Ops Challenge Takes Over FWRC

2018 “Wastewater Olympics” Regional Results

If you were one of the 3,850 attendees at the Florida Water Resources Conference last week, you may have had the privilege of checking out the some of the Ops Challenge events.  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 order to secure a spot at the national competition at WEFTEC.

This year, seven teams competed in the overall Ops Challenge, with clever team names such as Destin’s Positive Influents, JEA’s Fecal Matters, St. Petersburg’s Dirty Birds, GRU’s True Grit, St. Cloud’s Methane Madness, and Orange County’s Treatment Outlaws.

Team Positive Influents from Destin Water Users, Inc.

Team Positive Influents from Destin Water Users, Inc. (DWU) was one of the smallest and only private organization competing in the 2018 Ops Challenge, representing a total of 65 employees.  Lead by Logan Law, Destin’s Wastewater Operations Specialist, all members were Class A Operators, and this was their second year competing.  Positive Influents came in first in Process Control and placed second in Collections, having won both events last year in their first year competing.

During the Safety event, teams must respond to a worker that has collapsed inside a manhole while judges time the event and keep score of how the team performs.  Destin’s Positive Influents was able to improve their Safety time by more than two minutes compared to last year’s score.

Destin’s Positive Influents competing in the Ops Challenge

“At DWU, we try to do things the right way and our Operators carried that attitude into this year’s Ops Challenge,” said Logan.  “It’s a great way for Operators to keep up their training and we have a great bunch of guys in the group.”

Positive Influents ended up placing 3rd overall with a score of 408.02 in this year’s Ops Challenge at FWRC.

“We did leave some points on the table that we should have gotten, but overall I think [we] did an outstanding job,’ said Logan.  “While [we] did not win, we are very proud of the way [we] competed.”

Orange County’s Treatment Outlaws took first, while JEA’s Fecal Matters took second.  Both teams will be moving on to represent Florida in the national competition at WEFTEC later this year.

Team Treatment Outlaws from Orange County

Team Fecal Matters from JEA

USST at FWRC in Daytona Beach, FL

USST at the Florida Water Resources Conference

Last week, U.S. Submergent Technologies (USST) exhibited for the 5th year running at this year’s 2018 Florida Water Resources Conference.  It was all hands on deck as we had the opportunity to meet and greet with customers, discuss their facility’s needs, and had fun spinning our prize wheel giveaway and snack station.  You could even charge your phone or tablet if you were running low by the end of the day.

There were 3,850 attendees this year and we enjoyed speaking with everyone who stopped by the booth.  In the middle of the Exhibit Hall, the Regional Ops Challenge was underway, where seven teams competed for a spot in the national challenge coming up this Fall at WEFTEC.   You can read about the results of the Challenge and how each team performed on our other 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.

In The USST Spotlight: Chris Jones

Chris Jones, USST Service Tech.

Say Hello to Chris Jones,

one of our hardworking Service Technicians here at USST.  Following in the steps of his family, Chris has a background in trades work building powerlines before joining the U.S. Submergent team, while his grandfather worked as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Airforce.  Having just hit his one-year mark with USST, Chris is a valued member of our team with a surprising love of soup lunches and gardening.  Read on to learn more about our up-and-coming team member.

Hometown:  Norfolk, Virginia.

What I Do as a Service Tech II:  Run equipment, think ahead and solve problems, and fix equipment in my downtime.

Describe Your Typical Day:  Travel to the jobsite, discuss what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it, as well as any challenges we may be facing, and then we get the job done.

Favorite Aspect of the Job:  Every day is a new learning experience for me, and I look forward to being able to prepare and motivate my own crew for the day

Work-Safe Checklist:  Safety Tailboard – we discuss our safety plan at least once a week.

My Inspiration:  My family.  My father was a trades man and built powerlines, while my grandfather worked as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Airforce.  It’s in my blood.

My Friends Would Describe Me As: A positive person.

What is something you like to do the “old fashioned” way?  I’m a southern cook, like my mother.  I like to cook the way she did and use ingredients out of my own garden.

