Great Lakes Water Infrastructure Conference header

 

FEATURED SPEAKERS

Ridgway White, President and CEO,
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Jim Maczko, NOAA National Weather Service
Precipitation Trends and the Impact of Extreme Weather Events on Communities in the Great Lakes Region.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer  

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Welcoming Remarks

Photo of EGLE Director Liesl Eichler Clark  

Liesl Eichler Clark
Director, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Welcoming Remarks

Speaker Photo Manny Teodoro   Manny Teodoro, PhD
Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
The Plan: a five-point proposal to transform the U.S. water sector
Speaker Photo of Melissa Osborne   Melissa Osborne
Senior Manager of Asset Planning for the City of Windsor, Ontario
Growth and Development of Asset Management Throughout Windsor and Ontario, Canada
Speaker Photo - Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells   Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells
CEO of the NE Ohio Regional Sewer District
Watersheds, Equity and Affordability: A utility for the 21st century

SESSION DESCRIPTIONS/ABSTRACTS

In addition to our featured speakers, the Great Lakes Water Infrastructure will include two days of presentations on the following topics:

 

Affordability, Financing and Funding

A New Pricing Paradigm for Water: Universal Equity-Efficiency Rates - Janice Beecher, Institute of Public Utilities, MSU
This presentation will be based on ongoing research into pricing and affordability and a working paper presenting a new pricing paradigm for the water sector that advances the goal of universal service and balances the objectives of efficiency and equity. The issues of water access and affordability, and water as a human right, have taken a prominent place on the national and international agendas. Water systems are under considerable pressure to upgrade infrastructure and improve regulatory compliance. The cost is mainly borne by ratepayers under the prevailing doctrine of full-cost recovery and pricing. Declining usage is added pressure on water rates. Utility rates are highly regressive, taking a much great share of the low-income household's budget. The costs and consequences of disconnection for households and communities loom large.  For legacy systems and communities with high rates of poverty, these challenges raise issues of social justice. Proposed solutions include convention options (such as customer assistance programs) and new options (such as income-based rates or "social tariffs"). Despite the "business case" for their adoption, some new methods open systems to legal challenge. 

Sustainable solutions that balance economic and social considerations are needed. Following an overview of the affordability challenge, a new approach to water pricing will be framed, including theoretical and practical rationales. Potential advantages to water systems and the communities and customers they serve will be identified. The need for supportive policy institutions will also be considered. The model has relevance beyond the region and even the water sector (e.g.., energy pricing).


An Introduction to the EPA Region 5 Environmental Finance Center at Michigan Technological University - John A. Sullivan, P.E., Senior Research Engineer, Great Lakes Environmental Infrastructure Center, Michigan Tech
The Great Lakes Environmental Infrastructure Center (GLEIC) serves as the Environmental Finance Center for EPA Region 5 - Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Its mission is to provide Technical, Managerial, and Financial advise to help small rural communities build innovative, cost -effective, high quality strategies for environmental improvement.

The introduction will present details about the GLEIC and provide a mini Infrastructure Finance Basics Workshop that includes: Infrastructure Funding, Asset Management, Interest Rates & Loans, Municipal Notes and Bonds, Fees and Assessments.

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Ann Arbor: Leading the Way with Evidence & Community Based Rate Structures - Andrew Burnham, Vice President, Stantec; Lynne Chaimowitz, Budget & Finance Supervisor, and Marti Praschan, Chief of Staff, City of Ann Arbor
The City was an early adopter of stormwater fees as well as tiered water rates in Michigan.  These strategies have played an important role in the City’s long-standing objective of ensuring evidence-based distributions of system costs based on local data, while also supporting community values of affordability and “green” practices. This presentation will share some of the specific ratemaking, policy, and stakeholder engagement strategies used by the City to establish rates that satisfy the ongoing financial requirements for Ann Arbor’s desired level of service and explain how some approaches might be successfully applied elsewhere in areas where equity, sustainability and affordability objectives need to intersect.   

In Ann Arbor, there are noticeably higher water demands during the summer months, driven primarily by seasonal water usage and underlying climate patterns in the Midwest.   The cost of service associated with meeting these demands is very high due to the capacity requirements needed to be able to meet peak demand.  With clear evidence of customer usage patterns, the City designed rates that better reflect the true cost of service to meet those peak demands and recover those costs from customer classes that engage in peaking behavior while simultaneously providing affordability for lower volume users.     

Moreover, the City’s AMI data and billing information was cross-referenced with land use and permitting databases in order to identify and evaluate the specific usage characteristics and peaking patterns of single-family residential customers and multi-family residential customers.  This analysis identified noticeably different usage and peaking behaviors that were used in cost of service allocations and considered in the evaluation of alternative rate structures and creation of a new multi-family customer class.       

As it relates to stormwater, the City recently completed an integrated stormwater level of service and rate study, linking capital improvement needs, financing, and policy.  The study engaged the community in a discussion regarding the City’s stormwater capital and financial needs, soliciting input and comments related to community expectations of stormwater service.  An Advisory Group, consisting of a cross-section of the community, gave input and guidance for City staff to validate options to improve the stormwater program and to help define the desired level of service.  As part of the assessment, a dynamic model was developed to evaluate the appropriateness of the current fee structure, to enhance long-term financial planning, and to conduct sensitivity analyses for level of service options.   

Rate increases were required to support the level of service desired by the community.  However, a phased plan of rate recommendations was transparently developed with stakeholders to address provisions for the age and condition of the infrastructure, appropriate operations and maintenance costs, desired community level of service, proposed capital improvements, and funding requirements for all current long-term liabilities and possible future debt obligations.  The result was widespread support from the community and Council for a moderate and practical approach to enhance the level of service consistent with the priorities of all stakeholders.

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Balancing Funding and Financing Approaches to Water Infrastructure - Tom Traciak, Director, and Andy Campbell, Senior Manager, Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors
With the Lead and Copper Rule challenge being struck down by the courts, funding water infrastructure improvements has become a major concern for many communities.  Even those communities that don't have lead lines in their system are having difficulties coming to terms with the amount and cost of improvements necessary to keep their water systems in good shape.  Managing the finances of the water fund has become a critical component for everyone from DPW Directors, Managers, Supervisors to the Councils/Boards themselves.  What is the best way to manage our finances to have the most cost effective approach?    This session will discuss balancing all of the aspects of funding and financing water infrastructure and how communities and the people that represent them can prepare themselves for the future.  We will discuss how the most effective and cost-efficient systems have been successful in the past and we will be in the future in terms of funding and finance.


Paying for Tomorrow's Clean Water - Michael Curley, Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute

Paying for tomorrow’s clean water is going to be different than paying for today, or at least, paying for the past.  


Household Water Debt in the Great Lakes: Financial Insecurity and Budget Instability - Brett Walton, Senior Reporter, Circle of Blue
A missed bill payment. An undiscovered leak. A service shutoff.    For poor households, these events can trigger an unwelcome cascade of fees and penalties on their water bill that leads them into debt. Those fees are a plunge into a financial hole from which recovery may take years. In some cases, the debt could result in a lien on their property that adds more surcharges and deepens the hole.  Household water debt is an underappreciated factor in the debate about the affordability of water and sewer service in the United States and budget stability for municipal utilities. One-third of enrollees in Philadelphia’s income-based rate program, as of July 2018, had more than $2,500 in past-due balances. The utility as a whole was owed some $170 million in back payments from residential and commercial accounts, as of 2016. Local and state laws sometimes conspire to erect small but substantial financial barriers that can be difficult to surmount for a household already living at the margins.    This presentation will explain the findings from Circle of Blue’s investigation this fall and winter of household and commercial water debt in large U.S.. cities, including several in the Great Lakes. The national view should inform local and regional efforts to build more equitable, financially sustainable utilities.

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How to pay for Michigan's Lead and Copper Rule? - Sarah Mills, Senior Project Manager, University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy
As part of a project led by the University of Michigan’s Water Center and funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation, we have explored some of the challenges associated with financing lead service line replacement under the revised Lead and Copper Rule.  Our research included case studies of three different approaches--using the state Drinking Water Revolving Fund; funding entirely through increased water fees; and using a combination of grants and water fees.  We consider which approaches are most applicable for particular types of water utilities, and what steps the State might take to help facilitate service line replacement.


Identifying Water Infrastructure Funding and Financing Options - Charlotte Jameson, Energy Policy and Legislative Affairs Director, MEC
Michigan faces a water infrastructure funding gap – a need exceeding available resources – of approximately $800 million per year,1 covering wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater. Closing this funding gap is imperative if Michigan is to continue calling itself the Great Lakes State and meeting its responsibility to citizens and the environment. The cost of inaction and the failure to fund water infrastructure will mean degraded lakes, streams and groundwater, more water shutoffs, well contamination from PFAS and other emerging contaminants, contamination from septic tanks, more combined sewer overflow (CSO) events, phosphorus pollution, and overall increased health risks and deteriorating communities.   Given the current broad bipartisan support for infrastructure investment,[2] it is important to assess multiple, complementary options to assure policies that can actually fulfill Michigan’s critical revenue needs. Threading this needle, however, remains difficult because there is no authoritative analysis of funding options that can realistically be expected to meet identified needs.   

To fill this information void, Michigan Environmental Council, For Love of Water (FLOW), Clean Water Action, People’s Water Board, and Sierra Club - are working together to identify water infrastructure funding and financing mechanisms to assure safe, clean, affordable water for all people in Michigan.  Collectively, these project partners are hiring a qualified financial consultant to prepare a critical report identifying financing options for Michigan water infrastructure, providing analysis, and prioritizing options. Financing options that the report will examine include, but are not limited to:    Infrastructure trust fund grants and access to safe water assistance from royalties on public water captured and sold for private profit;  Revenue bonds;  General obligation water bonds for drinking water, sewer, stormwater, and green infrastructure approved by voters in a ballot measure;  Low-cost loans and grants from state revolving funds (SRFs);  Innovative, flexible pricing and rate structures that provide basic access to water, encourage efficiency and conservation, and sustainable water sources and public infrastructure;  User fees, taxes, severances, or surcharges on water use, particularly consumptive use, and/or discharge, (e.g.., Minnesota Legacy funds)   Allocations from the state general fund;   Narrowly tailored “public-private partnerships” where public ownership and control, public rights, affordability, accountability of water sources and systems are protected and maintained.     

We will present preliminary findings from that commissioned report and create discussion space around the complementary funding and/or financing solutions identified in the report. We will use the dialogue from this presentation and from audience feedback to further refine the report recommendations.  This panel presentation, followed by an open Q&A session, will potentially include the water financing expert contracted to conduct the report, environmental and public health advocates and lawyers who are experts in water infrastructure and affordability policy, as well as academics, water engineering experts, and frontline community members.

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Increasing Financing Options for Sustainable Water Infrastructure - Jen McGraw, Director of Sustainability Innovation, Center for Neighborhood Technology
Water infrastructure in the Great Lakes– including drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater systems – is aging and in a poor state of repair. It is increasingly threatened by climate change, which will cause more frequent and severe storms. Traditional public financing methods for water infrastructure provide limited options and are insufficient to address current problems. Thus, new ideas are needed to introduce innovative financing methods for public agencies and enable complementary investment by private property owners. This presentation will discuss a variety of financial instruments to support innovative approaches to sustainable water infrastructure investment by both the public and private sector, many of which have already been successfully applied to other sectors such as transportation and energy.     

This presentation will discuss water infrastructure generally, but focus explicitly on stormwater and wastewater management, and in particular, the problem of urban flooding, which is a serious and growing threat in many cities in the Great Lakes region. CNT has 40 years of experience in developing innovative solutions for communities, including designing funding and financing for cutting edge infrastructure innovations. The presentation will provide real-world lessons learned from implementation of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in the Metro Chicago region by CNT and others, including stormwater credit training programs, efforts to integrate GSI into public housing finance, inclusion of GSI into comprehensive rehabilitation programs, and municipal cost sharing initiatives.


Renewing Your Rate Structure for Today's Challenges - Mike Borchers, Principal Consultant, Arcadis U.S., Inc.
The water and wastewater industry is currently in the midst of confronting significant challenges related to system renewal replacement, consent order requirements, and more stringent drinking water standards. To meet these challenges, utilities have been steadily increasing rates and charges over the past several decades to keep revenues aligned with higher costs. In many instances, utilities apply annual, across-the-board increases to rate structures that were designed decades ago. These rate structures may no longer reflect a rational nexus to customer service requirements or utility cost structures. Service changes such as demographic shifts, declining consumption, declining industrial base, greater fixed cost levels, and other factors can render some rate structures obsolete from a cost of service standpoint.   

Over the past several decades, water utilities have been experiencing declining water usage from various customer classes, including residential and industrial customers. In many older cities, large industrial customers have closed or modified operations to reduce water usage. Likewise, residential customers are utilizing low flow fixtures and reducing irrigation/lawn watering which can impact their overall usage and peak to average demand ratios. Many volumetric usage rates are underpinned by customer class usage and their associated peak demands. As these demands have shifted, utilities should revisit these rates to ensure they are still designed appropriately to recover customer type service requirements. On top of the volumetric rates, traditional cost of service reviews can lead to stagnant fixed charges and associated revenue levels that expose a greater share of utility revenue to the impact of declining usage.   

