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Ensuring Safe Drinking Water – for Utah

By Ken Bousfield

It’s easy to take your safe drinking water for granted, whether it’s coming out of your kitchen faucet or the tap at your son’s Boy Scout camp. One of our jobs at the Division of Drinking Water is to conduct sanitary surveys—onsite inspections of drinking water systems—to ensure that the water they supply to you is safe to drink. In keeping with the objectives of Governor Herbert’s

SUCCESS Framework, we have developed a customized electronic version of our sanitary surveys that saves time and increases the efficiency of our inspection process.

Safe Drinking Water

A sanitary survey reviews the facilities, equipment, operations, maintenance, and record keeping of a public water system. These surveys ensure safe drinking water and help reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses and identify areas of the system that need to be improved to meet state rules and requirements.

Safe Drinking Water

Brett Chynoweth, drinking water operator for Tropic City, Bryce City and Henrieville, conducting a routine inspection.

Sanitary surveys are remarkably thorough…and lengthy. The survey questions alone cover 23 pages. Currently, we fill the forms out by hand in the field, transcribe them when we got back to the office, and download them to our database. This can be very time-consuming and inefficient.

With our new proposed electronic system, inspectors can access survey questions, answer them on a tablet, and upload the information directly to the database. During our initial trial phase, one staff member used a tablet and another entered information on his laptop. Both report saving a significant amount of time by using the new system. We’ve seen that the onsite electronic data helps us:

  • Eliminate duplicate data entry: Inspectors don’t have to fill out a form by hand and then key in the same information into a database.
  • Access rules and other reference material quickly: Staff have the information they need at their fingertips.
  • Increase turnaround time to finalize reports: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires us to finalize the report within 30 days of the final inspection.
  • Increase efficiency: Staff doesn’t have to spend as much office time finalizing reports, providing them with more time to attend to their other work duties.

We’re in the process of evaluating tablet hardware to determine which product will be the most effective in the field—we need something that is rugged and easy-to-read in bright sunlight. Once we make that determination, we will have tablets available for staff use.

The Division of Drinking Water is always looking for new ways to use technology to leverage our staff and resources more efficiently. From our online training screencasts for water system operators to our popular Public Water System Reports, our division continuously looks for cost-effective ways to deliver information to our stakeholders and the public and streamline operations in our drinking water programs.

So the next time you sit down with a cold glass of water on a hot summer’s day, think of us. We are here to make sure your water is clean and safe to drink. Visit us on the DEQ website to learn more about our programs, check out our consumer information resources, and find answers to some of the more commonly-asked questions about safe drinking water rules, regulations, and the work of our division.
Safe Drinking Water

Ken Bousfield Drinking Water Division Director

I have worked with the Utah Division of Drinking and its predecessor agencies for more than 38 years and have been Division Director for more than seven years. I have a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Sciences from Brigham Young University and am a registered Professional Engineer in Utah. I grew up in Los Angeles City and now live in Sandy City. My wife Gail and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary last September. We have four children and seven grandchildren.

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This entry was originally published on June 16th, 2014, updated on December 14th, 2016, and posted in news.

Environmental Stewardship

By Donna Kemp Spangler

DEQ employees constantly inspire me to “up my game” when it comes to environmental stewardship. And each of them is a walking reminder that each person can make a difference.

A significant and growing number of DEQ employees take mass transit or carpool to work. Air Quality Director Bryce Bird drives a compressed natural gas vehicle, and others drive electric cars and hybrids that is real environmental stewardship!

Our Executive Director, Amanda Smith, enjoys the benefits of exercise by often commuting by bicycle, inspiring others to do the same. Tom Daniels, who oversees environmental cleanups, commutes from Ogden by riding the bus in the morning and then riding his bike home.

Environmental Stewardship doesn’t stop there.

Recycling is so common place at DEQ that little is thrown away. AtEnvironmental Stewardship our offices, we recycle over 23,000 pounds of paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum roughly every year based on 2012 measures, and recently added battery and glass recycling to the mix. DEQ also uses recycled paper when possible. And when those same employees return to their homes, they have the same recycling mindset.

Our employees are an inspiration in my household. For example, my husband, Jerry, and I are experimenting with composting organic wastes for the first time. We bought a dual-bin rotating composter and have been carefully separating out waste vegetables, coffee grounds, lawn clippings and Jerry’s very annoying peanut shells for deposition in the bins.

