January 2022 O&M Newsletter

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January 2022

In this issue:

Training & Certification News

Currently, all of the PSI wastewater exam testing centers are open. Each location has its own Covid-19 policy, as described on the PSI website:


If you are scheduled for an exam, please check the website before traveling to the site to make sure the Covid-19 policies are followed.

If a candidate cannot meet the requirements of specific locations, they will need to take the exam at another location. The Department will not be making any special arrangements for alternative test locations at this time.

March 1, 2022 Registration Deadline for Even-numbered Certifications

Renew online by going to www.JETCC.org.

Renewals include paying renewal fee ($125), updating contact information, and providing documentation that you obtained required TCH.

To check the accepted TCHs for each operator listed by certificate number, go to http://jetcc.org/wastewater-operator-renewal.php. If you completed a class that is not posted, please send the TCH request form and required information to certification@neiwpcc-jetcc.org.

Upcoming Webinars and On-demand Virtual Classes

Check out the DEP website for a listing of upcoming webinars and on-demand classes, https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/wwoperator.

NEWEA Annual Conference and Exhibit– January 23-26, 2022 in Boston, MA

Join NEWEA on January 23, 2022 – January 26, 2022 at Copley Place in Boston for the in-person annul conference Navigating the Tides: Fostering Diversity and Leading Change. The annual conference is NEWEA’s premier event.

To provide the safest possible event experience, NEWEA is requiring all event participants to be fully vaccinated, wear a mask covering the nose and mouth in all conference-designated areas, and practice frequent hand hygiene.

The NEWEA Annual Conference is a great forum to meet colleagues, vendors and new friends to exchange ideas and information.

For more details, go to https://annualconference.newea.org/.

MWUA Annual Conference & Tradeshow

Mark your calendars for the 96th Annual Conference & Tradeshow on February 2-3, 2022

Go to www.mwua.org or contact Cindy Wade at cwade@mwua.org for more details.

MEWEA Spring Meeting April 1, 2022

Don’t be fooled by MEWEA’s April 1, 2022 Spring Meeting. This one-day meeting will be held at the Black Bear in in Orono.

Go to www.mewea.org for more details.

Monthly Problem Set / For Practice, January

1. What is the surface area of a basin that is 50 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 8 feet deep?

a. 200 ft2
b. 1000 ft2
c. 1600 ft2
d. 8000 ft3

2. How many gallons of water are in a tank that is full and measures 110 feet wide, 57 feet long, and 12 feet deep?

a. 43,200 gal
b. 75,200 gal
c. 128,000 gal
d. 563,000 gal

3. Convert 15,000 mg/L into percent.

a. 1.5%
b. 15%
c. 85%
d. 150%

4. A tank that is 60 ft long by 20 ft wide and 12 ft deep is used to treat a flow of 2.4 MGD. What is the detention time?

a. 15 min
b. 30 min
c. 1.1 hr
d. 2.3 hr

5. The influent BOD to an activated sludge plant is 225 mg/L and the effluent is 25 mg/L. What is the BOD removal efficiency of the plant?

a. 78%
b. 80%
c. 89%
d. 90%

6. A plant effluent flowing at a rate of 2 MGD contains 15 mg/L solids. How many pounds of solids will be discharged per day?

a. 25 lbs
b. 30 lbs
c. 50 lbs
c. 250 lbs

7. An activated sludge plant has an average flowrate of 1.0 MGD with average influent BOD of 300 mg/L. The aeration basin volume is 500,000 gal with a MLSS of 2500 mg/L, with 80% volatile solids. What is the food-to-mass ratio?

a. 0.2
b. 0.3
c. 0.5
c. 0.7

8. A floating ball travels 15 ft in 16 seconds in a grit chamber. The chamber is 30 ft long 4 ft wide and 4 ft deep. What is the flow (cfs) in the chamber?

a. 2 cfs
b. 15 cfs
c. 16.4 cfs
d. 45 cfs

An Update on Wastewater Infrastructure Funding

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) re-authorized both the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) for another five years, through federal fiscal year 2026. It pumps billions of dollars over the five years into four different areas of SRF funding. Both programs receive additional SRF Supplemental Funding and funding for Emerging Contaminants. It also adds billions of dollars for Lead Service Line Replacement through the DWSRF program. EPA has been clear that this funding is not stimulus funding but instead long-term infrastructure funding. Projects do not have to be under contract with 12 months like they were for the American Recovery and Rescue Act (ARRA) of 2009.

Here’s a quick rundown of CWSF Funding on the National level that was authorized for FY22:

(Note: FY is federal fiscal year.)

