Jan. 31, 2017: GMWEA - ANR Meetings Promote Connectivity, Synergy

GMWEA’s Government Affairs Committee held its second quarterly meeting with staff from Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources water quality divisions. 

Around 22 stakeholders attended the January 31, 2017 meeting, led by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Emily Boedecker. Included were staff from the DEC’s water, wastewater, stormwater, and wetlands divisions, and representatives from around the state – municipal Department of Public Works heads, along with water/wastewater utility operators, and others engaged in water quality management.

Discussion covered a lot of ground: Vermont Clean Water Act funding, the progress of the biosolids working group, the status of H-211, the NPDES permits recently appealed by Conservation Law Foundation, and the state’s thoughts on PFOAs in light of sampling results. Considering water, the group discussed H-219 -- a bill put forward to fund a study on microplastics in drinking water -- then considered a number of rule updates. Stormwater conversation focused on the three-acre permits, MS4 permits, and the Municipal Roads General Permit. 

These meetings make sure stakeholders hear each other’s concerns and share crucial information; they also serve as brainstorming sessions, in which good ideas surface and potential solutions to problems are aired. Finally, they foster a sense of community among people working across sectors in water-related fields.  Ultimately, the result will  be smarter water policy, and more collaborative, effective water quality policy implementation.

May 25, 2017: Spring Member Meeting & Technical Trainings

One of GMWEA's two major annual events, the Spring Member Meeting at Killington Grand Hotel was attended by approximately 170 members and vendors representing water quality products and services. The event included six technical trainings as well as a special, half-day, IACET-certified course on the growing importance of effective public relations for water quality municipal facilities. In addition to the trainings, the day also featured addresses by GMWEA president Rick Kenney and NEWEA executive director Ray Vermette; an excellent lunch; GMWEA's business/member meeting; GMWEA's annual awards ceremony; and a raffle.

During the GMWEA business meeting, attendees elected Steve Crosby for another term on the bosrd of directors, along with Michele Eisenstein, long-time GMWEA associate in many capacities, continuing education committee vice chair, and former board member. 


September 29, 2016: GMWEA Receives LCI's Lake Champlain Heritage Award

Lake Champlain International presented GMWEA with its prestigious Heritage Award at a ceremony on September 29.  The award, given annually, acknowledges GMWEA members' long service to water quality management that helps protect Vermont's precious water resources.  Below: Sen. Patrick Leahy presents the award to GMWEA board member Bob Fischer and GMWEA president Rick Kenney.  Thanks to Jack Rowell for the photo!

Nov. 9, 2018: Over 400 Attend GMWEA's Fall Trade Show and Technical Training!

On November 9, hundreds of water/wastewater/stormwater operators, water quality technology and service providers, and DPW administrators from throughout New England converged on Burlington's Sheraton Conference Center for GMWEA's largest annual event. The day-long conference featured 100 displays by vendors, six technical training sessions, a delicious lunch, and GMWEA's traditional raffle. 

GMWEA president Rick Kenney kicked off the lunchtime program with thanks to the attendees and an invitation to take an active role in the association. The association's executive director, Daniel Hecht, spoke about the challenges facing water quality professionals in times of changing budgets, technologies, and weather patterns, and echoed Rick Kenney in urging attendees to make use of GMWEA's collective expertise and support. NEWEA vice president Ray Vermette and NEWWA president Chris Hodgson provided news of their organizations' activities.

Many thanks are due to all who attended, our exhibitors, our intrepid photographer Charlie Taylor (see photos below), GMWEA assistant/VLCT liaison Lisa Goodell, and event sponsors Hoyle, Tanner & Associates. 

​​May 16, 2017: New Stormwater Manual Training

In partnership with Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, GMWEA presented a training focused on the new Stormwater Manual.  The half-day course, attended by thirty operators, engineers, systems, designers, and facilitated by four members of Vt. DEC's Stormwater Unit, was held at Rutland Free Library. The event was one of several presented by the Vt. DEC throughout Vermont; additional trainings may be offered later in 2017 if demand warrants.

The training event provided an overview of the new Manual. Topics included applying the updated stormwater treatment standards under the new runoff-reduction approach and prioritized Water Quality Practice Selection framework; a review of the stormwater treatment design requirements, including changes to certain practices; and consideration of new application materials, supporting guidance, and application preparation tools, including design examples.  For more information about the new Manual, visit: ​
http://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/stormwater/manual_update.