From a wastewater perspective, many communities constructed wastewater systems and treatment plants in the 1970s to comply with the Clean Water Act. In many instances, these communities entered into wholesale service agreements with adjacent systems to provide conveyance and treatment service for charges that were assessed based on average day design or volume considerations and pollutant loadings. Now systems are implementing projects to increase capacity and the associated capture of both average day and peak wastewater volumes to prevent Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) and Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). Wholesale service agreements should be reviewed in light of these capacity improvements to understand if the underlying fee structure is appropriate for the wholesale customer service requirements.  

The above provides two examples of how a changing water and wastewater industry can impact the underlying effectiveness and equitability of water and wastewater rates. Other areas to be addressed include the balance between fixed and variable utility costs and the fixed and variable rates and charges used by a utility. Utilities should incorporate regular cost of service updates in accordance with AWWA’s Principles of Water Rates, Fees, and Charges and WEF’s Financing and Charges for Wastewater Systems to ensure that their rate structures maintain a rational nexus between their rates and the cost to serve their various customer types.

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Striking a Balance Between Affordability & Escalating Costs - Oluwole A. (OJ) McFoy, P.E., General Manager, Buffalow Sewer Authority/Buffalo Water Board Chairman
This presentation will discuss the difficulty of striking a balance between affordability and the escalating costs facing the municipal water industry. It will specifically tell the story of Buffalo Water’s creation of a Water Equity Task Force (WETF) and the subsequent Affordable Water Program. The program was created amid increasing capital infrastructure costs and implementing a lead service line replacement (LSLR) program across the city. In 2019, Buffalo Water had to increase revenues in order to maintain its financial integrity. The Buffalo Water Board and the WETF worked collaboratively to develop a new rate structure aimed at creating equity between the industrial, commercial, and residential customers. Similar task forces were developed, which included city employees, water board members, volunteers, and consultants to implement the city’s LSLR program in an efficient and equitable manner. This presentation will cover how Buffalo Water is tackling these new initiatives to improve the water infrastructure without leaving the city’s most vulnerable behind.

Below is an outline for the presentation:

  1. Background on water affordability in the United States. Background on Buffalo’s economic state and the utility’s needs. (30% poverty, over 100 year old infrastructure)
  2. Review of the research conducted to determine the necessary rate increase and cost of an Affordable Water Program.
  • How many people will be eligible? (Census data evaluation of poverty and income levels) .
  • How many people will enroll? (Existing programs’ enrollment)
  • What percent of people’s average income should their water bill be? (Comparison to other communities, EPA and AWWA recommendations)
  • Which areas of our city do we target? (GIS mapping with census demographic data)
  • How do we get the word out to them? (7 different languages)
  • How do we implement this into existing outdated billing system? (Worked with software developers)
  • How do we evaluate people for eligibility?
  • How do we securely maintain all of the incoming personal data?
  1. Development of community partnerships to create the WETF and implementation strategy.
  2. How much is reasonable to raise rates based on above results?
  3. Lessons Learned.

The Affordable Water Program is always evolving, but currently eligibility is based on income and family size. Customers who qualify as low-income customers receive a credit against their water bill and customers who qualify as very low income customers receive a larger credit against their bill. Based on research, the program will help the water utility maintain more paying customers by decreasing water shutoffs. Sub task forces were established to address Education and Outreach (E&O) for the program, future additions like a neighbor for neighbor fund and/or a leaky toilet program, and rate management assistance. All of these combined will contribute to a holistic approach to the financial health of Buffalo Water and the city’s residents.

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The Funding Fix: Innovative Financing for Sustainable Onsite Water Infrastructure - Cynthia Koehler, Executive Director, WaterNow Alliance
Amid aging infrastructure, population growth and a rapidly changing climate, water decision makers across the Great Lakes face increasing demands and rising costs associated with maintaining and expanding drinking water and wastewater systems. Green and localized, onsite infrastructure strategies offer innovative solutions to these problems by safeguarding water supply and quality, managing urban and non-point source runoff. Decentralized approaches not only serve the same functions as conventional water infrastructure, but are also often more affordable, equitable and provide additional community benefits. One of the central challenge utilities face in upscaling distributed water innovation, however, is how to pay for these consumer-facing strategies.   

This session will cover a new development in municipal finance empowering cities, towns, and utilities to scale up their investments in the consumer incentives required to advance widespread adoption of onsite, affordable and equitable water solutions and technologies using municipal bonds, green bonds, Environmental Impact Bonds (EIBs) and other forms of private equity. We will outline the benefits of capitalizing investment in distributed water strategies and the new guidance issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) that authorizes this atypical approach. Specifically, GASB 62 establishes an alternative to standard public accounting for what it refers to as “business type activities” that are not annual expenses but also do not produce tangible assets typically required for debt-financing. Under GASB 62, public spending can qualify for capital treatment if the local entity has a governing board empowered to ensure that the debt is repaid through rates, essentially an alternative form of asset security. The new GASB guidance specifically connects the dots from GASB 62 to public utilities; it provides that water utilities may take advantage of GASB 62 to capitalize public spending on consumer side of the meter programs including rebates and direct installations.   

This development has enormous potential for Great Lakes Basin communities tackling water infrastructure challenges from lead line replacements to water supply reliability to the soaring costs of new water treatment. After describing the potential benefits of onsite strategies integrated with centralized infrastructure, and the opportunity to access capital to upscale these consumer-facing programs, the presentation will explore success stories from various municipalities implementing localized infrastructure to meet various water management challenges. To conclude, WaterNow will provide a real time demonstration of Tap into Resilience (TiR), a free interactive online platform for water utility leaders to walk through issues and questions that can arise in financing decentralized, onsite strategies in their communities. TiR includes a resource database, downloadable sample documents on local ordinances, explanatory videos, and numerous case studies and an “Ask the Expert” portal. (This is a nonprofit resource without financial benefit to WaterNow or our partners and so we understand that providing this information would be consistent with the conference policy of precluding product or service marketing, but we are happy to exclude this brief part of the presentation if that would be preferred.)


Water Affordability: A Challenge for Both Urban and Rural Communities - Crystal M.C. Davis, Policy Director, Alliance for the Great Lakes
The affordability of water has become an increasingly crucial human rights issue affecting communities all over the United States. Particularly in the Great Lakes region, home of the world’s largest body source of fresh water on Earth, various barriers to access prevent the just and equitable distribution of a resource that we need for basic survival. One major barrier is the structure of water rates, which is based on usage and often negatively impacts low-income ratepayers, sometimes resulting in water shutoffs and associated public health impacts such as hepatitis A. While much of the water affordability conversation has been focused on urban communities, the fact is that many rural communities suffer from affordability issues related to struggling small systems and lack of capacity. The Alliance for the Great Lakes, in partnership with the Ohio Environmental Council, has conducted a study analyzing urban and rural water systems, usage, and rates all over the state of Ohio in order to provide baseline research for creating policies and programs that will establish water affordability statewide. This session will report on the findings of the water affordability study, the Ohio case study, and its applicability across the region using visual aids and handouts to supplement the conversation. We will discuss the program and policy recommendations that emerged from the study, which will require attention from legislators on both sides of the aisle and from across the region to pass policies that help address water affordability challenges. The presentation will have a focus on communities’ diverse relationships with the Great Lakes, which is most commonly through their tap, and the political, social, and financial implications of today’s water systems and affordability in rural and urban communities. We will be joined by representatives of rural and urban water systems who can speak to the similarities shared across the region.

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Water Affordability: Rates and Remedies - Ryan Wilson, Metropolitan Planning Council
Water affordability is of growing national concern. Water service costs and infrastructure funding consistently rank at the top of the list in surveys of challenges facing the water industry. Cost drivers in the water industry include resource depletion, pollution, infrastructure investment needs, population growth/decline, rising input costs (energy, chemicals, labor), increasing regulatory burdens, and traditional sources of subsidies and loans decreasing, or becoming less stable. As water bills have escalated at a faster pace than overall cost-of-living, the ability of consumers to pay for water service has declined. Ability-to-pay refers to the capacity of customers to pay water rates that reflect the full costs of providing water service.  During the replacement era for water infrastructure, how do we ensure affordability for all our customers while ensuring safe and sustainable systems to deliver water service?   

The Metropolitan Planning Council, in partnership with Illinois Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and Elevate Energy, collaborated on a research initiative to explore the extent to which communities in the greater Chicago region are facing water affordability challenges and identify opportunities to address these concerns. The scope of work has four primary objectives: (1) Assess what today’s best methodologies for determining water affordability are, (2) Collect and analyze water rates for the 200 + systems in the region (3) Analyze and identify communities where water affordability is at-risk, and (4) jump start regional dialog on best practices in addressing affordability for those that need it most.     

The water affordability assessment method for the northeastern Illinois region was informed by a review of the literature, input from the project team and technical advisory committee, and consideration of available data/data limitations. The purpose of the water affordability assessment is to provide a snapshot in time of the affordability of water bills in the northeastern Illinois region, to better understand the scale and scope of the water affordability issues and make recommendations about actionable policies and programs to address residential affordability concerns.  This presentation will highlight these research findings and provide information on what industry best practices are being deployed to address this growing issue in water service.


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Asset Management

Building an Infrastructure Asset Management Program from Below the Ground Up - Case Study - Patrick J. Fellrath, P.E., Director of Public Services, Charter Township of Plymouth, Michigan
Much of the Nation’s buried water and sewer infrastructure is approaching the end of its useful life.  Unfortunately, decades of underinvestment have put municipalities at great risk for costly infrastructure failures threatening public health, environment and overall quality of life.  Now, more than ever before, municipalities need to implement an effective Infrastructure Asset Management Program to reduce such risk as well as sustain and promote economic growth.         

Over the past two years, Plymouth Township developed an Asset Management Program for managing its sanitary sewer infrastructure.  The Township’s Asset Management (AM) Plan serves the overall purpose of identifying the most cost effective method for maintaining infrastructure at an appropriate level of service and an acceptable level of risk; the AM Plan identifies and prioritizes needed improvements to the Township’s collection system, and facilitates change from a reactive to proactive maintenance culture that will minimize the risk of failure of critical infrastructure.  The $2M project to develop the AM Plan, funded in part by the State of Michigan’s SAW Grant Program, was largely based on the U.S. EPA’s Asset Management framework and incorporated industry best practices, including use of national standards for sewer inspection and development of a hydraulic model to assess system condition and performance.  The project included a gap assessment, asset inventory development, field data collection, condition assessment, risk analysis, and determination of future reinvestment requirements over a short and long term planning horizon.     

The presentation will provide a summary of the Township’s efforts in developing and implementing the Wastewater AM Plan, associated successes, and lessons learned. The major outputs of the AM Plan are a validated short term and long term CIP, recommendations for O&M, and other business improvement initiatives.  The presentation will also highlight the importance and success of the State of Michigan’s SAW Grant Program and summarize project deliverables under the Program. 

A main focus of the presentation will be on the Township's unique risk based approach to identifying and prioritizing replacement, rehabilitation, and O&M activities for its collection system assets.  The Township's methodology builds upon the basic risk equation of:    Probability of Failure (POF) X Consequence of Failure (COF) = Risk   

The methodology expands on the basic equation using the concepts of dominant COF, triple bottom line (TBL) COF, and Core Risk.  An asset’s TBL COF is evaluated based on estimating the environmental/regulatory, financial and social impacts of a defined failure of the asset. The asset is assigned COF scores for several key attributes under the three TBL categories. The highest individual COF score across these attributes is referred to as the asset’s dominant COF score, which is used in calculating the asset's Core Risk. An asset's Core Risk score establishes its initial prioritization and risk management zone. The risk management zone establishes initial prioritization considerations for asset O&M and capital investment needs. Additional prioritization within individual risk management zones is accomplished via a full Business Risk Exposure (BRE) analysis that considers any mitigation strategies in place.


Capital Improvement Plans for Green Infrastructure Assets - A.J. Schwidder, Chief Technology Officer, Upstream Technologies, Inc.
Several U.S. states have mandated the use of green infrastructure (GI) practices since 2016.  These include rain gardens, bioretention basins, green roofs – to hold rainwater runoff on site and remove pollutants.  These practices are being constructed at an increasing rate, while gaps remain in our understanding of how to maintain them.  Six components need to be in place before GI assets can be incorporated into a capital improvements plan, with local governments and private landowners at various stages of developing the six components.  This presentation defines the six components and discusses what we currently understand along with what remains to be learned about each one.

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Getting Community Support for Rate Increases Through Fair and Equitable Rate Methods - Victor Cooperwasser, P.E., Senior Project Manager, Tetra Tech
No one likes to pay more for a service. However, in many cases infrastructure bills have been relatively low. Because they are low (especially compared to bills for internet, electricity and mobile phones) customers typically do not always see the existential value of these services. Infrastructure costs have increased significantly to comply with new regulations. In addition, the need to repair or replace existing infrastructure will increase dramatically because most systems were installed over 50 years ago and have reached the end of their useful lives. Customer and regulator concerns over lead and PFAS contamination have also led to expensive system corrections. It is an industry standard that rates be calculated to recover the necessary cost of the service without support from the general fund, property taxes or other sources of revenue to the extent feasible. Rates increase in response to all these forces. As their bills have increased due to higher costs and, in some cases, lower billable flow (the denominator in commodity charge calculations) customers pay more attention to how their bills are calculated. Because rate methods face greater scrutiny, it is necessary for them to be rational and clearly understood by community officials and system customers. When customers, and political leaders, feel their infrastructure rates are fair and equitable they are more likely to support increasing them if necessary. AWWA Manual M1 "Principles of Water Rates, Fees, and Charges"; AWWA White Paper "Cash Reserve Policy Guidelines"; WEF Financing and Charges for Wastewater Systems"; WEF Special Publication "User-Fee Funded Stormwater Programs"; and Arthur Nelson's "System Development Charges for Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Facilities" are publications that offer guidance to calculate appropriate rate structures. This paper will present the fundamentals of calculating fair and equitable rates.


