Dam Safety Week Raises Awareness of Infrastructure Upgrade Needs

Dam Safety Week Raises Awareness of Infrastructure Upgrade Needs

    With more than 80,000 dams in the United States – a third of these classified as either “high” or “significant” hazards to both life and property upon failure – Dam Safety Week reminds us all of the importance of infrastructure upgrades and routine maintenance.   While dams are beneficial to many communities in their ability to store drinking water and improve wildlife habitats, they can also act as a dangerous flood risk if failure is reached.  Many dams in the US are approaching their life span of up to 100 years, which makes maintenance a crucial aspect of any dam community, and lack-there-of a major risk to public safety.  Additionally, failures can cost our economy millions of dollars in damages.   For example, from January 2005 to June 2013, state dam safety programs reported 173 dam failures and 587 “incidents.”  Specifically, during the 2013 Colorado floods, after 20 inches of rainfall, six dams failed in one day alone and at least a dozen dams overflowed.  This resulted in an estimated 19,000 damaged homes, a loss of $2 billion in property damage, and ten deaths. Even the recent events of the Texas flooding show how imperative dam safety is. The Padera Lake dam fractured as a result of groundbreaking flooding.  Luckily, despite being on the brink of failure, the dam held.   United Water recognizes the critical nature of dam structures and the imperative need to ensure their integrity. In that light, the company is in the midst of a major safety upgrade at Woodcliff Lake Dam in Bergen County, New Jersey.  The company is raising two reservoir...
A renewed commitment to restoring and protecting biodiversity

A renewed commitment to restoring and protecting biodiversity

In honor of World Biodiversity Day, we are pleased to announce that our commitment to protecting and restoring biodiversity is stronger than ever.  Over the past year, we developed a number of action plans to restore ecosystems and protect threatened and endangered species in and around our water treatment sites.  We operate in over 200 biologically diverse locations where, as leaders in the resource revolution, we take the lead in the environmental health of our surroundings. So what is biodiversity and why is it important to the health of ecosystems? Biodiversity is an important part of making life livable on Earth. It provides us with an array of foods and materials and it contributes to the economy.  Biodiversity also allows for ecosystems to adjust to ever-increasing natural disturbances like extreme fires and floods. So what, then, is a biodiversity action plan and how can an environmental services provider contribute to the improved health of an ecosystem?  An example of one of the action plans we developed this year can be found in Springfield, MA where the Connecticut River runs alongside a wastewater treatment operation that we manage. The Connecticut River watershed encompasses 11,260 square miles, connecting 148 tributaries, including 38 major rivers and numerous lakes and ponds. It is home to many wildlife species, including bear, moose, bobcat, wild turkey, bald eagle, trout, shad, and 10 federally threatened or endangered species. It is also home to New England’s most productive farmlands and to 2 million human residents, about 84% of whom live in or near urban areas including Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut. However, many urbanized...
Survey: What do you want to know about your tap water?

Survey: What do you want to know about your tap water?

In honor of National Drinking Water Week, and to continually improve the service we provide to water customers, we are promoting a special activity for consumers to get to know their H₂O.  Through a partnership with the Water Research Foundation and researchers from King’s College of London and the collaboration of water consumers from across the country, we will conduct important water consumer research through an online survey.   The survey will investigate what Americans want to know about their tap water and how they want to receive that information. We invite our customers, stakeholders, employees and readers to participate by taking a 25-min survey where you will be given the opportunity to enter into a prize draw of $100.   You can access the survey by clicking here: http://goo.gl/UcPzfU   Thank you, in advance, for your participation and for taking the time to get to know your H2O!  ...
Putting climate resilience front and center in water utility planning

Putting climate resilience front and center in water utility planning

As a company operating across the world, we encounter global challenges but solutions are always local. And no challenge, global or local, is greater today than climate change. Climate change has numerous implications many of which manifest in the water cycle; in water supply and water quality. To operate our own business sustainably and to enable a resourceful future for those that we serve we must anticipate the challenges brought about by a changing climate. We do this in part by collaborating with key stakeholders such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as we are doing in this particular case. United Water and SUEZ Environnement experts are piloting EPA’s Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool at the Haworth Treatment facility in Northern New Jersey which provides water service to nearly 1 million people in the region. The tool which is being implemented throughout the country in more than 20 utilities, establishes likely future scenarios for any given area, based upon scientific data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  According to IPCC’s last report, “In many regions, changing precipitation or melting snow and ice are altering hydrological systems, affecting water resources in terms of quantity and quality.” The process defined in collaboration with EPA will identify ways, for example, to better protect critical pump stations from precipitation events or means by which conservation measures can aid supply management. With responsibility for securing a resourceful future for 6.7 million people in communities across the United States, we will transfer the knowledge and findings from this project in New Jersey across our network and add to our expertise in delivering...
United Water Awarded for Protecting Waters Around Narragansett Bay

United Water Awarded for Protecting Waters Around Narragansett Bay

Protecting the environment is our most important job, and so, we’re pleased to announce that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has singled out our wastewater treatment plants in Newport and Providence, Rhode Island, for their exceptional work in protecting the environmentally sensitive waters in and around Narragansett Bay.   Millions of annual visitors to the region enjoy this scenic waterway and expect nothing less than for it to be safe and clean.  Sailing, boating, fishing, kayaking, cruising, swimming and seal watching are a few of the recreational opportunities it offers.   This year, as stewards of this estuary, United Water East Providence received two awards: the 2014 Regional EPA Industrial Pretreatment Program Award and the 2014 Regional EPA Wastewater Treatment Plant Operation and Maintenance Award. United Water Newport won the 2014 Regional EPA Industrial Pretreatment Program Award.   We’re proud of the work we have accomplished with our partners in New England, and by the United Water employees who lead those partnerships.   The East Providence and the Newport plants were both nominated by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) “to acknowledge all the outstanding work” performed by the plants over the years, as well as for “exceptional work in inspecting, permitting and sampling its industrial users that discharge industrial waste into the City’s collection system.”   In East Providence, United Water reconfigured the plant to include, among other things, technology that improves water quality in the Providence River and Narragansett Bay by using naturally occurring microorganisms, rather than chemicals, to remove nitrogen and other nutrients during treatment. In Newport, United Water diligently maintains Newport’s Industrial Pretreatment...