January 19, 2017: GMWEA Holds Legislators Meet & Greet at Statehouse

GMWEA board and staff members, along with representatives from NEWEA, VRWA, and other allies convened at the Statehouse cafeteria to greet legislators as they start the new session.  We handed out brochures, grabbed elbows and schmoozed, and provided lawmakers with a water quality acronym sheet -- which received a lot of appreciation.  The annual event is intended to remind lawmakers of the important role of water quality in Vermont's way of life, and to show them the faces of the real people who protect Vermont's health and natural waters.  Legislators responded enthusiastically.  We were fortunate to receive a visit from Vermont's lone, hard-working representative in Washington, Peter Welch!

March 29, 2017: GMWEA Hosts Annual Legislative Luncheon

After joining other water-quality organizations for Clean Water Day activities at the Statehouse, GMWEA board members and staff hosted GMWEA's annual Legislative Luncheon at the Capitol Plaza Hotel for lunch and conversation.  Approximately 30 water quality facility operators, representatives of New England regional water quality organizations, Vermont DEC staff, and legislators attended.  Participants enjoyed a delicious lunch and informal discussion of water quality policies being discussed at the Statehouse as well as long-term water-related issues at the state and national level.  

Among the topics discussed were the recent Clean Water Report and proposed water quality improvements funding and H.211, particularly concerns over land application of biosolids.  GMWEA greatly appreciates the legislators who attended this event for their interest in Vermont's water quality and their attention to the complex and highly-technical implications of policies under consideration!  Thanks are also due to GMWEA members who attended to share their perspectives.  

GMWEA News Archive

November 10: 2016 Fall Meeting/Conference & Trade Show Attended by 500!

GMWEA's annual meeting drew over 300 water quality professionals and 200 exhibitors to the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in Burlington. Attendees participated in nine technical sessions, toured 85 exhibits of water quality technology and service firms, enjoyed a catered lunch, had fun, and voted on GMWEA By Laws amendments.   

Technical sessions included: Electrical Safe Work Practices; Overflow Prevention & Maintenance - A New & Inexpensive Techonlogy & Approach; How Low is Low Enough (PFOAs)?; Water & Wastewater Sampling from the  Laboratory Perspective; Meeting an Effluent Total Phosphorus of .01 mg/l -- Pilot Study Results; Ethics in Water & Wastewater
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May 19, 2017: Water Quality Day Observed Statewide

GMWEA initiated Water Quality Day in 2014 to remind Vermont citizens and policymakers of the crucial role water, waste water, and stormwater management plays in Vermont's way of life -- and to honor the boots-on-the-ground professionals who make the miracle happen 24/7/365.  Proclaimed originally by Gov. Peter Shumlin, proclaimed in 2017 by Gov. Phil Scott, this annual event offers Vermonters opportunities to learn more about the people, the science, and the high-tech equipment that "provide our first and most critical protections against pollution" and bring drinking water to our faucets.  

This year, approximately 180 visitors took tours of nine water, wastewater, and stormwater facilities.


Special thanks are in order to the staff of facilities that held open houses this year: Middlebury WWTF, Rutland WWTF and Rutland Water Filtration Plant, Montpelier WRRF, Milton WWTF, Champlain Water District, South Burlington Stormwater Facility, South Burlington WRRF, and Hinesburg Water Treatment Facility!

March 24, 2018: GMWEA Awards Scholarships at 2018 Vermont STEM Fair


On Saturday, March 24, GMWEA sent a panel of seven special judges to the annual Vermont Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fair.  Our goal was to seek out the best student research projects of the year and encourage K-12 inquiry into water quality science by giving scholarship awards to the most promising investigators.

Hosted each year by Norwich University, the show features exhibits by about 200 middle school and high school students from throughout the state, all of them winners of their schools’ science (and tech, engineering, and math) project competitions. 

Our awards were based on the relevance of the subject matter to water quality, the merit of research, quality of exhibit, and enthusiasm for and commitment to the field.  Congratulations to our winners and to the teachers who worked with them to produce such excellent projects and results!
 

Sunthoshini Premsankar impressed us with “Neutralization of Pharmaceutical Pollution in Lake Champlain.”  She tackled this difficult issue with an experiment on the effect of acetaminophen on duckweed, testing alternate absorbents and measuring results with chromatography. Sunthoshini, a 9th-grader at Champlain Valley Union H.S., received our $150 scholarship prize.


