Feature Stories appear in WREN's free e-newsletter, Water Policy News, as the lead story for the month. To read archived issues of Water Policy News, please click Water Policy News page under "Our Publications." To sign up for our newsletter, click the red box on the right.
June 2015 Feature
The Water Resources Education Network (WREN) Project, a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund (LWVPA-CEF), has announced that four (4) community partnerships across the Commonwealth have been awarded a share of grant funds totaling $19,000.
Two Spring 2015 Features
February/March 2015 Feature (link to PDF)
'Red Lion Roars in as a Leader with Actions to Preserve Healthy Drinking Water'
by Lynda Ginsparg
January 2015 Feature (link to article)
WREN Grants Now Open for Source Water Protection Collaborative Projects
The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund through its WREN (Water Resources Education Network) is pleased to announce the opening of the 2015 grant round for Source Water Protection (SWP) Collaborative projects. Funding is available to help launch or strengthen community partnerships that raise awareness and educate citizens about ways to keep Pennsylvania drinking water resources clean and healthy.
November 2014 (link to PDF)
Lessons Learned Feature - 2013-2014 WREN Source Water Protection Grant Projects: A Sweet Year for Drinking Water Protection Partnerships
by Lynda Ginsparg
Clean, safe drinking water. We all want it and need it for life itself. Read about three 2013-2014 WREN Source Water Protection projects that decided to reach out to multiple audiences, including emergency responders, and take action before it's too late to safeguard precious drinking water.
October 2014 - Two Lessons Learned Feature Stories
During the 2013-2014 funding year, WREN awarded and worked with 15 community partnerships:12 watershed education (nonpoint source pollution prevention) projects and 3 source water protection projects. Project activities began July 1, 2013 and wrapped up June 30, 2014. Project leaders were asked to submit a final report. The report included an opportunity to share a story that may be of interest to future project leaders and Water Policy News readers. Read their stories shared in the following two Feature articles. Our November Feature will continue with a more in-depth look at the three Source Water Protection projects.
September 2014 Feature (link to PDF)
Vanport Township: A Small System with a Tall Order to Preserve Clean Water
By Lynda Ginsparg
Two major issues loomed large in this small township alongside the Ohio River in Beaver County, PA, prompting local officials to take action before threats to drinking water could do more harm. Vanport Township Municipal Authority and local township officials worked alongside PA DEP to implement a Source Water Protection Plan designed to help the community protect its wells and safe reliable drinking water.We continue our series of profiles on small water systems and why they took action to implement a source water protection plan for their community.
August 2014 Feature (link to PDF)
SMALL WATER SYSTEMS - Quarryville Borough (Lancaster County) Sees Value in Reviving Dormant Source Water Protection Plan
By Lynda Ginsparg
Mention Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania, and thoughts turn to picturesque farmland, Amish-made quilts, good
old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch food…and geothermal wells. This progressive
energy source is what drove one official in Quarryville Borough to push for passage of a source water protection plan (SWP) that
had laid dormant for years. In this edition of Water Policy News, we continue the third in our series of periodic profiles of small water systems and why they took action to implement a source water protection plan to ensure safe, reliable drinking water for their community. This month we share the story of the Quarryville Borough, Lancaster County, PA.
June 2014 Feature (link to PDF)
SMALL WATER SYSEMS - Biglerville - Tackling Threats to Clean Water in Adams County
By Lynda Ginsparg
rural areas and smaller towns across Pennsylvania, municipal officials and
public service employees may need to wear multiple hats, jumping in to handle
problems or emergencies where needed. Small water systems often face obstacles
that larger water systems can handle more easily, due to location, greater resources
or past experiences. In this edition of Water Policy News, we continue a
periodic profile of small water systems and what drove their interest in source
water protection. This month we share the story of the Biglerville Water Company, Adams County, PA.
May 2014 Feature (Link to PDF)
WREN Awards more than $68,000 to 22 Local
The Water Resources Education Network (WREN) Project, a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund (LWVPA-CEF), has announced that 22 community partnerships across the Commonwealth have been awarded a share of grant funds totaling $68,720.