First Job: Grocery store bagger at 14-yrs old, although I’ve had more than 20-some odd jobs over the years, including studying and obtaining my EMT certification.

Hobbies: Cooking and gardening.  I also love spending time with my Husky, Parker Thomas.

#1 Place I’d Like to Visit: Well, I’m leaving for Japan in April!

Who I’d Want to be Stranded With on a Deserted Island:  My partner and dog, even though that may be selfish because they’d be stranded with me.  Maybe I’d pick my worst enemy instead!

Surprising Talent:  In my spare time, I like to carve chainsaw art such as bears, otters and turtles.  I like to create one every couple of months or so.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time and why?   I’m a homebody, so I’d spend it cooking, working in my large, expansive garden, cleaning and just generally being comfortable at home.

 Favorite Song?  I like to listen to whatever is on the radio.

One Word That Describes My Dancing Ability:  Terrible.

Favorite Snack:  Amy’s Organic Lentil soup.

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One Truck, One Tool

23-Foot Deep Wet Well Cleaned While in Operation

Tallahassee’s Summerbrooke lift station was due for scheduled maintenance, needing both FOGs on the surface and sand and grit on the bottom removed.  While this could have proved to be a challenging situation, the U.S. Submergent (USST) crew and equipment was able to restore capacity quickly and efficiently.

USSt performing wet well maintenance in Tallahassee, FL

USST’s Field Supervisor, Paul Del Favero, arrived with a team prepared to remove debris from wet or dry conditions.  Our patented Combination equipment allows our crew to remove debris from water surface and structure bottom without additional equipment or repositioning.

“Our truck is uniquely equipped to solve lift station challenges. Oftentimes, you don’t know what to expect, and our equipment has the ability to perform like a swiss army knife in the field,” says Paul.

USST utilizes downhole pumping (in submerged or normal flow) or vacuum (in dry or low flow) as required, and is equipped to switch between vacuum and downhole pumping, in any circumstance, with minimal downtime.

The USST crew first removed the FOG layer off the top of Tallahassee’s Summerbrooke lift station, and utilized confined space entry to remove all residual material off the bottom of the lift station while it remained in full operation.

“All employees are trained in confined space,” confirms Paul.  “Our confined space entry consists of a six-point harness, gas meter, lifeline, waders, steel toe boots, gloves and PPE with a confined space entry permit, door attendant, and entry supervisor.”

The Combination extended reach boom provided the reach required during the job, preventing hazardous work conditions.  Almost 8-cubic yards was removed from the 23-foot deep wet well, and the job was completed safely, efficiently, and ahead of schedule.

Have a lift station that needs attention?  Call one of our knowledgeable representatives for a free quote or to ask any questions you may have at (844) 765-7866 or email info@ussubmergent.com.

Learn about our GritGone ProcessSM.

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20-Foot High Tank Cleaned While in Operation

180-CY Removed in Davie, Florida


Capacity was recently restored to the Town of Davie’s WWTP as part of their Capital Improvement Program, a facility which handles an average daily flow of around 3MGD.  More than 180-CY of sand and material was removed from Davie’s 20-foot high surge tank while it remained in full operation.  Using USST’s extended boom and Combination technology, the material removed was immediately ready for disposal.

USST’s Combination3® Technology at Davie’s WWTP

John McGeary has resided as Chief Operator of the Town of Davie’s WWTP for almost five years, and has 38 years’ experience in the wastewater industry.  He says “[I was] pleased with the professionalism and the efficiency of the operation. We also liked the initial dryness of debris removed during the process.”

With jetter, vacuum and downhole pumping with 49-foot knuckleboom fully integrated on one truck chassis, USST’s Combination technology delivers a powerful punch in the submergent cleaning industry.  No additional equipment or tools are needed to be brought in, saving time and resources for the client.

USST’s Extended Knuckleboom At Work in Davie’s 20-Foot Surge Tank

Paul Del Favero, USST’s Field Supervisor, lead our crew in completing the Davie project efficiently and on schedule.  Paul Stephenson, Michael Kisling and Donald Barnes were also part of our hardworking team onsite.  All crew members have completed more than 80(+) hours of safety compliance and on-the job training, and are valuble members of the USST team.