Christina Gregory, also won a $150 scholarship prize for “Pond Regulation.”  This  complex project dealt with the integrity of a local pond not only in terms of ecosystemic viability, but in terms of the regulatory environment that does, or should, control human impacts on our surface waters.  Christina is in 11th grade at Windsor schools.

James Stephens, a 10th grader at Northfield High School, won a $100 scholarship for “The Efficacy of Different Water Purification Methods.”  James investigated the relative merits of ceramic filters, carbon filters, boiling, and distillation, focusing on conductivity, pH, and turbidity, and presented persuasive research methodology and a fine display.

Brooke Rouse looked for a different approach to water filtration: She compared coagulants derived from (plant-derived) moringa oleifera seed and aluminum sulfate in their ability to affect water’s turbidity and pH. Brooke, in 7th grade at Milton Middle School and a student of Rob Decicco, won a $50 prize.


Philip Skidd’s exhibit “Don’t Get Clammy Over River Pollution,” also won a $50 prize. His research explored the potential for freshwater clams to absorb nitrates, ammonia, and phosphate, thereby reducing saturation levels in natural waters.  Philip is in 7th grade at Mater Christi School in Burlington.

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Nov. 8, 2018: No Brew, No Water Event Brings Together Young Water Quality Professionals

On November 8, GMWEA hosted a variant of last year's successful Vermont Poo & Brew, co-sponsored by NEWEA and NEWWA and modeled after NEWEA's highly-popular 2015 Poo & Brew. While previous events featured tours of wastewater facilities, this one brought a capacity group of 40 young professionals to Champlain Water District's Water Treatment Facility for a glimpse of the drinking water side of the field. Participants then went to Switchback Brewery, one of Vermont's premier artisinal beer-makers, for a tour of their plant and samples of their brews.

The yearly event -- whether focused on water or poo -- is intended to encourage young professionals in the field to meet, network, learn about each other's technologies and processes, and -- importantly -- have fun as they do their part to "support the Vermont microbrew industry." Be sure to check these pages in the coming months for information about the 2018 event!

November 9, 2016: GMWEA and NEWEA Host Vermont's First-Ever Poo & Brew

Thirty-eight operators, water quality industry representatives, and state and city officials from Vermont and throughout New England convened in South Burlington to learn more about two very different technology "infrastructures."  The event brings together young professionals to network, learn more about each other's facilities, and have a good time. The event began with a tour of South Burlington's Class 5 WRRF, led by water quality supervisor and GMWEA board member Bob Fischer; participants then went to Queen City Brewery, where they sampled a range of Queen City's brews.  Paul Hale, managing partner of Queen City, explained the processes of brewing and showed off the high-tech, which some participants noted was a bit shinier than some of Bob Fischer's at SBWRRF.  Thanks to GMWEA board member Chris Cox of Montpelier WRRF for organizing the event.

August 20, 2017: GMWEA Co-sponsors Clean Water Week

Governor Phil Scott has proclaimed August 20 – 26 as Clean Water Week -- a time to celebrate Vermont’s natural waters and the businesses, organizations, and communities working to protect them. GMWEA and dozens of other Vermont organizations will be offering educational (and fun) experiences throughout the state. Learn more at: dec.vermont.gov/watershed/cwi/clean-water-week

GMWEA is helping to coordinate several open houses at water, wastewater, and stormwater facilities. Tours are free, fun, and a great way to learn more about the importance of water quality management to Vermont’s natural waters and way of life.

GMWEA Provides Advisory on the Clean Water Report of January 15, 2017

The Clean Water Report, published by Vermont's Office of the Treasurer, elicited concern from many GMWEA members and their municipalities.  In a letter to Representative David Deen, chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, GMWEA -- in consultation with many allied organizations, individual members, and municipalities -- made the following primary comments:

  • ​The projected cost of compliance with the Clean Water agenda -- $2.3 billion over 20 years -- is under-estimated and leaves too large a gap between costs and revenues, especially since it does not consider the added operations and maintenance cost of new infrastructure.  The State should conduct a more comprehensive cost analysis.
  • Costs for mandated compliance obligations should not be imposed on individual municipalities but should be shared, with the State providing 80% and municipalities contributing 20%;
  • Vermont cities and towns face a wide range of environmental and economic conditions, and the models for fee-based funding need to be flexible to accommodate such variations;
  • The administrative cost of creating local stormwater utilities may be excessive for smaller communities, and the State should take steps to minimize expenses associated with administration; monies saved in administration costs should be invested in initiatives that materially contribute to water quality improvement.