April 2014 Feature (Link to PDF)
SMALL WATER SYSTEMS - THE UNSUNG HEROES OF SOURCE WATER PROTECTION First in a Series: Keeping It Clean and Partnering for Early Detection By Lynda Ginsparg
In rural areas and smaller towns and hamlets across Pennsylvania, it is often one or two people who are the operators of their systems. They are the unsung heroes – the caretakers of water essential for their customers. Many have realized that taking charge of their water system right from the source is the only way to ensure safe drinking water. We begin a periodic profile of operators at small water systems whose diligence and hard work make the difference in providing their customers with reliable drinking water every day. This month we share the story of Randy Gradizzi, at Toby Water in Fox Township, Elk County. Partnering with small water operators like Toby Water throughout Elk County is the Elk County Conservation District, which has installed a state of the art water monitoring system - dubbed the Satellite Telemetry System, or STS - to serve as an extra level of protection for water systems. (Other small systems operators will be featured in upcoming editions of Water Policy News later this year.)
March 2014 (link to PDF)
Water and Sewer Groups Come Together for the Same Goal: Clean Water for Berks County By Linda Ginsparg
After years of study and planning, The Berks County Water and Sewer Association became a reality last year, consisting of more than 80 member groups and individuals. With the help of a $7,000 WREN Source Water Protection Collaborative Grant awarded in 2013, the group committed to work across municipal borders and kicked off an ambitious public education program to reach Berks municipal officials, residents and emergency responders with the clean water message.
February 2014 (link to PDF)
Keeping the Faith as Stewards of the Earth: Working with Non-Traditional Partners in the Watershed By Lynda Ginsparg
Churches, synagogues and faith-based organizations see themselves as stewards of the earth, but many don't know how to turn their mission into a reality that will benefit their local watersheds and help promote clean water in their communities. Now that tide is beginning to change. Learn how some members of the faith community are already embracing this challenge.
January 2014 (link to PDF)
Mount Joy Borough Cultivates Community Pride through Rain Garden
By Lynda Ginsparg
Rain gardens are an efficient and beautiful way to stave off the effects of polluting run-off from roofs, parking lots and impervious surfaces. Rain gardens have been growing in popularity, and during the past several years WREN has awarded many grants to local partnerships to create and install rain gardens in their communities.
December 2013 (link to PDF)
It May Be Wintry Weather, but Look Forward to Spring - Begin Planning Your WREN Grant Project Now By Lynda Ginsparg
What are the ingredients that blend together to form the perfect WREN grant project? Perhaps it's one part inspiration and one part determination that result in a winning formula. In the first of two articles spotlighting current WREN projects, we take a look at a new drinking water protection program developed by a coalition called the Columbia-Montour Coalition for Source Water Protection that focuses on public education in two counties to encourage protecting community water supplies now and for the future.
November 2013 (link to PDF)
Hydro Hubs By Ben Grumbles, President, U.S. Water Alliance
A look at "emerging clusters of innovation and imagination" in the U.S. that Mr. Grumbles calls "Hydro-Hubs" (including one in Pittsburgh) that are helping to boost collective efforts to embrace and protect two most precious resources: water and the talent pool of future water leaders.
October 2013 (link to PDF)
September 2013 (link to PDF)
August 2013 (link to PDF)
June 2013 (link to PDF)
April 2013 (link to PDF)
March 2013 (link to PDF)
Winter 2013 (link to PDF)
January 2013 (link to PDF)
December 2012 (link to PDF)
November 2012 (link to PDF)
October 2012 (link to PDF)
September 2012 (link to PDF)
August 2012 (link to PDF)
July 2012 (link to PDF)
June 2012 (Link to PDF)
May 2012 (link to PDF)
April 2012 (link to PDF)
March 2012 (link to PDF)
January 2012 (link to PDF)
November/December 2011 (link to PDF)
October 2011 Lessons Learned from WREN Community Water Education Projects - 2011 (download 4 pg PDF)
According to the responses we received to a questionnaire sent at the completion of 2011’s funded projects, project leaders outlined four major issues: Promotion, Time Management, Volunteers, and Flexibility. We’ll look at each issue and how it might be addressed.