• Base CWSRF Program - $2.40 B; increasing to $3.25 B for FY25 & FY26
• Supplemental CWSRF - $1.902 B; increasing to $2.603 B for FY25 & FY26
• Emerging Contaminants - $0.729 B; increasing to $1.624 B for subsequent FYs

OSG - Outside of the CWSRF funding, but administered by most state CWSRF staff, is the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants Program, or Overflow Sewer Grant (OSG) for short. This program received FY20 & FY21 national appropriations totaling $67.3. BIL added another $100 million to the program in FY22 and $225 million for subsequent FYs. EPA is finalizing the grant application process so that States can apply. We estimate our combined allotment for FY20 – FY22 to be around $1 million and $1.4 million per year for subsequent FYs.

Here is an estimate of Maine’s piece of the pie for FY22 and some of the requirements of the grant funding:

• Base CWSRF Program - $17.842 million; increase of $5.5 million over FY21 allotment, requires 10–30% of the grant to be used as Additional Subsidy, aka AdSub or principal forgiveness, and 20% for Green Project Reserve (GPR) (up from10%)
• Supplemental CWSRF - $13.753 million; requires 49% of the grant to be used as AdSub, and 20% for GPR
• Emerging Contaminants - $0.722 million; requires 100% of the grant to be as for AdSub
• OSG - $1 million from FY21, 22 & 23, requires a 45% local match that must be from a non-federal source – can use CWSRF as match, i.e. repayment or state match, we just won’t use federal funds. Also requires 20% of the total grant awarded the state to be used for GPR.
• That’s over $33 million in funding for Maine’s wastewater facilities and an estimated $10 to $14 million in AdSub and Grants and grows to over $19 million in FY25!

Add in almost $10 million in FY22 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and the AdSub and Grant pot for FY22 grows to almost $24 million!

EPA is still working on the logistics for states to get the three CWSRF grants. Grant applications require a work plan which in the CWSRF world is our Project Priority List (PPL) and the Intended Use Plan (IUP). The unanswered question is can we develop one IUP with multiple sections like we did for the ARRA or do we have to develop three? Also, Emerging Contaminants is pretty much a specific category of eligibilities and likely should stand on its own.

A minor issue is that EPA has not yet defined what Emerging Contaminants are eligible. States have differing opinions on the definition of Emerging Contaminants, so until that is settled it is tough to solicit projects to be funded.

Ideally it would be beneficial to solicit projects for Base, Supplemental and OSG all at the same time to make as close to total funding packages as we can. To do this, we will have to revise our solicitation process. After receiving additional guidance from EPA we can proceed in an organized manner in soliciting projects for funding.

Green Project Reserve – This is up from 10% to 20% for Base funding and is 20% for Supplemental funding. We do not know if these can be combined to meet an overall 20% for both grants, or if the requirement must be meet in each grant individually. 20% is a high goal to achieve.

Justice40 – The President’s initiative is to invest 40% of federal infrastructure funding in disadvantaged communities, which is not a bad concept at all. However, since this initiative spans many federal programs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is spearheading this initiative and developing guidance. We don’t know how the plan is to be implemented or if OMB will define disadvantaged communities or leave it up to the states. Oh, the SRFs are the pilot program for this new initiative.

Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA) – This is a beefed-up American Iron & Steel (AIS) requirement that will be applied to all federal funding, not just the SRFs. AIS requires the use of domestic iron and steel in construction materials, BABAA expands this to include manufactured products. Like the Justice40 initiative, OMB is developing the guidance for this new requirement.

Congressionally Directed Spending – Senator Collins has submitted over $13.7 million in FY22 appropriations bills for nine wastewater infrastructure projects in Maine. If passed by the full House and Senate the funding will come to EPA. These projects will require a 45% local share. We have not seen earmark grants in Maine since 2009. At that time, we assisted EPA by administering these projects, as the local match generally came from the CWSRF. We currently do not know if EPA will request our assistance in administering these projects, however we are currently funding five of the projects through the CWSRF and/or state grants, so it would seem logical.

American Recue Plan Act (ARPA) – Setting up grants for ARPA funding has taken a lot longer than I (John) had envisioned. The Department and I were unaware that additional steps to our normal grant process would be required and that additional approvals were needed before grants could be awarded. When we first heard that ARPA funding for wastewater infrastructure was included in LD1733 we moved quickly, without guidance, to align the FY22 allotment with our 2021 IUP projects. It didn’t make sense to solicit additional projects when we knew of near-term projects that needed funding. In August we were ready to award ARPA funding, but the funds would not be available until October 18, 2021.

