By Cheryl Green, PE, CSI  |   May 31st, 2016
On June 1, 2016 Ohio EPA rules codified in Chapter 3745-90 of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) will become effective, requiring monitoring and reporting of cyanobacteria and microcystins for all public water supply water treatment plants which utilize one or more surface water sources.  The rules establish additional requirements in the event microcystin is detected during the routine monitoring events:
  • Rule OAC 3745-90-05 requires that a Treatment Optimization Protocol be submitted to the Director of Ohio EPA within 30 days after a detection of microcystin in any sample collected from the raw water or the finished water sampling points.
  • The rule further requires that a Cyanotoxin General Plan for short and long-term actions to prevent exceedances of microcystin action levels be submitted to Ohio EPA within 120 days, if microcystin concentration exceed 1.6 ug/l more than once in the raw water within a 12-month period, or if microcystins are detected once in the finished water or distribution system.  
  • Both of these plans are required for any public water supply systems that have reported microcystin detections after July 16, 2016.
If at any point in time your water plant has experienced algal blooms in the source water, even if microcystins have not been detected, a proactive approach of developing a Treatment Optimization Protocol is strongly recommended to be prepared to meet obligations under the new rule.  Ohio EPA has now issued draft guidance on the Treatment Optimization Protocol, enabling you to start your plan as soon as possible.
The Treatment Optimization Protocol must include treatment adjustments that will be made under various raw and finished water conditions. In developing the protocol, the public water system must review and optimize existing treatment for microcystins and other cyanotoxins, considering effective treatment strategies such as avoiding lysing cyanobacterial cells; optimizing removal of intact cells; optimizing barriers for extracellular cyanotoxin removal or destruction; optimizing sludge removal; and, discontinuing or minimizing backwash recycling.   
The Cyanotoxin General Plan requires both short-term and long-term actions to prevent exceedances of microcystin action levels in finished water.  The plan may include treatment options as described above, as well as source strategies, if available, such as avoidance strategies (alternate intake, alternate source, temporarily suspending pumping); reservoir management/treatment; and/or nutrient management.
The options considered must include those strategies that are available to a public water system as part of their current processes. Treatment additions that can be implemented immediately and may not require significant investment (for instance, powdered activated carbon (PAC) feed system) can be considered but must have Ohio EPA approval before installation.  Therefore, understanding both the short-term and long-term costs of each option is important, and critical to development of an effective plan.
The development of a related public notification protocol and procedures for communication with the regulatory agencies is also encouraged.  A well-established communication protocol is imperative to ensure that, in the case of an exceedance, the public is well informed and understands the ramifications of the situation, while maintaining continued confidence in their public water supply.
Hull has a trained team of engineers, scientists, risk assessors and public outreach professionals that can assist you with developing a Treatment Optimization Protocol and a cost-effective Cyanotoxin General Plan in advance of the regulatory deadlines stated in the rule. 
Cheryl Green, PE, CSI, Senior Project Manager
Cheryl has over 35 years of experience in civil and environmental engineering for public and private sector clients. Her environmental experience includes planning, design, and permitting of municipal sanitary sewers and wastewater treatment systems; collection and treatment facilities for industrial process wastewater and contaminated storm water; and various environmental facilities. Cheryl has designed many pumping and pressurized piping systems throughout her career, including sanitary lift stations and forcemains. Her civil site engineering experience includes industrial plant facilities design such as fire protection storage tanks and pumping systems, plant rail spurs, roadways and truck docks.
She holds a Bachelor in Civil Engineering from Ohio Northern University.
By William Rish, PhD  |   March 22nd, 2016
Issues associated with environmental risk are being used to support polarized views, sometimes masking more relevant issues that need resolution. At the heart of the disparity is that technical assessments of risks are often very different from the public perceptions of those same risks.  This public perception of a risk is often what advocacy groups will utilize to support their agenda.  This keeps the discussion emotionally charged and one that will not be swayed by technical reports and empirical data. 
Now, I want to be very clear about something.  The emotional reaction to risk is real and has to be responded to.  We do not, nor have we ever advocated the dismissal of public perception when we undertake an environmental risk project.  We are in the business of measuring and reporting and most importantly - communicating.  Our metrics, numbers and results are useless if we cannot communicate them in a manner specifically tailored to the needs of those impacted. It is important to remember that risk is defined by many people as when there is a perception that harm may come to something they value.    
There is a growing body of study on risk communication, perception and acceptance. Universities now have programs that specialize in the field.  Unfortunately, while our knowledge of risk communication grows we are still ineffective in practice.  “Facts” can be helpless in the face of perceptions.
Risk communication must be based on understanding the different “languages” spoken.  Translation must occur between those involved in their psychologically and socially grounded perception and the science of risk measurement and analysis. This translation can result in a more effective and interactive approach that is based on DIALOGUE.  Only then can exceptional listening, mutual respect and conversation replace the typical dynamic of “lecturing” about technical risks.  Improved risk communication practices can help ease anxiety, build trust and support informed decision making.
We must move away from the typical risk communication model characterized by the scientific expert presenting “facts” to "educate” community members.  This method has failed time after time and always results in frustration.  Better risk communication is critically needed and we know the way. 
