74-TONS OF SAND AND GRIT REMOVAL PERFORMED UNDER CHALLENGING CONDITIONS IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
Access issues had prevented a covered splitter box at a Central Florida wastewater treatment facility from being cleaned. A large amount of accumulated sand and grit had built up over time, and the structure was experiencing reduced capacity. So how was this splitter box cleaned while in service?
A splitter box serves to separate influent
flow to various structures such as aeration basins or oxidation ditches and can
be hard to shut down or bypass flow in order to perform regular
“Cleaning a structure while in operation
is our specialty,” said Aaron Hood, experienced Field Supervisor at USST. “This particular splitter box was also
covered, adding a layer of complexity to the project, but didn’t prevent us
from being able to remove the large quantity of material in a short amount of
The 55-foot long by 7-foot wide structure had two access points on top of the tank. USST crew, along with the powerful Combination3® Truck, was able to employ the jetter to jet material back to the downhole pump positioned at the manhole for removal. The work was performed in submerged conditions, while remaining in operation, a challenge the facility had previously been unable to solve. Since the splitter box was cleaned while in service, confined space entry was not required to complete the project.
USST utilized the unique GritGone Process® to remove 74-tons of sand and grit in total, generating paint-filter material ready for disposal. Check out our video to get a more detailed explanation of how our GritGone Process® works. The project was completed on time and the client saved valuable time and resources by not having to shut down operations or figure out a bypass solution.
If you find yourself with an issue that
seems unsolvable, give us a call, we love a challenge! Contact us by calling (844) 765-7866 with any
questions you may have or give us a shout-out below in the comment section.
AWARD WINNERS & BEST TASTING WATER CONTEST RESULTS
Another FRWA Conference has come to a close. This was USST’s 6th year attending the conference, and we enjoyed visiting with customers and friends who stopped by our booth, as well as checking out the Best Tasting Water Contest and industry awards. If you couldn’t make it, please feel free to reach out with any questions you have or issues you may need to address. We’re happy to discuss your facility’s needs, help solve a problem, or even chat about your favorite sports team. Contact us here. See you at next year’s 2020 conference!
Best Tasting Water Contest Results
Utilities from across the state of Florida gathered on August 5-7 at the
2019 FRWA Conference to compete for the title of Best Tasting Water. The contest first took place in 1989, and contestants
are judged on four factors: taste, odor,
color and quench factor.
When judging the
water samples, judges assign each sample a number, and it takes the panel about
30-45 minutes to complete the tastings, make their decisions, assign points,
and determine a winner.
This year, the City of Stuart took first place in this year’s contest, making it the third time they have earned the regional title. They will go on to compete in the 2020 National Rural Water Association’s Water Rally in Washington, D.C. for the prestigious title of Best Tasting Water in America. Finalists are selected from a preliminary round of judging before advancing to the finals where a panel of experts will choose the winner. We wish the City of Stuart the best of luck as they advance to the next round!
Check out FRWA’s slide show of the 2019 judging process here.
FRWA Award Winners
Industry awards are also given out during the 2019 FRWA Conference, including Manager/Administrator of the Year, Operator of the Year, and System of the Year to name just a few. All award winners can be viewed in FRWA’s slide show here.
HEAVY RAINFALL, FLOODING, AND THE IMPACT ON COLLECTION AND TREATMENT INFRASTRUCTURE
Heavy downpours continued over the weekend, making this summer one of the wettest some parts of Florida have seen in a long time. Last week, drivers needed rescuing from their cars stranded in rising waters in Orange County when more than 4-inches of rain fell. In Miami-Dade, nearly 6-inches fell in one hour, causing flash flooding while flood warnings were issued across most of West, Central and South Florida. What’s different about this type of flash flooding and rainfall and the impact it has on wastewater treatment infrastructure?
Most Floridians are familiar with daily summer
thunderstorms, but these storms have been lingering longer and dumping heavy
rains multiple days in a row. When the
ground becomes this saturated with water, it has nowhere to go.
“What is most unusual about this pattern is that rain will be an all-day on-and-off rain rather than the once or twice a day severe thunderstorms,” Weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Belles said. Showers and storms will be possible in the middle of the night too, which is not typical of summer.”