Helping Water Systems use Data to Meet Community Priorities - Glenn Barnes, Director, Water Finance Assistance
Drinking water systems exist to provide communities with safe, reliable water today and into the future. It’s a vital public service that needs to be accessible to all residents, and having plentiful, reliable water helps drive local economies. Water systems should ensure that their infrastructure remains in good condition over time and that they manage their limited supply of water in the most effective way possible that meets community priorities.  But how well are systems meeting those priorities?  Data-driven decision making is becoming more common with water systems, and as a best management practice, water systems can measure how well they are meeting their community priorities in an objective way.  This session will explore common priorities for water systems around the country—such as appropriate revenue, promoting economic development, efficient customer use of water, and affordability—and will demonstrate simple metrics that can be calculated for each priority area.  Systems can encourage systems to use these metrics to improve financial and managerial capacity.


How to  Improve Your Piggy Bank - Financial Planning for CIP Implementation - Dawn Lund, Vice-President, Utility Financial Solutions, LLC
A utility’s overall financial health helps ensure its current and future ability to replace infrastructure and provide reliable service to customers.  Participants will learn what financial indicators are used to determine the current and future financial success of the Water (and Wastewater) utility.  We’ll review guidelines used to assess the utility’s current financial performance against key industry financial targets and how to develop a financial plan to reach identified goals.  This is essential in today’s environment for utilities to plan for significant infrastructure replacement.     

Case examples will be used to show how utilities are putting together financial forecasts to plan for the funds needed for infrastructure replacement.  No matter what financial position you are in, a solid plan can get you where you need to be.  Certain key financial targets will be explained and how they interact to work together.  Some of the key targets that will be discussed are:  Days cash on hand, recommended minimum cash requirements, Debt Coverage Ratio, age of system, proper capital re-investment, debt policies, and rate structures that support revenue stability, especially during periods of declining sales.  At the end of the session, participants will better understand their financial position and they key targets to develop a long-term plan.

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Three Councils, One Collaborative Approach to Michigan’s Infrastructure Asset Management - Panel Discussion
Joanna Johnson, Transportation Asset Management Council; Sue McCormick, Water Asset Management Council;  John Weiss, Michigan Infrastructure Council
Moderated by Jessica Moy, Executive Director, Michigan Infrastructure Council

Michigan’s increasingly complex and aging infrastructure poses significant challenges to public health, economic prosperity, and environmental quality. The Michigan Infrastructure Council (MIC) and its two sub-councils, the Water Asset Management Council (WAMC) and Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) were established to comprehensively and collaboratively address these challenges.  This interactive panel discussion will briefly introduce the three councils and highlight current activities across Michigan’s dense network of assets: transportation, water, utilities and communications. Audience members will be encouraged to ask questions and participate in the dialog toward developing a long-term integrated infrastructure asset management strategy in Michigan.


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Community Engagement and Public Education

Communicate to the Public About Rivers and Flood Risk with 3D Model - Dave Chapman, Educator
A large 3-D river model has proven to be very effective in communicating to the general public about river processes, what factors affect the risk of flooding, and various strategies that can be employed to manage water resources. A unique aspect of this model is that a variety of factors can be changed to demonstrate their relative impact. See how this can work for many audiences, from young children through adults audiences, including the option of recording staff reading to produce hydrographs. Also there is an extensive set of activities to education about these issues, some requiring the model and some that don't. Although the model and activities can be purchased, sets are available at many public organizations who are willing to loan them or bring them for a presentation.   Among the conditions that can be investigated with the model are land use patterns, groundwater infiltration, rain patterns, effectiveness of levees, retention basins, and general principals of water cycle.


Detroit’s Green Culture Shift - Nicole Brown, Land+ Water WORKS Program Manager, Detroit Future City
The Land + Water WORKS Coalition (LWWC), a group of 10 non-profits, was created to promote a "green culture shift" in Detroit centered around creating land and water stewards to communicate, support and scale up green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in the city. The coalition is comprised of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Greening of Detroit, Ecoworks, Friends of the Rouge, Keep Growing Detroit, Eastside Community Network, Sierra Club, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, Janilynn Miller—Detroit resident, and led by Detroit Future City. The coalition formed an ambassador program comprised of 45 Detroit residents and non-profits in its first year. Ambassadors attended trainings and workshops to introduce the concepts and importance of GSI and its relevance in Detroit, given the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s drainage charge. Before the program, ambassadors spanned a range of experience with these environmental topics, so LWWC trainers provided educational information that was accessible for all participants, no matter their knowledge on the subject. This ambassador educational programming included classroom and hands-on learning to equip them with the tools to become community GSI leaders. Ambassadors took that knowledge and training out into their communities and networks to spread the green culture shift across Detroit. In its first year, the LWWC engaged nearly 13,000 Detroiters in conversations around GSI, land and water stewardship.   

Critical to this educational program was the development of an eight-page curriculum that has been the cornerstone to the public education campaign. This curriculum has resulted in a change of perception from the community of their role in the water system and how Detroit can use its 24 square miles of vacant land to transform neighborhoods and protect our waterways from pollution. After year one, the program went through a review by a third-party research group to understand those methods and to improve the curriculum and program. This presentation will allow participants to understand the curriculum and communication between the LWWC, ambassadors, and communities that provided grassroots education to almost 13,000 residents in one year. The presentation will also convey the research findings from the program’s review and discuss the successful communication techniques used in the program as well as less successful techniques and how they were improved upon for the program’s current second year.

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Drinking Water and Community Engagement: Resources and Strategies - Sheyda Esnaashari, Great Lakes Drinking Water Program Manager, River Network
Affordability, equity, and environmental quality are increasingly intersecting at the interface of infrastructure investment and planning, and have a direct impact on the communities served. Community groups can and should play a key role in advocating for sustainable water management. High profile drinking water crises have galvanized more groups to get engaged in these issues. However, resources for these groups have been scarce as they’ve stepped into the drinking water arena. River Network’s recently released Drinking Water Guide: A Resource for Advocates aims to support advocates where they’re at and equip communities with the foundational knowledge necessary to engage in critical conversations surrounding drinking water.   

This interactive session will introduce participants to the Drinking Water Guide and spark discussions about how to build relationships between community groups and water systems. Community members and watershed groups want to engage constructively on drinking water issues. In response, River Network worked with an advisory committee and consultants to develop this layperson-friendly guide on drinking water systems including components relating to the source, treatment, funding, treatment, sustainability and policy framework with a focus on equity and community engagement. Join this session to learn about the Guide and discuss strategies for advocates, community members and water utilities to work together to achieve safe, clean, affordable and accessible water for all.


Lead and Copper Rule Consumer Notice and Public Education - The Customer Experience - Erin Mette, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center; Elin Betanzo, Safe Water Engineering
The Federal and Michigan Lead and Copper Rules have specific requirements for consumer notice of lead and copper sampling results and public education following a lead action level exceedance. Providing effective education about lead in drinking water can be challenging, and some of these detailed requirements can complicate effective messaging. This presentation will walk through the requirements of the Lead and Copper Rules, share examples of consumer notice and public education materials, and share feedback from water customers identifying effective and confusing information contained in the materials. Best practices for effective lead in water educational materials will be provided.

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Leading Residents to Water - What do They Drink - Essense Wilson, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer
This presentation reflects upon an innovative water education program conducted by Communities First, Inc. with Flint residents.  Often public education around water and water issues is boring and stale, but this program engaged residents in three distinct experiences.  Trips to the sand dunes of west Michigan and a Bay City sailing trip offered a backdrop for meaningful dialogue and family recreation with water at the forefront.  Coupling fun with education proved to leave lasting and meaningful impact on participants, with the intention of establishing new behaviors that positively impact our waterways and water infrastructure throughout Michigan.   

This session will present practical and specific guidance on how to educate the public about water infrastructure and make accessible information that produces responsible behaviors.


Drinking Water

Addressing PFAS Contamination: The Huron River as a Case Study - Daniel Brown, Watershed Planner, Huron River Watershed; Brian Steglitz, Water Treatment Manager, City of Ann Arbor; Oday Salim, Staff Attorney, National Wildlife Federation
The Huron River has been affected by PFAS contamination. The river corridor is a major economic driver for the region, and the river supplies the City of Ann Arbor with 85% of its drinking water. Both its capacity as a recreational destination and its perception as a drinking water source were impacted.    Public concern grew rapidly after advisories were issued to avoid eating fish from the river and to avoid contact with river foam, prompting partner organizations in the watershed to provide up-to-date information as quickly as possible. State and local officials worked together throughout the watershed to identify major contamination sources to the river. These efforts culminated in the identification of key communication needs, implementing treatment options, strategies for most efficiently addressing PFAS contamination, and regulatory gaps in water resources protection. 

This session will review the challenges of PFAS as an emerging contaminant in the Huron River, discuss treatment options at both the contamination source and during drinking water treatment, and make recommendations for how states and local governments can use existing legal authority to improve water protections for residents.


Classifying Water Systems Based on SDWIS: Analysis of the Great Lakes Region - Janice Beecher, Director, Institute of Public Utilities, Michigan State University
Fifty thousand is a lot of community water systems. It is unsurprising that this statistic is used frequently to characterize the U.S. water sector, often rhetorically to rationalize regionalization, consolidation, and even privatization of the sector. The impressive number implies that these systems are unconnected and a well-worn phrase is that “the industry is ripe for consolidation." The data are recorded quarterly in the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which effectively serves as the sector’s ongoing census. The SDWIS database is updated quarterly based on reports submitted by the state drinking water primacy agencies (epa.gov/enviro/sdwis-overview). SDWIS data are searchable by several system characteristics and include violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) since 1993. 

Quantitative researchers gravitate to SDWIS data to explore potential structural and other correlates of regulatory compliance, including water source (groundwater vs. surface water), system size (small vs. large), and system ownership (public vs. private). Unfortunately, not all of this research is well-informed, so variables may be interpreted, findings may be spurious, and conclusions may be misleading. The need to address these issues has urgency in the context of contemporary policy proposals related to structural change. Lack of understanding of both the sector and the data used to represent it risks comparing apps to oranges and both understating and overstating problems and solutions.    

The true structure of the sector is more complicated and nuanced than meets the eye. Utilizing SDWIS data for any purpose requires some “ground truth” about what is actually measured. With this backdrop, the goal of this study is to delve into the SDWIS data to develop a more accurate picture of the U.S. drinking water sector. First, we briefly review some of the research that relies on SDWIS data and its limitations. Next, we propose a more accurate classification scheme for water systems and provide a national snapshot based on our screening criteria, as well as a more detailed analysis of the water systems in the Great Lakes region. We also demonstrate some innovative data mining to assess system connectedness. Finally, we provide policy recommendations for renovating SDWIS incrementally to improve system accountability, research validity, and policy development.

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Elmhurst Attacks UFW - Meters, AMI, Leak Detection & Customer Portal - Paul Burris, Utility Operations Manager, City of Elmhurst, Illinois
The City of Elmhurst has been dealing with nearly a 20% unaccounted for water loss for many years. The City completed a multifaceted project to address this water loss. Not only were all 15,000 water meters changed out over a 10 month period, the City implemented a city wide acoustical leak detection system that monitors for leaks 365 days a year plus implemented a customer portal that identifies leaks inside homes/businesses. The acoustical leak detection system is the largest fixed system in the United States, monitoring over 170 miles of water main daily. Presentation will discuss how we got approval for the project, the project installation, and lessons learned.


Guidance Development for Complete Water Distribution System Material Inventories - Eric Schwartz, Assistant Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Revisions made to the Michigan Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) in 2018 require that water suppliers submit complete inventories of their water distribution system materials to Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) by 2025. The completeness and quality of distribution system material records for most water suppliers, however, is insufficient to comply with the requirement alone, necessitating efforts to collect more data and verify existing records.  Building on successful strategies that were used to identify the locations of lead service lines in the City of Flint, Michigan, guidance to help water suppliers comply with the distribution system materials inventory is being developed by a University of Michigan Water Center research team (funded by the Mott Foundation). The guidance materials cover the most cost-effective strategies for digital record acquisition, data collection by contractors in the field, technologies for material data investigation, selection of service lines to inspect, and adaptive learning approaches to validate records and establish levels of material uncertainty. This presentation will review the guidance materials that have been developed and includes experiential evidence from Flint upon which much of the guidance is based. The strategies recommended may be of general interest to communities in other States where funds may be limited and the quality of distribution system material records is insufficient to identify the locations of lead service lines.

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Industrial Potable Water Treatment - Monitoring and Managing Lead and Copper Rule Compliance - Josh Prusakiewicz, Process Water Lead, HDR, Inc.
Potable water systems often receive little attention in industrial facilities. Still, all potable water systems are subject to the EPA Lead and Copper Rule. Unfortunately, organizations are unfamiliar with how to navigate through the resolution of lead and copper action limit exceedances if they occur. Along with the immediate need to educate and protect facility personnel with safe drinking water, there are a series of steps or processes that a site must go through to address the elevated metal concentrations and return to compliance in a timely manner.     This paper presents a case study for a large industrial facility in Michigan. This facility received an action limit exceedance from State and County public health regulators in 2016 and is working towards returning to compliance by 2020. This paper details the work completed to date and provides salient data regarding the initial investigation, follow-up testing plans and protocols, and design implementation. It places the reader in the client’s shoes by walking them through general guidelines to meet compliance, water quality monitoring and evaluations, corrosion control treatment approaches specific to drinking water plumbing, health and safety impacts, cost estimates, implementation schedules, and detailed system design. The case study can help other industrial facilities understand the importance of proper monitoring and treatment of potable water systems and provides a roadmap for achieving potable water treatment goals.


