The Speed of Technology
posted on 04.12.13
The Speed of Technology
written by Robert Dufresne, PE
published in NEWWA's "The Source" newsletter in the spring of 2013
Remember the last time you saw a CNN headline about a marvelous breakthrough in technology? Me neither. Nothing sells like bad news. We remember it. We worry about it. Headlines like the fiscal cliff, the bankrupt Medicare system, and the $16 trillion debt are bombarding us daily. How will we ever survive this? Has it ever been this bad?
Actually, the past was much worse. Things are better than ever now and things will get even better fast; beyond our wildest imagination. According to Peter Diamandis, over the last 100 years our average life span has doubled. Worldwide our per capital income adjusted for inflation has tripled in the last century. Childhood mortality has dropped by an order of magnitude. Food cost adjusted for inflation only a tenth of what it did 100 year ago. The cost for electricity has dropped by a factor of 20. Transportation costs only 1% of what it did 100 years ago. Communication is now 1,000 times less expensive than it was 10 years ago. In fact when you are hiking in the Rocky Mountains alone with your cell phone, you have more mobile communication capability than did President Regan. If you have your i-Phone with you, you have access to more information than did President Clinton. The reason is that technological advances are occurring at a logarithmic rate with time based on Moore’s Law. Your great-grandmother would be speechless to see your smart TV or ride in your new car. But imagine how will you feel to see your great granddaughter’s car?
What is ahead of us in the water works industry? How do we deal with the exponential rate of technology and the linear speed of regulation development? The post offices of this country lost $16 billion per year; linear thinking versus logarithmic technological growth.
An example of how far we have come in such a short time is the slingshot water treatment device. This device, about the size of your microwave, produces 260 gallons per day of pure water from sea water or sewage at a cost of only 7 ½ cents per gallon. Coca Cola has taken an active role in testing this technology in remote parts of this planet and if successful has pledged to implement the technology worldwide. Imagine how access to pure drinking water would change the life of a young mother in Somalia. The cost of solar power dropped in half last year. New ways of burning coal may make it the cheapest and cleanest energy source on the planet. Several years ago in Portland, we heard Dr. Dagher describe the future of the State of Maine powered exclusively with low cost deep water wind turbines. Dr. Dagher described the economic paradigm shift when the billions now sent to the mid-east for oil become discretionary income for Maine residents.
In our own water works industry, we know that technological devices we use are riding on Moore’s curve. The expensive hardware and software for our SCADA system we bought ten years ago is junk today. Clearly the tools available to us for treating water are less expensive and better than ever. But our challenge seems to be the cost for replacing storage and distribution systems. Infrastructure replacement is not following Moore’s curve. Construction never seems to get any cheaper. While there have been some breakthroughs in newer and better GPS equipped excavators and trenchless technology; we are still digging trenches in paved roads to replace old water mains. But even in this area of our water works industry changes for the better will come. Within our lifetime, materials will be better and cheaper. Installation will be faster and less labor intensive. The future is bright; embrace it.
Christina Legge Attends PSMJ Project Management Bootcamp
posted on 03.26.13
Christina Legge, PE attended a two day project management course offered by PSMJ in November 2012. The PSMJ Project Management Bootcamp is one of the leading project management training programs for engineering firms. The course covers topics such as business development, project planning, project scheduling, project finance, leadership, managing clients, managing risk, and productivity. Christina worked with many other engineers, architects and project managers during this course to share real-world experiences and project management techniques and strategies. Christina will be using the knowledge gained from this course to provide Dufresne Group’s clients with a better and more efficient project experience.
VTrans Ancient Roads Program
posted on 03.26.13
The VTrans Ancient Roads Program was developed after Act 178 went into effect in 2006. The goal of this program is for Vermont towns to identify and map “unidentified corridors”, or ancient roads. Act 178 requires that ancient roads are mapped on the VTrans Town Highway Maps by July 1, 2015. If an ancient road is not on the VTrans maps by that date, ownership of the road will revert back to the adjacent landowners.
Many of these ancient roads are now Town Trails and are likely listed on the VTrans maps as Class 4 roads. However, some of these roads may have been “lost” over the years and are not shown on the maps. In order to locate these ancient roads, a review of the land records, road surveys, deeds, lotting plans and old maps needs to be conducted. Local knowledge can be extremely helpful in this process as well. If the ancient roads can be found in the land records or on old maps, it may be possible for the Town to maintain ownership by requesting VTrans to add them to the Highway Maps. This process can be overwhelming and can require some specialty skills such as deed research, surveying, drafting and GIS.