September 2011 (link to PDF)
"Even during these tough economic times, work to protect our natural resources, investments and communities must continue full-steam ahead," said Mary Ann Warren, President of the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.
“Is Hydrofracking Worth The Risk?” (link to PDF)
“A water utility with a groundwater or surface water supply and associated watersheds located in a shale gas formation should be concerned about potential effects natural gas drilling projects can have on its water supply….”
Rodale Water Purification Eco-Center Unveiled
A rainwater collection system for flushing toilets is the first step is this demonstration project at the new visitor center restrooms at Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA. Next comes regular flush toilets and a standard, tho’ oversize, septic tank.
Read more ....
For another example of water reuse, read the Feature on the University Area Joint Authority's system, first posted in June 2005.
WREN awards $71,723 in funding to 15 community partnerships in PA.
A year after the Gulf Coast oil spill, with radioactive water spilling into the ocean off Japan and tales of woe from Pennsylvanians who believe their water supply has been affected by Marcellus shale gas drilling, the energy-water nexus grows stronger and stronger. So too does the opportunity to educate local communities about how to protect essential water resources in the midst of rapid change. With that in mind, the WREN Feature this month is Larry Schweiger's editorial from National Wildife magazine.
Read Larry's View.
National Drug Take-back Day April 30
A second nationwide day to collect unwanted, expired, unused drugs is planned for April 30. Last Fall's collection day, though little publicized collected 121 TONs of pills, at 3000 collection sites nationwide. Police Departments are asked to sign up to host a drop-off site by March 31.
New de-icer is a sweet deal for the Chesapeake
Derrry Township, home to Hershey, PA is testing a molasses-like byproduct derived from sugar beets on icy, winter roads. The by-product - a de-sugared liquid typically fed to animals or flushed down the drain - will not freeze until temperatures get down to -30 degrees fahrenheit, which exceeds the anti-freezing point reached by salt alone.
(Reprinted from Bay Journal, January 2011)
EPA Issues Final TMDL for Chesapeake Bay
On December 29, 2010, US EPA issued it's final TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) or "pollution diet" for the Chesapeake Bay. The pollution diet identifies the necessary reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. A draft TMDL was issued in September and extensive public comments helped shape the final document.
The TMDL and much more can be found at http://www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/tmdl/ChesapeakeBay/index.html
Read Chesapeake Bay Foundation president Will Baker's comments.
Each Bay state prepared a Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to guide it's work to clean up the Bay. Read Pennsylvania's WIP
For more coverage see PA Environment Digest.
December 2010 Feature
DRBC Issues Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations
A moratorium on Marcellus shale gas development in Northeastern PA will soon end, when regulations governing well development in the Delaware River basin are adopted. The Delaware River Basin Commission issued draft regulations on December 9, public comments will be accepted until March 16. Three public hearings are planned for the next three months, locations and dates will be announced later.
DRBC announcement and the draft regs: http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/notice_naturalgas-draftregs.htm
PA DEP Secretary Hanger: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=15519&typeid=1
NYC Environmental Protection Commissioner's statement: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/press_releases/10-103pr.shtml
November 2010 Feature
Opinion- Crossroads And Choice For The Susquehanna, Chesapeake Bay And All Waters
This Opinion piece by Matt Ehrhart, Executive Director of the PA Office for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, appeared in PA Environment Digest on October 22. It discusses PA DEP's draft Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
The Public Comment period on the WIP closes November 8. Learn more ...
October 2010 Feature
Groundwater Depletion Rate Accelerating Worldwide
In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled, say scientists who have conducted an unusual, global assessment of groundwater use.
In a report to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and leader of the new study says soaring global groundwater depletion bodes a potential disaster for an increasingly globalized agricultural system.
Read the press release from the American Geophysical Union.
