Archive by Author

SWSC’s Christina Jones Receives Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award

Deputy Director of Water Operations Christina Jones

Christina Jones, Deputy Director of Water Operations at the Commission, has been recognized by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst College of Engineering for her outstanding professional and personal achievements as a recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

This recognition is well deserved and further highlights the dedication, leadership, and innovation Christina brings to the Commission, and the water industry. As Deputy Director of Water Operations Christina plays a critical role in managing the treatment and reliable delivery of drinking water to homes and business throughout the region. She has also been integral in the planning and design of upgrades at the West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant, which will modernize the aging water treatment system (originally built in 1909) and maintain service reliability for the 21st century.  Importantly, Christina has managed organizational changes in water operations necessary to keep staff safe while delivering potable water during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Commission congratulates Christina on receiving this award and for being recognized for her accomplishments in the field of engineering and in the water industry,” said Executive Director Joshua Schimmel. “Christina has been an invaluable addition to the Drinking Water Operations team. This is a crucial time in the water industry with a shortage of licensed and qualified personnel. The Commission has been proactive in addressing this concern by establishing outreach and training programs to build the water workforce of the future. Fostering the career growth of industry professionals like Christina is essential in safeguarding drinking water treatment and service reliability for the next generation.”

 

To learn more about Christina’s work at the Commission and her award, click here.

SWSC Awarded Competitive SRF Financing

The Commission is pleased to announce that it was awarded a $15 million low-cost competitive loan for a critical drinking water infrastructure project at the West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program.

The existing backwash pumps from 1974 power the filter cleaning process at the water treatment plant. Parts and service are no longer available for the pumps.

The  loan will help finance the clearwell and backwash pump station replacement project. Both the clearwell and backwash pump systems are essential for the continuous treatment and distribution of clean drinking water to the 250,000 customers the Commission serves each day in the lower Pioneer Valley.

As the Commission’s only source of revenue is from the water sold to ratepayers,securing low-cost financing from the DWSRF is part of an aggressive, multifaceted strategy to meet infrastructure investment needs and maintain customer affordability. The replacement project is part of a larger Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which aims to prioritize necessary infrastructure improvements for the aging water system, some of which dates to the early 1900s. The Commission has aggressively pursued multiple alternative funding and financing sources for projects in the CIP, including loans from the DWSRF, to reduce long-term costs and provide the best value for customers.

Read more about the project and award here.

FY21 Budget and Rates Adopted

On June 17, 2020,  the Commission voted to adopt FY21 budget and rates.

Press Release June 18, 2020:  Commission Adopts FY Budget and Rates

The proposed FY21 budget was initially issued on May 1, 2020. The proposed budget and rates were then revised on June 1, 2020. Materials related to the now adopted FY21 budget, including the capital improvement program, the operations & maintenance budget, and revisions to the Rules and Regulations, including the schedule of charges, fees, and rates, are available here.

Press Release May 1, 2020:  SWSC Issues Proposed FY21 Budget

Press Release May 15, 2020:  SWSC Commissioners Request Revised FY21 Budget

Press Release June 1, 2020:  SWSC Adjusts Proposed FY21 Rates

FY21 Budget Public Hearing – Slides for Download

Recording of the FY21 Budget Public Hearing – June 2, 2020

Questions and Comments
Customers or members of the public with questions about the FY21 budget may contact the Commission via email at info@waterandsewer.org, or by calling 413-452-1302.

 

Advisory on Flushing Programs for Institutional, Commercial Customers

Important Flushing Advisory for Re-Opening

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission delivers treated drinking water through its distribution system in Springfield and Ludlow. Building owners are responsible for maintaining water quality once water has passed into a building from the water main into the street.

Standing or stagnant water due to building closures increase the potential for the leaching of lead and copper into drinking water, and and the spread of Legionella pneumophila, which causes Legionnaire’s disease, a serious respiratory illness. As the state moves through its reopening phases, the Commission is advising its institutional and commercial customers of proactive measures that should be taken prior to reopening to ensure the safety of building occupants.

Flushing a building’s plumbing and its various water-using fixtures and appliances (such as ice machines, hot tubs, hot water heaters, sprinklers, eye-wash stations, etc.) is an effective way to improve water quality within a building’s plumbing. Proper personal protective equipment should be worn while flushing to prevent the inhalation of Legionella pneumophila.  There are many other details involved in properly flushing a building’s plumbing, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other government agencies have provided resources for building owners to assist in their flushing plans:

Fact Sheet on Flushing (MassDEP)

Detailed Instructions on Building Flushing (MassDEP)

Lead and Copper Best Practices (MassDEP)

Water Management Program Toolkit to Reduce Legionella (CDC)

Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings With Low or No Use (EPA)

Restoring Water Quality for Building Reopening Checklist (EPA)

SWSC’s Water Treatment Plant Featured on Connecting Point

WGBY’s Connecting Point recently visited our West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant in Westfield to learn how drinking water is treated. The past, present, and future of drinking water treatment is all visible at West Parish Filters, which was originally constructed in 1909 and received its last significant modernization in 1974. WGBY’s Brian Sullivan also got to take a look at the new “pilot plant,” which is testing out new treatment processes to be constructed at the plant in the near future. The piece highlights the many different steps involved in the treatment of safe drinking water for our customers, and what the Commission is doing update drinking water treatment for the 21st century.

