Newsletter - Winter 2009

This is the text version. Download a pdf of our printed newsletter.

Continuing to Move Forward

by Shaun Fielder, Executive Director

The economic challenges Vermont faces are far from over, but the introduction of millions of federally sourced stimulus dollars is leading to many jobs and improvements of water and wastewater infrastructure in our state.

As you know it is not any easy process for a community to decide to borrow money in these tight economic times. None the less, there are number of systems that are taking advantage of deep discounts to fund given projects. In some cases up to 75% of costs will be offered in grant format. In basic terms, the discounts associated with stimulus funded projects will be the best we will see in our lifetimes.

Experts at all levels are doing their part to see these projects through to successful completion. This insures Vermont's portion of the funding is used appropriately. These experts include; VRWA team members, system representatives (including managers, board members, operators, citizens, and others), VT USDA Rural Development, VT DEC officials, engineering firms, construction firms, and many others.

For many years we have heard about the importance of building capacity for our systems. It is good to see many are making a consolidated effort to insure their systems survivability for years to come, even in these economically challenging times.

Breakpoint Chlorination

by Paula Jackson, Water Systems Specialist

If your water system continuously chlorinates or has standby chlorination, read on for some important tips on ensuring you are achieving breakpoint chlorination in your disinfection process. The majority of water systems are disinfecting with chlorine to control pathogenic organisms in their drinking water, ensuring public health.

Chlorine, when added to water, goes through four phases of a chemical reaction before it produces free available chlorine residual. The hypochlorous ion and hypochlorite ion are produced when breakpoint chlorination is achieved. Contact time is needed to allow the chemical reaction to fully happen, as well as a strong enough dosage of chlorine to get to the fourth phase of the chemical reaction and produce the free chlorine residual which will ensure that your drinking water is free of pathogenic organisms.

In phase one of the chemical reaction, chlorine readily combines with constituents in the water such as microorganisms, iron, manganese, hardness compounds and ammonia in some cases. In phase two of the chemical reaction, chloro-organic compounds are formed if ammonia is present, creating chloramines. In this phase, water has a strong chlorine odor and people notice it.

In phase three of the chemical reaction, the destruction of these chloro-organic compounds occurs if the dosage is sufficient. When phase four occurs, you have reached breakpoint chlorination and your free available chlorine residual is produced.

If you have ever received complaints of strong chlorine odor in the drinking water, this could be an indicator that you are not adding enough chlorine to reach phase four, and the chemical reaction is stuck in phase two, the chloro-organic compound forming phase.

A good way to check this is to check both your free and total chlorine residuals. If your free chlorine residual is 0.2 mg/L and your total is 1.3 mg/L you have not reached breakpoint chlorination. If your free residual is 0.2 mg/L and your total is 0.3 mg/L, you have reached breakpoint chlorination.

If you have not reached breakpoint chlorination, turn up your chlorinator, or adjust the dosage in small increments, testing the free and total chlorine residual until they are within 0.1 mg/L- 0.2 mg/L of each other.

Yankee Ingenuity

Continuing Stories of System Innovations

by Wayne Graham, Wastewater Specialist

This column details unique solutions to difficult problems that operators come up with everyday. Below are several cases of operators solving large problems, saving money and making life at their second homes (treatment plants) a little easier.

Aeration tank foam is unsightly and problematic to operations at wastewater facilities. Detailed below are three very different solutions to the same problem.

  • Enosburg Falls WWTF operator Rodney Allen Sr., uses permanently mounted stand pipes in the corners of his aeration tanks to remove foam with a septage truck. This makes the removal of the foam much easier.
  • Putney WWTF operators Joe Tetreault and Chris Hayes used the plant's existing jet aerators to provide a foam control spray system suspended under the oxidation tank bridges. They also incorporated a flush system to deal with plugged spray ports. The best thing about this system is the cost; less than $100.
  • Fair Haven operators used scrapped aerator timers to operate their facility in a cyclic aeration mode resulting in foam problems disappearing, much better nitrification/denitrification control, electrical savings and chemical savings. At last count, total electrical savings were at $8,000 per year (with no foam present)!
  • Lunenburg Fire District #2 WWTF operator Calvin Colby solved his pump station emergency generator housing problem by installing the generator in a box trailer. This permanent structure has an entry door and half of the box trailer is sectioned off for storage.
  • Several issues were taken care of when the Chief Operator of the Canaan WWTF, Robert Kimball, started using a septage dewatering screen at his lagoon plant. Normally lagoons cannot handle the heavy loadings from septage, so using the screen, the local septage hauler removes the vast majority of solids (disposed of by the septage hauler in a compost system) and sends the clean filtrate into the lagoons. This gives the town some extra revenue and also solves a septage disposal dilemma in northern Vermont.

If you have interesting ideas that you want to share, send them to me; we will include them in News Leaks in the future. I also encourage you to tour other facilities and share ideas; you will find that networking with other operators can be very beneficial. Several organizations can also help; VTWARN, GMWEA, VT WW Mgmnt. and of course, VRWA!