MIAWWA Website and LCR Resources - lessons learned and best practices for Michigan LCR implementation - Christine Spitzley, MIAWWA 


Michigan Lead and Copper Rule Update - Brandon Onan, Department of Great Lakes, Environment, and Energy (EGLE)
With the 2018 Revised Lead and Copper Rule, Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy will present an update on rule implementation:  the lower lead action level, required inventory of all service lines, complete lead service line replacements, 1st and 5th liter sampling and the results so far, and how we’ve required and increased public involvement.


Water Filter Stations for Safe Drinking Water in Schools and Childcares - Charlotte Jameson, Michigan Environmental Council; Cyndi Roper, Natural Resources Defense Council
Urban, suburban, and rural schools across Michigan and across the country are testing and finding lead in their water. There are no federal requirements for protecting children from lead in drinking water at most schools and childcares.  Lead in drinking water is complex due to an unfortunately long history of lead being used in the manufacturing of plumbing. This ranges from the solid lead pipes of lead service lines to the still concerning average 0.25% lead by weight in modern plumbing (ie: fixtures and faucets). Because it is nearly impossible to find and install new plumbing materials with no lead content, filters can be a more reliable and sustainable way to ensure safe drinking water in schools. This presentation will cover lead in plumbing, school drinking water quality, and strategies for effectively using water filter stations as a reliable source of safe drinking water in schools.

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We’re in Compliance… So What?  Buffalo’s Journey for Lead Safe Drinking Water - Anna Falicov, Deputy Corporation Counsel, City of Buffalo, NY
The City of Buffalo has consistently maintained compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule, yet in the aftermath of the events in Flint, Michigan, the Buffalo Water Board decided to make lead in drinking water a top priority. There are an estimated 40,000 lead service lines (LSLs) in the Buffalo system and Buffalo homeowners own the entire service line, making full LSL replacement (LSLR) a financial burden. Over 30 percent of Buffalo’s population falls under the federal poverty line, leaving this burden to hit vulnerable communities the hardest. Knowing the health risks associated with lead and affordability concerns associated with full LSLR, Buffalo Water knew it needed to review all practices that minimize lead in drinking water.   

In 2016, Buffalo Water began their journey towards lead safe drinking water by setting their own internal action level of 5 ppb for lead. Buffalo Water also began conducting voluntary annual tap sampling and expanded its sampling program to offer free lead and copper testing year-round. Buffalo Water created a Lead Task Force charged with developing LSLR protocols and procedures, exploring regulation and policy updates, and addressing program funding and affordability issues.  Recognizing that the ideal approach to minimizing lead exposure would be to fully replace LSLs, Buffalo Water developed a successful pilot LSLR program in 2017 and replaced 15 LSLs based on voluntary sampling results. In 2018, Buffalo received a grant from the NYS Department of Health to replace LSLs and continues to replace LSLs based on leaks detected in the system. 

Buffalo is developing a program that aims to replace all residential LSLs. While there are many challenges to such a program, the most daunting is the cost to the homeowner. Buffalo recognizes that they must ensure affordability and equity for low-income customers and has partnered to form the City’s Water Equity Task Force, focused on developing a Residential Affordability Water Program.  Recognizing that replacing all LSLs will take decades and that Buffalo will need to continue corrosion control practices for some time, Buffalo Water commissioned a study to evaluate and optimize corrosion control treatment. The corrosion control study included desktop analyses, LSL scale analysis, and water quality profile sampling.  To evaluate process changes and their impact on water quality, Buffalo Water established a pipe loop system laboratory and engaged the University at Buffalo to operate the system and conduct pipe scale analyses of harvested LSLs. Buffalo also worked with the University of Washington and Virginia Tech on a collaborative research project for pipe scale analysis, and is participating in the Water Research Foundation Project 4910 on the accumulation and release of lead from galvanized pipes.  All of the above efforts to further minimize lead exposure will help assure that Buffalo Water continues to provide the highest drinking water quality to its customers.

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Green Infrastructure

A Collaborative and Comprehensive Approach to Green Stormwater Infrastructure - Ric Lawson, Watershed Planner, Huron River Watershed Council

The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) developed an innovative strategy to work with watershed partners on a hyper-local basis to evaluate stormwater needs and leverage a unique mix of grant funding for a set of projects to improve water quality objectives. The effort resulted in a public demonstration project of showing off a Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) treatment train at a high-traffic historical site, and an innovative set of stream “benches” to restore oxygen to the depleted stream adjacent to the site. Additionally, eight GSI project concepts designs were produced for local partners to address high priority locations, improve stormwater treatment, and reduce volume pressure on the rest of the stormwater system.

HRWC first leveraged a Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grant to develop a watershed management plan for the Norton Creek watershed, a tributary to the Huron River in Oakland County. The plan identified that stream alteration and stormwater treatment limitations lead to stagnating pools of low oxygen water in Norton Creek streams. The presentation will show how regular collaboration with local municipalities helped to identify improvement targets across the watershed. HRWC developed an interactive tool to identify GSI, conservation and stream restoration opportunities, that was driven by data collected in the planning process. The presentation will illustrate how the plan, collaborative support, and the opportunity assessment tool were utilized to leverage funding for high impact GSI and stream restoration projects.

The stream restoration project was developed in a portion of Oakland County’s drain system. The presentation will show a design that was developed to ultimately be utilized by the drain office’s woody debris management and maintenance programs. The design will show that woody debris that was blocking flow at points was cleared and utilized to construct simple benches to create flow diversity in the drain system. The result will be increase stream mixing and, ultimately higher dissolved oxygen levels.

Finally, the presentation will show how HRWC used the successful implementation of GSI and restoration projects to secure support from additional municipalities in the watershed and leverage grant funding to develop design plans for further GSI work. Overall, the presentation will illustrate how to opportunistically move from problem identification through implementation to future planning to improve environmental outcomes in a complex stormwater system.


Enhancing Coastal Resilience Using Green Infrastructure - Rachael Franks Taylor, CSS/Lynker Team
Green infrastructure approaches are increasingly recognized as effective options for coastal communities aiming to reduce flooding, adapt to climate change, and protect the quality of coastal waters and ecosystems. During this session, presenters will introduce a suite of new NOAA products that can help attendees: visualize coastal hazards and climate change impacts to natural areas; consider climate impacts in coastal land conservation planning; identify the effectiveness of various green/natural infrastructure techniques for reducing impacts; gather key talking points to gain support; and hear lessons from others’ experiences implementing green/natural infrastructure projects to reduce hazard and climate impacts. Although this is geared primarily for coastal audiences, some of the resources are relevant for non-coastal communities as well.

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Incentivizing Green Infrastructure in Grand Rapids, MI: Rainwater Rewards Stormwater Calculator - Elaine Sterrett Isely, Director of Water Programs, West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC)
In 2015, after three decades and more than $400 million, the City of Grand Rapids (MI) completed the separation of its combined sewers. To help sustain these investments, the City has also invested significantly, in both time and resources, in green infrastructure stormwater practices (GI). City Commission has established two citizen commissions - one focused on stormwater and the other on vital streets - which are tasked with, in part, the recommendation of policies and oversight of GI investment and implementation projects. Wherever possible, the City implements GI on all public lands and streets projects; in 2019, City became the first in the nation to adopt a Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standard that establishes measurable goals for water quality and infiltration volume for GI constructed in City projects.   

Grand Rapids also works collaboratively with a number of local and regional partners on stormwater and nonpoint source education and GI implementation projects on public and private lands. WMEAC)is one of those partners. In 2015-2016, WMEAC, in partnership with Grand Valley State University and Michigan Technological University, developed an online and mobile-friendly stormwater calculator tool that calculates the costs and benefits of ecosystem services associated with the implementation of green infrastructure practices. The primary ecosystem services associated with urban green infrastructure implementation include avoided volume of water, flood risk reduction, water pollution reduction (total suspended solids and phosphorus), property value amenity, energy savings, air pollution reduction, and carbon dioxide storage.   

The basic calculator user, who we anticipated to be municipal publics works directors, developers, or commercial property owners, can enter relatively minimal information describing the site, and a description of the green infrastructure practice(s) proposed or already in place, to calculate an annual baseline stormwater runoff, as well as the costs and benefits of the ecosystem services at the census block level. An advanced user, such as a municipal environmental services manager, can enter additional information more specific to the site and proposed green infrastructure practice(s). The calculator was designed for use in small- to medium-sized cities within the Great Lakes basin. 

WMEAC will discuss its partnership with the City of Grand Rapids, the development of the Rainwater Rewards calculator, its potential applications, and a case study as to how it is currently being used by new partner, Michigan City, Indiana.

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Mega Investments in Green Stormwater Infrastructure Across the Great Lakes - Sanjiv K. Sinha, Vice President, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.
Implementation of large-scale green stormwater infrastructure can be cost effective, but it also requires a substantial initial investment. To overcome this challenge, some municipalities look to alternative financing and a means of obtaining the required funding in the face of competing financial needs. In addition, because significant cost savings can be realized by aggregating a large number of projects, many municipalities also look to newer models of delivery.     

The presentation will focus upon three on-going mega-scale transactions across the Great Lakes basin that could result in over $60 Million investments in green stormwater infrastructure. These transactions use two different market-based options, namely a) aggregation-based cost savings framework via a community-based public private partnership (CBP3), and b) access to private capital through the use environmental impact bonds (EIB).     

The existing stormwater infrastructure in most major cities remain a relic of misguided development, regulation, and market forces that results in excess stormwater entering sanitary, combined  and storm sewer systems, causing polluted stormwater discharging to waterways, untreated sewage to enter basements, , and peak sewage flows threatening the stability of existing wastewater treatment processes. Unfortunately, paying for stormwater infrastructure improvements continues to challenge community leaders and environmental advocates alike. Our presentation will seek to address these challenges.     

This presentation will focus on the following elements: 

  • A summary of processes and drivers that determine the market size of green infrastructure’s large-scale adoption in the Great Lakes basin
  • A summary of basics of innovative private financing tools such as EIBs
  • A summary of innovative delivery frameworks such as a CBP3

Real world examples from Milwaukee and two communities in the states of New York and Ohio, as well as for D.C. Water and Prince George’s county in Maryland will be presented.

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Multi-Community Collaboration to Reduce Wet Weather Flows through Green Infrastructure - Nancy Russell, EIT, OHM Advisors
The Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, in collaboration with the 14 communities that are served by the George W. Kuhn Drainage District successfully secured a grant from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. The purpose of the grant was to review existing stormwater design standards for the combined sewer systems tributary to the George W. Kuhn Drain retention treatment basin and review existing ordinances that create barriers to implementation of green infrastructure (GI).   The goal of the project was to evaluate the potential for new stormwater standards coupled with consistent, greater use of District-wide GI practices and to reduce flow volumes into the combined sewer system.

The District spends approximately $45 million per year to send combined sewage (sanitary and stormwater flows) to the Great Lakes Water Authority Water Resource Recovery Facility. Because a large percentage of this flow is a direct result of stormwater runoff, reducing the flow into the combined sewer system will decrease regional Drainage District and local costs for combined sewer conveyance and treatment. This can be accomplished through enhanced stormwater management and control, including the use of GI, which has social and environmental benefits beyond the economic benefits.   

Each community has varying levels of stormwater requirements for new and redevelopment projects to manage stormwater. Additionally, each community has barriers within their municipal codes that inhibit the design of GI, including out-of-date parking and landscaping requirements. The grant effort included active engagement with the District’s municipal stakeholders in a series of discussions of how stormwater standards could be applied consistently across the District, in ways that support reduced stormwater runoff as well as identification of code changes that would foster GI implementation.

This project leveraged efforts being undertaken through a parallel effort to revise stormwater standards throughout Southeast Michigan for the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer areas. As a result, proposed stormwater standards were developed that can be applied at the County and across all Drainage District communities providing simplicity in the design process and reduced inter-municipal disparities in stormwater treatment and control standards.  A Triple Bottom Line (TBL) analysis was conducted as part of the project. The TBL analysis assumed a 15% rate of redevelopment (i.e. turnover) of non-residential properties during the next 30 years, as well as additional GI implemented for road projects and for other properties seeking stormwater credits. The calculated total economic benefit exceeds the costs to install green infrastructure by year 26. The immediate and lasting environmental and social benefits include reduced energy consumption, enhanced air quality, decrease in surface flooding, increased level of service, and additional ‘green collar’ jobs related to the installation, inspection, and maintenance of GI components.

 As a result of this project and analysis, a framework of prospective stormwater standards for the combined sewer area has been established along with a set of recommended municipal code changes that can be made to remove barriers to GI implementation. The presentation will highlight the community collaboration, the prospective stormwater standards, code changes, and next steps for the Drainage District.

