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CWEA E-Bulletin August 2018

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Meet Emerging Leader 2018, Jordan Damerel, Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District

Projects at the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District are hallmarked by transparency, open communications, and disappearance of the traditional silos that often plague the clean water profession.

That’s in great part due to the efforts of Jordan Damerel, Director of Engineering.

“Jordan manages the District’s Capital Improvement and Asset Management programs, and he’s constantly working towards more transparent planning processes which allow greater buy-in from O&M and engineering staff,” says Meg Herston, Environmental Compliance Engineer, who nominated him for an Emerging Leader award.

“For nearly three years, Jordan spent every Wednesday working as an operator to gain experience and break down communication silos. Jordan’s knowledge, combined with his humility and willingness to seek feedback, has made him incredibly influential.”

The number of noteworthy projects is many, and includes the Nereda nutrient removal pilot and the District’s public-private partnership with Lystek, a regional biosolids processing and re-use facility.

Damerel also prepared the analysis justifying energy efficiency savings that allowed the District to be awarded $4 million in principal forgiveness from the EPA’s Green Project Reserve, reducing the District’s State Revolving Fund loan for its Blower Replacement Project from $11 million to $7 million.

Damerel has been with the District for three years, with six years as a consultant prior to that. He heads a six-person engineering department.

He also teaches math and wastewater courses through Solano Community College and the Bay Area Consortium for Water and Wastewater Education (BACWWE), providing free classes and networking opportunities to students interested in the water industry, and through which many of the District’s staff and interns have been educated.

“I enjoy that,” he says.  “It’s really fun to see students get excited about wastewater.”

His job excites him as well. “More than a specific project, my favorite work is what we do to bridge gaps between operations, maintenance, finance, and engineering—collaborating on running the plant better, improving efficiency, saving money and power, generating more renewables.

“The key to success is to break down the silos between departments and make things happen. We do that well here and it’s a fun place to work.”

By Jim Force, August 14, 2018

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Fairfield operation lifts veil on first-of-its-kind sewage-to-fertilizer process

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Clink to view video of FSSD-Lystek partnership

Jim Dunbar, general manager and business development manager for Lystek, describes the company’s process for turning treated sewage from the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District plant into fertilizer for use by farmers, during a tour of the company’s operations, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. (Glen Faison/Daily Republic) .

FAIRFIELD — Officials from the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District and Canadian company Lystek pulled the curtain back Friday on a first-of-its-kind process for turning treated sewage into a marketable product – all while helping the environment.

It’s a process that proves the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The company is taking the district’s treated sewage and turning it into high-grade fertilizer that can be customized to meet the needs of farmers. The technology to do so did not exist in California or anywhere else in the United States prior to the Fairfield project, company officials said.

Mayor Harry Price and other officials spoke of the need for agencies across the state to limit the amount of treated sewage that’s sent to municipal dumps for disposal.

That practice releases greenhouse gases as the biosolids are exposed to air once spread for disposal – pollution that’s eliminated in the closed loop that’s part of Lystek’s process.

“This is a bold adventure,” Price said of the Lystek plant and what the company and the sewer district hope to accomplish.

The new Fairfield plant offers a regional fix for a pollution problem that the state’s aggressively trying to corral through the legislative process.

“This is a solution that’s been talked about here in the Bay Area for 10 years,” said Jim Dunbar, general manager and business development manager for the new Lystek plant. “It’s really one of the first steps of getting high-level biosolids out of landfills.”

Not only is the company taking advantage of the latest technology to eliminate the need for the sewer district to stop sending treated sludge to Potrero Hills Landfill, Price said the company’s activities will boost economic development activities as well.

“This is going to encourage more companies to locate here, and not just food service and beverages,” he said. “Pharmaceuticals as well.”

The sewer district serves residents of both Fairfield and Suisun City. City council members from both communities serve as the sewer district’s board of directors.

Kevin Litwiller, director of business development for Lystek, described key benefits of the project that include conversion of treated biosolids to a type of fertilizer that’s cleared by the government for use year-round in agricultural operations; and the ability to create and to capture gasses that can be used to produce green energy to help meet the sewer district’s power needs.

Litwiller said the company’s process is both mundane and special at the same time.

“Each level of our process is not remarkable,” he said. “But taken together we have a process that’s led to nine patents.”

Supervisor Jim Spering said the Lystek process takes care of what he describes as a major local biosolids problem for both Fairfield and Suisun City, though use of “trusted technology.”

“I think this starts to address a very serious byproduct of a plant like we have here,” Spering said, making reference to the sewer district’s operations.

Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, spoke of the environmental requirements of legislation passed over the course of the past two years, such as Assembly Bill 1826, which became law in 2014. These new laws are restricting disposal of organic waste in city and county dumps. Dodd also spoke of how the project came together.

“This is an amazing public-private partnership,” he said.

