Posts tagged “Wastewater

Fighting fatbergs is a dirty (but avoidable) job

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

Remember the iconic line from the movie “Titanic”?

“Fatberg, right ahead!”

Wait, what?

Sorry, the movie line was actually about an iceberg. But fatbergs are real, and they can put a fat hole in a utility’s maintenance and operations budget.

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) – along with flushable and non-flushable rags and wipes – merge in our sewers to form solid, immovable blockages known as fatbergs. They are worse in the winter months when cooler temperatures make it easier for the FOG to solidify.

Recently in London, it took nine weeks to dislodge a fatberg measuring 800 feet long and weighing 130 tons. That’s the same as 10 London double-decker buses.

The unsightly blobs can also significantly impact water quality and the environment after sewer overflows. We traced a recent sewer overflow to grease and paper towels coming from a fast food restaurant, which had to close for five hours while we made repairs.

Who drew the short straw?

While College Station hasn’t had fatbergs that colossal, we aren’t immune to problems caused by FOG and wipes. When a big grease blob sticks to the ultraviolet light used to disinfect our wastewater, the light can’t do its job.

When that happens, Courageous operators must manually remove disgusting balls of grease, wads of wipes, paper towels – even underwear – to keep expensive equipment from being damaged.

I’m not sure, but our brave operators probably draw straws to see who handles that dirty job!

Fatbergs can be costly

FOG and trash in the sewer system can also lead to increases in your wastewater rate. For the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion, a $150,000 preliminary screening station was added to the design to remove such things as wipes, rags, hygiene products of the cotton and plastic variety, and trash.

If you need to see it to believe it, the City of Spokane, Washington filmed an experiment with several commonly flushed items to find the answer to the question “will it flush?” Spoiler alert: only the toilet paper flushed.

Manually removing the grease at our wastewater plants costs the city an average of $600 a week.

3 ways to trim the fat

  1. Scrape food scraps into the garbage and let grease solidify in pans before placing it in the trash. Pour oil and grease into a can and after it hardens, put the sealed container in the regular trash.
  2. Avoid placing paper products – even those marked as flushable – down the drain or in the toilet. #NoWipesinPipes
  3. You can help protect your sewer system by remembering to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poop, and toilet paper.

College Station Water Services – especially our valiant wastewater operators – appreciate your assistance in reducing our fatberg problem.

If you have any questions, email me at jnations@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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Fighting fatbergs is a dirty – but avoidable – job

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

The iconic line from the movie “Titanic” is “fatberg, right ahead!”

Wait, what?

Sorry, the line was actually about an iceberg. But “fatbergs” are real and can put a fat hole in a utility’s maintenance and operations budget, not to mention causing significant impacts to water quality and the environment from sewer overflows.

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) – along with flushable and non-flushable rags and wipes – merge in our sewers to form solid, immovable blockages known in our business as fatbergs. They are worse in the winter months when cooler temperatures make it easier for the FOG to solidify.

Recently in London, it took nine weeks to dislodge a fatberg measuring 800 feet long and weighing 130 tons. For comparison, 130 tons is equivalent to 10 London double-decker buses.

Water Production Operator Jared Lapaglia surveys a mass of non-flushables cleared from a pump.

Who drew the short straw?

While College Station hasn’t had fatbergs that colossal, we aren’t immune to problems caused by FOG and wipes. Our wastewater treatment plants use ultraviolet light to disinfect the treated wastewater, and when a big grease blob sticks to the UV light, the light can’t do its job. Courageous operators must manually remove balls of grease, wads of wipes, paper towels – we’ve even found underwear – to keep our equipment from being damaged.

I’m not sure, but our brave operators probably draw straws to see who handles that dirty job!

Fatbergs can be costly

FOG and trash in the sewer system can also lead to increases in your wastewater rates. For the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion, a $150,000 preliminary screening station was added to the design to remove such things as wipes, rags, hygiene products of the cotton and plastic variety, and trash.

Manually removing the grease at our wastewater plants costs College Station an average of $600 each week. We traced a recent sewer overflow to grease and paper towels coming from a fast food restaurant, which had to close for five hours while we made repairs.