So how does rainfall impact wastewater infrastructure? During periods of severe rainfall such as this, the rate of flow in a stormwater system increases and can exceed the treatment facility’s capacity, as well as potentially cause overflows. The influx of water into a system also brings sand. Sand, unlike other debris such as rag material, FOGs, and grit, is an unintended consequence of increased inflow into collection systems.
What can utilities do to prevent or address these issues when they occur?
One obvious solution is to rebuild or repair infrastructure.
But these projects can be costly to
cities and taxpayers. Employing barriers
around key assets or diverting flow may also be a short-term solution.
Another more cost-effective solution is to perform regular
maintenance to ensure collection and treatment systems can operate at full
capacity when needed. When wet
season flows increase significantly compared to dry season flows, sand can be transported
into the collection and treatment systems and may be accumulating without
anyone noticing. Since the water in
tanks at facilities are not see-through, accumulated sand at the bottom of
these tanks remain unseen and unnoticed. Eventually, the increase of sand
into wastewater treatment infrastructure can reduce treatment volume and increase energy
use. Over time, this buildup can
potentially cause overflows and other issues if the system is not able to
operate at full capacity.
This is where regular maintenance can work to a facility’s
advantage. If the cost of annual
maintenance is less than the amount it would take to rebuild or repair
infrastructure, then removing sand at the treatment system may be the best
Is there an end in site for all this rain?
Rainy season in Florida typically lasts from Mid-May through Mid-October, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in June, July, and August. We can expect the soggy weather to subside sometime late October, traditionally the beginning of Florida’s dry months.
As for this week, forecasts show that parts of Florida may finally get the opportunity to dry out. Scattered showers are shown across the state but are predicted to be more in line with a traditional Florida summer. The wet weather West, Central and South Florida were experiencing last week is now headed to the panhandle where flood warnings have been issued.
Interested in learning more about instituting a maintenance plan at your facility?
One of our knowledgeable representatives would be happy to explore options to combat high flows, remove sand and grit, and restore valuable capacity to your collection or treatment infrastructure. Contact us here or call (844) 765-7866.
15-YEARS OF BUILT UP MATERIAL REMOVED IN MOUNT DORA, WHILE IN OPERATION
Two structures at the Mount Dora Wastewater Treatment Plant were overdue for cleaning, having built up a significant amount of sand and grit as well as other debris over the last 15-years. USST crew mobilized to the site armed with the versatile Combination3® Truck, well-prepared to handle the multiple setups needed to complete the project.
A large oxidation ditch measuring
approximately 50-feet wide by 330-feet in length was the first structure the
crew tackled. While the structure was in
full operation, USST utilized the Combination3® Truck’s downhole
pump and 49-foot extendable boom combined with the GritGone Process®
to remove approximately 287-tons of sand and grit material. Because the tank did not have to be taken
offline or drained down in this case, confined space entry was not required.
Next, the USST crew turned to the second
structure needing to be cleaned, an oxidation ditch and grit removal chamber
measuring approximately 40-feet wide by 130-feet in length. A drain down was necessary to effectively reach
the material, and all work was performed via confined space entry by the USST
The Combination3® Truck’s
powerful vacuum technology was utilized to remove approximately 343-tons of
sand, grit, biosolids, and rag material. The vacuum is powered by a blower capable of
delivering nearly double the CFM of a standard vacuum truck. This allowed the crew to remove large amounts
of material and complete the job quickly.
“Every setup of USST’s Combination3®
Truck was utilized on this project between the two structures,” said Paul Del
Favero, one of USST’s seasoned Field Supervisors. “Having the ability to switch between
downhole pumping and vacuum modes depending on the situation allows us to
always be prepared for what we find on a project.”
total, approximately 630-tons were removed from the two Mount Dora structures
and were disposed of offsite, restoring capacity to the treatment plant.
The city was also able to take advantage of Florida’s Sand and Grit Grant Program, which makes it possible for communities to address the ongoing issues of sand and grit accumulation in wastewater treatment facilities by reimbursing 50-100% of restoration costs. If you are a publicly-owned, Florida municipality with an average daily flow of 3MGD or less, you may be eligible for state grant assistance. Call (844) 765-7866 or email our knowledgeable representative, Michelle Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org to get details about Florida’s Sand and Grit Grant Program.
Need a structure cleaned quickly or have a facility that must remain online? USST is well-equipped to perform sand and grit removal from both wet or dry conditions, while in operation, and can do so at a higher production rate than most vacuum trucks. Give one of our representatives a call for a free site assessment at (844) 765-7866 or contact us to learn more.