Dufresne Group’s Manchester Office Manager, Christina Legge, PE, serves the Town of Jamaica as the Chairperson of the Planning Commission. The Jamaica Planning Commission has recently begun the process of identifying and mapping ancient roads. Christina and the other Planning Commission members will be working with Town residents, the Windham Regional Commission and adjacent towns to determine if any ancient roads exist in Jamaica that are not on the VTrans Highway Maps. Christina will help this effort by providing drafting and GIS support and researching existing documentation. Christina is available to answer questions about the Ancient Roads Program and discuss what your Town can do to find ancient roads. She can be contacted in our Manchester office at 802-768-8291 or email@example.com.
Dufresne Group chosen for Brattleboro and Ludlow, Vermont projects
posted on 11.26.12
Dufresne Group was recently chosen as the engineer on the following projects:
- Downtown Sidewalk Project - Brattleboro, Vermont
- Scoping and Feasibility Study for Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility - Ludlow, Vermont
St Johnsbury Passes Bond Article 2,013 to 864 on CSO Elimination Project.
posted on 11.7.12
The Town of St Johnsbury Vermont overwhelmingly passed their bond vote during the general election for the Eastern Avenue, Western Avenue and Main Street. This bond article is for the construction of a combined sewer overflow elimination and utility improvement project that is proposed to be completed by the Town along Eastern Avenue, Western Avenue and Main Street prior to a Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) paving project scheduled for 2014.
Most of these utilities were installed in the early 1900’s, and have extended beyond their useful life and are currently in poor or failed conditions. Dufresne Group encouraged Town officials to include this bond article this November to allow the Town to complete designs and pursue State and Federal Grants over the winter to begin construction early next spring and complete the project prior to winter ahead of the VTrans paving project.
Dufresne Group played a critical role to get information on the bond article to educate the voters on the importance of this critical infrastructure improvement project, including the development and mailing of informational bulletin to registered voters, contacting the local newspaper and radio stations to include project details.
To view the informational bulletin for this project, click here
Christina Legge completes Emergency Management Training
posted on 05.14.12
Christina Legge, PE, provided emergency engineering response services to the Town of Manchester, VT after Tropical Storm Irene in August and September 2011. She has now completed training in ICS 100 (Introduction to Incident Command System) and ICS 200 (ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incident). ICS, or Incident Command System, is a standardized incident management approach used by FEMA and other governmental agencies. Emergency response personnel are trained in ICS and many municipal and state governments are beginning to use ICS for incident management. Christina will be taking additional specialized classes in May and June 2012 relating to public works operations, emergency operation centers (EOC) and GIS applications, as well as ICS 300 (Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents). With this training, Christina will be versed in ICS organization, terminology and procedures. She will be able to provide emergency engineering response during natural disasters or other emergency situations without the need for time consuming “on the spot” training. Please call us if you have any questions relating to ICS training or our emergency engineering response services.
Chad Whitehead elected to the Northeastern Vermont Regional Corporation
posted on 12.19.11
Chad Whitehead, PE, office manager of Dufresne Group’s St Johnsbury Office was recently elected to the Northeastern Vermont Regional Corporation (NVRC), a public benefit corporation governing Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH). Corporators are nominated by the NVRH Board of Directors and elected by the Corporators and members of NVRH Medical Staff. Corporators participate in quarterly meetings to be informed about mission, services policies and programs of NVRH and serve as a link in communications between members of the community and the hospital. The business of NVRC is managed by the Board of Directors, which is taken from and elected by the Corporators at the Annual Meeting each December.
Dufresne Group opens new office in Manchester, VT
posted on 12.11.11
Dufresne Group is excited to announce our new office location in Manchester, VT. We are located in the Manchester Business Park on Route 7A, just north of the Manchester Town Office. Our new office will provide civil engineering services to municipal and private clients in Southern Vermont. The office manager is Christina Legge, PE, who has worked out of our main office in Windsor, VT since 2007. Please feel free to visit or call our new office to meet Christina and discuss your upcoming projects. Our phone number in Manchester is 802-768-8291. We look forward to meeting you and assisting you with all of your civil engineering needs!