Around that time, we were notified that funds could not be encumbered (grants made) until Phase 1 and Phase 2 Business Cases were developed, input into a State portal, reviewed and approved. Phase 1 Business Cases were developed and submitted in early November for review and approval by State’s contractor and the State’s Executive Steering Committee. Phase 1 approvals were just received, and the Phase 2 Business Cases were recently submitted for review and approval. Once approved the Department will be able to set up grants/contracts with the applicants that were notified of receiving the FY22 allotment. I apologize for the unforeseen delay.

As you can see, there is lots going on, we have a lot of work to do, and unfortunately, we are still waiting for guidance and approvals.

For more information, please contact John True at 287 7808, john.n.true@maine.gov or Brandy Piers at 287-6093, brandy.m.piers@maine.gov .

New Location for NetDMR Support Portal

The NetDMR support portal has recently been moved to a new web location. The new portal contains combined support for ICIS, NetDMR and ECHO. The new support portal can be accessed by here: https://usepa.servicenowservices.com/oeca_icis

If you have any problems or questions related to NetDMR please contact the NetDMR coordinator at Brett.A.Goodrich@maine.gov or 207-287-9034.

NEWEA Certification Program

NEWEA Offers Voluntary Certification for Laboratory Analysts and Collection System Operators

The New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) offers certification for both laboratory analysts and collection system operators in the five New England states. These certification programs establish a set of standards to demonstrate proficiency in the respective fields.

Collections system certification is offered for four grade levels, and lab analysts for two levels. It is a voluntary program in that certification is currently not required at the state level for these disciplines. Applicants do not need to be NEWEA members to participate in the certification programs.

Why become certified if it is not required?

Certification promotes the employment of trained, experienced, reliable, and efficient personnel for public and industrial wastewater works. Goals of the certification program include improving work quality, safe working conditions and the status of workers. It provides a tool for employers to evaluate candidates, determine the qualification for success, and acknowledge professional credentials.

How do I apply for certification?

The process includes applying for certification using online forms prescribed by NEWEA, evaluation of applicant’s education and work experience by NEWEA’s subcommittee to determine the appropriate grade level and sitting for the exam. Those passing the exam by at least 70% will be awarded a certification. The application/exam fee is $75, and once received is permanent with no renewal necessary.

For more information or to apply for the exams, go to https://www.newea.org/careers/certification/ or contact Heather Howard at hhoward@newea.org

Preparatory training classes are not required but are encouraged. NEIWPCC is offering upcoming prep classes for both lab analyst and collection system personnel as follows:

- NEWEA Lab Analyst 1 Certification Exam Prep: January 11-14 from 8:30am-11:30am (four sessions)

- NEWEA Collection System Certification Exam Math Primer: January 31 from 12:30pm-3:30pm

- NEWEA Collection System Certification Exam Prep, Grades 1-4: February 1-4 from 8:30am-11:30am (four sessions)

For more information go to the NEIWPCC Training Calendar or contact them at training@neiwpcc.org or 978-323-7929.


DEP Enforcement Update

To provide a broader view of the enforcement program, Division of Water Quality Management (DWQM) staff is providing a regular enforcement update of not only administrative consent agreements, but also notices of violation, which is the Department’s first formal step in the enforcement continuum. Notices of violation (NOVs) may be the final step or a required interim step before escalating to an administrative consent agreement, court action via Rule 80K, or referral to the Office of Attorney General or the Environmental Protection Agency.

NOVs can be written by compliance or enforcement staff and include descriptions of the specific issues and citations (permit, rule, and/or statute) that were violated. NOVs often have requested corrective actions. The timely and effective response of the facility to the NOV is a substantial factor in whether the Department will pursue further actions.

During the months of October, November, and December DWQM staff issued 5 NOVs, two to commercial wastewater dischargers, one to a municipal discharger, and two to industrial stormwater dischargers. The wastewater facilities were cited for effluent limit violations, sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), collection system failures, and failure to properly operate and maintain collection and treatment equipment. The industrial stormwater facilities were cited for failures to maintain a stormwater pollution prevention plan, failures conducting routine inspections, training, and sector specific visual monitoring and benchmark monitoring.

