Skip to Content

About: G4Developer

Recent Posts by G4Developer

FSSD Operations Regional Occupation Program

What is ROP?

ROP provides career preparation and technical education opportunities. At the District, ROP students strive to become a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operator, and volunteer their time as an Operator-In-Training (OIT) in order to obtain work experience as mandated by Title 23 of the Water Code’s certification requirements.
An ROP student works up to 25 hours a week per semester. Under the guidance of certified operators they will learn about the treatment plant, the industry, perform daily checks, and general maintenance that is involved in the successful operation of a WWTP.

Interested in volunteering as an ROP?

ROP volunteers must be enrolled in an Occupational Education class at Solano Community College or an equivalent program during their time as a volunteer with the District. Submit your interest through this questionnaire:

  • What Solano classes will you be enrolled in during your volunteerism?

  • Indicate what experience you already have at a wastewater treatment plant?

  • Time Period

1 Continue Reading →

What is an Operator?

In many ways, operators have one of the best jobs imaginable. Ask yourself these questions and see how an operator would answer them:

Do you want a job that challenges you? 
An operator is one who is always learning, doing something different, researching ideas, solving problems and protecting life.

Do you want to become an investigator?
Operators must learn how to apply investigating techniques to discover the culprit of equipment malfunctions or plant process inefficiencies.

Do you enjoy fixing things that are broken? 
All things eventually break down, so an operator gets to work with an immense variety of equipment and tools in order to fix, replace, rebuild or invent things.

Do you want to work outside, or at a desk, in a laboratory or a mechanical shop? Do you want to work with your hands or with you mind? 
As an operator, you will do all of it.  Your job is to operate a wastewater treatment plant and all that it entails. Each day you may do something different. You will taste what it is like to be a biologist, a chemist, an engineer, a mechanic, a regulator, a landscaper, an analyst, and much more.

Operators are not just workers; we are active participants in a venture that protects public health, and preserves natural resources. We clean, we check, we fix, we investigate and we make decision to ensure the plant and its process is making the best quality of water it can.  We have the opportunity to be always moving, always growing, and always learning.  It is a dirty job that is both physically and mentally demanding, yet rewarding.  There is always a laugh to be had and something new to do.  It is not just a job, it’s a career that one falls in love with in spite of oneself.

0 Continue Reading →

For the Love of Wastewater: Operator Powers Career With Passion

Ben Carver builds an award-winning career at Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District by learning the business, enhancing his skills and training other operators and technicians.


ben_carver_057__mediumBen Carver loves the wastewater industry. As an operator/maintenance technician 5 at the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District in California, Carver is focused on expanding his knowledge while helping fellow operators develop the skills they need to advance their careers.

After just nine years in the business, Carver has parlayed his passion for wastewater into a senior role at the district’s 23.7 mgd (design) advanced secondary wastewater treatment plant. Sited on 300 acres, the facility operates under reduced flow (14 mgd) due to California’s five-year drought, water conservation measures and the San Francisco Bay Area’s economic doldrums.

Carver, a Fairfield native, is serious about his role in producing clean water for the 41-square-mile area of Solano County that comprises the sewer district. It includes the cities of Fairfield (population 108,000) and Suisun City (28,000) as well as Travis Air Force Base.

Recognizing passion

Beyond kudos from colleagues and supervisors for his dedication to training new and mid-level operations and maintenance technicians, Carver has gained broader recognition. In 2014, he received the Plant Operator of the Year award from the 9,000-member California Water Environment Association (CWEA). Earlier in the year, he won the same award for the CWEA’s Redwood Empire Section.

“It’s nice to have a career filled with accomplishments,” says Carver. “But I can’t take all the credit because it’s really a team effort. Much of the success I’ve had is based on the great people I work with. All 58 sewer district employees, including our 14 treatment plant operators, function as a team to achieve great results for the community, so it’s everybody’s award.”

That assessment draws some pushback from Brian Hawley, operations manager and Carver’s boss for the past six-plus years: “Ben is the new model of an operator. He’s passionate about the wastewater field and our commitment to protect the public and the environment. He’s technically savvy and eager to learn new technologies.”

Early interest

ben_carver_069__largeCarver’s interest in wastewater began when he was 15 and trying to figure out what to do with his life. A family friend who worked for the City of Fairfield Water Department described life at the water plant, leading Carver to look at classes at Solano Community College. The first one he found happened to be about wastewater, so he enrolled and decided to make it his career.