Christina Legge Earns Professional Engineering License
posted on 05.27.11
Christina Legge, project engineer at Dufresne Group, was recently notified that she passed the Professional Engineering exam, which she had taken in April. Christina is now a licensed Professional Engineer in Vermont. Congratulations Chrissy!
FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR THE ST JOHNSBURY WESTSIDE PROJECT
posted on 05.13.11
The largest project that St. Johnsbury has undetaken, the Westside Infrastructure Improvement Project, broke ground last week. This marks the beginning of a two year project that will include the reconstruction of utilities, roadways, and sidewalks. Please check out www.dufresnegroup.com/stj for project updates, traffic conditions, and other project related matter.
Below is a picture of a portion of water main that was recently removed on Main Street. As shown, there is significant scale buildup on the inside of the pipe, which decreases fire flow availability in the Westside area. This project will not only replace these old mains, but improve available fire flow capacity.
randy goodwin makes the sweet stuff
posted on 04.28.11
In its second year of making maple syrup, Sweet View Maple operated by Randy, Sarah, Aaron and Logan Goodwin won the Best of Class award for their Dark Amber maple syrup entry at the World Maple Festival in St. Johnsbury, Vermont on April 16, 2011. 35 entries were submitted this year by sugar makers from all over New England and Canada and divided into the four grade classes of syrup; Fancy, Medium Amber, Dark Amber and Grade B. Each entry was judged by the Vermont Department of Agriculture for color, clarity, taste and density. Sweet View Maple had a very good season making 18-1/2 gallons of syrup from 85 taps.
DUFRESNE GROUP COMPLETES START UP FOR THREE BOOSTER PUMP STATIONS
posted on 02.01.11
Dufresne Group completed the construction and startup of three water booster pump station between the summer of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. Information on the pump stations are shown below:
Overcliff Pump Station (St. Johnsbury, Vermont) view photo
Constructed to boost pressure in the Overcliff zone to eliminate the need for customers to have individual booster pump systems. The package booster pump system includes two 3 hp pumps and two 7.5 hp higher service/fire pumps. This station has a standby generator within the building and has the capabilities to feed chlorine as needed.
Breezy Hill Pump Station (St. Johnsbury, Vermont) view photo
This project included the upgrade of the existing 40 hp horizontal split case pumps and MCC with new 75 hp horizontal split case pumps and new MCC with pump soft starts. The pumps were upgraded to accommodate pumping to the new Airport Tank that has an overflow elevation 37.12 feet higher than the old tank that it replaced. The project also included a new electrical service and new switchgear including a transfer switch for the new outside standby generator. There was also an addition built on the existing building to house the new chlorine feed equipment.
Commonwealth Dairy Pump Station (Brattleboro, Vermont) view photo
This pump station houses one 2 hp jockey pump, two 20 hp domestic booster pumps, and two 100 hp fire pumps to boost water from the Brattleboro Water System to the Commonwealth Dairy facility for fire protection and process operations. The pumps are controlled using variable frequency drives to prevent sudden starts or stops. This station has an exterior standby generator with automatic transfer switch and has the capabilities to feed chlorine as needed. The project also included the addition of SCADA equipment at this station to provide data from the pump station to be sent to a central location in Brattleboro.
DUFRESNE GROUP SELECTED FOR DARTMOUTH COLLEGE STORMWATER SYSTEM EVALUATION
posted on 12.21.10
Dufresne Group is proud to announce that they have been selected to complete an evaluation of the expansive storm drain system at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire to identify hydraulic, structural and water quality deficiences. The project includes the development of a computerized hydraulic modeling of the existing storm drain network, water quality sampling and analysis, closed-circuit television (TV) inspection of all mains, and the development of 5-year and 10-year improvement plans for the storm water system.
Dufresne Group will utilize the software program StormNET to develop the hydraulic model which will include the approximately 1,000 existing catch basins and drain manholes and all connecting storm drain pipes. The model will be used to evaluate pollutant levels, infiltration rates, and to evaluate various water quality and quantity controls as a means to alleviate system deficiencies. In addition, the computer hydraulic model can be used to estimate the effects of future campus development and system modifications and upgrades.
The water quality sampling will consist of collecting samples at 10 locations which will be analyzed for suspended solids, Escherichia coli, fecal coliform, total phosphorus, nitrate, conductivity and pH based on land uses and the receiving waters apparent quality and impairments. DG will record depths of flow in conjunction with water quality sampling for comparison with model predictions and assist with evaluating water quality impacts from the College on the receiving water bodies.
