Water Online

January 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

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By Rina N. Dalal H ow does a small coastal utility deal with recurrent service outages and the expense of repeatedly rehabilitating storm-damaged infrastructure? The South Monmouth Regional Sewerage Authority (SMRSA) has developed a program that serves as a model for other utilities seeking to reduce the impacts of climate challenges. SMRSA serves 60,000 people across eight coastal New Jersey communities including Belmar, Brielle, Lake Como, Manasquan, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Sea Girt, and a portion of Wall Township. Founded in 1970, SMRSA's sewerage collection and conveyance system consists of a 9.1 MGD wastewater treatment plant, 11 pumping stations, and 11.8 miles (18.9 km) of force main. Treated wastewater effluent is conveyed to the Atlantic Ocean. The extreme wet weather events that plague the region bring flooding and storm surges to SMRSA's sewer service area. Superstorm Sandy, which was one of the worst storms to impact the area, rendered 10 out of 11 pump stations inoperable and cost the authority $10.5 million in damages. Two shoreline pump stations received severe structural damage when a 13-foot storm surge brought 7 feet of saltwater and several tons of sand onto the pump station sites. The authority found itself in a cyclical pattern of destruction followed by rehabilitation of its critical infrastructure in the aftermath of severe storms. In some cases, the authority would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace an asset after a storm, only to have it destroyed shortly thereafter. SMRSA recognized that it was necessary to include climate challenges in long-term planning goals. To meet these objectives, SMRSA has begun to execute a Climate Change Readiness Program for its sewer service area. The goal of the program is to incorporate greater resiliency into the authority's infrastructure so that it is prepared for the impacts of a rising sea level, storm surges, and frequent and intense rain events. In addition, the authority seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its facilities and achieve independence from utility power so that they may provide uninterrupted service during a power outage. First Mitigate The U.S. EPA defines climate change mitigation as "human intervention to reduce the human impact of the climate system." Mitigation strategies include reducing greenhouse gas sources and emissions, which contribute to climate change. To mitigate effectively and meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, SMRSA identified energy conservation and renewable energy generation opportunities within its facilities. A utility-wide energy audit was conducted to determine the authority's energy usage. The audit revealed that in addition to some low-hanging fruit options for energy conservation within the treatment plant, the implementation of a cogeneration system would yield the most energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits. In 2010, the authority constructed a combined heat and power (CHP) cogeneration facility. The cogeneration system is a renewable energy generation system where greenhouse gas emission reduction is achieved. Methane gas produced by the anaerobic digestion of the plant's residual sludge is utilized to fuel two on-site internal combustion engines that generate approximately 50 percent of the wastewater treatment plant's 14 wateronline.com n Water Innovations A Small Utility's Path To Climate Change Readiness The goal of the program is to incorporate greater resiliency into the authority's infrastructure so that it is prepared for the impacts of a rising sea level, storm surges, and frequent and intense rain events. From the lessons of Superstorm Sandy, a road map to resiliency for small, at-risk utilities emerges.

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