Ways to trim fatbergs down to size

  1. Scrape food scraps into the garbage and let grease solidify in pans first before placing it in the trash. Pour oil and grease into a can. Once it has hardened, you can put the sealed container in regular trash.
  2. Avoid placing paper products – even those marked as flushable – down the drain or in the toilet. #NoWipesinPipes
  3. You can help protect your sewer system by remembering to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poop, and toilet paper.

Water Services – especially our valiant wastewater operators – appreciate your help in reducing our fatberg problem. If you have any questions, contact me at jnations@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. ETJ and Annexation Plan: In the workshop, the council will hear an overview of the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) and annexation plan, including the status of several non-annexation development agreements that are expiring soon.
  2. Sanitation Audit and Rate Study: Another workshop item is an internal audit of the city’s sanitation operations and a recent study on sanitation rates.
  3. Architectural Advisory Committee: The final workshop discussion will be about the possible creation of an architectural advisory committee to provide the city council additional input into the planning of municipal facilities.
  4. Carters Creek Treatment Plant Improvements: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $1.97 million contract for improvements to the electrical system at the Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  5. Medical District Sewer Line: Also on the consent agenda is a participation agreement for the construction of a new sewer trunk line in the Medical District. College Station Town Center, Inc., needs a new line to serve its planned development, and the city needs one along the same route to transfer flows from other areas to the expanded Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 and 119 (HD), or online. The website includes an archive of previous council meetings. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Water Conservation Update: In the workshop, the council will hear a presentation about local water conservation efforts, including a summary of significant achievements and ongoing programs.
  2. Funding Agreements: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider annual funding agreements with the Memorial for All Veterans of the Brazos Valley, Research Valley Partnership, Noon Lions Club, Arts Council, Chamber of Commerce, Easterwood Airport, Experience B-CS, and Keep Brazos Beautiful.
  3. Eastgate Water/Wastewater Rehabilitation: Another consent agenda item is a $3.3 million contract for Phase IV of the rehabilitation of water and wastewater lines in the Eastgate area.
  4. Northpoint Crossing Change: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to amend the concept plan for about 11 acres in the Northpoint Crossing Subdivision. The change would reduce sidewalks along Northpoint Crossing Drive to allow for the redesign of parking and would modify the sign ordinance to improve site identification and wayfinding.
  5. Roadway Impact Fees: After a public hearing, the council will consider reducing the roadway impact fee rate to zero. The fees are imposed on new development to help offset the city’s cost of building new roadways. The existing rate is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1 and is expected to generate $12 million in the next decade.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 and 119 (HD), or online. The website includes an archive of previous council meetings. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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3 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. The council has a short agenda this week, so here are three items to watch:

  1. Thoroughfare Plan: In the workshop, the council will hear an update on the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s proposed 2050 Major Thoroughfare Concept Map and the College Station Thoroughfare Plan.
  2. Capital Projects Funding: The council will have a workshop discussion about funding capital projects.
  3. Woodson Village Utility Rehabilitation: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider an $816,000 consultant contract for design and construction phase services for the replacement of water and sewer lines near Haines Drive, Glade Street, Dexter Drive, and Timm Drive.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 and 119 (HD), or online. The website includes an archive of previous council meetings. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Municipal Property Master Plan: The council will hear a workshop presentation about the city’s efforts since the late 1990s to plan for municipal properties.
  2. Northeast Sewer Line: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $1.8 million contract for Phase I of the Northeast Sanitary Sewer Trunk Line, located south of Harvey Road and northwest of the Windwood and Horse Haven Estates subdivision.
  3. Rock Prairie Road Widening Project: The council will consider a $197,000 change order to the contract for the Rock Prairie Road West Widening Project to cover the relocation of water lines that conflict with new storm sewers.
  4. Northgate Loading Zone/Bollards: The council will consider a $297,000 contract to improve safety and aesthetics in Northgate by closing off the loading area on University Drive and adding sidewalks and drainage. Removable bollards would also be installed in four locations where existing pneumatic bollards don’t function properly.
  5. Margraves Property Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the zoning for about 369 acres east of Greens Prairie Road, west of Arrington Road, and south of Whites Creek Lane. The change will allow for residential development.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 and 119 (HD), or online. The website includes an archive of previous council meetings. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related links:                                                                 

 


About the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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