Our first batch of nutrient-rich compost should be ready to fertilize our rather anemic-looking tomatoes in a couple of weeks. We do not know what we are doing, but we are trying. And we are learning as we go along.

Every time we walk a load of material out to the bins it is a reminder waste that previously would have gone to the landfill is being recycled into a beneficial use. And everyone can make small contributions. Small contributions might not seem like much; but, when they are added together, we collectively can make a huge difference.

And through my own small actions maybe I can inspire my grandchildren to be good environmental stewards, just as DEQ employees inspire me.

I welcome your input and suggestions. Continue the conversation on Twitter @deqdonna, or DEQ @UtahDEQ, like us on Facebook (utahdeq) and come back to our blog weekly to share with us your thoughts and passions about Environmental StewardshipUtah’s environment.

I covered environmental issues as a reporter for the Deseret News before joining DEQ in 2006 and later appointed as Communications Director. I’m a co-author with my husband, Jerry Spangler, on books about Nine Mile Canyon.

This entry was originally published on June 11th, 2014, updated on December 14th, 2016, and posted in news.

Nutrient Pollution

By Paul Krauth

Typically, DEQ is at the forefront of efforts to make Utah more “green,” but when it comes to our state waters, being green isn’t good. That’s why we are proposing a new rule to limit the amount of phosphorus that wastewater plants can put into our waterways.

Two pollutants that are really stressing our waters right now are nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients act in the water the same way they do on your lawn: they make plants grow. We like our grass green, but our water? Not so much.

Too much nitrogen and phosphorus can cause serious water quality problems. Nutrient pollution impairs drinking water, endangers aquatic life and threatens the recreational use of our favorite lakes and streams.

While these pollutants come from a variety of sources, one source that hits close to home is our wastewater treatment plants. Typically, treatment plants in Utah are not designed or required to remove either of these nutrients. Each day, these plants treat approximately 230 million gallons of wastewater and return it to Utah waters. This is the equivalent of 3 tons of phosphorus and 15 tons of nitrogen released into the water every day.

Nutrient pollution is unsustainable.

The overall solution to this problem—and it’s national in scope—is complex and will take years to resolve. Utah’s Division of Water Quality (DWQ) is taking an important first step with its proposed technology-based limits for phosphorus discharges from wastewater plants.

The proposed rule (for nutrient pollution) will require ALL mechanical treatment plants to reduce the phosphorus in their effluent to 1 mg/L within five years. This limit will reduce phosphorus entering our waters by 2 tons per day—a 66 percent reduction.

As with any additional treatment, there is a cost and we didn’t develop this proposal without that in mind. DWQ commissioned environmental consultant CH2M Hill to conduct a study in 2009 to look at the cost of various levels of treatment. This study showed that reducing these 2 tons of phosphorus will cost the average household an additional $1.34 per month. That’s less than 5 cents per day.

That’s the cost of a large Big Gulp. Isn’t it worth spending the cost of a Big Gulp per month to start protecting Utah’s waters?

We will be travelling around the state this summer to answer your questions and take your comments on our proposed rule. Please join us at one of our public meetings or go to our web page to learn more about the proposed rule and nutrient pollution in general. Hope to see you there!

I am a native Utahan, born and raised in Salt Lake City. After a long and undistinguished career as a professional student earning two engineering degrees, I went to work for the Utah Division of Water Nutrient PollutionQuality in 1989. In 1992, I began working as the Outreach Coordinator for the Division. I provide technical and operational assistance to all of Utah’s wastewater facilities. I like wastewater so much that I hold the highest level of wastewater certifications in bio-solids application, collections, laboratory, maintenance, treatment and small lagoon systems (a total geek). One of my claims to fame is that I was the five-time winner of the “clean lunch plate” award at Hillview Elementary.

This entry was originally published on June 9th, 2014, updated on April 7th, 2017, and posted in news.

Energy Efficiency

By Frances Bernards

As a consultant for DEQ’s business assistance program, I help businesses realize the environmental and cost-saving benefits of Energy Summitenergy efficiency. The Third Annual

Governor’s Energy Development Summit held this week (June 3-4) devotes an entire track to the topic.

Why? The opportunities for energy efficiency are rapidly improving due to the availability of new cost-effective technologies. I once heard: “There is no cheaper, cleaner energy than energy that isn’t required.” Utah companies are realizing the truth in that statement. According to Chris Helmers, project manager for

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), there has been an increase in the number of energy audit requests by Utah companies over the past three years.