In this same quarter, the Department settled three administrative consent agreements, two with municipal discharges and one with an unlicensed commercial entity. The municipal facilities were cited for SSOs totaling nearly 5 million gallons. The municipal facilities were also cited for failure to properly operate and maintain collection and treatment equipment, and failure to properly conduct monitoring. The municipalities were fined $35,000 and $25,511 (with $15,511 suspended) respectively. One municipality completed pump station equipment replacement, conducted make up sampling and extensive laboratory training. The other municipality is required to replace a force main, conduct a capacity, management, operations and maintenance (CMOM) plan, and continue reducing inflow and infiltration into their collection system.

The commercial entity was cited for a one-time unlicensed discharge of solid recovered fuel, predominantly made up shredded plastic, to the waters of the State and was fined $17,800. In addition to the penalty, the commercial entity revised their standard operating procedures and improved risk assessment for cargo handling operations.

If you have any questions about the DEP’s enforcement program, please do not hesitate to contact Pam Parker at 207-485-3038 or pamela.d.parker@maine .gov.

Cold Weather Preparations

When it comes to preparing for cold weather, operators need to be creative and plan ahead. Here are a few “tricks of the trade” gained through operator experiences.

Cold weather will affect the efficiency of wastewater treatment processes and mechanical systems. Expansion during ice formation can damage concrete and masonry and burst pipes. And there are many potential hazards to workers during the winter, including falling ice, slippery walkways, and frostbite.

Snow covering manholes, hatches, curbs, and tools can cause problems with daily operations. It is important to maintain access to facility treatment structures, pump stations, storage buildings, hatches, and sampling locations.

Plan ahead for snow removal! Know where you will put removed snow. Establish plow lanes and snow dump areas. Avoid piling it against walls and fences. Also, consider where melt water will go to avoid icing problems and flooding during thaws. Have your plow trucks, snowblowers, shovels, roof rakes ready to go and accessible. In some cases, you may want to maintain snow cover in places to provide insulation for underground water lines.

To protect low structures from damage by loaders and plows, install concrete pylons, spacing them closer together than the narrowest plow!

Snow adds weight loads to structures. You may need to relieve snow loads from building roofs and tank covers. Weight depends on density of snow and can be deceptive. Aging structures can fail under snow loads that they previously withstood. It is critical to maintain an even distribution of weight during the removal process (domes and arches). Clearing off roofs can be dangerous! Work should be performed from the ground with roof rakes when possible.

Ice cover can cause significant damage to lagoons. Ice blocks and shelves can be hung on lagoon sides during drawdown. These can slip off during melting, which can tear and puncture the liner and shear off lines, baffles and aeration headers. Seasonal discharge and snowfluent storage lagoons are the most susceptible.

Rocks and gravel from roadways can become sandwiched between liner and ice layer and slice through liner as ice moves vertically. Lateral movement of ice sheets can tear out baffle anchors and impact concrete structures, leading to costly and time-consuming liner and structure repairs. Plan ahead by clearing gravel and rocks off lagoon liner edges, removing and storing unneeded surface aerators, lines and floats prior to freeze up, monitoring curtain baffles, and planning for gradual drawdown.

As water freezes it expands about 10%. Pores, holes and cracks in concrete and masonry allow water to soak in, which expands and contracts during freeze and thaw cycles, putting tremendous stress on structures. Spalling occurs when ice forms beneath surfaces, causing large pieces of concrete to flake off.

Air-entrained concrete can help reduce these problems. The air voids provide pressure relief sites during a freeze event, allowing the water inside the concrete to freeze without inducing large internal stresses. Make sure concrete is properly sealed to prevent water absorption and freeze/thaw damage. De-icing agents can actually cause additional damage to concrete because they increase the number of freeze/thaw events, so it is better to use gravel and sand where possible.

Repair chipped and cracked concrete with commercial grade sealer, seal exposed anchor holes, shovel stairs and walkways ASAP, and address drainage and drip problems to prevent buildup and need for de-icing agents.

Condensation can also be a big problem in winter, causing ice-up on doors and windows which can lead to many sprung hinges when these are forced open or closed. Make sure to insulate and or ventilate areas with condensation problems.

Another hazard encountered by wastewater operators during cold weather application is wind. It moves snow, causing drifting and unevenly distributed snow-loads on buildings. It can tear off unsecured doors and hatches. Mitigate the effects of high winds by securing tarps, bulk bags, empty barrels, etc. that could be blown into treatment units. Consider establishing snow fencing or planting windbreaks in areas where drifting snows create problems, such as exposed work areas, tank walkways and sampling points.

And remember to protect yourself against increased cooling effect from wind chill. For example, if the air temperature is 20 degrees and the wind speed is 25 mph, using the formula 20 - (25 x 0.7) the wind-chill temperature is 2.5 degrees! Make sure to button up!


