil and gas theorized to have come from the Eagle Ford.

2) Migration of fracturing chemicals or hydrocarbons from the production zone through structural deficiencies in new and existing wells is unlikely based on review of current and past construction practices for local oil wells. While surface casings were not installed through the Carrizo Aquifer in some cases, the production string was cemented back to surface using a two stage approach, effectively isolating the Carrizo from poor quality formation water and hydraulic fracturing chemicals.

3) Infiltration from surface spills and improper disposal of wastewater at the surface is very unlikely due to the depth of the Carrizo aquifer. For surface spills to reach the Carrizo aquifer, the chemical would need to travel through over 1,000 feet of overlying formations including multiple confining layers. A spill near a well would need to travel down the cemented annulus through a continuous channel or other deficiency. The likelihood of such a deficiency based on the cementing techniques utilized for these wells is near zero.

 Mr. Nichols is a senior water resources technologist and operations lead for CH2M HILL’s water business group in Austin, Texas.  His professional background is in water resources management and environmental engineering.  Mr. Nichols received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois.  He has more than 14 years of experience, specializing in groundwater resource planning and development.


 Mr. Ellis is a project engineer for CH2M HILL’s water business group in Austin, Texas.  His background is in water resources and environmental engineering.  Mr. Ellis received his Bachelors degree in Geophysics from Texas A&M and his Masters degree in Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech.  He has over 10 years of experience, focusing on groundwater-related modeling, design, and construction.

Leave a Comment | No Comments

First Full-Scale Dual-Function High Rate Clarification System Provides Alternative for Tertiary Treatment and Wet Weather Treatment

By Felicia Sanford, P.E., CH2M HILL Staff Engineer

Felicia Sanford along with co-authors Randy Boe, Jennafer Covington, Julian Sandino of CH2M HILL, and Brian Campbell and Ken Wesson of the North Texas Municipal Water District will present their paper, ‘Performance of First Full-Scale Dual-Function High Rate Clarification System for Tertiary Treatment and Wet Weather Treatment’ on Thursday, April 11th at 1:15 p.m. at the 2013 Texas Water Conference.  Learn more about CH2M HILL’s Texas Water 2013 participation and technical sessions.

In a proactive initiative to protect a critical raw water supply for drinking water treatment while also treating wet weather flows, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) initiated the first full-scale use of a dual-function high rate clarification system.  NTMWD serves 1.6 million customers by operating one water treatment plant and four regional wastewater treatment plants (RWWTP) including Wilson Creek RWWTP. Wilson Creek RWWTP is currently rated at 56 mgd average annual flow and discharges into Lake Lavon, which serves as a major raw water supply for drinking water treatment.  

The dual-function high rate clarification system used by NTMWD consists of a high rate ballasted flocculation system (Actiflo) to provide tertiary treatment of secondary effluent and a reconfigured activated sludge system and high rate clarifier (BioActiflo) to provide secondary treatment of peak wet weather flows. Construction of the system was completed in August 2012. Performance testing of the Actiflo function for tertiary treatment of secondary effluent included testing for TOC, TP, TSS, and CBOD5 removal; Performance requirements include TOC removal of at least 15 percent and average effluent TP levels of 0.1 mg/L. The BioActiflo function for biological treatment of wet weather flows performance testing has been delayed due to dry weather, but will include testing for TSS, CBOD5, and TP removal. Performance requirements include average effluent values of 30 mg/L TSS, 30 mg/L CBOD5, and 1.0 mg/L TP.

Our presentation will provide an overview of the purpose and components of the dual-function high rate clarification system and performance requirements, a summary of the results from performance testing of the Actiflo system for tertiary treatment, and unofficial wet weather testing of the BioActiflo system for peak wet weather flows.  

Ms. Sanford is an environmental engineer with Pro2D process modeling and wastewater treatment plant design experience. She has served as a process mechanical engineer for the design of wastewater treatment plant expansions and solids handling projects including process evaluations, BNR facilities, belt filter press facilities, gravity belt thickener facilities, sludge pumping and storage, biosolids master planning, and digester rehabilitation.

