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Digitizing POTWs and Water Providers: Advancing the Use of Data in Water Programs

Sept. 21, 2021 1-3 pm EDT
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A Workshop of the NPPR P2 Professionals Workgroup in coordination with the Boston University Regulated Community Compliance Project

For Water Managers and Pollution Prevention Professionals

There are many opportunities for using new sensing and analytic tools for improving management of water. These techniques can be adopted by water management agencies and professionals to improve the effectiveness of their programs. Water professionals can use real-time discharges and water quality data to respond rapidly to emerging problems. Programs can use databases to assist with regional assessments, planning, and emerging trends to predict conditions and supply. These tools can also improve communication between relevant authorities and the public about these issues.

Pollution prevention (P2) professionals that assist facilities to reduce their pollution at the source can help publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) by helping them use data to identify and reduce the discharges of those who send toxic wastewaters to the POTW. They can also directly assist facilities by identifying ways they can change their operations and input and eliminate their need to discharge. P2 professionals can use data about exactly where discharges and quality hotspots originate to focus their assistance efforts. Attending this webinar will help connect P2 professionals with water quality professionals by showing the benefits of working together to collect better data using sensing, electronic, and analytic technologies.

Who should attend

This webinar is relevant for agencies that supply drinking water and treat wastewater; planners and representatives of relevant agencies and organizations; academics and interested experts; and citizens working together for the modernization of the field, a goal which involves both preventing the harm from pollution and preventing pollution before it is created.

Presentations

Helping to Achieve the Purposes of the Clean Water Act
Anne-li Steutel-Maron, US Business Development

Data can show you what you can’t see.

This session will explore currently available techniques for real-time wastewater condition analysis using automated in-network data collection and remote AI analytics. Using live data inputs and analysis, utilities and authorities can gain complete oversight over their networks, enabling optimized treatment outcomes, reduced costs, and improved regulatory compliance.

Individual ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) enables data gathering units collect and transmit condition metrics from strategic points around collection networks. This data is then transmitted to remote analytics engines, which provide live feedback and grant
users clear oversight of conditions in their network. This helps them identify and track pollution, as well as trace contamination back to source.
The session will also elaborate how we can rethink wastewater as a resource and consider data's role in securing consistently high-quality wastewater for reuse.

Raw wastewater is a valuable raw material, which requires that it be consistently high quality and stable in order to maximize its value. Controlling the quality of inputs to the collection network is vital to realizing its value potential. Optimized ‘source control’ cannot rely on random sampling. In order to reuse water, the continuous real-time data must be precise and reliable to give reuse plants and service providers a total understanding of their water quality.  

Helping to Achieve the Purposes of the Safe Drinking Water Act
Shelli Wright, Director, Digital Strategy and Purpose, TrueElements

As the availability of digital information improves in the water industry, producers and consumers alike are discovering the value
of digitization especially with respect to water quality and water quantity. Further, local and statewide open data policies and increased data reporting requirements are becoming more prevalent generating an environment in which organizations and individuals are learning how to effectively use these new data resources to positively affect business operations and quality of life.

The challenge is that, at present, there is no water specific digital platform that blends private and public data for the purpose of driving better business decisions. This leads to situations where the dynamics of source water quality is not clearly understood. Strategic level investments, resource allocation, and day-to-day operations are all improved with the ability to plan in advance for impulse events like storms floods, forest fires, earthquakes, upstream spills and other natural and man-made events. As an example, a municipal water treatment facility or
a major industry may not be aware of upstream conditions coming in a matter of days or hours.

Understanding the evolving water quality landscape powers decisions that can positively affect operations and return flow water quality. Increasing visibility, decreases risk.  Accelerating the need for water quality insight is rapidly changing water surface and ground
water availability. As river flows and aquifer levels decrease, they are taking on the same discharge loads which drives contaminant concentrations up. As users attempt to pretreat to improve the quality of the water that serves as a raw material or a cooling source, they find that the intake volumes must increase in order to provide the required level of production ready
water generating a quality-quantity vicious cycle.  
 
In the future, integrated water quality and quantity data and forecasting will help guide decisions that disrupt the cycle. Identifying where and what contaminants are in a watershed and what’s coming downstream in days or weeks can help agencies, utilities, businesses, and consumers implement mitigation strategies that drive to higher water quality and increased water availability.  

The presentations will be followed by questions and comments from the facilitator and discussants of the possibilities for advancing the mission of water protection through greater use of modernized data tools.

Participants will be invited to generate suggestions for how such tools can aid the clean water mission, but should also take advantage of the invitation to send in their questions ahead of time, so that presenters may consider them before the event. Please email rreibste@bu.edu.

Host, Facilitator: Rick Reibstein, former Assistant Director, Office of Technical Assistance, Massachusetts
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs; Lecturer, Boston University, NPPR Board Member.

Discussants

  • Rob Guillemin, P2 Specialist, US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England(Region One);
  • Justin Pimpare, Regional Pretreatment Coordinator, US EPA.

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