Dufresne Group is teaming with Comprehensive Environmental, Inc. (CEI) for the stormwater model development. CEI developed the New Hampshire Stormwater Management Manual and will provide valuable recommendations for best management practices that can be implemented on the college campus.
The television inspections are underway, being performed by Stearns Septic Service, Inc. utilizing a motorized robotic camera to document the internal characteristic of the storm drain mains and identify deficiencies. Below are three examples of deficiencies discovered during the TV inspections.
RED named Vermont State Director of New England Water Works
posted on 11.30.10
Robert E. Dufresne (RED) founded Dufresne Group in 1999 and currently employs 15 with three offices in Vermont. Dufresne Group provides engineering services to municipalities in northern New England. RED graduated from Norwich University in 1975 with a BS in civil engineering and obtained a Master’s of Science degree in civil and environmental engineering from University of Wisconsin in 1976. RED specializes in water works engineering and was the principal designer for over ten municipal water treatment facilities including Barre, VT and Montpelier, VT. RED is past president of the Vermont Section of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). RED is a lifetime member of New England Water Works and has served on the filtration committee and still serves on the scholarship committee. RED is married with two children and two grandchildren.
Elizabeth Emmons earns Masters Degree from Norwich University
posted on 07.02.10
Elizabeth Emmons graduated from Norwich University on June 11, 2010 with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering. She spent the past 18 months in the online program working on topics such as Water and Wastewater Treatment, Stormwater and Groundwater Hydrology, Geoenvironmental Engineering, GIS applications, and Project Management. In June, she traveled to Norwich University for a week long residency. There, she met fellow classmates, professors, and Norwich School of Graduate Studies staff. Elizabeth presented her capstone project to classmates and professors, along with participating in lectures and discussion groups. During the week, there was a hooding ceremony, where she received her Master’s hood and the award “Masters of Civil Engineers – Best 2010 Capstone Project and Presentation” for her Preliminary Engineering Report on the Combined Sewer System for the Town of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The week ended with a traditional graduation ceremony, which was attended by her husband, children, parents, brother and grandfather. Elizabeth now holds a Master’s of Civil Engineering degree with a concentration in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering!
Chad Whitehead attends PSMJ Project Management Boot Camp in San Antonio, Texas
posted on 03.23.10
Chad Whitehead traveled to San Antonio to attend a two day project management boot camp seminar with PSMJ Resources Inc. PSMJ is an organization dedicated to the professional development of A/E/C (Architect, Engineer and Construction) businesses and is supported by major professional societies, such as The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).
The project management boot camp in San Antonio was lead by instructor Alan F. Bollinger, P.E. who is currently vice president of CH2M-Hill. Chad participated with 25 other Engineers, Architects and Construction Management professionals from around the country in this interactive format to advance their project management skills. They covered topics such as:
- Development of a Project Management Plan
- Client Care
- Staffing Requirements
- Task Management
- Change and Risk Management
- Quality Control
While in San Antonio, Chad had to opportunity to visit the Alamo, also known as the Shrine of Texas Liberty, where, David Crockett, James Bowie and more than 180 other men, including Vermonter Miles DeForest Andross, died in 1836 while fighting for the freedom of Texas.
