Here in Southern California, masking indoors is back as concerns over coronavirus variants are on the rise. And, as I sat down to write this month’s column, I was simultaneously rescheduling a children’s birthday party that was derailed due to a local outbreak of the virus. For a while it seemed like we would be moving on from the pandemic sooner than later. Today, that finish line seems just as far away as it was at this same time last year.
I was hoping to be able to tell you that in-person events were back and better than ever. However, it seems a resurgence in COVID-19 cases nationwide has put a damper on our plans once again. Still, I am hopeful that with the Pfizer vaccine’s FDA approval, more people will continue to get vaccinated and get the illness under control, so that we can get back to our pre-pandemic lives soon.
This month, our annual WEFTEC show preview highlights a few of the changes being made to keep the world’s most comprehensive gathering of water quality professionals and thought leaders safe when the in-person programming returns to Chicago — namely, proof of vaccination or coronavirus testing requirements for all attendees, and a mask mandate for all indoor events. A virtual component is also being offered this year, to allow those who are unable to travel at this time to experience the event’s offerings. On page 15, we round up a few of the highlights to expect should you attend the event in-person, as well as products and services available in the event’s exhibit hall.
For this month’s lead feature, I looked at new strategies for wastewater treatment that aim to eliminate waste from the process. Energy, fertilizer, and clean water are all valuable resources that can be generated from traditional wastewater treatment. Today, researchers are finding alternative ways of generating valuable wastewater treatment byproducts and finding new materials in the process, meaning what can be considered “waste” may just be a matter of perspective. Read more on page 8.
In more news of how the pandemic has changed our industry, the Water and Wastewater Division of Haverhill, Mass., was able to limit plant downtime and avoid staffing issues with remote monitoring and digital access tools —something the utility has been doing for 13 years. Thanks to these tools, instead of closing down operations, the plant was able to operate remotely to ensure that the city’s water system could supply uninterrupted water services to 58,000 homes and businesses in the Haverhill area.
“Remote operations are a critical component of successful, long-term asset and process management as industrial organizations seek to empower today’s workforce. The water and wastewater industry can leverage software to ensure plant systems stay up and running despite global pandemics, unpredictable weather, and unforeseen circumstances,” author Ranbir Saini writes on page 38.
On Page 52, read about how the City of Pendleton, Ore., Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility was able to get accurate and reliable reads on their flow rate by installing new flowmeters designed to accommodate the facility’s tight spaces. “Consistent and reliable measurement is essential to the entire process,” author Adam Booth writes. “With reliable measurement, technicians can better control the process, make better decisions, implement predictive maintenance, and save both money and energy.”
As the state of the world continues to change, I hope that this issue finds you well. No matter what you’ve got planned, here’s to staying safe and healthy in the coming months. Thanks for reading! WW