USST can quickly clean your facility while it remains in full operation.  Take a look at our process in action and give one of our knowledgeable representatives a call at (844) 765-7866.  They can assist in putting together a specialized plan for your facility to restore valuable capacity.

You May Have a Sand Problem and Not Even Realize It

Identifying and Managing Annual I&I Issues

Where does the sand in wastewater treatment plants come from?  The answer is the collection system.  Determining whether or not there is an I&I issue can be the real challenge.  Spring is just around the corner, and with it, the time of year when most of the country’s rainfall usually occurs.  Throughout the wet season, an increase in flow into a WWTP can be due to inflow and not an increase in domestic wastewater collected.  Increase in flow is also a potentially a reliable indicator that treatment capacity has been compromised and may need to be restored.

Over time, sand seeps into pipes and lift stations and is eventually transported to WWTP infrastructure.  Sand, unlike other debris such as rag material, FOGs, and grit, is an unintended consequence of increased inflow into collection systems.  During heavy rainfall, wastewater collection pipes receive an inflow of rainwater which seeps into the pipes transporting sand.  Seepage bringing sand usually occurs without notice until the associated problems have become acute and require immediate attention.

I&I Illustration showing water seeping into pipe underground, though seeping joints and manhole, accumulating sand in the bottom of a collection pipe.

I&I issues tend to be out of sight, out of mind.  The consequences of I&I tend to go undetected due to the fact that pipes are buried underground.  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. 

Consider instead the value of restoring capacity versus replacing capacity.  When the sand is removed, capacity is restored in the structure at the WWTP.  Consider also the capital cost to repair or replace pipe segments that may have high inflows.  Often, the first solution to solve I&I issues is to repair or replace the pipes.  However, the cost-benefit of removing sand from the WWTP may be more cost-effective than fixing the pipes.  For example, if the annual cost of maintenance is less than the cost of borrowing the capital to do the repair or replacement project, then removing sand at the WWTP may make more sense.  Finally, the benefit of reducing the amount of energy required to run blowers by removing sand can be significant.

When average daily wet season flows increase significantly compared to the dry season, then sand transported into the collection and treatment systems may be accumulating until it gets your attention. Don’t be taken by surprise; our dependable and knowledgeable team can assist in building your preventative maintenance plan to help.  Call (844) 765-7866 or contact us to customize a plan for your facility.

New Year, New Goals, New Plans

It’s that time of year again.  The time of year when we are tasked with setting plans in motion for the new year ahead.  For many, the new year means setting new goals.  Our business sets goals each year, and are only achieved when we have a written, realistic plan.

Our plans provide the tasks and activities required of the team and organization to achieve our goals.  The more thought given on unresolved issues while developing your plan, the fewer delays experienced during execution and implementation.

Given that some of our implementation or action plans are being finalized for 2018, it is a good time to revisit of some of the lessons learned that have reinforced the importance of measuring twice and cutting once.  Try institutionalizing the lessons learned so that they become best practices by all going forward

In order to develop a meaningful plan, an understanding or honest assessment of where we are, where we are headed, and what it will take to get there, is important.  The plan should be logical and rational so it makes sense to the people it is supposed to make sense to.

The person responsible or accountable to the organization for implementing the plan should also be responsible for developing the plan and given the authority to execute it.  Empowering responsibility, authority and accountability is necessary to achieve the goals.  Having ownership of the plan brings passion and pride to the effort.

During implementation, our execution or reactions may not play out as expected.  Oftentimes, expectations not unfolding as hoped can result in a human reaction of fear.  The fear that perhaps our judgement or the judgement of someone we have relied upon was wrong.  When this happens, stop, and remain focused on the plan.  The process of preparing our plans can anticipate likely or possible outcomes.