Cybersecurity for the Water Sector

This is the first of a new column that will address aspects of cybersecurity and offer suggestions on how to protect your system from cyber threats. Sources include www.epa.gov, www.cisa.gov, www.waterisac.org, and www.awwa.org.

Cybersecurity threats may seem like something that is only of concern to the IT department or the Town office, but in fact anyone who uses a computer, phone or tablet that is connected to a network must be aware of the dangers and take precautions. There are many easy, low cost practices that can protect your facility and customers from cybersecurity threats.

Implementing cybersecurity best practices is critical for water and wastewater utilities. Many critical infrastructure facilities have experienced cybersecurity incidents that led to the disruption of a business process or critical operation.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is the main federal entity charged with the task of protecting U.S. infrastructure from cyber and physical threats, with EPA leading the way for the water sector. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC) also offer cybersecurity resources and guidance for the water sector.

As a first step, a utility should assess their cybersecurity program. The EPA’s water sector cybersecurity brief suggests examining these 10 questions to start considering the strength of your program.

Does your utility …

1. Keep an inventory of control system devices and ensure this equipment is not exposed to networks outside the utility? The setup should never allow any machine on the control network to “talk” directly to a machine on the business network or on the Internet.

2. Segregate networks and apply firewalls? Classify IT assets, data, and personnel into specific groups, and restrict access to these groups.

3. Use secure remote access methods? A secure method, like a virtual private network (VPN), should be used if remote access is required.

4. Establish roles to control access to different networks and log system users? Role-based controls will grant or deny access to network resources based on job functions.

5. Require strong passwords and password management practices? Use strong passwords and have different passwords for different accounts.

6. Stay aware of vulnerabilities and implement patches and updates when needed? Monitor for and apply IT system patches and updates.

7. Enforce policies for the security of mobile devices? Limit the use of mobile devices on your networks and ensure devices are password protected.

8. Have an employee cybersecurity training program? All employees should receive regular cybersecurity training.

9. Involve utility executives in cybersecurity? Organizational leaders are often unaware of cybersecurity threats and needs.

10. Monitor for network intrusions and have a plan in place to respond? Be capable of detecting a compromise quickly and executing an incident response plan.

In the coming months, we will cover these topics in more details. Questions or comments? Contact Judy Bruenjes at judy.k.bruenjes@maine.gov.

Compliance Testing: Which Standard Method Versions Can I Use?

Compliance testing for MEPDES permits must be performed in accordance with 40CFR 136.

In May of 2021 EPA updated the list of approved methods to analyze chemical, physical and biological components of wastewater. 40 CFR Part 136.3 lists the currently approved methods for analyzing compliance wastewater samples. The list of methods includes not only the approved methods but also the specific versions or revisions that can be used.

For example, as of the writing of this article Table 1B of 40 CFR136.3 shows that for the BOD5 test EPA has approved Standard Methods (SM) 5210-2016, AOAC 973.44 and USGS I-1578-78 for the testing of wastewater effluent. The year after the method number for SM5210 indicates the latest editorial change to the method that is approved by EPA.

In the laboratory it is important to be following, and have access to, an approved version of each method that is performed for compliance testing. For methods published by Standard Methods, the original method approval and editorial revision dates are found at the bottom of the first page of section A. If you download methods from Standard Methods online make sure to pay attention to these dates as EPA doesn’t always adopt new revisions as soon as they’re publish by Standard Methods.

If you have any questions contact your Compliance Inspector or DEP Technical Assistance at 207-287-9034.

Monthly Problem Set / For practice Answers, January

1. b. 50 ft X 20 ft = 1000 sf.

2. d. 110 ft X 57 ft X 12 ft X 7.5 = 563,000 gal

3. a. Using the proportion 1% = 10,000 mg/L, 1.5% = 15,000 mg/L

4. c. 60 ft X 20 ft X 12 ft X 7.48 = 107,712 gal.
107,712 gal/2,400,000 gal/day * 1440 min/day = 64.63 minutes = 1.1. hr.

5. c. (225-25)/225 = 89%

6. d. 15 mg/L X 2 MGD X 8.34 = 250 lbs

7. b. Food = 300 mg/L X 1 MGD X 8.34 = 2502 lb/day.
Microorganisms = 2500 mg/L X 0.8 X 0.5 MG X 8.34 = 83240 lb
F/M = 2502 lb/day / 8,340 lb = 0.3

8. b. Flow (Q) = Velocity (V) X Area (A)
Q = 15 ft/16 sec X 4 ft X 4 ft = 15 cfs.