2009 H1N1 Influenza and You

by Phil Acebo, VRWA Training Specialist

I'm writing this article in late November and hope the information is accurate when you read it later. I have subscribed for the latest updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) via email to keep myself abreast of changes as they occur, and have accessed many other government sites for information on the international, national, and local scene. Also, this flu pandemic is very fluid and information is constantly changing as more is known. The best advice for all of us is to stay current, and to do that, the internet is a great resource. At the end of this article I will give you sites that will link you to the most current information.

Schools, businesses, and government entities are preparing for the probability that millions of Americans will be affected by either the regular flu bugs that arrive each fall and winter or the new 2009 H1N1 that evolved in the spring of 2009.

Former President Dwight Eisenhower who is known for being a pretty good planner said, "Plans are nothing; planning is everything." So if this is our starting point, systems need to participate in planning for the potential impact on operators, staff, and other essential services.

What is 2009 H1N1 flu?

2009 H1N1 is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. Most people do not have immunity to this virus, so it spreads quickly.

People with the flu spread the virus through coughing or sneezing near others. Sometimes people may become infected by touching some-thing with flu viruses on it and then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose.

Those currently at higher risk of serious flu-related complications from 2009 H1N1 flu include children younger than five years old, pregnant women, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, adults and children who have a weak immune system, and residents of nursing homes.)

VRWA will be hosting two classes (December 15th in Brattleboro and December 17th in Newport) on the potential threat of the 2009 H1N1. These classes will also explore the issue of planning for potential disruptions in service provided by water systems.

Here are the sites I promised you.

Is ARRA Funding Appropriate For Your Project?

by Eric R. Hanson, P.H., VRWA

Many of you have heard of the much heralded "stimulus funds" that are available for all sorts of public works projects across the country ranging from transportation infrastructure upgrades to the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing. This funding is authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), passed by Congress in February 2009. In regards to improvement projects for public water and wastewater systems across Vermont, ARRA funding has been available through the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds (SRF), as well as through the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development (USDA Rural Development). The SRF funding is administered by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation through their offices in Waterbury. The deadlines for applying for SRF ARRA funding have passed; therefore, the SRF ARRA funding program is not accepting any new applications for water and wastewater system improvement projects. However, USDA Rural Development ARRA funding continues to be available until September 30, 2010 and may provide an opportunity for those systems who applied for SRF ARRA funding, but were too low on the priority list to obtain funding, and for those who have qualifying projects but have not yet applied for funding. The USDA Rural Development ARRA funds are administered through the USDA offices in Montpelier and St. Johnsbury.

Although both programs are making use of the federal ARRA funds, the USDA Rural Development funding process is completely separate from the SRF funding process. For instance, "loan forgiveness" and negative interest loans are often part of a funding package offered through the SRF program. The USDA Rural Development funding works solely as a loan only or a loan/grant combination to fund water and wastewater system improvements.

However, unlike the SRF ARRA funds and the associated "shovel ready" requirements, USDA Rural Development ARRA funds simply need to be obligated (i.e., your funding application approved) by September 30, 2010, with construction occurring anytime thereafter. The USDA Rural Development ARRA funding is essentially the same as their longstanding funding program for public water and wastewater system improvement projects; however, with the ARRA funds there is currently much more money available for completion of these improvement projects.

Below is a bulleted list of key elements associated with USDA Rural Development ARRA funding. Those systems considering applying for USDA Rural Development ARRA funding should review this list carefully to help determine if this potential funding would be a good fit with your system.

  • Funding available for engineered projects only to public (e.g., municipal, fire districts) or non-profit entities unable to secure privately financed funding.
    • Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) and Environmental Report, typically included in the PER, required for application process.
    • Funding cannot be used solely for purchase of equipment, but new equipment can be funded as part of larger, engineered project.
  • Funding through USDA Rural Development is comprised of loans or a combination of loans and grants dependent upon the median household income of the town or population being served and how that compares with the statewide median household income (income surveys can be completed to determine if the system service area median household income is different than the town as a whole).
    • Loans of terms of up to 40 years are available (however, Vermont state statute limits the term for sewer to 30 years)
    • Interest rates of loans are currently at historic lows (as of October 2009).
  • Additional factors in determining loan/grant mix include: existing debt on systems (balance and annual payments), annual O&M budget (current and projected w/completion of project), user rates (typical rates in Vermont should be $400 each for water and sewer according to Vermont USDA Rural Development office).
  • Proposed project must be publicly noticed, through public notice in newspaper or open public meeting, so that engineering community is aware of project and has opportunity to express interest in working on project.
    • An engineer cannot be chosen without public notice of project.
    • However, it is up to the system to decide on project engineer.
  • For municipal entities, a successful bond vote authorizing project funding (loan portion of the project) is required to receive a funding commitment, however, the application process can, and should, begin before the bond vote is planned.
  • Buy American provisions (with waivers available for equipment not available from domestic manufacturers) and Davis-Bacon Act (stipulating the payment of prevailing wages on public works projects) apply to the ARRA funding for public systems.
  • Funds must be obligated by September 30, 2010 (i.e., the application must be deemed complete and the funding authorized by USDA Rural Development).
    • However, there are NO DEADLINES for the start of construction.
  • If project is partially funded by Drinking Water or Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds (SRF), USDA Rural Development ARRA funding can also be applied for, for project costs that exceed the SRF funding cap.
  • Quarterly recipient reporting is required for those receiving ARRA funding (part of the federal government's effort to provide transparency for the taxpayer supported funds being used).
  • Funding of public water system projects requires existing individual meters at each connection or for the installation of individual meters as part of the project; however, waivers to the meter requirement may be considered.
  • Funding can also be used for solid waste disposal and storm wastewater disposal projects.
    • Projects to complete the separation of stormwater and wastewater systems can utilize ARRA funds.

