March 2009

Article is taken from Small Flows Magazine, Fall / Winter 2008, volume 9, number 2.

In an effort to use every drop of available water, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District in southern California is slated to use treated wastewater for landscape irrigation at parks, schools, and even churches.  Part of a $16 million project are new piping systems, that would bring recycled water from a reclamation plant to areas where recycled water is safe to use, such as landscaped areas and sports fields.  Officials expect the reclaimed water to save the district about $2.6 million in imported water fees.

Similarly, the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water district uses recycled water to replace valuable groundwater and imported potable water that the district historically used for irrigation.

For more info:


Article is taken directly from the St. Tammany News

By Chad Ruiz
Published on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 9:22 AM CST

Even after taking the brunt of 8-foot tidal surges from two back-to-back hurricanes last year, officials reported Thursday night Mandeville’s sewage treatment plant is still operating at optimal capacity.

Although the city’s wastewater treatment facility received its worst marks for last year’s annual audit in six years, Mike Curtis with Curtis Environmental Services said the numbers are still well below other cities’ averages.

Curtis presented his audit to the City Council at Thursday night’s council meeting.

He said cities are graded on a point system where seven categories of the facility are addressed. Categories like effluent quality, age of the facility, disposition of sludge, new development and operator training scored at or above average.

Two categories, influent flow and overflows and bypasses, each nearly doubled in points compared to 2007’s numbers. But it’s all relative, Curtis said, because Mandeville’s numbers are skewed thanks to the battering ram of storms that pelted the area in 2008. From a record-breaking rainstorm that dumped several inches of water on the city in less than an hour, to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, many of the city’s streets were inundated with more water than the gravity-fed drainage system could handle.

That caused several sewer lines, that otherwise run properly, to overflow.

“Even though it was caused by the storms, ultimately it doesn’t matter to the Department of Environmental Quality,” Curtis told council members.

The city’s overall score was 134, the lower the better, which is still very good Curtis said compared to other cities that average between 150 to 250 points. Still, council members were concerned with the increase since 2007’s number was only 82. It makes sense, Curtis said when looking at the 2005 number of 133 when Katrina made landfall.

Overall, Curtis said Mandeville has a superb track record when it comes to wastewater treatment. After his presentation, the council unanimously passed a resolution detailing steps the city would take to continue and improve its sewage facilities.

The city is currently in the process of installing the parish’s first wetland assimilation project that will disperse treated sewage to depleted marshlands along its coast. When that is complete, Curtis said treatment plant numbers would likely improve dramatically.

A relevant subject of discussion in the field at the moment is the importance of responsible management entities. The discussion is far reaching, occuring in both the academic and professional fields. One of the important papers published on the subject is availible online. I have included the abstract below. Additionally, a link to the full report on the web is provided.

Responsible Management Entities as a Method To Ensure Decentralized Wastewater System Viability

Contributing Writers
Christopher D. English, P.E. and Tomas E. Yeager, P.E.
ABSTRACT: It is generally accepted that small and decentralized wastewater systems are a viable option for urban, near urban, and rural communities. It also is accepted that proper system management, operation, and maintenance can measurably enhance system life and performance. To address this need, the authors present a philosophical argument for the formation of responsible management entities (RMEs) as a method for ensuring the viability of decentralized wastewater systems. RME is defined as a legal entity that has the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to ensure viable long-term, cost-effective, centralized management, operation, and maintenance of decentralized wastewater systems in accordance with appropriate regulations and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Viability is defined as the capacity of a responsible management entity to provide adequate technical, managerial, and financial resources to protect the public health and the environment consistently, in perpetuity, and at a minimal cost to taxpayers. Finally, since research of existing operational decentralized wastewater systems as RMEs is ongoing and, therefore, limited, the authors often rely on personal experience to support their assumptions. However, a case study is presented, which describes a utility system that possesses, from the authors’ perspective, the majority of those qualities and assets required by, and common to, all RMEs.


Ecological design has been defined by few great minds, one definition that resonates with our team is Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan’s from Ecological Design (1996), “any form of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with living processes.”