Aaron Hood, one of USST’s veteran Field
Supervisors, lead the USST crew through the Miami-Dade project from start to
finish, beginning with a pre-cleaning inspection, the removal of sand, and
wrapping up with a post-cleaning inspection to confirm the work performed.
To prepare for the cleaning, an inspection
was performed using USST’s pipe profiling sonar unit on their combined
Sonar/CCTV truck with PACP Certified operator to give the crew visibility to conditions
inside 60-inch pipe. USST’s underwater sonar image provides
a preview of sediment build up, visibility to sections of pipe that may be in
need of maintenance, and better prepares the crew for the project ahead.
“The inspection was performed through an
access point in the right of way requiring a Maintenance of Traffic permit,
said Aaron. “One lane of traffic was
closed in order to access the upstream manhole.”
USST’s unique Combination3® Truck with extended boom, downhole pump, and jetter were utilized to travel the 110-foot length of pipe. The crew accessed the pipe from the outfall in the Miami River and cleaned towards the upstream manhole, removing sand while under surcharged conditions. Water from inside the pipe was used during the process and no outside water source or drain down was needed to complete the project.
A post-cleaning inspection was also
completed by USST to confirm all material had been removed.
“Almost 32-tons of sand were removed from the surcharged stormwater pipe,” said Aaron, “restoring approximately 30% of its capacity and without having to drain it down or resort to confined space entry.”
The Miami-Dade project was completely
quickly, safely, and on schedule.
Wondering what’s in your pipe or tank? USST can deliver live inspection feeds providing
comprehensive reports and video for both pre- and post- cleaning
inspections. Performing these
inspections allow USST to deliver a more tailored solution and generates a
quicker outcome due to having a clear understanding of the problem to solve.
Give one of our representatives a call to schedule an inspection to get visibility to an issue your facility may be facing or to learn more about USST’s specialties in hard-to-reach environments both in surcharged or submerged conditions. Call (844) 765-7866 or email us at email@example.com.
Check out our video to learn more about the Combination3® Truck and GritGone Process®.
22-CUBIC YARDS OF SAND REMOVAL PERFORMED IN CENTRAL FL
A Central Florida utility was experiencing reduced capacity in a splitter box due to a significant buildup of sand and grit.
Wastewater treatment facilities typically
employ a splitter box to separate influent flow to various structures such as
aeration basins or clarifiers. This Central
Florida splitter box had a visible level of sand above the water line that needed
to be cleaned, and the structure measured approximately 40-feet by 25-feet. The utility was also unable to divert flow or
take the structure offline, adding another level of complexity to the project.
USST crew mobilized to the site, bringing
with them a powerhouse of equipment, the Combination3® Truck,
outfitted with extended boom, downhole pump, and jetter. While the splitter box was in full operation,
USST utilized the GritGone Process® to remove 22-cubic yards of sand
and grit. Because the box did not have
to be taken offline or drained down, risky confined space entry was not
“Cleaning in submerged conditions while in
operation is our specialty,” said Denver Stutler, Jr., USST CEO. “Not having to drain down structures and keep
our crew out of confined space allows us to solve problems that may not have
been previously solvable.”
Cleaning structures while they remain online can also save a client valuable time and resources in order to remove material. USST’s equipment performs best in submerged and surcharged conditions, and structure height or depth is almost never an issue for the Combination3® Truck.
Have a structure that needs attention? Call one of our knowledgeable representatives for a free quote or to ask any questions by calling (844) 765-7866 or contact us here.
If you were to speak to any member of the six teams competing in this year’s Ops Challenge at the 2019 Florida Water Resources Conference, chances are you’d hear them say how thankful they are to be a part of the challenge and the great camaraderie the event fosters. With two newcomers and a few veteran teams participating in the event’s 27th year, there was plenty of competitive spirit to go around, and we’ve got the 2019 Ops Challenge results.
Known as the “Olympics of the Wastewater Industry,” the Ops Challenge follows teams of four as they compete in a series of events, including Process Control, Laboratory, Maintenance, Collections, and Safety in an effort to secure a spot at the national competition at WEFTEC. All five events are representative of the skillset an Operator should have. Participating in the event also requires coming up with a clever group name. Returning teams included Positive Influents from Destin, St. Petersburg’s Dirty Birds, JEA Utilities’ Fecal Matters, the Orange County Outlaws, as well as newcomers Sludge Soldiers from Tallahassee, and Polk County’s Biowizards.