Because a considerable amount of this funding originates from American taxpayers, there are many program requirements in place to make sure that the money is used wisely. Therefore, the application and reporting requirements can be rigorous. However, given the one-time availability of the ARRA funds, it may be one of the best opportunities available for a long time to come for addressing water and wastewater system deficiencies and completing necessary or deferred system improvements. Please contact the Vermont Rural Water Association with any questions or assistance in applying for USDA Rural Development ARRA funding.

Contacts for USDA Rural Development are:

For Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties: Mark Koprowski at 802-748-8746 ext. 120 or
For all other VT Counties: Jim Plouffe at 802-828-6032 ext 6004, or

News on Tap

VRWA Staff Changes

by Shaun Fielder

We are pleased to report some staff changes here at VRWA. Eric Hanson moved back into a source protection planning position, as of November 1. Eric served in this role more than two years ago when the program was discontinued at the national level. In the interim Eric has worked on two separate contracts with DEC. One focused on re-delineation of source protection areas for public water system sources and most recently on a state-wide groundwater interference project for public water systems. Fortunately, the EPA source protection program was recently reinstated and Eric looks forward to assisting systems once again with issues associated with source protection planning. Eric most recently served as a VRWA Circuit Rider assisting water and wastewater systems with all details associated with accessing USDA Rural Development ARRA stimulus funding.

To fill the circuit rider position Eric left, we have hired Randall Antinarelli on a temporary full-time basis. Randy brings many years of experience in the bottled water industry to the table. Most recently he was production manager for Vermont Natural Spring Water at their Brattleboro facility. Randy started in late October and has already been on the road with other VRWA staff to meet system personnel and Rural Development officials.

He is covering the southern Vermont region to complement the work of Dmitri Hudak (VRWA) who covers the north half of the state on these issues. Welcome aboard Randy.

State Budget Woes to Impact VT SRF Technical Assistance for Public Water Systems

by Shaun Fielder

The Water Supply Division has released information indicating no RFP will be released for SRF Technical Assistance services effective February 1, 2010. This situation will impact VRWA directly as we currently have Ian Schrauf serving in the VT SRF Technical Assistance program. Ian provides a variety of assistance on all aspects of the VT SRF funding process. We are hopeful that this will not be a long-term situation and VT DEC will release the RFP sometime in the near future. If you represent one of the systems that has received assistance with the state SRF application process from VRWA, please consider submitting a letter of support directly to me. Thanks for your consideration and stay tuned for future developments.

New Groundwater Rule Effective December 1, 2009

Matt Guerino, Julie Hackbarth, and Rodney Pingree (Vermont Water Supply Division) have been presenting the New Ground Water Rule, which will become effective on December 1, 2009. Trainings have been held around the state and response has been very favorable.

Due to demand, we've scheduled two more training sessions for 2010: Rutland, January 20th and Waterbury, February 10th. Once this rule becomes effective, all water systems with Total Coliform positive results from distribution sampling will be required to meet the Groundwater Rule Standards. If you own or operate a ground water system, we suggest that you attend this course.

New Pump Systems Efficiency Course Added

VRWA and Efficiency Vermont have teamed up to bring in Pump Systems Matter to offer an all-day class on maximizing your electrical efficiency. The class will be held December 16 from 8am to 5pm in South Burlington. To register, call VRWA at 802-660-4988 ext. 305 or visit us online at


Re: Brent Desranleau, Leak Locating

Dear Shaun,

In the last year I have had two major water leaks in my distribution system and the water did not come to the surface. Both times I called Brent Desranleau from Vermont Rural Water for his assistance in locating these leaks.

The first leak was a 4" cast iron water main that was completely sheared. Brent pinpointed this leak to the actual foot. The second leak was a mechanical joint that had loose bolts. Once again Brent located this leak right to the foot.

If I had not had Brent and the service that Vermont Rural Water provided these leaks would have taken days (if not weeks) to located, and certainly thousands of dollars to repair.

This letter is intended to thank you and to let you know how much your services and staff are appreciated. I would hate to think of how small water systems like Enosburg's would be effected if it were to loose the services that you provide.

Thanks again,

Garry L. Atherton
Director of Public Works

Back to Top