September 2010 Feature
Nationwide Drug Take-Back Program Planned for September 25
The first-ever national drug take-back program is being coordinated by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and state and local law enforcement partners. The National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to dispose of expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction. Although targeted at controlled substances, the program will accept all prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications - tablets and capsules. Improper disposal of unused medicines (such as flushing) can contaminate streams, groundwater and drinking water supplies.
Visit the website http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/takeback/ and enter your zipcode to find a take-back location near you.
Read the press release from DEA.
August 2010 Feature
Trout Unlimited provides stream surveillance training
to Pa. members in Marcellus Shale Region
Trout Unlimited and its Pennsylvania Council have initiated a new program to train Pennsylvania volunteers to use stream surveillance activities that monitor the impacts of Marcellus Shale development on streams where gas drilling is occurring.
July 2010 Feature
Community Pharmacies launch medicine take-back program
Visit www.disposemymeds.org to find a community pharmacy near you that will take back unused medicines. Hosted by the National Association of Community Pharmacies, www.disposemymeds.org is an online resource to help you to find medication disposal programs at a local independent community pharmacy. Enter your zip code in the Pharmacy Locater to find your nearest participating pharmacy.
Another site of interest is http://www.smarxtdisposal.net/index.html . This site gives instructions for proper disposal
of medicines when a take-back program is not available. It also has downloadable brochures and other handouts on disposal options and why flushing is bad.
Thinking about a sponsoring a medicine collection day in your community? Learn from the experiences of one WREN project, McKean County's pharmaceutical collection day.
Lawrence County will be sponsoring a collection program this year - with partial funding from WREN.
June 2010 Feature
New funding available from Pennvest for Nonpoint Source/Stormwater Projects.
The program, which began in March 2010, provides loans and grants for projects that address a wide variety of water pollution sources which cause water quality impairment (agricultural runoff, urban stormwater and abandoned mine drainage). Information on the program is available on the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority website at http://www.pennvest.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pennvest_internet/9242
or the DEP website at
(scroll down to State Revolving Loan Fund Nonpoint Source Program)
The June 26 issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin is expected to seek input on the the new NPS funding program.
Regional contacts for project discussions can be found here.
May 2010 Feature
Gas Pains -
The rush to mine the Marcellus shale deposit
imperils Pennsylvania’s woods and wildlife.
Link to the May-June 2010 issue of Audubon Magazine - Special Global Warming Issue
Read the Ted Williams column, Gas Pains
April 2010 Feature
Wisconsin Phosphorous Law in Effect
March 2010 Feature
Thanks to a recent change in guidelines for DEP’s SWPTAP (Source Water Protection Technical Assistance Program), small community water systems (those serving less than 1000 people) can now get SWPTAP help to develop a Source Water Protection program.
February 2010 Feature
Washington budget news:
Coal-Tar-Based Parking Lot Sealcoat: An Unrecognized Source of PAH to Settled House Dust
A recent study by USGS looked at amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in "settled household dust" and found considerably higher amounts of PAH in apartments with coal tar sealed parking lots.
December 2009 Feature
The Source Water, Climate & Carbon Connection
Source water protection projects provide a potential avenue to engage in climate change mitigation
to pay for the projects?
- By G. Tracy Mehan III, Dr. Chi Ho Sham, Charles Hernick & Jane Obbagy
Source: Water & Wastes Digest November 2009 Volume: 49 Number: 11
November 2009 Feature
Philadelphia- America's Greenest City?
Philadelphia Water Department's Green City - Clean Water Plan will use innovative "green infrastructure" to better manage stormwater through a comprehensive, watershed-based approach. The Plan for holistically managing stormwater was submitted to EPA in September. Howard Neukrug, PWD Office of Watersheds Director, says that his department is “changing the way they look at rainwater and how it is handled. We value water and we’re changing the traditional way stormwater is managed ..." One unique aspect of the progam - in the coming years, PWD will begin charging for stormwater management based on amount of impervious cover.