Have you, or your company scheduled an energy audit? No? What’s stopping you?

Energy represents the largest controllable cost of doing business. Given that 30 percent of energy in buildings is used inefficiently or unnecessarily, according to EPA, many companies are doing more than installing efficient light bulbs or occupancy sensors.

Utah companies are relying on energy audits and then implementing
cost-effective energy efficiency measures, such as utilizing combined heat and power technologies, installing variable frequency drives—so that pumps and motors run at optimal speeds—or upgrading old equipment. Efficiency benefits can be measured through software tools and sensor networks.

  • Hexcel Salt Lake City, one of DEQ’s Clean Utah members, benefited from an energy audit through RMP’s wattsmart program by installing high efficiency HVAC systems, Variable Frequency Drive air handlers, boilers, chillers and fume hoods, in addition to switching to T5 lighting. Electricity reduction: 1,040,244 kWH. Savings: $1,040,244.

Utah water systems have also taken advantage of an energy audit through RMP’s wattsmart program:

  • Mountain Regional Water Special Service District increased their Energy Load Factor by running their pumps at a slower and steady rate for a longer period, using Variable Frequency Drives to ensure their motors are running efficiently, and preventing pumped water to recirculate back to the pumping facility suctions (i.e., re-pumping). Savings: $300,000.

There is no direct cost to RMP customers that choose to participate in the wattsmart program.

A common barrier to energy-efficiency projects is the upfront capital cost they require. An innovative solution may be Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, which provides commercial property owners with an option of paying for energy efficiency upgrades through assessments on their property tax bill. This makes most projects’ cash flow positive (i.e. the energy savings each year are greater than the assessment).

We can boost the competitiveness of Utah companies, improve air quality, and create and retain jobs through energy efficiency projects. First step: Schedule an energy audit! Second step: Implement energy efficiency projects over time.

  • Hexcel Salt Lake City, one of DEQ’s Clean Utah members, benefitted from an energy audit through RMP’s
    wattsmart
    program by installing high efficiency HVAC systems, Variable Frequency Drive air handlers, boilers, chillers and fume hoods, in addition to switching to T5 lighting. Electricity reduction: 1,040,244 kWH. Savings: $1,040,244.

Utah water systems have also taken advantage of an energy audit through RMP’s wattsmart program:

  • Mountain Regional Water Special Service District increased their Energy Load Factor by running their pumps at a slower and steady rate for a longer period, using Variable Frequency Drives to ensure their motors are running efficiently, and preventing pumped water to recirculate back to the pumping facility suctions (i.e., re-pumping). Savings: $300,000.

There is no direct cost to RMP customers that choose to participate in the wattsmart program.

A common barrier to energy-efficiency projects is the upfront capital cost they require. An innovative solution may be Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, which provides commercial property owners with an option of paying for energy efficiency upgrades through assessments on their property tax bill. This makes most projects’ cash flow positive (i.e. the energy savings each year are greater than the assessment).

We can boost the competitiveness of Utah companies, improve air quality, and create and retain jobs through energy efficiency projects. First step: Schedule an energy audit! Second step: Implement energy efficiency projects over time.

Visit DEQ’s page to learn more about how DEQ can assist you or your company to improve efficiency through sustainability strategies. Visit me at the DEQ/UCAIR booth at the Energy Summit—I welcome your questions.Energy Efficiency

As a consultant for DEQ’s business assistance program, I provide businesses with pollution prevention and sustainability resources. Outside of work I am an avid mountain/road biker, hiker, and skier and enjoy the music scene in SLC.

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This entry was originally published on June 2nd, 2014, updated on August 16th, 2017, and posted in news.

Bicycle Collective

By Karen Wallner

Have you noticed how many people seem to be commuting by bicycle these days? Have you found yourself wondering whether you have the right bike, the right clothes, or even the right information to get started? If so, you’re not alone.

As part of DEQ’s Green Team Bike Month activities, we partnered with the non-profit Bicycle Collective on a brown bag discussion about bicycle commuting and the myriad of gear choices available. David E. Davis, the executive director of the Bicycle Collective, discussed how the diverse solutions are individually based on a number of factors: the distance of your commute; the season and the weather; safety and visibility; the gear you may already have; and whether changing/shower facilities are available at your place of work.