At 18, he volunteered at the Fairfield-Suisun Treatment Plant. After graduating from Vacaville High School in 2005, he landed a job at the plant with contractor United Water. In July 2008 he joined the sewer district, where he has made professional development a priority. From then on, every year, he has advanced his state certification, starting with an operator in training certificate and culminating with Grade V in 2011.

“Wastewater is a wonderful career,” Carver says. “It’s rewarding and something that keeps me constantly motivated. The fact that I always learn something new is one of the big blessings of this profession. I’m never bored, because my job changes all the time. Plus, I’m able to support my family, and there are plenty of opportunities for advancement, so yes, I like what I’m doing a lot.”

Expansion challenges

Almost from the day Carver arrived, the 40-year-old treatment plant has undergone expansions. In 2007-08, a secondary treatment expansion added a biological nutrient removal (BNR) system. The plant converted its old aerobic digesters to aeration basins with anoxic zones, built two new circular clarifiers, and converted a flow equalization tank to an intermediate clarifier.

Another project was a dewatering upgrade in which Carver and his colleagues replaced old filter presses with a screw press (FKC Co.), replaced two dissolved air flotation thickening tanks with gravity belt thickeners, and built a circular primary clarifier to add capacity to four existing rectangular clarifiers. In 2011, the plant switched from chlorine to UV disinfection (WEDECO – a Xylem Brand).

Crews also built a new alternate discharge pump station for discharging effluent to the Suisun Marsh, the largest contiguous brackish-water marsh remaining on the west coast of North America and a critical component of the 116,000-acre San Francisco Bay Delta estuary ecosystem.

Supervising, training

A typical day for Carver runs from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Each day is different, but he usually supervises the morning meetings and briefings from graveyard shift operators, checks the duties for the day, and assigns tasks. Carver supervises the lower-level technicians and provides training when needed.

Training covers wastewater treatment processes, equipment handling, plant maintenance and other aspects of the job, such as maintaining the district’s four main pump stations that deliver wastewater into the plant, nine lift stations and eight stormwater stations throughout the area.

Gary Crawford, a Grade III operator, can attest to Carver’s training expertise. A five-year plant veteran, Crawford came from an academic background and pursued a career at the university level. “The money wasn’t that good and the jobs just weren’t that plentiful, so I made a financial decision not to spend time trying to get published and get tenure for a small salary. I have a wife and wanted to earn a decent living.”

Crawford didn’t know much about wastewater, so Carver trained him, starting with basic treatment procedures and eventually preparing him for certification exams. “Every time I’ve had to take one, I hook up with Ben and we go over the math work,” Crawford says. “Then he walks me through what I need to know. He’s been an enormous help, for the tests and in becoming a skilled operator.”

Hawley praises Carver for making sure the other operators are moving up in their certifications: “Of the 14 operators we have, all but one are Grade III and above. There are five of us with Grade V certification, so we have a highly certified staff.”

Proud to protect

Carver has little time for accolades. He’s too busy doing his job: leading the operations team members as they work on the oxidation towers and dual-media tertiary filtration system, and making sure the solids dewatering processes — screw press and asphalt-lined drying beds — function properly to generate 7 to 8 dry tons of biosolids daily.

He also helps conduct plant tours for elementary, high school and college students, promoting the satisfaction he feels from protecting the area’s fragile ecosystems. That includes reclaiming 10 percent of plant effluent to irrigate turf farms or livestock feed and to replenish ponds for local duck clubs.

Looking ahead, the treatment plant faces stricter nutrient limits from the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the U.S. EPA. Carver relishes the challenge as he continues to improve his skills and look for ways to improve plant operations and efficiency.

“There’s no question that all the plants, including ours, are going to see much stricter limits on nutrients,” he says. “We’re already doing full nitrification and partial nitrogen removal, so we’re a little bit ahead of some plants. As for me, I enjoy my work enough that I’ll keep doing it. In this industry there are so many different avenues to pursue. I’ll stick with it for the rest of my career.”

0 Continue Reading →

Groups help clear Solano waterways during Coastal Cleanup Day

SUISUN CITY — Coastal Cleanup Day brought out local groups who rolled up sleeves and slid on gloves for the task of beautifying the waterways of Solano County.