The water department is not alone in the push for "Greenest City." A coalition of city agencies including Parks & Recreation, Streets, the Office of Sustainability and the School District are coming together to help make Mayor Michael Nutter’s call for Philadelphia to become America’s greenest city a reality.
Read more at http://www.planphilly.com/new-course-tunnels-trees
Read about Philladelphia's Water Rates to Promote Run-off R eduction in 10,000 Friends of PA October E-Update. "... the new water rate structure .. will be based on the size of a property and on the amount of hard or impervious surface on a property ..."
Learn more about green infrastructure at the Low Impact Development Center and
October 2009 Feature
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) challenge regulators.
As the Marcellus Shale gas "play" develops in Pennsylvania, regulators and politician.s debate what to do with the waste water produced as a by-product of drilling. PA DEP released a "Permitting Strategy for High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Wastewater Discharges" last April. That Strategy called for using "available assimilative capacity of receiving streams where that is feasible" (i.e. dilution) until January, 2011. At that time new regulations with tighter limits on the amount of TDS that can be discharged to streams, would go into effect. The regulations are being developed now, and a Task Force has been established to discuss the proposed tighter TDS limits. The Task Force meetings and minutes are on the DEP website.
Meanwhile, in California, Governor Schwarzenegger has just signed into law AB 1366, that would give local water and wastewater agencies more power to ban salt-regenerated residential water softeners.
Water softeners are a source of TDS in domestic wastewater, and are pointed to as reason NOT to tighten TDS limits in wastewater discharges.
September 2009 Feature
The USGS released a report in August on mercury contamination in fish, bed sediment, and water from 291 streams across the nation, sampled from 1998 to 2005. Scientists detected mercury contamination in every fish sampled in every stream.
August 2009 Feature
American Water Works awards environmental grants
Congratulations to the nine Pennsylvania groups which were awarded grants through the American Water Works Environmental Grants program.
July 2009 Feature
Sustainable Water Systems: Step One - Redefining the Nation's Infrastructure Challenge
"The water management and policy community must redefine “water infrastructure” as one that integrates built infrastructure components with the protection and restoration of its supporting natural watershed infrastructure and the use of emerging small-scale water technologies and water management solutions."
A Report of the Aspen Institute’s Dialogue on Sustainable Water Infrastructure in the U.S
Read the full Report.
June 2009 Feature
The Carbon Footprint of Water
Have you ever woken up late at night in a cold sweat, thinking about the magnitude of water-related energy use and carbon emissions in the United States? Would you like to know how much energy can be saved through water-oriented, river protecting strategies? If so, you should check out River Network's new report The Carbon Footprint of Water.
May 2009 Feature
Dealing with the Chesapeake Bay clean up has been a lot like dealing with a loved one who is an addict. You constantly get your heart broken. (read more)
(reprint from Pennfuture Facts, May, 2009)
April 2009 Feature
This award recognizes a water system that has developed and implemented a highly effective
March 2009 - Feature
EPA Invests $2 Million To Secure Philadelphia's Drinking Water Supply
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented a $2 million grant to Philadelphia to help the City address the risk of intentional contamination of its drinking water.
The project, called the Water Security Initiative, is expected to serve as a model for the nation's drinking water utilities. Similar water security pilot grants were awarded by EPA to New York City, San Francisco, and Dallas.
February 2009 - Feature
Lebanon Low Impact Development Featured on Stormwater PA website
The Village at Springbrook Farms development in Lebanon County is a good example of what is possible when a township that takes a long term view works with a developer willing to innovate. More than 100 BMP, including many non-structural BMPs, are distributed throughout the 59 acre site, maximizing infiltration and treating pollutants.
January 2009 - Feature
By Paul King, Interim President,Pennsylvania Environmental CouncilThis Op-Ed piece appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on December 24, 2008 and was reprinted in the PA Environment Digest on December 26.
December 2008 - Feature
Report of the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Task Force
The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Task Force was appointed by Governor Ed Rendell to provide recommendations for
addressing the challenge of Pennsylvania's deteriorating water abd wasetwater infrastructure.