 

State’s First Online Water Treatment Operator Course Offered by STCC, SWSC, MWWA

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission has partnered with Springfield Technical Community College and the Massachusetts Water Works Association to develop the state’s first online water treatment operator course.

The course, which starts on September 9, 2019, provides the training necessary for students to complete the state Board of Certification exam.

SWSC contributed funding to help launch the online course in order to provide broader access to the training statewide. There is high demand for new water treatment operators and other water professionals throughout the water industry, including at the Commission. Students enrolled at a community college in Massachusetts can take the online course for free, and the course is also open for a fee to anyone already in or completely new to the water industry.

See the article in MassLive

Preventing Lead Contamination – WGBY Connecting Point

How SWSC monitors for and reduces the potential for lead contamination was discussed on the July 18, 2019 episode of WGBY’s Connecting Point.

Lead is very seldom found in any drinking water as it leaves a treatment plant. Instead, lead most frequently enters drinking water supplies through plumbing and fixtures that may have lead in them. Lead is typically more common in the plumbing of older homes and buildings, but lead was not completely banned from plumbing until the late 1980s, and even afterwards was still present in some solder and fixtures. Preventing the leaching of lead into drinking water is known as “corrosion control.” Corrosion control is the addition of treatment chemicals (usually phosphate) that prevents lead from leaching from pipes and fixtures into the water that flows through them.

The Commission goes above and beyond to prevent lead contamination in the distribution system. First, it maintains a corrosion control program in compliance with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulations. This includes testing a sample set of homes in accordance with the federal Lead and Copper Rule on a three-year cycle. But the Commission also samples water leaving the treatment plant daily for adequate levels of corrosion control, and samples multiple times a week throughout the city as well. The Commission has also assisted Springfield Public Schools in their sampling of school fixtures.

In addition, all known lead service lines (which connect a building to the water main in the street) were proactively removed and replaced in the 1990s. For more information on lead and drinking water, click here.

Commission Updates Rules & Regulations, Rates for FY2020

On July 1, 2019, changes to the Commission’s Rules and Regulations, including rates, took effect. These were made following a public hearing on June 5, 2019 and a vote by the Board of Commissioners on June 20, 2019.

FY2020 runs from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.

The Rules and Regulations govern the policies and practices of the Commission. Rates and fees are found in Chapter 5 (page 148).

Executive Director Josh Schimmel Discusses Water Quality on Connecting Point

SWSC Executive Director Josh Schimmel and UMass Prof. David Reckhow discussed the recent public notification about water quality with WGBY’s Connecting Point on February 12.  Mr. Schimmel discussed the environmental cause behind the recent elevation of haloacetic acids (HAA5), and what the Commission is doing to address it. Dr. David Reckhow, a national expert on HAA5, explained the science behind HAA5 regulations.

Watch it here (Interview starts at the :26 mark.)

Peter Thayer Named Distinguished Water Operator of the Year

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is proud to announce that Mr. Peter Thayer, a Water Operator based at the Commission’s West Parish Filters Water Treatment Facility in Westfield, was named Distinguished Water Operator of the Year by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The award was presented as part of DEP’s 2018 Public Water Systems Award Program held on May 8 at the Massachusetts Statehouse. Water operators are responsible for the safe and efficient operation of drinking water treatment facilities such as West Parish Filters, which provides filtration and disinfection of the drinking water delivered to Commission customers. Mr. Thayer was commended for his innovative approach to problem-solving, his excellence in meeting state and federal drinking water regulations, as well as his seasoned insight into project design and review at the treatment facility, which produces approximately 30 million gallons/day of high-quality drinking water for 250,000 customers in the lower Pioneer Valley.

Mr. Thayer has worked with the Commission as an operator since 2014.

The Public Water Systems Award Program event held on May 8 was hosted by Rep. Anne Gobi and Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, and speakers included EPA Region 1 Administrator Alexandra Dunn and MassDEP Commissioner Marty Suuberg.

Click here to view the press release

Above:  MassDEP Drinking Water Program Director Yvette DePeiza (left) and MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg (right) present Peter Thayer (center) with the Distinguished Operator of the Year Award at the Massachusetts Statehouse on May 8, 2018.