The process to develop the partnership between the sewer district and the company began in late 2013 and took off in early 2014. Dunbar said Lystek was looking to enter the California market, and that the local sewer district’s reputation as an innovative operation was attractive to the company.

About a year of negotiations led to an agreement last summer, which triggered the required permitting process. Also included was a retrofit of a building on the sewer district’s property to accommodate the company’s equipment and state-of-the-art operations.

The agreement grants Lystek virtually all of the sewer district’s treated sludge for 20 years, with an option to extend the agreement for another 10 years.

Dunbar said the company can easily handle all of the sewer district’s outflow – about 14,000 tons per year. The Lystek plant’s capacity is 150,000 tons per year, he said, which will be met by bringing in waste from other agencies across the Bay Area.

Contracts are already in place to take in and process treated waste from Santa Rosa and from the Central Marin Sanitation Agency.

Local officials like what they see.

“I think it’s got a good future,” Spering said. “I’m very impressed with the whole concept of dealing with solid waste.”

Reach Glen Faison at 427-6925 or gfaison@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.

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Eighth-graders gets hands-on career exploration in Suisun

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Dover Academy for International Studies eighth-grader Jordan Carabajal, left, screen prints a shirt with the help of Charles McCullar, of Front 2 Back Designs, at the Inspire: Dreams Start Now Interactive Career Fair at the Suisun City Kroc Center on Tuesday. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

SUISUN CITY — Leslie Ruelas, an eighth-grader at the Public Safety Academy, got to sample life as a screen printer Tuesday morning at the second annual Inspire: Dreams Start Now Interactive Career Fair at the Kroc Center.  The event, a partnership between the Kroc Center, Fairfield-Suisun School District, the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce and the cities of Fairfield and Suisun City, is open to eighth-graders. More than 1,600 students were expected to attend.  With assistance from Charles McCullar, owner of Front2Back Designs, Ruelas created her own souvenir, a white T-shirt with a logo for the event designed by McCullar.  Prior to putting the shirt on the screen printer, Ruelas said she learned how much pressure it takes to get the design on the shirt and how to work with multiple colors.  “They don’t learn this all at one time,” she said.  Ruelas, a self-described art lover, said she could she herself in the business. She’s not ready to decide yet because she also has a passion for nursing and law enforcement.  Front2Back Designs gave out 200 T-shirts last year at the career fair. The company was on track early Tuesday morning to meet that number.  Dionne McCullar said the students’ enthusiasm was obvious.  “This shows them different options and avenues,” she said.

A few booths away, fellow PSA student George Estes listened as Alex Haynes, co-owner of A Squared, a video production and marketing company, talked about his work and showed off some cinematic lenses.  Estes said he would like to get into film as a career. He and his fellow students make their own videos now for class projects.  Haynes saw his role Tuesday to inspire and encourage youth to think outside the box. It was also a chance to give back to the community that helped him and co-owner Alex Quinn launch their company.  “As a kid I wanted to be an actor,” Haynes said. “My parents told me, ‘no.’ ”  He’s now found his passion behind the camera, not in front of it.

Leon Ingram, from the David Weir Preparatory Academy, dreams of playing for the Chicago Bulls one day. Tuesday he learned about working at the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District.  Meg Herston, an environmental compliance engineer, and Nellie Dimalanta, a geographic information system technician, demonstrated, with help from the students, what happens to items flushed down drains.  Ingram poured the ammonia for the demonstration.  With a miniature model of a clarifier, the students watched the oil and grease stay on top, the heavier items go to the bottom and the clean water remain in the middle.

Debi Tavey, president of the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce, said the event makes her feel good about the future.  “They are so interested in the businesses here,” Tavey said of the students.

Jerome Spaulding, who teaches at Oakbrook Elementary, was impressed with an addition this year – a passport to help the students explore the fields that interest them based on personality questions.  “They can learn a lot about of variety of jobs that fit their personality and desire,” Spaulding said.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or amaginnis@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

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Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District earns praise as a ‘utility of the future’

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Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The district was named “utility of the future” by various environmental and research groups. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic file)

FAIRFIELD — National recognition for the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District as a “utility of the future” came from a program that marks exceptional performance of the nation’s wastewater utilities, the sewer district said Tuesday.