The goal for Saturday was to clean up the watersheds and waterways, emptying them of trash from as far away as Lake Berryessa to the creeks in Fairfield, Suisun City and Vacaville.

Eleven sites were marked along creeks for cleanup: American Canyon Creek, Beldens Landing, Hill Slough, Laurel Creek, Ledgewood Creek, McCoy Creek, Serpas Ranch Open Space, Upper Dan Wilson Creek, Lower Union Creek and the Suisun boat ramp.

Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts joined together at the boat landing in Suisun City to clean up the marsh area with the help of Anheuser-Busch Brewery employees, who helped organize the groups for the three-hour event.

Angie Jones-Bateman of Fairfield brought her daughter, Gabrielle, 10, some work shoes because she wore her good shoes for the clean up. Her daughter just started Girl Scouts and so this was her first cleanup day.

“This is a great opportunity for the kids because it gets them off the TV and off the cellphone and shows them what it means to help,” Jones-Bateman said.

Cub Scout JaVonn Liggon, 9, of Fairfield, was working his third year of coastal cleanup and said he was excited to get back out into the marsh.

“It’s fun because I get to help pick up trash, but I don’t like getting cut,” he said.

This was a family day for JaVonn: His grandmother, Lory Hoffmann, who is Girl Scout troop leader for Troop 20287, and his grandfather, Geoff Hoffmann, who helps out with Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts events, were right there with him.

Lory Hoffmann just began as troop leader. This was her first time leading the girls on a Coastal Cleanup Day. She brought seven girls for the activities and she noted that 20 Cub Scouts came out.

“They are from several different troops,” she said.

The day had multiple goals for the troop. They went after lunch to the Suisun Wildlife Center to drop off blankets, bleach and other items. The project helped them to earn their wilderness badges.

“I think they will love visiting the animals,” said Lory Hoffmann in anticipation of the post-cleanup excursion. “I thought it would be fun after doing the cleanup.”

The children were a ways into the marsh as they worked, which meant they all needed to be mindful of watching their steps and staying out of the water.

“The worst really is the blueberry bushes, which cut you,” Lory Hoffman said.

Mike Segala, owner of Segala Maintenance and Repair and a member of the City Council in Suisun City, brought his truck around so the children could pile the trash in the back.

Segala said he has been doing this for longer than he can remember for both the city as a worker and for his business. He brought one bag out, which was filled with trash from kayakers on the water who wanted to help with the cleanup while they were fishing.

“This is really a community event today,” Segala said.

Each year he learns something new for efficiency of cleanup and tries to apply that the next year. This year he brought his truck out to the area where the children were collecting garage so they could just dump it in the truck and not have to move it to another area for pickup.

He said police on Friday night moved a couple of homeless campers out of the area and it was really nasty where they had been camping.

“They made the area into a toilet,” Segala said. “It spoils the area for the Wildlife Center to do any kind of learning for the children.”

Despite the mess, Segala said he was pleased to see so many people working together to make the open spaces a better place for everyone to enjoy.

“It’s great for everyone, the fisherman are out enjoying the day, Budweiser is here helping out,” he said. “It’s just a great event.”

Marianne Butler, environmental education program manager for the Solano Resource Conservation District, said in a press release that 2,452 volunteers took part in Coastal Cleanup Day activities at 60 locations across the county.

She said a total of 29,638 pounds of trash and 5,916 pounds of recyclables was removed from waterways across the county at locations that included 79 miles of neighborhood parks, hiking trails, bridges, creeks and lakes.

Article By

0 Continue Reading →

Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District Board Approves Agreement to Proceed with Development of a Lystek Organic Materials Recovery Center (OMRC)

Attention: Business, economic, agriculture and environmental reporters/editors

May 19 2015 (Fairfield, California, U.S.A.) – Yesterday, staff of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District (FSSD) recommended, and the Board of Directors accepted, the approval of a Resolution to execute a 20-year lease agreement (with an additional 10-year optional renewal) between the FSSD and Lystek International Inc. (Lystek) for the development of an Organic Materials Recovery Center at its Chadbourne Road facility in Fairfield California. The major terms and conditions of the Agreement are effectively complete and both parties look forward to proceeding with project implementation.

