Industry Insider

July 12, 2004

Learning to Reuse a Precious Resource
A discussion with UCF Stormwater Management Academy Director Dr. Martin P. Wanielista, P.E.

The Stormwater Management Academy at the University of Central Florida is home to the latest in stormwater management-related techniques. WWD recently found out more from the Academy’s Director Dr. Martin P. Wanielista, P.E.

WWD: When was the Stormwater Management Academy founded and how did it come about?
Dr. Martin P. Wanielista: It was founded at the University of Central Florida on Dec. 1, 2002, and I became its first director in January 2004.

I have been working in the stormwater field for 37 years, and it has been a love and interest of mine since before stormwater was taken seriously as a pollutant and before it was viewed as a resource. For some time, there has been a need to conduct research on stormwater as a reusable and potentially profitable resource, with a concurrent need to promote good engineering design to manage that stormwater. These needs coincided with a series of Florida Department of Transportation initiatives along the same lines and that in turn drove the development of the academy.

WWD: What types of courses and training are offered at the academy?
Wanielista: We are dedicated to advancing the knowledge, training and protection of these waters, and we offer educational materials and research to advance the understanding and practice of good stormwater management. The academy leadership has as one focus working with industry and the public about the value of reusing managed stormwater. The solution to stormwater pollution, flood control and resource use needs to have the continuing support of industry leaders. The contributions from practicing professionals are appreciated.

In addition to conducting research and funding partnerships for research, we are developing a workforce through the mentoring and employment of students. We also provide access to publications and information and we are making lifelong learning opportunities available to the existing workforce.

To encourage lifelong learning, we offer all of our graduate courses on video streaming and they are available in 151 locations. Several locations are worldwide, with students taking classes in Saudi Arabia, Iceland and China.

WWD: What are some examples of good stormwater management?
Wanielista: In Florida, about 50% of our potable water is used for irrigation, which is very wasteful and expensive. Using managed stormwater can reduce the use of potable water and save money. It can also keep our lakes and rivers cleaner. Stormwater runoff stored in a surface pond or in an aquifer and then used for irrigation can reduce potable water use and reduce the amount of pollutant loading to other bodies of water.

That’s because pollutants in stormwater are either dissolved in solution or in particulate form. Temporarily storing stormwater removes some of the particulates, and additional pollutants can be removed by filtration or vegetative uptake. When stored waters are evaporated or irrigated from the pond, additional pollutants are prevented from discharging on the surface, resulting in less flow from the pond and less pollutant mass in the environment.

Another example of good stormwater management is the Green Roofs program, which has a variety of benefits in urban settings and is becoming fairly common in Germany and the Netherlands. Green Roofs are, quite literally, plants on rooftops, generally in cities and generally in large office buildings. They reduce energy demand, protect against temperature extremes, and provide a stormwater collection system. In Detroit, there is a Ford Motor Co., building that has converted to a Green Roof and Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley is looking to make them a requirement on civic buildings.

Another example is using automated cisterns attached to buildings to collect stormwater and stop runoff on impervious surfaces, and here at the academy we keep promoting irrigating from shallow aquifers, which is one of my favorite subjects.

Association News
WWEMA/WWD Announce Scholarship

At the outset of the Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association’s Annual Washington Forum, Robert J. Wimmer, the 2004 chairman of WWEMA, announced a joint effort between the association and Water & Wastes Digest to provide a scholarship to a student seeking a career in a water- or wastewater-related field.

Beginning this year, and continuing annually, WWEMA and WWD, will provide one $1,000 scholarship to a student accepted to a college or university to pursue a career in the environmental sciences.

Students whose parent(s) is employed by a WWEMA-member company are eligible for the WWEMA/WWD scholarship. Before receiving the award, the recipient must be accepted into a four-year bachelor’s program in an acceptable field of study by an accredited institution of higher learning. Example fields of study include: biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, environmental engineering, environmental sciences and/or natural resources planning.