Executive Order 2008-2 charged the Task Force to assess the
commonwealth’s water infrastructure needs, to identify financing
strategies to increase the level of investment in our water
Read an abbreviated summary of the Task Force report.
Read the Full Report.
November 2008 Feature
Report in Brief from the National Academies of Science
October 2008 Feature
PBS segment on stormwater management aired on The News Hour on October 8 suggests LID (Low Impact Development) could be required under the Federal Clean Water Act.
at Hearing on Emerging Contaminants in US Waters, Sept 18, 2008, House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment
for all the testimony, visit:
July 2008 Feature
New StormwaterPA Website Features Online Video Case Studies, BMPs, More
March 2008 Feature
Controversey over how Pennsylvania will meet its obligations to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
January 2008 Feature
Are you as confused as we are about biofuels? Here are some articles that might help sort out what's good and what's bad.
December 2007 Feature
Focus the Nation is a national teach-in and civic engagement project to focus attention on global warming. A national teach-in day is planned for January 31, 2008 and many colleges, high schools and civic groups are involved. Check it out and get your community involved! www.focusthenation.org .
October 2007 Feature
Preliminary information on REAP from the PA State Conservation Commission
September 2007 Feature
Center for Watershed Protection Releases
Latest Manual in the Urban Subwatershed Restoration Manual Series
for free download
August 2007 Feature
This article in the August 2 issue of Time takes an important look at how we're managing water resources.
July 2007 Feature
by Brenda Ortigoza Bateman, Ralph Thonstad, and Daniel Danicic
This article is posted here with permission from Water Resources IMPACT , Volume 9, Number 3 (Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.). This issue focuses on an area of growing concern for water resources professionals: emerging contaminants of concern in the environment. Water Resouces IMPACT is a member publication of the American Water Resources Association (www.awra.org). It is a practical, solution-oriented news magazine that contains timely articles written for practitioners about issues currently facing them in their work as well as issues that are out on the horizon. The views expressed by individual authors and published in Water Resources IMPACT should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of AWRA. Subscription information is available here: http://www.awra.org/impact/rates.html
June 2007 Feature
by Nat Gillespie, distributed by Bay Journal News Service
Healthy brook trout mean healthy headwaters streams - essential to protecting the Chesapeake Bay.
May 2007 Feature
A discussion of how best to plan for onsite and clustered wastewater systems
March 2007 Feature
A science and public policy publication from the Hubbard Brook Reserach Foundation, 2007, 28 pp.
February 2007 Feature
Dr Kent Crawford, US Geologic Survey, talks about the USGS (PA DEP funded) study of pharmaceuticals in ground and surface water in PA.
Many thanks to Dave Hess, and Paenviromentdigest.com , for this video blog.
December 2006 Feature
Reprinted from Bay Journal, newsletter of The alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
October 2006 Feature
Reprinted from PA Environment Digest - 10/27/06
February 2006 Feature
by Robert Glennon
Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy
University of Arizona
author of Water Follies, a collection of short stories on the consequences of our growing national thirst. Available from www.islandpress.org
This article appeared in River Voices, Fall 2005, newsletter of River Network
January 2006 Feature
by G. Tracy Mehan III
This article appears in Water & Wastes Digest September 2005 Volume: 45 Number: 9, Copyright © 2006 Scranton Gillette Communications
:Many thanks to SGC for providing us the link to the article
June 2005 Feature
Reclaimed Water Offers Solutions to Water Quality, Water Demand Problems
This article first appeared in the PA Environment Digest for June 6, 2005. Many thanks to editor Dave Hess for sharing.
Rapid growth in an area with a high quality streams and dwindling water supplies is a recipe for environmental and economic problems. But in State College, the University Area Joint Authority and other partners are looking to reclaimed water to be part of the solution.
"Concerns about the impact the UAJA wastewater discharge was having on the temperature and water quality of Spring Creek, particularly in low-flow conditions, lead to a comprehensive sewage study of the area by the Centre Region Planning Agency," explained Brian Book, Manager of the Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. office in State College.