“The Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District is once again being recognized for its exceptional service to the community and its strategies to move the agency into the future,” said Chuck Timm, president of the board of directors for the district, in a press release. “The staff and the board remain committed to excellence, protecting public health and the environment through innovative, award-winning and efficient performance.
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Environment Research Foundation and WateReuse, with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, established a Utility of the Future program in 2016.
The district received its recognition during the annual Water Environment Federation conference.
“The district is always looking for opportunities to provide better service to its customers while remaining exemplary stewards of the environment,” said the district’s general manager, Greg Baatrup, in the release. “It is an honor to receive this national recognition in acknowledgement of the district’s successes toward implementing its progressive strategy.”
California’s Legislature created the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District in 1951 for wastewater collection and treatment in Fairfield, Suisun City and Travis Air Force Base. City Council members of Fairfield and Suisun City serve as directors.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

 

 

 

 

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Daily Republic: Earth Day brings visitors to 2-city treatment plant

FSSD Open House Daily Republic post 4/24/2016

Talyon Sortor, right, assistant general manager for the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, gives a tour of the Wastewater Treatment Plant during an open house to commemorate Earth Day, Saturday. Chuck Timm, Fairfield’s vice mayor, is shown on the left. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — Earth Day got celebrated in many ways this weekend with a cleanup in the Suisun Marsh and along area creeks, events at the Civic Center Park and a tour of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District’s treatment plant.

The plant serves 135,000 residents in the Suisun City and Fairfield area. The amount of wastewater from homes, businesses and commercial users traditionally adds up to about 15 million gallons per day going through the system, but that’s not currently the case.

“It has actually gone down over the last year to about 11 million gallons per day,” said Helen Gaumann, director of administrative services. “That is because of the drought.”

While the plant serves everyone who lives and works in the two cities, its out-of-the-way location on Chanbourne Road gives it an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of existence. That’s something plant officials and staff sought to counter on a day set aside to bring awareness to the health of the planet.
“This is the first time we have had a grand opening tour of the plant for Earth Day,” said General Manager Greg Baatrup. “We wanted to get the public out so that they can see what we do.”

Baatrup has worked for nine years at the plant and said he loves his job. The Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District has been a local provider of steady work for many of the employees who can say that they have worked at the plant since getting out of college.

“I have been here 20 years and done probably every job imaginable,” Assistant General Manager Talyon Sortor said.

The plant is situated on several acres of grassy plain near the Suisun Marsh.

“People came out today to learn about what happens here,” Baatrup said. “I am really pleased how many people have come out.”

In addition to the sewer tour, plant workers also hosted a booth at the Fairfield Civic Center for the city’s Earth Day activities and went out for cleanup activities in Fairfield and Suisun City. Back at the plant, they offered visitors refreshments and drinks.

Robin and Mike Westfall of Fairfield have been residents since 1975 and have done tours of the Jelly Belly factory and Anheuser-Busch brewery, but this was their visit to the treatment plant.

“It was a first-class operation,” said Mike Westfall. “It’s good to know instead of using chlorine they are using UV lights. It’s safer and not a target for terrorists.”

The wastewater disposal plant discontinued using chlorine because of safety issues for storage but also because releasing the treated wastewater into the marshlands with chlorine could harm the marsh, Sortor said.

“It’s good to know they are protecting the marsh,” said Robin Westfall.

Article by Susan Hiland, Daily Republic

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Students Explore, Learn About Wetland Ecology

SUISUN CITY — Nearly 1,300 middle school students will explore one of the last intact wetlands in the Bay Area as part of the 2015 Suisun Marsh Watershed Program.

About half of the sixth- and seventh-graders who are participating have already experienced the daylong field trip to the Solano Land Trust’s Rush Ranch – with another 600 students scheduled to participate next month.

A major goal of the program is for as many students as possible to participate, said program Coordinator Marianne Butler, education program manager for the Solano Resource Conservation District.

The free program includes in-class lessons about marsh and watershed ecology, leading up to the field trip to explore part of the largest contiguous brackish tidal marshes remaining on the West Coast, according to a district press release. Students hike through the wetlands and study the soil, water and plants there.

In the day’s final activity, participants hike to Overlook Hill and write poems about their experience, which their teachers submit to the River of Words International art and poetry contest. Back in their classrooms, students complete additional lessons covering the problems and solutions to ocean debris and water conservation.

The program’s five in-class lessons instruct students about the marsh’s ecosystem and its role in the larger watershed habitat. Program educators tie the ecology and health of the marsh to the student’s own lives, building understanding of the interconnection of all life in a watershed, according to the district release.

The Rush Ranch open space is a working cattle ranch, which serves as a living laboratory for participants. Students see wildlife coexisting with domestic animals in a well-managed environment, on a 1,050-acre property that represents more than 10 percent of the remaining wetland area in California, according to the district.

The eight-year-old program was developed by the Solano and Suisun resource conservation districts and is funded by the Solano County Water Agency, along with a State Parks Habitat Conservation Fund grant, which is in its final of four program years.

The funding is augmented by a two-year grant from the Benicia Sustainability Commission, and a small amount of funding from a CalRecycle Grant to Solano County. Additional funding support for busing is provided by the Fairfield Suisun Sewer District.

When completed, more than 10,000 children will have taken field trips to explore county open space in a hands-on program that aligns with state standards and addresses local concerns, the district said.

Reach Kevin W. Green at 427-6974 or kgreen@dailyrepublic.

http://www.dailyrepublic.com/news/solanocounty/students-explore-learn-about-wetland-ecology/

 

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