The 2004 scholarship application process is now open. The deadline for submitting a scholarship application is Wed., Sept. 15, 2004.

Applications can be obtained by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling 847/391-1011.

Regulatory News
Water Quality Claims Overstated

The EPA has consistently overstated the quality of drinking water in the U.S., despite knowing the underlying data was incomplete, according to a report by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General.

For the past four years, EPA has said it met its annual goal of ensuring 91% of the population was served by drinking water meeting all federal standards, the office said.

“However, EPA’s own analysis, supported by review, indicated that the correct number was unknown but less than what was reported,” according to EPA Claims to Meet Drinking Water Goals Despite Persistent Data Quality Shortcomings.

The report said that even while claiming its drinking water goals were being met, EPA was acknowledging problems with the accuracy of data in the federal version of the Safe Drinking Water Information System.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Information System, each state reports compliance data to EPA. The data are incomplete, according to both EPA and state officials, because many of the states use different kinds of tracking systems and may not have compatible interfaces with EPA’s database.

While data reported to the Safe Drinking Water Information System is generally accurate, EPA officials have said the weak link in the system is the large number of violations that are not reported, with monitoring and reporting data being the least complete.

Utility News
Cross-training Strengthens Knowledge of Employees

The Washington D.C. Water & Sewer Authority has been awarded the American Academy of Environmental Engineers Grant Award for its first-in-the-nation maintenance training and certification program for the water and wastewater industry.

WASA teamed with CDM, a global consulting, engineering construction and operations firm, and the International Maintenance Institute, to develop a program that allows maintenance professionals to gain recognition in their field and increased ownership of their work. Since certifying 170 maintenance professionals, WASA realized significant cost savings by reducing the need for maintenance outsourcing contracts by more than 50%.

“We are honored to receive this award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers,” said Jerry Johnson, WASA general manager. “We are continually working to enhance the performance of our operations staff while improving service provided to customers.”

While certification for operators and laboratory technicians has existed for years, maintenance certification has not. By training and certifying maintenance personnel, WASA has ensured a skilled and efficient workforce. Educating foreman and management through a train-the-trainer program has increased professional understanding between management and laborers and improved productivity.

Research & Development
Duke Wetland Center to Start Wetland Project

As part of a project designed to help protect the area’s drinking water supply and control stormwater runoff, the Duke University Wetland Center has begun to transform a heavily eroded, silt-clogged stretch of Durham’s Sandy Creek into an eight-acre restored wetland and flood plain.

Construction on the project, which will take four to six months to complete, had begun as of WWD’s presstime. Dr. Curtis Richardson, Duke University Wetland Center director, told WWD he is “looking forward to the teaching and research opportunities the project will provide to the education and research communities as well as an increase in the understanding of how restored wetlands function on the landscape.”

Grants for the program total approximately $1.5 million and have been accruing since the inception of the project nearly five years ago.

Project sponsors include the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the North Carolina Wetland Restoration Program, Duke Forest, Duke’s Facilities Management Department and the Wetland Center. The Wetland Center is part of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University.

Publication Review
Book Combats Sewer Sanitary Problems

Haestad Press now offers its latest civil engineering textbook entitled “Wastewater Collection Systems Modeling & Design.” The book guides readers through the model-building process and provides real-world applications to address a variety of wastewater challenges, including designing new systems, detecting and correcting inefficiencies and minimizing pumping costs in systems.

“The book provides a unique blend of the principals and practice of engineering for academia and professional engineers,” said Gary Moore, program manager for the Metropolitan Sewer District. “This text provides its readers with modeling guidance that is both technically sound and relevant for improving the performance of existing systems.”

The book was developed for use by designers, engineers, managers, regulators and students. Each chapter concludes with exercises that can be completed by professionals for continuing education credits and by students to reinforce the material. The book covers topics such as fundamentals of gravity, pressure flow and pumping; planning and construction models; modeling wet weather flows in sanitary and combined sewers; and combined and sanitary sewer overflows.

For more information visit

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