Hayes, Ops Challenge Director for eight years and member of the committee for
16 years, has worked alongside Chris Fasnacht, longest sitting Chair of the Ops
Challenge committee for the past 13 years, to develop the Florida Regional Ops
Challenge into the respected event that it is today.
I first got involved 16 years ago, Florida wasn’t very well established,” said
Hayes. “There were only two teams back
then and no sponsors. We’ve gathered
more participation as well as sponsorship support, because that’s what sends
these guys to Nationals.”
Ops Challenge event numbers down overall across the country due to a variety of
reasons including a retiring workforce, high maintenance demands in local
service areas, and other concerns, Florida is one of the few areas that hasn’t
seen a decline in participation.
challenges were held at the back of the hall when I first started, and we’ve
successfully worked to make it the central event of the conference,” reflected Fasnacht. “I think it’s a great development tool for
employees and for guys to get exposure. Management and directors are well
represented at this conference and this is a chance for the guys to come out
and meet other people and groups and to showcase their skill.”
JEA Utilities’ team, Fecal Matters, returned for their 5th competition, hoping to make it to Nationals for the third year in a row, having made it to Nationals in both 2017 and 2018. Mike Fowler, Utilities Pipe Fitter Crew Leader for JEA and Fecal Matters coach, co-founded JEA’s original team in 2014.
“Our first year was terrible, but we won the
team spirit award,” reminisced Fowler.
“It’s good to see how we have evolved.
I love [the Challenge] because of the way we can showcase what we do out
in the field.”
Jason Jolly, JEA’s team captain for the second year in a
row, commented on how he appreciates being able to have the opportunity to make
friends with utilities from new places.
“We help each other out and still complete
against each other,” said Jolly. “It’s a
lot of fun.”
Robby Addy, JEA team member for the past two years, enjoys
the competitiveness and the camaraderie.
“It’s nice to get out of the field, meet a
lot of new people and contacts, and you learn a lot about the business,” said
JEA performed well in all five events, coming in second with
a score of 436.07 in this year’s Challenge.
Team Positive Influents
from Destin Water Users, Inc. (DWU) is one of the smallest and only private
organization competing in their third Ops Challenge, representing a total of 65
employees. Lead by Logan Law, Destin’s
Wastewater Operations Specialist, the team’s goal was to come in first in this
year’s Challenge after narrowly missing Nationals in 2018 by coming in third in
last year’s regional competition.
“This is an awesome event with a good group of people, great
for networking,” said Logan. “We’re
competing against bigger cities with bigger resources, and sometimes we have to
use our imagination when training.”
After coming in first in both the Process Control and
Laboratory events, Destin’s Positive
Influents met their 2019 goal and took first place overall in this year’s
Polk County newcomers, the Biowizards, participated for the first time this year, and trained
with the Orange CountyOutlaws to prepare for the events.
“Our guys worked really hard over the last
few weeks,” said Biowizards coach, Chuck Nichols. “If it hadn’t been for Orange County, we
wouldn’t have been competitive, we would have just been learning.”
Polk County came in fifth place after performing well in
both the Maintenance and Safety categories.
Orange CountyOutlaws took third, while St. Petersburg’s Dirty Birds took fourth. Polk County’s Biowizards and Tallahassee’s Sludge Soldiers took fifth and sixth, respectively. JEA will continue on to their third Nationals Challenge while Destin attends Nationals for the first time, both teams representing Florida at WEFTEC in Chicago this September.
Last week, USST exhibited for the 6th year in a row at this year’s 2019 Florida Water Resources Conference. Our team had the opportunity to meet and greet with customers from both public and private facilities and we enjoyed speaking with everyone who stopped by the booth.
The highlight of the conference is the Florida Regional Ops Challenge, where six teams compete for two spots to showcase their talents in the national challenge this September in Chicago at WEFTEC. You can read about how each team performed and who is advancing to Nationals in our blog post here.
If you missed us at FWRC, you can catch us at the next event. Keep an eye on our Conferences page which we’ll update as new events are scheduled, or simply give us a call to make an appointment at any time at (844) 765-7688.