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Removing Barriers to Green Stormwater Infrastructure Implementation - Donald D. Carpenter, Vice President, Drummond Carpenter, PLLC
Despite many documented benefits associated with green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), large-scale strategic implementation of GSI is not common in most United States cities due to many challenges including competing regulatory drivers and policy frameworks, financing, maintenance uncertainties, etc.  This specific project focuses on identifying and addressing specific challenges associated with the implementation of GSI in the state of Michigan.  The project was undertaken by social scientists, engineers, and professionals using a multi-faceted approach for stakeholder engagement including focus groups with professional stakeholder organizations, development and deployment of a comprehensive online survey, and a series of community engagement visioning workshops.  Through these approaches, the barriers to GSI implementation and strategies for removal were identified and disseminated.  Barriers to implementation were broadly categorized into several themes including operation & maintenance, funding, risk, community acceptance, and codes/ordinances.


Tackling Barriers to Green Infrastructure One Code at a Time - Julia Noordyk, Water Quality Outreach Specialist, University of Wisconsin, Sea Grant Institute
Green infrastructure is a proven and effective means to improve water quality, habitat and flooding by reducing stormwater pollution and volume, but there remain critical barriers to its implementation. Outdated local regulations can have a broad impact on green infrastructure and often will directly or indirectly discourage or prohibit its use. Based on the work of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Sea Grant developed Tackling Barriers to Green Infrastructure: An Audit of Local Codes and Ordinances, a workbook to help communities audit, revise and prioritize codes that deter the implementation of green infrastructure. What makes this project unique in comparison to similar audits? We recognize the need for a “no judgment” approach in working with communities to audit their codes and ordinances. Barriers to green infrastructure can vary widely within the code language, therefore, solutions need to be customized for the specific municipality and cannot be satisfactorily addressed by model ordinances. The workbook can assist local zoning, land use and stormwater staff, planners and consultants in reviewing codes and ordinances to promote and advance green infrastructure practices in their own communities. During this presentation you will learn about why codes and ordinances are a major barrier to green infrastructure, common code challenges and the impact code changes can have on stormwater runoff volume and pollution loads. You will also be introduced to the workbook which includes a community-oriented engagement approach and provides a detailed codes and ordinances auditing tool.


The Stormwater Smartgrid Network Challenge: Building Digital, Community-based, Residential Property Stormwater Infrastructure - Kevin Mercer, Co-founder and CEO, RainGrid, Inc.
Although residential private property represents an average of 47% of the gross impermeable area of the average city, making it the individually largest contributor of stormwater flows, residential properties are generally ignored by policy makers as outside of the realm of their responsibility, or treated as the locus of voluntary "education and outreach" programming. In fact, given their operational immediacy, residential private properties ought to be the preferred site for asset-managed stormwater infrastructure. 

This session identifies how communities and city stormwater designers can utilize networks of artificial intelligence and internet of things enabled rain harvesting cisterns to build community-based "stormwater smartgrids".   Stormwater Smartgrid networks provide utility-scale solutions capable of managing community-wide stormwater flows where previously only passive green infrastructure was considered viable.

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WaterTowns™ – Reconnecting Communities to Water Resources Through Art, Ecology, & Green Infrastructure - Christopher Bobryk, Clinton River Watershed Council
Green stormwater infrastructure systems (GSIS) are gaining recognition as a successful strategy for helping cities improve water quality, regulate water quantity, and enhance community engagement with natural resources. However, many uncertainties exist that can limit the capacity of municipalities or residents to plan, install, and maintain GSIS; subsequently creating barriers to sustainable stormwater management. The Clinton River Watershed Council – a 501(c)(3) organization located in southeast Michigan – began an initiative to help communities overcome these barriers while revitalizing awareness to recreational opportunities. WaterTowns™ was initiated in 2003 with funding from Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation to assist communities in the Clinton River watershed and along the Lake St. Clair coast with leveraging socio-economic and ecological assets of local waterways to improve water quality, promote biodiversity, and celebrate the human connection to water. This holistic program has entered its 7th year with 20 communities designated as WaterTowns™ and the capacity to incorporate two new communities every year. Each WaterTowns™ receives a structured, site-specific GSIS plan that can be used as a template for community planning, physical installation, and support for additional green stormwater management funding. Numerous GSIS have been installed as part of this program, which include permeable pavers, rain gardens, bioretention cells, naturalized shorelines, and improved public access along the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair. Protecting our waterways and encouraging water-oriented community development are not mutually exclusive. WaterTowns™ acts as a link between sustainable stormwater management and public engagement by focusing on the connections between ecology, people, and our water resources.


The Well Farm - A National Model for Community-Driven Green Infrastructure - April Mendez, VP, Strategy, Greenprint Partners
The Well Farm at Voris Field is among the country's first 'stormwater farms’. This USDA CIG-funded demonstration project represents Peoria, Illinois’ innovative spirit, and their goal to become the first city to solve stormwater challenges with 100% green infrastructure. Dubbed the most inclusive public works process to date in Peoria, this award-winning project transformed a vacant parcel in one of America’s 100 poorest zip-codes to into a tapestry of multi-functional, community-driven stormwater SMPs, from a hybrid poplar stand, to a flowering bioswale, to 100 raised beds that are home to an agricultural apprenticeship program, now launching its second growing season. The Well Farm represents a national model for equitable green infrastructure, in both its siting and design. Peoria’s south side is home to the city’s most concentrated minority and low-income population. It is Peoria’s largest food desert, as well as the neighborhood most impacted by flooding and combined sewer overflows.       

The Well Farm has won local, state, and national awards for its holistic approach to community engagement, and now has performance data from real-time monitoring to share. Learn about how the project was conceived and funded, how the community was rallied in support of the effort, and how the award-winning farm is performing on its stormwater management goals.     

The Well Farm and its associated programming was designed by Greenprint Partners, a certified WBE/WOSB and B-Corp green infrastructure development partner, in partnership the City of Peoria, engineering firm AKRF,  The Gifts in the Moment (gitm) Foundation, and a 20-member stakeholder advisory group representing residents of Peoria’s First District. The project team worked from 2016-2018 to bring the vision of a working “stormwater farm” to life.

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Innovative Communications

Developing Accessible and Trusted Content for the Revised Lead and Copper Rule - Jennifer Read, Directory, Water Center, University of Michigan
In June 2018, Michigan adopted the country’s strictest Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), the purpose of which is to improve public health protection by reducing exposure to lead in drinking water. As the revisions were being discussed, a team from the University of Michigan with support from the Mott Foundation, recruited a multi-sector advisory group to help identify, vet and review important questions being asked about the revised rule as well as the risks related to lead in water generally. With the advice and input from the advisory group, the project team developed an extensive, on-line frequently asked question page, infographics and case studies related to water infrastructure financing. This presentation will share lessons learned and best practices in developing community vetted information.


Flooding the News: Getting the Media to Tell Your Water Story - Ronnie Das, Digital Multimedia Journalist, WLNS-TV
Media outlets are a key resource in sharing your water infrastructure story to the public. Whether it is proactive communication to promote your latest investment or reactive communication to protect assets from misinformation, presenting the facts takes finesse. Learn all about how to shape your next message to get your water infrastructure story accurately shared on the news. Get tips on making your unseen backbone of modern life visually appealing, using sound bites to stand out, and best communications practices for addressing the local community. Key topics include getting your press release picked up by the media, tailoring your message to meet broadcast expectations, making your story appeal to the community, and understanding reporter deadlines to ensure your story airs. This session focuses on water literacy for the public and combating social media misinformation.

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The One Water Campaign for Southeast Michigan - Trevor Layton, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)
Public education on the water infrastructure system is becoming increasingly important, as changing climate patterns and aging infrastructure continue to impact our water system. Public understanding of how our water system works can lead to investment and increased public care of the water system. In 2019, SEMCOG, in partnership with Great Lakes Water Authority and the Cranbrook Institute of Science, launched the One Water Campaign for Southeast Michigan. The goal of this campaign was to attain a greater awareness and mutual shared responsibility for water resources and to create public support for investments in water resources and infrastructure asset management.     

Campaign messaging largely focused on the connection between stormwater, drinking water, and wastewater. The goal was to help the public understand the connection between the water system, the vastness of the system, and that public involvement plays a role in maintain and improving the water system. A campaign advisory group was assembled, with water experts from watershed groups, consultants, scientists, and marketing analyst, to help develop One Water messaging. Stormwater messaging focused on only letting rain down the storm drain, and what the public can do to prevent chemicals, pet waste, and other pollutants from entering the water system. Flushable wipes and Fats, Oils, and Grease were the focus of the wastewater messaging, ensuring proper disposal of these items. Drinking water messaging worked to gain investment and trust from the public, discussing the importance of the operators that treat our water and their job in providing water to our homes.   

 The campaign ran from June 1-9, 2019, and made quite an impression on the region. Outdoor advertising, video and radio ads, and social media were all outlets for disseminating this information. 13.7 million impressions were received via outdoor advertising, including billboards and bus ads. 66 communities used One Water videos on their local TV stations. 120 broadcast TV spots were purchased, receiving 1.3 million impressions. On social media, the campaign received 491,000 video views, 2,1375 shares and retweets, and 3,453 link clicks. These impressions help show the impact of the One Water campaign.     

Campaign lessons learned and next steps are currently being evaluated. We all have a role and responsibility in the water system. By continuing this public education campaign throughout the region, we can help build an understanding of the connections in our water system and how we can keep it fresh and flowing.

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What's in Your Water? And How to Communicate it to Your Customers - Brian Steglitz, Manager/Water Treatment Services, City of Ann Arbor
On the heels of UCMR3, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) identified the City of Ann Arbor as one of several communities that had high levels of dangerous chemicals in their drinking water.  Immediately after the EWG report was made public Channel 7 news showed up at the City’s water treatment plant seeking comment on how the City intended to address this water quality emergency.  At this time in 2016, there was little guidance from State and Federal regulatory agencies on safe levels for these per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water.  We have obviously learned much since 2016, but as a sector, drinking water utilities continue to struggle with communicating to their customers about emerging contaminants.  We typically have more questions than answers as the science on emerging contaminants continues to develop. 

Over the last year, Ann Arbor has not only become a focus in Michigan as the largest utility with elevated levels of PFAS in its source water, but also has recently detected 1,4 dioxane in its source and finished water that is likely associated groundwater contamination in the City’s watershed.    With multiple emerging contaminant challenges, Ann Arbor customer concerns about their drinking water is at an all-time high.  Over the last 18 months, the City’s drinking water challenges have become a regular topic in the local media.  While the City’s is on the cusp of the largest capital investment in its history to the water system, customer confidence in the utility’s ability to deliver safe water is more critical than ever.  An aggressive public engage campaign ensued that included more outreach through pop-up events, monthly water quality reports to customers, new branding for the water utility, and one-on-one meetings with elected officials to discuss water quality.  The success of this campaign was quickly realized with improved media coverage and improved public perception of the capabilities of the utility to address emerging issues.


Your Utility Bill Format as a Communications Tool - Glenn Barnes, Director, Water Finance Assistance
One of the most important ways that drinking water systems communicate with their customers is through the utility bill—how rates are structured and priced, and how the bill itself is designed.  Water systems encourage certain customer behavior by how they structure and price water service.  For example, a water system that charges a flat fee for unlimited water use should not be surprised if their customers do not conserve water.  Likewise, a water system that institutes a sharp surcharge on water during times of drought is using pricing to encourage customers to cut back on usage.  The information printed on the water bill itself is one of the most important tools a water system has to emphasize the behavior it wants from its customers.  In fact, unless a customer has an issue with water service, paying the bill is often the only communication between water systems and their customers.  This session will explore the most effective elements to include on water bills to enhance the water system’s desired customer behavior, including information on rate structures, pricing, historic usage, and relative usage.  The session will also explore strategies of conveying this information to customers who may no longer receive bills because they have their charges automatically debited from a bank account or credit card.

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Innovative Approaches and Technologies

Innovating Water Operations to Mitigate Emission Footprint - Carol J. Miller, Professor, Wayne State University, and Director, Health Urban Waters
Processes associated with delivery of safe, clean water to residential and industrial consumers are highly energy intensive.  Electricity generation to meet those energy demands produce significant atmospheric emissions at the point of generation.   Since these emissions are not "visible" at the water plant, they are often an unaccounted byproduct of water production.  Newer technologies are available to "sync" water production processes with real-time information regarding the pollution characteristics of on-the-margin electricity facilities.  One of these technologies, the Locational Emissions Estimation Methodology (LEEM), has recently been used as part of an AWWA-sponsored emission reduction challenge for water utilities in the Great Lakes basin.    Five water utilities in the Great Lakes watershed have been engaged in a competition to see how well they can change their operations to reduce the air pollution created by electricity production. This challenge is titled  the Water Utility Energy Challenge (WUEC).  This paper describes WUEC and subsequent water utility examples of LEEM applications for sustainability improvements in water infrastructure.


Innovative Funding and Financing Solutions for Resilient Water Infrastructure Panel Discussion - Kim Mikita Penn, Climate Coordinator, Office for Coastal Management, NOAA
Across the country, communities are taking action to improve the ability of their water infrastructure to withstand and recover quickly from extreme weather events, while also increasing their social, economic, and environmental resilience. Successful solutions are often integrated across sectors, and so the need to leverage diverse investment streams to support such complex projects is critical. To enable those efforts, the public and private sectors have been developing innovating funding options and financing mechanisms that reduce the cost of action and incentivize opportunities to build community resilience. Solutions that leverage partnerships, insurance mechanisms, and new financial tools are helping communities, businesses and families take action now. Through an interactive and dynamic panel discussion, we will highlight some of these tools, and make the case for working across sectors to build partnerships that can help finance water infrastructure improvements. Panelists representing these various sectors will include experts from a community development financial institution, a mitigation bank, a nongovernmental organization, and government. Our moderator will engage panelists in a discussion where they are able to highlight successful projects that have supported water infrastructure solutions for communities, and share new ideas for financing. These experts will discuss financial tools including environmental impact bonds, pay-for-success agreements, and innovative partnerships. Whether used independently or concurrently, these approaches demonstrate efficient, cost-effective and transferable ways to invest in community resilience. We will also discuss new tools that can help decision-makers identify and implement these new opportunities in their communities.

