Water Utility Performs Comprehensive Performance Evaluation

Following the Public Notification of November 2013 informing customers that the City of New Brunswick Water Utility did not meet certain treatment and monitoring requirements, a Comprehensive Performance Evaluation (CPE) was performed at the City’s water treatment plant. In addition, the City is currently performing a Comprehensive Technical Assistance (CTA).

The purpose of the CPE and CTA is to identify performance limiting factors and to develop strategies to optimize overall water treatment plant operation, treatment, and procedures to assist the City in producing drinking water that surpasses current state and federal standards. It should be noted at the outset that the City’s water is in compliance with all state and federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulations.

The combination of the CPE and CTA formalize an evaluation and corrective action approach defined as the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Composite Correction Program (CCP). The approach is based on establishing effective use of the available water treatment technologies against passage of particles to finished water. A CPE is a thorough review and analysis of a water treatment plant’s performance-based capabilities and associated administrative, operation, and maintenance practices. A CTA is a performance improvement phase that is implemented if the CPE results indicate improved performance potential. During the CTA phase, identified water treatment plant-specific performance limiting factors are systematically addressed and eliminated.

The City selected Process Applications Inc. (PAI) to complete the CPE. PAI helped to author the USEPA handbook and develop the protocol for CCPs.

Representatives of PAI conducted the CPE at the City’s water treatment plant from August 27 through 30, 2013. The CPE assessed over fifty (50) potential factors and their impact on the water treatment plant. The CPE found eight of these to be factors limiting performance. Three were defined as “A” factors (having a major effect on a long term repetitive basis) and five were defined as “B” factors (having a moderate effect on a routine basis, or a major effect on a periodic basis).

These performance limiting factors included recommendations for improved continuous monitoring equipment, data integrity, and data performance; an increase in the number of personnel and/or overtime to improve maintenance response time; better supervision, communications and training and development opportunities for staff; development of improved operating guidelines; more consistent preventative maintenance programming; and better locations for performing representative sampling.

These factors have either already been improved or are currently being addressed by the City.

To perform the CTA referred to earlier, the City retained the services of Howard J. Woods Jr., L.L.C.  Mr. Woods has over 36 years’ experience in water and wastewater utility engineering and operations. In his career he has worked for the USEPA, engineering consultants and in numerous senior engineering and operational roles at a large investor-owned utility. His experience is well rounded and he is a nationally recognized drinking water expert.

To date, through its own capital improvement program and the CTA process, the City has corrected several of the performance limiting factors identified in the CPE. These include: 1) replacement of outdated and inadequate continuous monitoring equipment; 2) hiring of additional licensed water treatment and maintenance personnel including a new Water Treatment Plant Superintendent & Licensed Treatment Operator; 3) installation of a streaming current meter for enhanced control of coagulation and sedimentation processes; 4) installation of new equipment for calibration of coagulant chemical feed pumps; 5) replacement of internal coating on each membrane cell; 6) installation of an additional chlorine residual analyzer to provide a more representative sample of water quality after all processes are completed; 7) conducting a voluntary Public Employee Occupational Safety & Health Administration (PEOSH) audit of water treatment plant safety programs and work procedures; and 8) pinning and replacing membrane filtration modules.

The CTA process is expected to last through April 2014 during which time the remaining performance limiting factors will be addressed.

The City of New Brunswick Water Utility has a long and proud history of providing drinking water to its residents and the surrounding community since it its water system was first developed in 1867.

The utility has an approximate annual operating budget of $10 million and an average annual capital improvement budget of $2 million. Capital projects scheduled for 2014 include an emergency generator for the Delaware & Raritan Raw Water Pumping Station; an additional emergency generator for the water treatment plant; an upgrade of the SCADA system; the addition of a redundant chlorine chemical feed system; rehabilitation of the gravity filters; additional replacements for the membrane modules; and raw water pump station upgrades.

The water treatment plant on average provides 13 million gallons daily to New Brunswick, Milltown, and Franklin Township, Somerset County. The City of New Brunswick remains committed to providing safe drinking water to its customers and continually improving its operation.

We welcome your thoughts and comments. Please contact Frank J. Marascia, the Director of the City’s Water Utility, at 732-745-5243, or at fmarascia@cityofnewbrunswick.org.

Click on the documents below to review the complete CPE and CTA Progress reports. Please note that certain information has been redacted for Homeland Security purposes.

CPE Redacted
CTA Report 1 December 2013 Redacted
CTA Report 2 January 2014
CTA Report 3 February 2014

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