William Rish, PhD, HullRAC Director
William (Bill) is a Principal and the Vice President of Hull's Environmental Market at Hull.  He also directs The HULL Risk Analysis Center (HullRAC) and has over 30 years of experience in risk assessment, decision analysis, and environmental consulting. 
Bill has been on the forefront of environmental liability evaluation, including the development of probabilistic techniques for quantifying environmental liability associated with contaminated sites in financial terms, and is published expert and expert witness in risk assessment and uncertainty analysis.
Bill received a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie‑Mellon University.
By April Kozubal, SHRM-SCP  |   March 4th, 2016
Employee appreciation day is today - but if you really think about it, every day provides us opportunities to appreciate each other.
There are no shortage of sacrifices made by our employees on any given day.  
The coworker who gets called out to an emergency response site to help you on their day off;
The employee who works late into the evening for days on end to submit a proposal or meet a client deadline;
The project manager who takes on extra work so a peer can take some well-deserved time off and;
The staff members that hit the road on a regular basis working to create opportunities for our business.
What about the few individuals that take the time to load and unload the dishwasher, decorate spaces for the Holidays and organize casual events that boost morale?  Pay just a small amount of attention and you will see those around you making extra effort. Whom they benefit is secondary to the effort itself.  In truth, you can even be thankful for a piece of constructive criticism that will contribute to your professional or personal growth.  
So, what do we do to show our appreciation in a way that contributes to our corporate culture?  Liz Jazwiec, author of Eat That Cookie!: Make Workplace Positivity Pay Off … For Individuals, Teams and Organizations has outlined some ways to encourage appreciation.
  • Say “thanks”. Show your appreciation on the most basic level at every opportunity. 
  • Adopt an “it’s the thought that counts” attitude. It’s possible that something very well intended didn’t work out.  Be grateful just the same.
  • Communicate openly and honestly. If you find yourself needing to feel appreciated a bit more…say so.
  • Be prepared for kind words. Accept recognition graciously. 
  • Thank those you serve.  Clients put their trust in us…thank them for doing so.
Gratitude encourages repeat performances and it can takes very little effort.  The most amazing thing we need to recognize is that infusing gratitude into the workplace can come from anyone, regardless of position. Once people feel truly appreciated, it spills over into their work life and their home life.  You may notice that smiles come more easily, extra effort is offered with more frequency, and quality of work increases.  To be appreciated is to be visible, integral and recognized.
We are committed to working together to grow a culture of appreciation…are you?
April Kozubal, SHRM-SCP, Human Resources Director
April Kozubal is an HR leader with 20 years of experience.  
She is a Senior Certified Professional with the Society of Human Resources Management
and loves to get to know people and learn what inspires them.  
By Phil Hicks, PE  |   February 12th, 2016
Industrial residuals can be complicated and expensive to clean up…especially when located in an environmentally sensitive area.
An implementation of a remedial action at a Superfund site involving potentially contaminated residuals within a wetland provided us an opportunity.  We challenged ourselves to find a better, faster and more cost effective way to achieve an appropriate cleanup.
Ahead of us were clearly defined remedial action objectives:
  • Reduce concentrations of contaminants in sediments to levels that protect the ecology.
  • Prevent continued migration of contaminants.
  • Prevent exposure of ecological systems to contaminants present in the sediments.
  • Reduce contaminant levels in fish tissues to acceptable levels. 
Conventional remediation methods would have required excavation and relocation of the lower portions of the wetland and disposal of the contaminated sediment within the upper portion of the wetland. Then a multimedia cap would be installed over the contaminated sediments in the upper portion of the wetland and a surface water diversion channel would be constructed to divert surface water around the wetland. Finally, sheet piling was to be installed to divide the wetland into cells. This originally proposed remedial action would have cost approximately $40M.
Working within guidance we proposed an alternative cleanup method that would still meet all the defined remedial action objectives, but would save time, money and reduce the impact to those areas adjacent to the residual zone. This newly proposed remedy involved in-situ capping of the contaminated sediments within upstream portion of the wetland, and the development and implementation of a monitoring and assessment program for the evaluation of the rate of recovery of downstream wetland areas as a result of the implementation of this in-situ cap. 
The engineered cap was created by using AquaBlok ® to minimize contact between the biota and the contaminated sediments. The AquaBlok® 3070FW was selected to create the cap itself.  With a nominal pre-hydrated thickness of 6.5 inches and covered with a soil layer with a nominal thickness of 2 inches it created a sequestration cap that dramatically reduced the potential for long-term diffusion of contaminants into pore water and overlying surface waters.
This innovative remedial plan using the in-situ AquaBlok® cap cost approximately $8M. Not only did this solution save over $30M; it eliminated the destruction of over 30 acres of wetland and the removal of dense hardwood tress adjacent to the wetland stretching over a half mile in length.  
 You can read the full project description HERE.
Phil Hicks, PE, Project Engineer
Phil Hicks provides engineering support for a range of projects across the company. With more than 8 years of experience, Phil assists with dredged material management planning, including evaluating the feasibility, environmental/ecological impacts, and conceptual cost estimates associated with potential sediment placement sites for the dredged material of federal channels.  He also assists with landfill regulatory compliance and preparation of associated reports and plans.  Prior to working for Hull, Phil worked in the construction and mining industry where he was responsible for quality assurance of construction activities and compliance/permitting in the mining process.
Phil holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Toledo.
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