Leave a Comment | 1 Comment

Selecting the “Right” Nutrient Removal Approach

By Jennafer Covington, CH2M HILL Project Manager and Dr. Glen Daigger, International Water Association President and CH2M HILL Senior Vice President and Chief Water Technology Officer 

Ms. Covington and Dr. Daigger will present the paper, “Selecting the ‘Right’ Nutrient Removal Approach: An Overview of Four Texas Wastewater Treatment Plants” on Thursday, April 11 at 11:30 a.m. at the 2013 Texas Water Conference held April 10-12 in Galveston, Texas. Learn more about CH2M HILL’s participation in Texas Water 2013. 

Nutrient removal has been a hot topic in Texas for about the last decade. With the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adoption of the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards on June 30, 2010, nutrient removal is quickly becoming a requirement for publically owned treatment works (POTWs) that discharge into or near more than 75 reservoirs with assigned numeric nutrient criteria. And, it is anticipated that plants discharging into rivers and streams will soon be impacted as well, as TCEQ develops numeric nutrient criteria for rivers and streams over the next couple of years. Many Texas facilities have been assigned nutrient removal limits over the past decade; therefore there is an opportunity to learn from the experience of those facilities.

To develop an effective approach for nutrient removal, there are many considerations that must be vetted before selecting a treatment scheme.  Questions, such as “What nutrients are targeted for removal (phosphorous, nitrogen, or both)?”, “What level of treatment is required for short term and long term implementation?”, “If there is only a phosphorous permit limit, does it make sense to incorporate nitrogen removal?”, “Is there spare capacity in the aeration basins for selector zones?”, “Is there sufficient volatile fatty acids in the influent?”, “Is there concern of a secondary release of phosphorous?”, and “Is there an opportunity to provide a dual-use treatment scheme?,” all must be answered.

CH2M HILL has selected nutrient removal schemes for various POTWs across the world that range in size, geography, and/or treatment process. Four Texas POWTs-Upper Trinity Regional Water District Lakeview Regional Water Reclamation Plant, San Marcos Wastewater Treatment Plant, North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) Rowlett Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (RWWTP), and the NTMWD Wilson Creek RWWTP-provide examples of how the nutrient removal approaches for the plant are custom to each facility. The Lakeview and San Marcos plants permitted capacities are 5.5 mgd and 24 mgd AADF and utilize the A/OTM process for phosphorous removal.  At 24 mgd, Rowlett Creek plant currently uses chemical addition for phosphorus removal, but is planning to convert to biological phosphorus removal using the A/OTM process.  The Wilson Creek plant has a permitted capacity of 56 mgd AADF and has two trains. One train utilizes a Modified Ludzack-Ettinger process for nitrogen removal with chemical addition for phosphorous removal. The second train utilizes the Johannesburg process for nitrogen and phosphorous removal.  The first train utilizes a dual-use high rate clarifier that during dry weather uses chemical addition for phosphorous polishing and during wet weather is reconfigured as a supplemental secondary clarifier. 

Our Texas Water presentation explores what questions must be answered to select the “right” nutrient removal approach and provides case studies of what Texas utilities have done to provide working, real-life examples of how, why, and what methods to consider or reject when implementing a new or renovating an existing nutrient removal approach. Thinking about new nutrient removal schemes will be very beneficial to utilities, consulting firms, regulators, and academics as nutrient removal continues to be a much discussed topic and POWTs strive to adhere to the recent Texas Surface Water Quality standards.

 Ms. Covington, P.E. graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Environmental Engineering.  She is a Project Manager with the CH2M HILL Dallas office.  Jenna has 12 years experience in wastewater treatment, distribution and collection systems, and asset management.  She has held several leadership positions in WEAT, including currently serving as chair of the Water Reuse committee, and is a recipient of the WEAT Emerging Leader AwardJenna is also nominated for Vice President of WEAT for consideration at Texas Water.

Dr. Daigger has more than 30 years of experience in wastewater treatment plant evaluation, troubleshooting and process design. Between 1994 and 1996 he served as professor and head of the Environmental Systems Engineering Department at Clemson University. He is the author of numerous reports, articles, and conference presentations on wastewater treatment and sustainable wastewater infrastructure. His texts are used in engineering classrooms across the country. Active in the wastewater industry, Daigger is serving his second term as President of the International Water Association and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, Association of Environmental Engineering, and Water Environment Federation, as well as numerous other professional societies. He has twice received the Harrison Prescott Eddy Award from the Water Environment Federation.

Leave a Comment | No Comments