In 1997 the sewage and water quality studies concluded that the High Quality section of Spring Creek would not be degraded so long as flows did not exceed 6.0 million gallons per day (mgd).
However, projections showed growth would increase the discharge by up to 9.0 million more gallons a day by 2020 and increase of slightly more than 3.0 mgd.
"UAJA developed a multi-step strategy for dealing with this problem," said Book. "They attacked inflow and infiltration to eliminate rain water and other clean water entering their system and installed advanced nutrient removal technology on their treatment plant. They also started an aggressive water conservation education program and worked with large apartment building owners to install water saving devices."
The result of these initial efforts was to keep the discharge from growing as fast as it was originally projected. The studies projected the discharge to be right at 6 million gallons a day by this year, instead it now stands at 5.4 million gallons, inspite of significant growth in the area.
But clearly another strategy was needed.
In 1997 UAJA began a public discussion of 14 different wastewater treatment options.
"The special protection designation of Spring Creek meant we had to find treatment options that did not degrade the water quality of the stream." said Book. "UAJA began looking seriously at reclaimed water as one of the potential solutions."
This discussion was not without controversy, Book said, as the public questioned each of the alternatives and their potential environmental impacts.
When reclaimed water was selected to explore further, Herbert, Rowland & Grubic developed a proposal using micro-filtration, reverse osmosis and ultra-violet treatment technology to produce a wastewater discharge that was equivalent to potable water.
This ultra-clean water would then be piped four miles upstream in the Slab Cabin Run watershed, a small tributary to Spring Creek, discharged into one of two 20 to 25 acre wetlands for additional natural treatment and then allowed to flow down the Run and into Spring Creek. The water would travel four miles before it reaches the original UAJA wastewater discharge.
"We really took a belts and suspenders approach to designing this project to produce the cleanest possible water," said Book. "Nothing like this had ever been done in Pennsylvania before."
"Water reclamation technologies like these are already in use in the Disney theme parks in Florida, in Orange County, California and communities in Oregon and Washington as well at the New England Patriots Stadium," said Book. "Communities in Georgia and Virginia are also considering them."
"UAJA began with a demonstration area that included different water treatment technologies and a wetland area," said Book. ”While we were able to prove that the reliable technology could be installed and operated to produce ultra-pure reclaimed water, we were concerned that the water would be too aggressive, so we developed a method to “re-buffer” the water.”
After the results of the initial demonstration, the full scale proposal was developed that will ultimately treat and discharge 3 million gallons a day of reclaimed water.
Phase I that treats 750,000 gallons a day was just completed in May and about one-third of the pipeline to Slab Cabin Run has been constructed. Phase II, due to be completed in 2008, will raise that amount another 750,000 gallons. The final phase is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
"The route of the pipeline to Slab Cabin Run provides a unique opportunity to have businesses along the way use the reclaimed water, rather than regular public water, for their processes further reducing demand for groundwater," said Book.
Preliminary studies have indicated that a number of existing commercial establishments are willing or interested in using the reclaimed water, this includes concrete production, a commercial laundry, several public and municipal car washes, and an agricultural businesses.
Initial water users along the route now plan to reuse approximately 147,000 gallons per day (gpd), on average, and the Authority is currently trying to accelerate a reclaimed water service extension to allow the use of 600,000 gpd for summer golf course irrigation.
"Because of our work, reclaimed water is now considered by the Department of Environmental Protection as an acceptable technology for use when special protection watersheds are involved," said Book.
In addition to creating a potential revenue source and providing a feasible alternative to meet water quality regulations, Book said the project creates an economic development opportunity.
"The water treatment technologies we're using are producing water to the same strict standards used by semi-conductor manufacturers and other water quality sensitive industries," explained Book. "It would be a great offshoot of this project if high tech businesses are attracted to this area because of the clean water we're producing."
Video: UAJA Reclaimed Water Project Overview (update of video: startup date for phase I is August 2005 and the total cost of the project is $45 million) Quicktime File (large)
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