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Leveraging Geographic Information System Tools for Managing Water Infrastructure in Michigan - Jim R. Miller, GIS Project Manager, Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc.
The presentation will discuss how various Geographic Information System (GIS) software tools were used, are currently being employed, and could be further leveraged by utilities to participate in Michigan’s various infrastructure initiatives. Previously completed projects will be presented to demonstrate GIS-based inventory, assessment and evaluation tools that were used to comply with the 2016 Water Asset Management Plan Rule and for Stormwater, Wastewater and Asset Management grant projects. Presentation of current projects will include examples of GIS tools being used to comply with Michigan’s updated Lead and Copper Rule and participation in the Water Asset Management Council’s (WAM-C) data initiatives. Additional GIS tools being used by communities to support future strategic efforts will also be presented.  Examples of the tools will include those used to support developing and sustaining asset inventories and tracking asset assessments (Lead and Copper app, Survey 123 and Arc Collector), managing work orders (Workforce), evaluating risk (Model Builder), and being able to monitor in near real-time and communicating results (Operations Dashboard) and demonstrating need to the general public (Story Maps).
 

The presentation will focus on three key phases of developing a comprehensive decision support system using these tools.  The Inventory Phase will review different methodologies to review the source materials and collection methods of the water assets.  Examples will include as-built hyperlinking, CAD conversion, mobile LiDAR, GPS, and digitizing.  The Assessment Phase will look at different asset condition assessment techniques and scoring methods used in the industry.  We will review PACP and MACP database integration, using Model Builder to calculate Business Risk Evaluation (BRE) scores, and methods for assessing water service line materials.  The Evaluation Phase will review methods used for improving the Level of Service in a community’s utility infrastructure.  The results of the BRE will be integrated into the capital improvement plan process to help prioritize future need and identify potential cost-saving strategies for the community.  Highlights of the presentation will include examples from actual projects recently undertaken by communities for stormwater, wastewater and drinking water systems. Screen shots of the actual software tools being employed will be presented and real-time navigation into a GIS gallery of projects can be included if internet access is available during the presentation. A variety of technologies will be reviewed with examples used from several communities in Michigan.


Peer-to-Peer Mentoring: Using Local Champions to Build Capacity - Margo Davis, Project Manager, Great Lakes Commission
In the absence of a visionary leader, plotting the path for improved infrastructure can be daunting for many communities. In focus groups and other forums, local practitioners identified the role of a champion in advancing all types of water infrastructure management -- from stormwater technology to asset management.  Pairing local water practitioners with mentors that have the expertise they seek can help communities build capacity to meet their water infrastructure needs. The Great Lakes Green Infrastructure Champions program is an example of a peer-to-peer mentoring network that has helped build capacity to advance green infrastructure in small to mid-sized communities across the Basin. Participants attending this talk will learn about the structure and outcomes of GI Champions mentoring network and explore the value and opportunities of launching mentoring networks in other areas of water infrastructure, such as integrated water asset management, water and energy efficiency, or water affordability.

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Water Quality Issues, Risk, and Innovative Solutions - Rebecca Pearson, Great Lakes Observing System
Drinking water plants that draw directly from Lake Erie are are increasingly working to address threats to water quality posed by harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. Understanding the real-time quality of their source water is critical.  In response to this need, the Great Lakes Observing System is leading a three year effort under the U.S. IOOS Ocean Technology Transition (OTT) Project to operate a sustainable HABs Early Warning System (EWS) for Lake Erie. The goal is to stabilize and enhance: 1) in-lake monitoring capabilities, 2) the data management services in handling these monitoring data, and 3) the delivery of timely information that meets the needs of Great Lakes region. The OTT HABs EWS is intended to be dynamic and flexible to serve the various audiences who need to understand the water quality conditions, including water intake managers, federal, state and local leaders, beach managers, and recreational users. To illustrate the potential of an EWS, GLOS developed an application prototype that demonstrates the end-to-end workflow of data to information.     

This prototype targets water intake managers and provides them actionable intelligence through an automated system that alerts them when water quality levels exceed user-created safety thresholds. At this point, the prototype handles real-time water quality sensors including turbidity, chlorophyll, blue green algae, pH, etc. As part of the project, NOAA GLERL is deploying two Environmental Sample Processors (ESPs) that assess, in near real-time, the toxicity of an algal bloom, and LimnoTech will deploy five additional smart nodes at drinking water intakes.   

During the third year of the project, GLOS will integrate other data types into the prototype including hypoxic and/or harmful algal bloom model data, grab sample data, and other toxicity data.  The presentation will review the current functionality of the prototype, outline future enhancements, and address potential applications to other water related management issues.

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IT and Risk Management

Are You Ready for AI and Machine Learning? Successfully Implement Intelligent Water - James P. Cooper, Global Lead, Intelligent Water, Arcadis
Many water, wastewater and stormwater utilities today are facing the decision to make a digital transformation and increase emphasis on innovation. These are common steps in the pathway toward an intelligent water system. Nearly all aspects of utilities from watershed and supply, treatment, and conveyance, as well as many aspects of workforce including front-line operators, utility management, and engineers are being presented with opportunities to improve or optimize their systems through use of advanced analytic techniques such as Deep Learning, Machine Learning, Predictive Analysis and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Process Optimization, Asset Management and Decision-Support Systems are common utility management processes and tools. However, the use of AI techniques within these is new and rapidly expanding within the water sector. This presentation will empower attendees with a comprehensive knowledge on use of AI within water, focused on the following topics: 1. Describe where AI is being used and how it is being applied. 2. Identify requirements to be data-ready for AI 3. Deconstruct AI and Machine Learning Techniques. Artificial Intelligence does not have to be a “black box” inaccessible by the users who rely on their output. More importantly, there are specific AI techniques that are better suited for specific analyses and types of data. For example, it is important to gain buy-in and confidence in the data-driven output of these techniques. The best way to gain buy-in is to apply a mechanistic-based approach (e.g. an approach to evaluate a complex system that mirrors the real processes of the system) when evaluating and selecting the appropriate AI technique. The end-users should understand when to apply unsupervised vs supervised learning, statistical analysis vs AI analysis, and data classification for qualitative variables vs data prediction for quantitative variables. There is a high potential for AI techniques to positively impact the water sector. Various techniques will be presented in a sufficient level of detail so that attendees that can make informed decisions regarding AI. This has broad impact to water sector utilities as they look to apply AI techniques that result in different answers and will help them understand why answers may be different and which to place confidence in.


Huron to Erie Corridor Drinking Water Monitoring Network  - Meghan Price, Senior Associate Scientist III, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.
Southeast Michigan’s water resources are used for many things, including transportation of freight and people, processing in industrial and municipal treatment plant operations, watering operations in rural and urban settings, recreation for boating, fishing and hunting – adding $1.7 billion to the state’s economy from the Huron to Erie Corridor, and a potable water source for some 4.9 million people.   Southeast Michigan’s potable source waters include both surface water and groundwater with most of the region served by water from the Huron to Erie Corridor through 14 different municipal water treatment plants. The Great Lakes Water Authority is the major water supplier to 127 communities and approximately 4 million customers. The 80 mile Huron to Erie Corridor has, both heavy manufacturing along downriver Detroit, Michigan and a concentrated network of petrochemical plants just south of Sarnia, Ontario.   

Discussion began in the middle of the last decade on the need for water intake monitoring. A collaborative effort of local, county, state and federal agencies was launched to develop a real-time monitoring network along the waterway and funded through federal, state and local sources.  A system of real-time drinking water monitors that could test the source water for general water quality parameters, presence of total organic carbon, hydrocarbons, and Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) was established in the 14 water treatment plants (WTPs) along the Huron to Erie Corridor from City of Port Huron down to City of Monroe. Thus, with 14 drinking water treatment plants armed with real time monitors throughout the corridor, the notification information collected by one plant’s intake during a spill, could be invaluable to those treatment plants further downstream.  The monitors selected were high quality and capable of providing the necessary notification of water quality concerns. However, the original monitors selected were costly to operate and maintain, requiring significant calibration and maintenance. Over time, these liabilities, and others reduced the number of participating WTPs to a number that could no longer sustain public health protection from spills along the entire waterway.  In 2017, a grant of $375,000 was secured from the Governor’s 21st Century Infrastructure Fund and allocated to SEMCOG through the Office of the Great Lakes to develop a collaborative framework for the purchase, installation, calibration and maintenance of new monitoring equipment in the 14 municipal WTPs along the Huron to Erie Corridor. The monitoring equipment provided 15-minute data results, offering early detection of contaminants in the source water.   This presentation will discuss the history of this program, the current equipment setup, and the benefits of this network to the water treatment plants and other entities.

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New Risk Assessment & Emergency Response Plan Requirement for Water Utilities - Alicia Brown, Program Analyst, and Jodie Opie, Environmental Engineer, U.S. EPA, Region 5
On October 23, 2018, The America's Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) was signed into law. Section 2013 of the Act will require community water systems (CWSs) serving more than 3,300 people to develop or update risk assessments (RAs) and emergency response plans (ERPs). The law includes components that the RAs and ERPs must address and establishes deadlines by which water systems must send a certification of completion of the risk assessments and ERPs to EPA.   

Each community water system serving a population of greater than 3,300 persons, a universe of greater than 9,300 CWSs, shall assess the risks to, and resilience of, its system. Such an assessment shall include an assessment of the following criteria (1):   

“the risk to the system from malevolent acts and natural hazards; the resilience of the pipes and constructed conveyances, physical barriers, source water, water collection and intake, pretreatment, treatment, storage and distribution facilities, electronic, computer, or other automated systems (including the security of such systems) which are utilized by the system; the monitoring practices of the system; the financial infrastructure of the system; the use, storage, or handling of various chemicals by the system; the operation and maintenance of the system; and may include an evaluation of capital and operational needs for risk and resilience management for the system.”   

Each community water system serving a population greater than 3,300 shall prepare or revise, where necessary, an ERP that incorporates findings of the its risk assessment.  Each community water system shall certify to the Administrator, as soon as reasonably possible after the date of enactment of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, but not later than 6 months after completion of their risk assessment that the system has completed their plan.

The emergency response plan shall include (2):   

“strategies and resources to improve the resilience of the system, including the physical security and cyber security of the system; plans and procedures that can be implemented, and identification of equipment that can be utilized, in the event of a malevolent act or natural hazard that threatens the ability of the community water system to deliver safe drinking water; actions, procedures, and equipment which can obviate or significantly lessen the impact of a malevolent act or natural hazard on the public health and the safety and supply of drinking water provided to communities and individuals, including the development of alternative source water options, relocation of water intakes, and construction of flood protection barriers; and strategies that can be used to aid in the detection of malevolent acts or natural hazards that threaten the security or resilience of the system.”   

During this session, Region 5 will provide utilities with the information on the requirements of the risk assessment and emergency response plans, tools that will assist utilities with developing their RA and ERP and how to certify that they have completed each by the applicable deadlines.

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Preparing for the Inevitable Cyber Event: Practical Realities for our Critical Infrastructure - Claudia RastShareholder/Chair Cybersecurity Group, Butzel Long
Technology and its workplace applications have allowed entities and their inside and outside counsel to become increasingly more efficient, organized, and connected.  This efficiency comes with a distinct downside, however, as ubiquitous connectivity cedes to pervasive vulnerability.  “Big Data” is now “Deep Learning” and the “Internet of Things”.  Having massive amounts of digital information at one’s fingertips is both a marvel and a recipe for disaster.  The reality of the risks is becoming part of the daily news cycle, as cyber threats increase in scope and damage.  At particular risk in the U.S. are those entities comprising our critical infrastructure.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identifies sixteen “Critical Infrastructure” sectors in the country:  “Critical infrastructure are the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.” Recent warnings from DHS confirm the reality and encourage cyber vigilance.


Prioritizing Risks - Calculating and Assigning Risk Level to Technical Vulnerabilities - Brandyn Fisher, Information System Security Manager, The Mako Group
Risk calculations are a critical component of not only risk assessments but penetration test and vulnerability assessments as well. Risk ratings are critical as they aid organizations in prioritizing remediation efforts and preparing budgets as these risk rating will ultimately determine where money is spent. Because of this, risk assignments are often a hotly debated topic and should not be arbitrarily assigned.   

Risk professionals should assign risk levels using a calculative and repeatable formula and/or method that fully supports and justifies the risk assignment. This will provide tangible collateral for the risk assignment and justification for the high, or low, risk. There are many methods and formulas available to calculate these risks, but not all are created equal. Organizations should understand the methods and formulas available to them and select one appropriate for the environment.     

The presentation will discuss methods for assigning and calculating risks for technical vulnerabilities identified through various assessments such as penetration test, vulnerability assessments, and red team exercises. The presentation will also present available formulas and methods for creating and assigning risk levels.