“This is an exciting day for all stakeholders”, said Rick Mosher, President of Lystek. “Approval by the Board to move this project forward is the culmination of months of positive discussion and careful consideration of the many, mutual benefits that will be realized by everyone involved in this development. This includes the FSSD, all surrounding communities looking for advanced and proven, Class A quality biosolids and organics management solutions, growers that want/need good, affordable, nutrient rich, bio-fertilizer products as well as those looking for good-paying jobs in the area “, he adds.

It is widely acknowledged that “waste” diversion and resource recovery generate substantial economic and environmental benefits while supporting and expanding the evolution towards a circular economy.

Founded in 2000, Lystek is an award-winning, biosolids and organics management firm that is playing a leadership role in the successful diversion of organic materials from landfills. The firm provides proven solutions that help municipalities and other generators harness “waste” as an economic resource thereby converting wastewater treatment plants into Resource Recovery Centers. This is accomplished by transforming these materials into an organically-based, bio-fertilizer product called LysteGro. The resulting, high nutrient product is pathogen-free and it meets (or exceeds) US EPA, Class A EQ quality standards. LysteGro is already in high demand because pathogens are eliminated and the product is high in nutrients and organic matter and far more cost effective than chemical alternatives. The same, innovative system can also be used to optimize the performance of digesters and BNR systems, while reducing overall volumes and increasing biogas production for green energy. The OMRC will be built under a Design-Build-Finance-Own-Operate (DBFOO) model by Lystek.

FSSD currently produces approximately 12,000 tons of biosolids per year. Under this agreement, the district will have long-term control over its biosolids management expenses. Revenue and expenses will be proportional to the volume of material processed at the OMRC, which will have a maximum operating capacity of approximately 150,000 tons per year. FSSD biosolids management expenses will effectively be capped (except for growth and small, consumer price index increases) with revenues growing as more material is brought into the new facility. Indirect benefits will also be realized by FSSD through the process 2 of re-feeding “LysteMized” material back into its digesters to enhance biogas production for “green energy”) and through reduction in the overall volume of output.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lystek will be responsible for soliciting third party materials to be processed at the new facility as well as all marketing and sales of the LysteGro bio-fertilizer product. As of the issuance of this release, Letters of Interest (LOI’s) have already been secured from several agencies in the Bay Area. Additional LOI’s are forthcoming. These LOI’s are expected to transition into multi-year contracts as the project moves forward.

Greg Baatrup, General Manager of the FSSD states that “This technology is proven and development of this project and facility will play an important role in capping the FSSD’s operational expenses related to biosolids management. It will also help us diversify and achieve our goal of leveraging existing, underutilized infrastructure to generate additional revenues, further offsetting costs for the district.”

“The FSSD Board of Directors is extremely proud of the track record of success at the FSSD and pleased with staff accomplishments “ said Pete Sanchez, President of the FSSD Board of Directors. “We look forward to the positive benefits this partnership with Lystek brings to the communities of Fairfield, Suisun City, Solano County and the entire Bay Area,” he adds.

About Lystek International

Lystek International Inc. is an organic materials recovery firm that is helping municipalities and other generators reduce waste, costs, odors and greenhouse gas emissions through its innovative approach to biosolids and organics management. The multi-use Lystek system can be leveraged to optimize digesters and biological nutrient removal systems while also contributing to landfill diversion and agricultural sustainability. This is achieved by transforming non-hazardous, organic materials into nutrient-rich, federally-registered fertilizers and other, multi-purpose products.

For more information please contact Kevin Litwiller, Director of Business Development, at; Cell: (519) 584- 5437 or Office: (226) 444-0186 x 106 or by email at; kevinl@lystek.com

Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District

The Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District is a legally constituted governmental entity established to provide wastewater services to the Cities of Fairfield and Suisun City. FSSD serves more than 135,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers and government agencies in central Solano County, about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco. Households, retail businesses, major food and beverage producers, light industries, manufacturers and vital military operations depend upon our service. The treatment plant occupies about 150 acres. It draws from a collection system that consists of 12 pump stations and a 70- mile network of sewers that fan out throughout our service area.

For more information please contact Greg Baatrup, General Manager at; Office: (707) 429-8930 or via email at; gbaatrup@fssd.com

0 Continue Reading →

 

Recent Comments by G4Developer

    No comments by G4Developer