SPEEDY SAND & GRIT REMOVAL PERFORMED IN DAYTONA, FLORIDA
An oxidation ditch at the Westside
Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) in Daytona Beach, Florida was due for
cleaning as part of a larger rehabilitation plan, having built up a significant
amount of sand, grit, and vegetation. Measuring
approximately 550-feet long by 120-feet wide with walls 20-feet in height, USST
mobilized to the site prepared to perform sand and grit removal services. The crew completed the job in record time,
well-ahead of schedule, motivated, perhaps, by being in the speed capital of
“U.S. Submergent [Technologies] completed their work ahead of schedule and with no disruption to the existing plant operations or other construction activities onsite.”
– Joe DeHart, Project Manager, PC Construction
Paul Del Favero, one of USST’s seasoned Field
Supervisors, arrived with a team ready to remove the large quantities of sand,
grit, and vegetation material from the oxidation ditch. A drain down was necessary to effectively
reach the material, and all work was performed via confined space entry by the
“We follow all safety precautions when
performing confined space entry work,” said Paul. “It’s important to get it right the first
time.” With 80(+) hours of safety
compliance and on-the-job training completed by each team member, the USST crew
has daily meetings to review the day’s upcoming work and to ensure all required
PPE and safety equipment are in use.
USST’s Combination3® truck was
utilized on the jobsite and employs a vacuum powered by a blower capable of
delivering nearly double the CFM of a standard vacuum truck. This allows the crew to remove large amounts
of dry material and complete the job quickly.
“It’s not your average vac truck,” said
Denver Stutler, Jr., USST’s CEO. “Like a well-precisioned pit crew, the
capabilities of our Combination3® truck and the intense training our
guys complete enable our team to run at a high production rate.”
Approximately 1,575 total tons of material
were removed from the oxidation ditch well ahead of the projected schedule,
restoring capacity to the structure.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of
the entire crew and their performance in Daytona,” said Paul Del Favero. “Everyone pitched in, worked safely, and got
the job done in record time for the client.”
USST partnered with the PC Construction Company on the Daytona project. Joe DeHart, Project Manager for PC Construction, has been in the industry for 18 years and with PC Construction for three.
“U.S. Submergent [Technologies] exceeded our expectations
with their work on this project,” said Joe.
“They worked very quickly to complete the work, but more importantly,
they worked safely. U.S. Submergent [Technologies] completed their work
ahead of schedule and with no disruption to the existing plant operations or
other construction activities onsite.”
Need a structure cleaned quickly or have a facility that must remain online? The many capabilities of the USST crew and equipment are well-equipped to remove sand, grit and other material from both wet or dry conditions, while in operation, and can do so at a higher production rate than most vac trucks. Give one of our representatives a call for a free site assessment at (844) 765-7866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
An aeration basin at a Southeast Florida Water Reclamation Facility was experiencing reduced capacity and due for maintenance. Measuring 206-feet in length and divided into eight 24-foot by 24-foot cells, the cleaning of the tank was part of a rehabilitation plan to repair and replace key components of the structure.
U.S. Submergent Technologies’ (USST) Field
Supervisor, Paul Del Favero, arrived with a team to the site prepared to perform
rag and grit removal services. In order
to effectively remove the large quantities of sand, grit and rag material from
the aeration basin, a drain down was necessary. Once the tank was drained, the USST crew came
in and vacuumed up the material and performed manual rag removal from the fine
“Our Combination3® truck sports
a vacuum powered by a blower capable of delivering nearly double the CFM of a standard
vacuum truck,” Denver Stutler, USST’s CEO, said, “allowing us to remove large
amounts of dry material and complete the job quickly. It’s not your typical vac truck.”
Applying their confined space entry
training and expertise, the USST crew removed more than 90-tons of total
material from the aeration basin and disposed of the material offsite. Workers were then able to access, repair, and
replace components on the bottom of the cleaned structure.
“I knew our reliable equipment and exceptional
crew would be able to get the job done quickly and on schedule,” said
Specializing in hard-to-reach environments in wet or dry
conditions, USST can build a plan to safely and efficiently remove material
from tanks, pipes, lift stations, and more. Check out our video
to learn more about the Combination3® technology and the GritGone
Process® and give one of our representatives a call for a free site assessment
at (844) 765-7866.