DUFRESNE GROUP PROVIDES FUNDING ASSISTANCE FOR $23,700,000 IN INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS IN SAINT JOHNSBURY
posted on 02.04.10
Working closely with officials from Rural Development and the State of Vermont Water Supply Division, Dufresne Group (DG) secured $23,700,000 in funding for substantial improvements to the roadway and utility systems in St. Johnsbury. In 2007, DG completed planning activities that identified required water system improvements. Various funding scenarios were evaluated to determine the best funding approach that provided the most value for St Johnsbury customers. After consideration of various funding alternatives, DG recommended working with Rural Development officials through their loan/grant program. A phased approach was identified based on Rural Development’s funding levels. Initially, a $5,600,000 water project at 60% grants was developed to replace many of St. Johnsbury’s aging painted steel water tanks. In addition booster pump stations were included to increase the pressure in low pressure areas and about 7,000 feet of source transmission main was refurbished using cleaning and cement lining techniques. Finally about two miles of water main was slip lined with polyethylene pipe for use as a force main to transport waste process water and alum residuals from the Water Treatment Facility to the wastewater collection system. This slip lined pipe allowed St. Johnsbury to eliminate use of their two high maintenance alum lagoons. A second local vote was held in March of 2009 for a $3,100,000 which leveraged 75% RD grant funds for about four thousand feet of water main improvements and replacement of the Airport Hill Water tank. This was the first project in Vermont using 75% grant funds under the RD American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In addition to water system needs, St Johnsbury requires significant wastewater collection system improvements to separate combined sewers and eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSO’s). Dufresne Group identified a substantial project area that required both water and sewer improvements and recommended an approach to complete water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer in the same area. Local officials also expressed their desire to complete sidewalk, curb and roadway reconstruction at the same time. Unfortunately this type of infrastructure improvement project is not readily funded by any agency. Funding sources that provide funds for water projects do not fund sewer projects. Agencies that provide grants and low interest loans for water, sewer, and storm water improvements do not normally fund street, sidewalk, or curb reconstruction. VTrans does not provide any funding for secondary street improvements. After researching alternative programs and evaluating potential grant percentages, it appeared that ARRA funding disbursed through the Water Supply Division and/or the Facilities Engineering Division would not provide sufficient funding to hold customer rates to acceptable levels. As such, Dufresne Group completed a State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) application which enlisted the support of Vermont’s senatorial and congressional offices and these officials, working with Mike Welch, St. Johnsbury’s Town Manager were successful in obtaining 70.2% grant funding for a $15,000,000 project to complete these improvements.
LEAD LIMITS OF ACT 193 RESULT IN UNEXPECTED COSTS FOR MUNICIPALITIES
posted on 02.04.10
Vermont’s Lead in Consumer Product’s Law (Act 193) contains limits on lead in plumbing fixtures under Statute 9 V.S.A § 2479h. The language of the statute is as follows:
“Beginning January 1, 2010, no person shall sell or offer for sale in or into the state of Vermont, or use in the state of Vermont, solder or flux for plumbing containing more than 0.2 percent lead, or plumbing fixtures whose wetted surfaces contain more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead.”
Perhaps the original intent of the law was to prohibit plumbers from installing internal plumbing components and fixtures that have more than 0.25% lead. In fact, the November 24, 2009 notice from the Attorney General’s office was mailed to only plumbers and plumbing supply houses. The letter sent with the notice stated in bold print “If you sell plumbing supplies, work as a plumber, need to install plumbing in your business, or plan or construct buildings in Vermont, please read this letter.” Noticeably absent was mention of municipal officials, contractors, or engineers.
But according to the Attorney General’s Guidance issued November 18, 2009, it is his opinion that the new law applies to all items used to convey or dispense water for drinking. Pipe, fittings, valves, corporations, and curb stops are included in a list of fixtures that are subject to the new statutory limit on lead. The Attorney General’s Office confirms that these municipal water transmission and distribution system components “do not fit within the statutory definition of plumbing fixtures” but in his opinion these items are subject to this new law. The AG’s Guidance states that the law draws no distinction between plumbing fixtures located inside and outside a home or other building, and he interprets that no distinction is intended. In contrast, the VT Plumbing Code defines a plumbing fixture as “A receptacle or device that is either permanently or temporarily connected to the water distribution system of the premises.” But under the statute, the term "plumbing fixtures" means pipe, fittings, and fixtures used to convey or dispense water for human consumption.
Water systems have long been required to comply with the Vermont Water Supply Rule and federal regulations as enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA limits the level of lead in drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Lead and Copper Rule. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, “lead free” means pipes and fittings that are less than 8% lead. The Lead and Copper Rule requires water systems to implement treatment to control corrosion of lead and copper containing plumbing materials based on sampling at the customer tap. It has generally been evident that in most water systems the major source of lead and copper was from the customer’s own plumbing fixtures and not from water distribution components.
Under this interpretation, as of January 1, 2010, a town water department replacing a curb stop can’t use a standard valve from their inventory but must now purchase a new low lead curb stop. Low lead curb stops and corporations are about 150% of the price of a normal curb stops and corporations which are still allowed for use in all states except Vermont and California. In fact, the brass parts inventory for most water systems becomes worthless under the Attorney General’s interpretation of this new law.
Construction contracts in progress must comply with the Attorney General’s interpretation of the new law and although conventional valves and brass could be used in 2009, these items are not allowed in 2010. This means change orders for water system construction projects and additional costs for communities.