The choices on bike commuting gear are as numerous as the numberBicycle Collective of potential bike commuters out there! You can choose to wear a full cycling kit (while carrying a change of clothes with you), a pared down version of your regular work attire, or anything in between. This also means you can choose any type of bicycle as your transportation based on what you already have or what you prefer to ride.

But wait, there’s more—this ALSO means you don’t have to ride the entire way from home to work and vice versa. You have the option to utilize public transportation on any portion of your commute in order to speed up your commute, avoid weather, or avoid long up-hills. To illustrate how individual these choices can be, DEQ staff members Craig Barnitz, Tom Daniels and Rolf Johnsson shared examples of their personal gear and explained why these particular combinations are perfect for the way they commute.

EQ’s Bike Month partnership included a bike drive and volunteer work day at the SLC Community Bike Shop to both help further the Bicycle Collective’s current award-winning programs for refugees, people in transition and at risk youth. It also provided an opportunity for state employees located at the Multi State Agency Office Building to learn bike maintenance skills.

Go to the Bicycle Collectives webpage (www.bicyclecollective.org) for more information about its community programs. You can also visit them at the SLC Community Bike Shop and find out how bikes can enhance your life, help others, and improve our state’s environment to be a more livable space.

Bicycle CollectiveI am an environmental scientist at DEQ, working in the Division of Environmental Response and Remediation for seven years, and participating on the DEQ GreenTeam for three years.

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This entry was originally published on May 27th, 2014, updated on December 14th, 2016, and posted in news.

DERR Division of Environmental Response and Remediation

By Brent Everett

The Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) is committed to making our programs as open and transparent to the public as possible. That’s one reason my staff and I are proud of DERR’s Interactive Map, a web-based tool that helps the public locate information about Superfund sites, Brownfields, underground storage tanks and other areas with potential contamination. In keeping with the performance goals set forth in Governor Herbert’s SUCCESS Framework, we have been able to reduce public requests for documents by 64 percent and utilize our staff more efficiently and effectively.

interactive-mapBefore we developed the Interactive Map, people who wanted to see documents about a particular site generally had to file requests for information through the Government Records Access and Management Act, or GRAMA, and physically come to our building. This was a time-consuming process for all involved. Now, with a few clicks of a mouse, people can pick a location and find information on the nature and extent of contamination and the status and progress of cleanups on the sites we oversee.

Although the Interactive Map first launched in the late 1990s, it’s only been recently that we have been able to link documents to sites on the map. This new feature has made the map a big hit, generating thousands of downloads by environmental consultants, real estate agents, businesses, and private citizens looking for information. The number of documents downloaded through the Interactive Map search tool continues to grow, with download requests coming from within Utah and other states nationally, and even other countries.

Here’s how it works:

Go to the DEQ website and click on the Interactive Map link. A disclaimer will pop up to let you know that the map contains a summary of information on sites regulated by DEQ and may contain errors. We’re scanning documents into the map every day, but there may be some gaps.

We recommend that you use the Interactive Map “Wizard” to navigate the site. For example, if you’d like to know if there are any hazardous materials or cleanup sites near where you live or work, go to “Select Layers” on the site navigation. Next, choose the map layer you’re interested in, such as “Land” and select from the categories listed for that layer. Click on “Go to next step” and type in the address and zip code. If you like, you can also search by city, county, or even statewide.

Click on “Search Address,” and an aerial map will appear with color-coded shapes for the sites that meet your search criteria. You can zoom in and out to get a better look at the various sites and find out their business names and exact locations.

Once you select a site, you will be able to read a summary of the site’s history, search for documents, download documents, or make a GRAMA request directly from DERR (the site).

The map has helped us meet the needs of the public in a way that’s more efficient for them and for us. Document requests that used to take days to complete may now only take a few minutes through the Interactive Map. We are adding new documents to the map all the time to increase the information available and improve our customer service to the public.

We hope you’ll visit our DERR Interactive Map and try it out. To learn more about our response and cleanup programs, visit our web page.

I am the Director of the Division of Environmental Response and DERR DirectorRemediation and have been with the agency for more than 24 years. I served as a project manager, section manager and branch manager in the Superfund Program before becoming Director. I am a Utah-registered Professional Geologist, with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Geology from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Utah. In my “spare time,” I work as an adjunct faculty member of the Biology Department at Utah Valley University teaching Human Anatomy.

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This entry was originally published on May 19th, 2014, updated on August 16th, 2017, and posted in news.