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Water Distribution System Emergency Planning: City of Farmington Hills - Mackenzie Johnson, Engineer, OHM Advisors
This presentation will highlight the key components of a water distribution system emergency response plan and the benefits of having such a plan in place. A major loss of service to the City of Farmington Hills in 2018 prompted the City to have a comprehensive emergency response plan developed as a proactive approach to addressing water system emergencies. The City of Farmington Hills is a wholesale customer of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), receiving water through metered connections surrounding the City. Like most communities in Southeast Michigan, the City relies on GLWA metered connections, transmission mains, and pump stations as well as its own internal facilities to supply the water demand of its customers.   

The emergency response plan is comprised of over 25 scenarios detailing the effects of a loss of service due to the failure of assets that serve the City, including the City’s metered connections, pressure reducing valves, water tower, GLWA pump stations, and GLWA transmission mains. A hydraulic model was used to simulate each scenario and identify the impacts to the City and recommended actions to take for mitigation. The plan documents actions to take in each scenario to ensure uninterrupted, safe drinking water is maintained for all customers. Recommended actions include rerouting water through the City to serve affected areas, opening and closing valves as needed, adjusting pressure reducing valve settings, and redistricting pressure districts to maintain desired pressures during an emergency.     As an added benefit, system improvements that would increase the reliability and redundancy of the water distribution system during a loss of service were included in the City’s capital improvement plan.  

With this emergency response plan, the City has a more complete understanding of how the water system may be impacted by a loss of service and is better prepared to respond quickly and efficiently during an emergency. The plan was created with input from City and County staff, and is accessible to all City and County staff and operators to facilitate coordination between themselves and GLWA during an emergency. Development of this plan has been beneficial to the overall security and operations of the water system. The American Water Infrastructure Act is requiring most communities to submit risk and resiliency assessments and emergency response plans to the EPA in 2020. The City’s approach is a good model for other communities who are now beginning to think more broadly about their own emergency planning.

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Water Quality Treatment and Management

A Multi-Level Structural Approach to Remove PFAS at Arbor Hills Landfill - Mala C. Hettiarachchi, Senior Engineer, Environmental Resources Group
There are many man-made chemicals that can be identified as emerging contaminants including perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and microplastics.  Most of products containing man-made chemicals are disposed at landfills and/or discharged through sewer systems to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Source level control via structural and non-structural methods are required to mitigate the environmental damage caused by current and future emerging contaminants.     

A tiered approach has been used at the Advanced Disposal Services (ADS) Arbor Hills Landfill located in Northville, Michigan to remove PFAS from all the leachate streams. Arbor Hills Landfill consists of two adjacent landfills: Arbor Hills East (AHE) and Arbor Hills West (AHW). Both landfills had been accepting construction and demolition (C&D) waste, municipal solid waste (MSW), sewage sludge, industrial waste, etc. for disposal since 1970. The AHE Landfill is approximately 131 acres and had final closure certified on November 15, 1990. The AHW Landfill, a MSW landfill, consists of approximately 337 acres. The active portions of the AHW landfill that are not at final grade include approximately 196 acres. The AHE and AHW landfills generate approximately 110,000 gallons of leachate daily. 

A systematic prioritization strategy has been used in developing the source control techniques at the entire landfill. The landfill leachate was evaluated with respect to 1) emerging contaminants (i.e., PFAS), 2) priority pollutants, and 3) compatible pollutants for the receiving WWTP. Since PFAS are pass-through contaminants for the receiving WWTP and pose environmental risk to human health and ecosystem, Arbor Hills Landfill proactively began the installation of three tailored pretreatment systems to remove a large portion of PFAS from the leachate. As of September 2019, the pretreatment system installed to treat the most concentrated leachate stream with respect to PFAS removes approximately 90% of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). This presentation will discuss the prioritization, relevance of the selected approach, tailored treatment systems of the individual leachate streams, global leachate management strategies and vision with respect to current and future emerging contaminants, as well as lessons learned during implementation.

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A Smart Sampling Watershed Network to Improve Stormwater Management - Brooke Mason, PhD Candidate, University of Michigan
Sampling storm systems for their impact on surface water quality is critical to understanding the function and conditions of the upstream system. Water quality sampling of storms can be very difficult, especially when relying on limited staff and volunteers. The collaboration between the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) and the Real-Time Water Systems Lab at the University of Michigan will enable a small team to capture storm events confidently at multiple sites, where previously only one site could be sampled for each storm, and often valuable data was missed. Through this collaboration, a small, low-cost, replicable data node was designed to collect real-time data, make automated decisions, and allow for remote triggering of the samplers. The node sends data to a dashboard allowing a team to monitor the depth of water in the stream/creek, along with sampler information. In manual mode, any member of the storm team can simply tap a “trigger” button on the dashboard to order a sample. 

To ensure smooth transitions from year to year with changing staff, students, and volunteers, the entire operation has been documented on a website called ifixit. These ifixit guides cover building, troubleshooting, and installing the nodes and sensor, making it accessible for students or volunteers with little advanced training to build and install them. In addition to manual mode, to improve data collection and reliability, an algorithm is being developed to trigger the sampler autonomously using weather forecast and stream condition data.   

Early results from the autonomous system show that lessons can be learned about the timing of pollutant runoff flushes. The presentation will also show how building out a system of low-cost sampling nodes can provide deep insight into pollutant and flow dynamics in a watershed system, and suggest areas to focus maintenance and improvement resources. 

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Assessing Climate Resiliency on a Watershed Scale - Wendy Ogilvie, Director of Environmental Programs, Grand Valley Metro Council
Climate does not respect municipal borders, neither does flooding or water contamination. The conversation around climate change can be very broad and overwhelmingly negative, even hopeless. This presentation will confront the “What difference can I possibly make?” mindset with an “Every drop counts” philosophy. The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW), an agency of The Grand Valley Metro Council, has developed a Climate Resiliency Plan for our watershed that stresses the importance of small-scale efforts that collect into a larger change.

LGROW’s Climate Resiliency Plan offers strategies that will build a better and more climate resilient watershed through hands-on projects, data collection, and civic engagement. Attendees will learn the benefits of tackling environmental issues at the watershed level, the unique challenges in our region, the role of planning and zoning, and how these concepts can be applied throughout the community. Empowerment feeds hope, and hope fuels each action that leads to the larger change. At the watershed level, we can assess and monitor the land area that contributes to a body of water, as well as assess and monitor the quality of that water body. We can mitigate the impacts of a changing climate by making changes to the land areas that drain to a specific body of water. Mitigation efforts that start at the local “sub-shed” level amplify to the regional watershed level, which can then amplify to the larger basin level. Climate resiliency plans come from many different levels and different organizations.

This presentation will look at the measurable resiliency factors in the Lower Grand River Watershed and the recommendations for policy and action. The organizations that govern watershed management do not typically have a department of emergency management nor do they own the infrastructure within those watersheds. But these organization, such as the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds, can address climate resiliency by working with municipalities and provide them with a document to reference that will provide greater insight for solutions that are not contained by artificial boundaries, solutions that have a greater impact overall. The use of GIS will be explained and the methodology and results of the study. The study’s approach is structured in four pillars: 1. Social Equity, 2. Environmental Health, 3. Economic Viability, and 4. Cultural Vitality. Information presented will explore these pillars in the context of land use/zoning, infrastructure and maintenance, habitat/ecosystems, and public health and safety. One of the biggest threats our region faces with regard to climate change is inaction. We have made some progress, we can make more progress, but we will definitely be in trouble if we do nothing. Inaction or the unwillingness to address issues in current practice provides no improvement. This presentation will discuss one of the largest issues of our time through a united commitment to local efforts, resulting in a multiplier effect.

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Development of a Holistic PFAS Management Strategy at the City of Ann Arbor - Sarah Page, Drinking Water Quality Manager, City of Ann Arbor
The City of Ann Arbor first detected per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in its drinking water in 2014, during UCMR3 sampling. The City uses both ground and surface water for its water source, usually in a 15/85% split. While PFAS may be more commonly associated with groundwater contamination, the source of PFAS to Ann Arbor is the Huron River, the surface water source.

Since 2014, the City has been proactively working to address PFAS holistically, through extensive monitoring, source water investigations, and treatment modifications. The US EPA issued a Health Advisory Level (HAL) for PFOS and PFOA in May of 2016 at a combined concentration of 70 parts per trillion (ppt). While concentrations of these two compounds in the City’s drinking water have never exceeded the HAL, the City has proactively worked to optimize treatment to remove these chemicals from its drinking water. In 2017, the City began to pilot different granular activated carbon (GAC) for enhanced PFOS and PFOA removal. Based on the success of this pilot, the City has replaced the existing GAC in all 26 of its filters with this new type of GAC. The City has also expanded the suite of PFAS that it is monitoring and is working to understand how the various compounds are removed across the GAC filters.

This presentation will focus on holistic management of PFAS from a utility and city-wide perspective, including source water investigation and protection, performance of the GAC filters for removal of all PFAS compounds under a variety of operating conditions, operational considerations, participation in and development of research to meet utility objectives, addressing PFAS across the city, and customer communication and outreach.


Evaluation of Alternative PFAS Treatments & Lessons Learned - Beth Landale, Project Manager/Engineer, GHD
A groundwater collection system was installed at a former industrial site in Michigan to capture impacted groundwater. Final design of the treatment system was postponed to allow the operational system discharge to the local POTW to be monitored. The additional data was to be used to refine the influent concentrations and flow rate for final design.  Due to the increased focus on PFAS in water in Michigan, sampling for PFAS was conducted, and it was detected. Therefore, the original groundwater treatment design was abandoned and a new evaluation has been initiated to identify cost-effective treatment options for PFAS and the co-contaminants present in the groundwater.

For PFAS, GAC and AIX resin are the most commonly implemented technologies for PFAS reduction. Both technologies result in a PFAS containing residual that must be regenerated or disposed of. However, because they are demonstrated technologies, bench scale studies were performed to evaluate media usage for GAC and AIX based on loading of PFAS and co-contaminants in the groundwater.    Parallel to the GAC and AIX column studies, a literature review was conducted to identify new and developing technologies which may result in mineralization of PFAS and avoid residuals management. These included advanced oxidation and advanced reductive processes.  Based on this review, an additional series of bench scale studies were performed to further evaluate an advanced oxidation process using ozone.  Initial results suggest that some PFAS, including PFOS, may be mineralizing. The session will discuss the literature review findings and bench scale study results.  In addition, the session will discuss lessons learned and steps taken to evaluate system materials and components to determine if they were an inadvertent source of the PFAS impacts.


From Roads to Rivers: Suspended Pavement Solutions - Albert Key, Aff M. ASCE, DeepRoot Green Infrastructure​
This presentation will provide an overview of integrating large urban trees and their associated soil volumes into LID solutions, particularly in the densest urban areas. Many cities already have tree and soil volume requirement ordinances. This presentation will show how to use this existing city infrastructure component, large trees and their soil volumes, to provide stormwater benefits. Three case studies will be presented of real-world projects that have used large urban tree/soil systems for stormwater management at various scales: Etobicoke Six Points and The Queensway in Toronto, Ontario, and finally in Uptown in Normal, IL. Monitoring results from the Queensway Demonstration Site and research from North Carolina State University will show the effectiveness of stormwater volume and water quality benefits from combining urban tree/soil systems and stormwater management.

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Great Lakes Impact Investment Platform: Growing Financial Innovation and Environmental Improvement - David Naftzger, Executive Director, Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers
The Conference of Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers, in collaboration with a multidisciplinary project team, is developing the Great Lakes Impact Investment Platform as a new structure to encourage environmentally sustainable economic growth in our region. The Platform features various investment products intended to deliver demonstrable impact and revitalize the region’s waters, while also seeking to generate competitive, market-based financial returns.     

According to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investors, there were $12 trillion in assets under management in the U.S. using sustainable, responsible, and impact investing strategies in 2017 – up 38% from the previous year.  The Platform represents a new opportunity to harness this rapidly-growing source of capital, along with more traditional financing mechanisms, to address our region’s tremendous needs.  The Platform is also an innovative tool that can help investors connect their financial goals with projects and strategies designed to have a positive effect on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region.  Focus areas include water infrastructure, forestry and agriculture.     

Using metrics developed by The Nature Conservancy, the Platform features a simple framework to identify a project’s potential environmental outcomes and a reporting structure to measure and manage performance over time.  The Platform also serves as a central clearinghouse to aggregate information from all participating projects at scale.  Particularly for utilities and other project developers, the Platform therefore represents a unique opportunity to identify, track and benchmark environmental performance and go beyond traditional evaluation measures. 

This session will focus on the Platform’s unique approach and its first two pilot projects.  The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is planning to issue a blue bond—a fixed-income financial instrument linked to specific water-related environmental outcomes—to address several of the District’s priority projects that will help improve water quality.  Separately, Quantified Ventures is developing an environmental impact bond--an innovative financing tool that uses a Pay for Success approach to directly tie investment returns to environmental and other outcomes—to construct a mountain biking trail system, restore abandoned mine land and improve water quality in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.    The session will close with a conversation about opportunities for participants, investors, governments and others to use the Platform to help meet their goals.

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Optimizing Total Residual Chlorine Dosing with Automated Monitoring at Chapaton Retention Treatment Basin - Karlin Danielsen, Water Quality Technical Lead, OHM Advisors
The Macomb County Public Works Commissioner retained OHM Advisors to automate water quality monitoring at the Chapaton Retention Treatment Basin (RTB).  The RTB collects controlled stormwater and sewer overflows to provide chlorination and settling. Historically, the Chapaton pump station team has manually sampled Total Residual Chlorine (TRC) levels to meet effluent fecal coli form limits described in the basin’s permit and protect the water quality in Lake St. Clair. This has always been a labor and staff intensive process. The objective of this study was to automate TRC monitoring to optimize chlorine dosing.   

