Don’t miss the 2011 CWEA Annual Conference in Ontario April 12-15 – it’s only two weeks away.

Click here to download the day-by-day Technical Program Schedule (PDF) >

Earn up to 27 CA Dept. of Public Health contact hours.  There is 1 opening session, 47 Technical Session, 9 pre-conference workshops and 4 technical tours totaling 251.8 hours of education training. Each individual can earn up to 35.2 contact hours. Wednesday, April 13th: 10 technical sessions plus 1 opening session totaling 32.8 contact hours, 1 technical tour totaling 5.1 contact hours. Thursday, April 14th: 19 technical sessions totaling 66 contact hours, 2 technical tours totaling 10.2 Contact hours. Friday, April 15th: 18 technical sessions with 60 contact hours and 1 technical tour with 5.1. Each session approved for .05 SWRCB CEUs.

Wastewater Career Featured on Undercover Boss

Wastewater Career Featured on Undercover Boss

This week, CBS’s UNDERCOVER BOSS featured the boss of Synagro, the nation’s largest wastewater treatment corporation and embarks on its dirtiest operation yet. If you missed it, watch the episode on CBS.

Each week, UNDERCOVER BOSS follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their companies.  While working alongside their employees, they see the effects that their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering the unsung heroes who make their companies run.

From Phil Scott, West Bay Sanitary District

On March 21, 2011 the West Bay Sanitary District (the District) broke the four-year mark without a “Lost Time Accident,” representing one of the lowest rates of on-the-job injuries in the wastewater industry.

West Bay Sanitary District

“Four years without a lost time accident is unprecedented. It’s a testament to our successful safety program and the awareness of our employees,” said Phil Scott, District Manager. “District staff has worked over 205,000 hours without a ‘Lost Time Accident.’”

As a result of the District’s excellent safety record, it has realized annual reductions in insurance premiums of $23,000 in 2011 alone. (Over a four-year period, this would add up to over $90,000.) Additionally, the district has received annual dividends from its insurance carrier for its excellent risk management record.

Only minor accidents have occurred during the four-year period, some of which required the administration of basic first aid; a few injuries have required a slight (temporary) modification of individual job duties. These modifications allowed employees to recover from their injuries and transition back to their normal duties, while minimizing disruption to district operations.

The district owes its excellent record to a proactive safety program and the enthusiastic participation of district staff.

The Safety Program includes:

  • Classroom Training
  • Hands-On Training
  • Tailgate Safety Meetings
  • Annual Reviews of Safety Procedures
  • Establishment of a Safety Committee composed of administration and field staff

West Bay Sanitary District (WBSD) operates a wastewater collection system serving Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and several small portions of unincorporated areas of San Mateo County through a network of over 200 miles of mainline pipe and 13 pumping stations.  It is a member of the joint powers group known as the South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) that operates a wastewater processing plant for the cities of Redwood City, San Carlos and Belmont as well as WBSD.

The district currently employs 25 people, with jobs ranging from administrative, to backhoe operator, to sewer maintenance worker, to pump mechanic.

For more information visit

Rescuer Bob Atkinson of Pierce County Utilities emerges from the manhole after successfully extracting the contract worker. EMS rescuers help the man. (credit: Pierce County Utilities)

Incredible rescue story coming out of Tacoma Washington. On March 21 operations, maintenance and collection system workers at Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant knew exactly what to do when they heard cries for help from a construction worker washed into the treatment plant’s inlet pipeline. Officials credit quick thinking, professionalism and confined space rescue training for the successful rescue.

From the Tacoma Daily Index

Members from the maintenance and operations sections worked together as a single, well-practiced team, according to collection system manager Larry Butner. “There was no time for coordination or a central leader,” said Butner. “Each person saw something that needed doing and they did it. Everybody knew what to do.”

Watch a Pierce County TV story about the rescue.

Come see some fantastic safety training classes at this year’s CWEA Annual Conference in Ontario on April 12-15. There is an all day Safety workshop on April 12th and Safety Sessions April 13-15. Confined space rescue demonstrations are one of the more popular events at the CWEA and WEF Operations Challenge Competitions. Great training in the wastewater industry has paid off in a big way.

On March 24, EPA released updated data and a mapping tool designed to help the public compare water quality trends over the last two years. The web-based, interactive map includes state dashboards that provide detailed information for each state, including information on facilities that are violating the Clean Water Act and the actions states are taking to enforce the law and protect people’s health.  The state dashboards incorporate data for both large and small sources of water pollution, along with the latest information from EPA’s 2009 Annual Noncompliance Report. The public can examine and compare information on the inspections conducted by both EPA and the state in their region, violations and enforcement actions in their communities over the past two years and the penalties levied in response to violations.

In 2009, EPA announced the Clean Water Act action plan to improve Clean Water Act permitting, enforcement, information collection and public access to compliance and monitoring information. The state dashboards are a part of the action plan and are designed to provide information on Clean Water Act violators and government’s response.  EPA’s enforcement and compliance transparency tools are recognized as a model for open government and improving how government operates. EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Online (ECHO) database provides fast, integrated searches of EPA and state data for more than 800,000 regulated facilities, including information on inspections, violations and enforcement actions.