This is the fourth in a series on Biosolids Management, which coincides with this week's WEFTEC 2011 conference in Los Angeles. This series is available exclusively to BC Water News readers, and is the kind of content you receive free with your subscription.

Oct. 19, 2011

Honors for innovators

Industry awards highlight fourth day of WEFTEC 2011

Accepting the Excellence in Innovation award at WEFTEC 2011 are (from left) Craig Goehring, Brown and Caldwell CEO; Walt Bailey, Sudhir Murthy and George Hawkins of DC Water; Matt Higgins of Bucknell University; Chris Peot of DC Water; and Perry Schafer of Brown and Caldwell.

The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, already distinguished as the largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world, earned more industry recognition Tuesday by receiving one of Water Environment Research Foundation's inaugural Excellence in Innovation awards at WEFTEC 2011 in Los Angeles.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) broke ground on $1.4 billion in environmental projects at Blue Plains in May. The projects include an ambitious biosolids management program that promises to “turn waste into watts.”

“The Award for Excellence in Innovation celebrates those organizations that have used WERF research to create a quantifiable impact or documented improvement that benefited customers or the environment," said WERF Executive Director Glenn Reinhardt.

Blue Plains’ $400 million biosolids program will dramatically transform the way in which wastewater solids are processed at Blue Plains and managed within the eastern United States, so that the biosolids cake product has greatly enhanced characteristics for beneficial reuse. The innovative Cambi Thermal Hydrolysis Process developed at Blue Plains is largely a direct application of WERF-sponsored research that was performed over the last 10 years. Brown and Caldwell is the lead firm for the Biosolids Program Management Team. Bucknell University was also acknowledged for its role in the Blue Plains program.

George Hawkins, general manager of DC Water, said the achievement was a result of “extraordinary collaboration” and a great program management team.

“It’s been exciting to work with DC Water on such a prestigious and progressive program,” said Craig Goehring, Brown and Caldwell’s CEO. “This award is testament to a great client and a great team. BC prides itself on ‘advancing innovation’ and so does DC Water. The WERF award speaks to that commitment to innovate and find better solutions for our clients and communities.”

The City of Los Angeles also received an innovation award for the Bureau of Sanitation’s Terminal Island Renewable Energy (TIRE) project. The project, located at the city’s Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant in San Pedro, converts biosolids into clean energy by deep well placement and geothermal biodegradation. The process uses depleted oil and gas formations where the earth’s high temperature biodegrades the organic compounds to generate methane gas that produces renewable energy.

Morgan Medal


DC Water and the City of Los Angeles were just two of several organizations and individuals honored at WEFTEC 2011. Woodie Muirhead, a vice president and operations specialist in Brown and Caldwell’s Honolulu office, received Water Environment Federation’s Morgan Operational Solutions Medal for work in plants serving more than 5,000 people. This award honors Philip F. Morgan, who served as professor of sanitary engineering at the State University of Iowa from 1948-61.

Muirhead was recognized for his ability to optimize utility operations and treatment plants, perform informed studies and create solutions to operational challenges. He developed a Biological Nutrient Removal Workshop for Clean Water Services staff in Oregon and managed a design-build project to optimize biological phosphorus removal at the Durham facility. He also led the implementation on a local phosphorus detergent ban that extended eventually to a statewide ban.

“Woodie Muirhead is an exceptional operator,” said Denny Parker, senior vice president at BC. “He is also a trusted instructor and educator. He is proud of coaching operators while they conduct their own lab experiments and predict the outcomes, to better understand the complicated processes they work with every day.”

As an operations specialist and scientist with BC, Muirhead has assisted municipalities and industries with permit negotiations with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Washington Department of Ecology and the State of Hawaii Department of Health. He conducted recent science-based process training for the launch of Orange County Sanitation District’s trickling filter solids contact (TFSC) process. And he developed a science-based training program for the County of Maui’s three advanced wastewater treatment plants to help operators optimize the processes.

Camp Award


The Camp Applied Research Award, given to a WEF member for the exceptional application of research and environmental principles to wastewater system design, this year recognized Henryk Melcer, a wastewater treatment process specialist with more than 30 years of experience in the biological treatment of industrial and municipal wastewater.

The award is given in honor of Thomas R. Camp, an educator, consultant and writer whose contributions to applied research have guided design criteria in many aspects of water pollution control. Melcer, a vice president at BC, is being recognized for his contribution to the way wastewater treatment plants are re-rated and for his work on holistic plant operation.

“Henryk has the ability to recognize the value of advancements in our field and weave them into application tools that have brought great value to the wastewater community,” Parker said. “No one collaborates more effectively with operators, utility managers and engineers to pull together the best people and thoughts, integrating and synthesizing them into a working product.”

Melcer was quick to recognize the need for standardization of activated sludge model calibration procedures and, in 1999, became principal investigator of the WERF Manual of Wastewater Characterization Methods in Activated Sludge Modeling, now an industry standard. Melcer was the principal investigator of the groundbreaking WERF project to develop methods of predicting the fate of VOCs in POTWs. And Melcer’s progressive disclosure analysis of plant capacity constraints illustrates how protocol results have been combined to create composite plant capacity charts. They have proven to be invaluable to communities in developing master plans, facility plans, and identifying specific plant operating constraints.

Busch Award

Volodymyr Tarabara, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan State University, received the Paul L. Busch award for innovation in applied water quality research. The award carries a $100,000 grant and recognizes individuals or teams who conduct groundbreaking research that will lead to practical solutions to water quality problems.

Visit WEF’s website for a of award winners.

Biosolids Series

FRIDAY: Just don’t call it sludge — an overview of biosolids management challenges facing wastewater managers.

MONDAY: An interview with George Cassady, director of water resources in St. Petersburg, Fla., outlining how the city found the right solution for their biosolids management challenges.

TUESDAY: Learn how three wastewater utilities sifted through the universe of options to find the optimal biosolids management program for their communities.

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