The OHM Advisors team analyzed the sampling process at the RTB and explored options for automation, then made the recommendation to implement a SWAN sensor, not typically used for this purpose, to measure TRC levels in real-time. The Macomb County team integrated the SWAN unit into the existing SCADA system to report TRC readings every ten minutes, enabling operators to make more precise chlorine dosing decisions and minimize manual sampling efforts.   

After the sensor’s installation, the team collaborated to conduct vertical profile sampling in the basin, collecting samples at 4-foot intervals at five locations while the basin was filling and then again when filled to help the Chapaton team understand how the disinfection solution (sodium hypochlorite) was distributed throughout the basin over time. OHM Advisors analyzed those results, and with them were able to identify treatment area “hotspots.” The project team then collaborated to determine the number of additional SWAN sensors that would be needed to scale the automation and achieve continuous real-time monitoring throughout the basin.   

Implementation of the SWAN sensor is an innovative approach to TRC monitoring.  With this pilot at the Chapaton RTB, the project team demonstrated that automating TRC monitoring was possible even under the challenging conditions of high turbidity and suspended solids loading.  Macomb County became the first wastewater system manager in the state to use this system to optimize their decision-making process. With this forward-thinking solution, the Chapaton team has met their treatment targets in real-time, reduced staff stress and staffing costs previously linked to manual testing and streamlined and optimized treatment processes while continuing to ensure the public health and safety of their local communities.


PFAS: Navigating Challenges, Best Practices & Current Affairs - Taryn McKnight, Eurofins TestAmerica
Affordability, equity, and environmental quality are increasingly intersecting at the interface of infrastructure investment and planning, and have a direct impact on the communities served. Community groups can and should play a key role in advocating for sustainable water management. High profile drinking water crises have galvanized more groups to get engaged in these issues. However, resources for these groups have been scarce as they’ve stepped into the drinking water arena. River Network’s recently released Drinking Water Guide: A Resource for Advocates aims to support advocates where they’re at and equip communities with the foundational knowledge necessary to engage in critical conversations surrounding drinking water.   

This interactive session will introduce participants to the Drinking Water Guide and spark discussions about how to build relationships between community groups and water systems. Community members and watershed groups want to engage constructively on drinking water issues. In response, River Network worked with an advisory committee and consultants to develop this layperson-friendly guide on drinking water systems including components relating to the source, treatment, funding, treatment, sustainability and policy framework with a focus on equity and community engagement. Join this session to learn about the Guide and discuss strategies for advocates, community members and water utilities to work together to achieve safe, clean, affordable and accessible water for all.

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Risks to Small Community Water Systems: Capacity, Vulnerability, Resilience - Stephen Gasteyer, Associate Professor, Sociology, Michigan State University
While much of the media has focused on water crises in Michigan’s cities like Detroit and Flint, Michigan’s small community water and sanitation systems are areas of significant concern.  This paper argues that addressing the risk to small community water and sanitation must involve moving beyond the normal sectoral silos, and addressing both water and sanitation, small system utilities and self supply.  As they are throughout the US, small community public water systems in Michigan disproportionately violate EPA Safe Drinking Water Act regulations.  They are much more likely than larger systems to be insolvent financially, and as they are across the nation, small communities are finding it increasingly difficult to find water operators.  Small community water supply is also under threat to the water source itself.  This includes dewatering for sand and gravel and mining or fracking, and PFAS or other contamination of wells.  These problems are exacerbated by the lack of a system for regulation of on-site household sanitation systems in Michigan.  Consideration of rural water and sanitation together thus necessitates addressing the growing risks from self-supply of both water and sanitation.  This paper will use analysis of existing datasets to demonstrate not only the scope of the problem, but also its geographic distribution in the state.  The paper uses case studies to exemplify how these issues play out in Michigan communities – identifying the impact on household conditions, community governance, community finances, and state expenditures.  The paper will then use the case studies to identify how community assets may be employed over time to address issues.  In particular, the paper will demonstrate the critical role human, social, and cultural capital in addressing small community water and sanitation issues, even as risks grow.

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Statewide Landfill Leachate PFOA & PFOS Impact on WRRF Influent - Rick Burns, Sr. Vice President, NTH Consultants, Ltd.
NTH Consultants, Ltd.’s statewide research project, funded by Michigan Waste & Recycling Association (MWRA), involved testing PFOA and PFOS at 32 privately-owned and operated "Type II" solid waste landfills in Michigan to assess the relative impact to receiving water resource recovery facilities (WRRF) influent. We will present worldwide research on PFOA and PFOS leachate concentrations; the statewide leachate analytical results; disposal methods employed; and a summary of on-going discussions with MPART, EGLE, and MWEA to provide solutions regarding PFAS and other issues related to "emerging contaminants."   

The study results indicate landfill leachate is a minor source of PFAS influent to WRRF; most of these compounds are discharged from public, commercial, and industrial sectors of the waste economy. PFAS, and other "emerging contaminants" appear societal problems. To remove all harmful "pass-through" contaminants in our water supply, we should take advantage of existing treatment infrastructure, amending federal statutes to upgrade local WRRFs, funded by federal bonds.

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Sustainable Nutrient Recovery while Meeting Water Quality Based Effluent Limits - Ed Coggin, PE, Weston Solutions, Inc.
The Clean Water Act stresses the use of water quality based effluent limits (WQBELs) whenever possible to reduce the impacts of point source discharges on surface water quality. WQBELs are intended to eliminate adverse conditions that cause unwanted algae growth and the resulting degradation of water quality.  However, due to limitations of current technologies, most discharge permits employ technology based effluent limits when dealing with nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. One state in the Great Lakes Region, Wisconsin, has begun enforcing WQBELs on wastewater dischargers.   

This presentation discusses how one Wisconsin community, the Village of Roberts, is implementing a system to meet a WQBEL total phosphorus limit of 0.04 milligrams per liter (mg/L), one of the lowest discharge limits in the U.S.    Weston collaborated with the Village of Roberts in turning  the problem into the solution. Controlled algae growth in the wastewater treatment process was used to remove the nutrients before discharging the treated water; thereby meeting a discharge limit that will prevent unwanted algae growth in the receiving surface water. The controlled algae growth is accomplished in a tertiary treatment system that was added on to the existing sequencing batch reactor (SBR) secondary treatment plant. The advanced biological nutrient recovery (ABNR) system includes photo-bioreactors (PBRs) in a greenhouse followed by membrane separation to permeate the final effluent and return the algae to the PBRs. Excess algae is harvested from the algae return to maintain consistent operating conditions. Light-emitting diode (LED) grow lights were installed in the greenhouse to allow 24-hour per day operations. Carbon for algae growth is supplied in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) which is a by-product from a nearby ethanol plant.   

Sustainability in this system is accomplished on several levels: 

  • The reduction in phosphorus discharges from the wastewater plant by using a biological system without the addition of chemicals.   
  • Greenhouse gas (CO2) sequestering occurs when the gas is converted to algae biomass in the treatment process.   
  • The beneficial use of the excess algae harvested from the system. The harvested algae will be used to create bio-plastics for the production of athletic shoes. This is just one of the many uses for the algae harvested from this type of facility, and creates a substantial revenue stream for the producer that can help offset the costs of removing the nutrients from the discharge stream.

The Resuscitation of Highland Park Water Department - Damon L. Garrett, PE, Vice President and Director of Operations, Metro Consulting Associates
A case study of how MCA was “paged to the ER” to provide stability in the areas of engineering, compliance, finances, billing, and operations for the City of Highland Park Water Department  - and how it has evolved into a renewal of the entire community.     

  • Mission:  Assess the entire past and present condition of the department and get the department stabilized for long term future chances.     
  • Treatment plan: A holistic approach that addressed: Community & Residency, Mailing & Billing, Water Infrastructure System, and communication between the Administration, City Council, all City Departments, in addition to regular dialogue with outside governmental agencies on the current situation of the department.     
  • Treatment Goals:  Assess the community, not just the department.  Listen.  Create Department budgets and plans  Obtain funding.   Be most efficient with your funding in distressed communities.  Be visible and communicate, it is vital to success.  Facilitate communication between department team members.

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Update on Grand Rapids and MSU/Fraunhofer Collaboration to Treat PFAS - William R. Kaiser, WRRF Superintendent, City of Grand Rapids
Review the current state of the three year collaboration of between Grand Rapids and MSU/Fraunhofer (approximately 1.5 years complete).   Discussion on successes and obstacles   encountered.  Review of data collected in the electrochemical oxidation bench top testing.  Review of the types of wastes that have been treated.  Discussion of potential treatment options for pilot scale and full scale treatment.  Future uses of the technology to eliminate PFAS from the wastewater stream. Discussion on the relationships of landfill leachates being treated at WRRFs and landfilled biosolids.


Water Quality and Climate Change, Implications of the Sustaining Scioto Study - Lisa A. Jeffrey, Senior Associate, Hazen and Sawyer
This presentation will provide an overview of the projected impacts to riverine water quality related to climate change and projected development within Central Ohio.  The discussion is highly relevant to communities throughout the region.  The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), and their partners, including USGS and the Columbus Division of Water funded the Sustaining Scioto Study in 2015. Ongoing efforts for regional collaboration are being continued through committee. The program was developed as a large regional watershed study based on the understanding that challenges associated with climate change, including both increases in temperature and in the volatility in rainfall, are best addressed on a regional basis.       

This project evaluated vulnerabilities, risks and developed adaptive management strategies for managing the region’s water resources in the face of climate change and with projected development.  The basis for the study was a detailed HSPF model of the basin under six different climate scenarios. Subsequent to the basin modeling, the study was expanded to evaluate impacts to water quality through additional funding from WaterRF.     

In this presentation, we will focus specifically on the water quality changes projected under this study as well as the associated management strategies that were developed. The vulnerabilities addressed in the study included degradation of water quality, increased potential for algal blooms as well as potential increased incidence of both extended droughts and extreme storms and flooding.  Regional strategies being considered for implementation to reduce risks and improve regional resiliency will be discussed. While challenging, the conclusion of this work was that by working together as a region, we can plan for and develop strategies to maintain both reliable water quantity and water quality as needed for the growth and healthy development of Central Ohio.

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Day 3 Panels and Other

Panel:  Treatment Technologies for PFAS- Challenges and Solutions

Across the nation poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have contaminated drinking water supplies for millions of Americans. Many PFAS chemicals are water soluble making drinking water a significant vector for exposure of humans and wildlife to harmful levels of these toxic chemicals. In the absence of federal drinking water standards for PFAS compounds many states, including Michigan, are moving forward with setting their own standards.    PFAS chemicals are extremely persistent and  have been termed “forever chemicals” because the carbon-fluorine bond that holds the molecules together is the strongest chemical bond. What is more, toxicological research has demonstrated that PFAS chemicals are hazardous to human health at very small doses.   

A key component of setting a drinking water standard is to determine the best available treatment technology for water systems to filter out harmful levels of PFAS. Additionally a key strategy to protect drinking water is treatment and removal of PFAS from waste water at wastewater treatment plants or via industrial pre-treatment. However, due to the persistent nature of the chemicals, particularly short chain PFAS, many of our existing treatment technologies are ineffective at removing PFAS. For treatment technologies that have been demonstrated to work on some forms of PFAS there is an ongoing debate around breakthrough timeline and efficacy of the technology in the face of water contaminated by multiple varieties of PFAS at varying levels. Finally other treatment technologies, like reverse osmosis, that research appears to indicate are largely effective for an array of PFAS carry along their own drawbacks like producing a significant liquid waste stream.     

This panel presentation will provide a review of the existing research to-date on treatment technologies for PFAS and explore the challenges and opportunities inherent with each.  We foresee the panel participants including researchers who are on the frontlines of testing treatment technologies as well as representatives who operate drinking water/wastewater/industrial pre-treatment systems and have installed or in the process of installing treatment technologies.
 

Panel:  Regional Water Infrastructure Challenges, Goals, and Key Metrics for Tracking Progress

This facilitated panel discussion will be moderated by Great Lakes Commission (GLC) staff and feature 3 to 4 water infrastructure thought leaders/experts from municipal, state/provincial, and/or federal agencies. Panelists will have familiarity with GLC’s body of water infrastructure work and build on lessons learned through past collaborations on multiple projects including the GLC’s Joint Action Plan for Clean Water Infrastructure and Services in the Great Lakes Region, Integrated Water Infrastructure Asset Management (IWAM), and the Green Infrastructure Champions program. Several discussion prompts will foster conversation regarding the primary regional challenges for water infrastructure, regional goals that speak to overcoming these challenges, and the metrics that could be used to track progress towards achieving these goals. Panelists will address main data and information gaps related to water infrastructure and share ideas about what types of informational tools, data sets, or other types of assets could be created to assist in filling these gaps. This approach of setting collaborative goals and identifying key metrics to track progress follows the framework of the GLC’s Blue Accounting Initiative. This framework has been used to address other regional resource management challenges and the session will explore its suitability for tackling infrastructure issues in the Great Lakes basin. Time will be reserved at the end for questions and interactive discussion with the audience.

 

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Tracy G. Mehan, III
Executive Director, Government Affairs at American Water Works Association (AWWA)
A Portfolio Approach to Water Infrastructure Finance