The new year is upon us.  Take the opportunity to give thought to your goals for 2018 and think about how best to get there. Remember, the plan is the ‘to-do’ list and steps required to achieve the goal which connects and reminds us of the bigger picture, or purpose of our work.  As we know, a picture is worth a thousand words, which brings us back to our goal, and is ultimately, our plan the whole time.
Denver Stutler, Jr.

2,500-Feet of Large Diameter Pipe Cleaned

Access Issues Not An Issue


USST is currently working for the City of Orlando removing sand, grit and material from 2,500 feet of 48-inch sanitary sewer pipe near Kirkman Road, leading to the City’s Conserv II Water Reclamation Facility.

USST crew hard at work in Orlando, FL

The City of Orlando’s project manager, Charlie Conklin, P.E., says “I am very happy with their performance on this project, and I’m looking forward to utilizing their services on the next phase of this project and other future projects.”

Access issues on the project included hard-to-reach manholes located on the opposite side of Shingle Creek. Access for equipment was also challenging as the crew had to navigate through narrow access points to reach certain areas of the job. These difficulties could have been problematic, however, the USST crew adjusted their approach and utilized our Combination3® technology to easily overcome the obstacles in order to reach the job site and get the work done efficiently and safely.

USST’s Combination3® technology engages jetter, vacuum and downhole pumping with 49-foot knuckleboom fully integrated on one truck chassis, creating a powerhouse of equipment in the submergent cleaning industry. No additional equipment or tools are needed to be brought in, saving both time and resources for the client.

USST crew members cleaning hard-to-reach access points

Paul Del Favero and Michael Kisling of the USST crew lead the Orlando project, cleaning out grit, rags and small rocks from the 2,500-foot length of sewer pipe. Paul and Michael have a background in facility maintenance and as an operator, respectively, and have proven to be valuable members of our USST team. Having been with us for about two-years, Paul and Michael have grown within the company and logged many hours of training as well as on-the-job experience.

Specializing in hard-to-clean environments, our experienced crew expect the City of Orlando’s Conserv II project to be completed on schedule.

Check out our video to learn more about the Combination3® technology and the GritGone ProcessSM and give one of our representatives a call for a free quote at (844) 765-7866.

90-Tons Removed From WWTP

Facility Remained in Full Operation

For more than 5 years, the Avon Park WWTP has been accumulating unwanted sand and grit, a problem that often leads to increased energy costs and reduces plant efficiency.  USST’s reliable crew was able to safely and efficiently remove 90-tons of sand and grit from Avon Parks’s headworks and two digesters.

USST Combination3® Truck working in Avon Park.

With an ADF (average daily flow) of about 850,000 gallons per day and a permitted capacity of 1.5 MGD (millions of gallons per day), this facility sought to restore the capacity of their facility as a preventative maintenance measure.  Using our GritGone ProcessSM, the facility was cleaned while all structures remained in full operation and the removed material was paint-filter dry upon disposal.

Because of the capabilities of our patented Combination technology, the headworks did not require confined space entry, reducing liabilities for both ourselves and the client.  USST’s technology also utilizes an interchangeable system of both vacuum and downhole pumping methods, a crucial factor when cleaning structures such as headworks, lift stations, and pump stations.  Our vacuum removes matted FOGs from the top of the structure while our downhole pumping system removes debris from the bottom of the structure, all while the facility remains in full operation.

Our Reducing the Risk of Lift Station SSO article is a helpful resource to learn more about how our process is the safest and most efficient option to clean pump and lift stations, headworks and more.

Material removed from Avon Park facility.

In addition to Avon Park’s headworks, both digesters were also cleaned while remaining in full operation.  Our 49-foot knuckleboom crane provided easy access to the material, and no additional crane was needed.

USST stands alone as the only company to offer the unique and highly-effective service of waste and debris removal from wet infrastructure.  The capacity restoration services of USST can help utilities extend the life of their infrastructure, saving time, energy and money.

Give us a call at (844) 765-7866 or get a free quote here.

A Year in Review

2017 was a busy year for USST.  We took a look back at what we’ve been up to over the past year, and even surprised ourselves with what we discovered!  Check out a few fun facts below.