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Industry Headlines

Manufacturers Expecting Increased Revenues, Employment Growth In 2017

Friday, 09 December 2016  |  Chris Guy

Economic growth in the U.S. will continue in 2017, say the nation’s purchasing and supply management executives in their December 2016 Semiannua...

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Industry Headlines

Siemens Industry Acquiring Mentor Graphics for $4.5 Billion

2 DAYS AGO

Siemens and Mentor Graphics have entered into a merger agreement under which Siemens will acquire Mentor for $37.25 per share in cash, which represents an enterprise value of $4.5 billion. Mentor will then be consolidated into Siemens Industry, according to the Atlanta Business Journal .

Mentor Graphics ...

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GE Oil & Gas Signs Agreement with TAG GmbH

3 DAYS AGO

GE Oil & Gas has signed an agreement with TAG (Trans Austria Gasleitung) GmbH, a pipeline operator with stations across Austria, to install its new Tuning Maintenance Software (TUMAS) across TAG’s fleet of 16 PGT25 gas turbines. This is the first time this solution has been rolled out across...

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‘Buy America’ Debate Holds Up Water Infrastructure Bill

1 DAY AGO

A debate in Congress is taking place over whether to restore a ‘Buy America’ provision in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) before a final version is voted on. The ‘Buy America’ rule already passed in the Senate version of the bill. It was then pulled from the compromi...

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New Pipeline Safety Rule Expands Excess Flow Valve Requirements Again

3 DAYS AGO

In October, 2016, The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced a final rule that expands safety requirements for excess flow valves (EFVs) to multi-residential and commercial applications. That version of the rule covered the installation of EFVs in new or replaced se...

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Manufacturers Expecting Increased Revenues, Employment Growth In 2017

21 HOURS AGO

Economic growth in the U.S. will continue in 2017, say the nation’s purchasing and supply management executives in their December 2016 Semiannual Economic Forecast. Expectations are for a continuation of the economic recovery that began in mid-2009, as indicated in the monthly ISM Report on Bu...

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Poll: U.S. Economy to Grow 2.2% in 2017

2 DAYS AGO

National Association for Business Economics’ (NABE) December 2016 Outlook Survey forecasts 2.2% growth in real GDP for 2017. The annualized growth rate forecasted for 2017 inched downward to 2.2% in the current survey from 2.3% in September. Both projections illustrate the panel’s expectat...

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A Conversation with Stacy Passaro: Looking at the Future of Water

vm-smr12-conversation stacy passaro

In the past, utility personnel didn’t want the public to have to think much about sewer and water treatment plants. The idea was to build the public’s trust that tap water was safe and reliable and wastewater was treated properly.

Today, however, as municipalities struggle to find funds to maintain and upgrade these essential services, many feel a public awareness campaign may be in order.

With 20 years of experience in wastewater treatment engineering, Stacy Passaro, P.E., BCEE, president of Passaro Engineering in Maryland, is one of those people.

“The fact is most people have no idea what happens after they flush their toilets,” she says. “It’s only when their bills go up or the infrastructure fails that it comes into the public consciousness. The wastewater industry has work to do informing people about the impressive assets and high-tech processes that are working to serve them.”


CHOOSING A CAREER

As president of her own engineering firm, ­Passaro has worked with a wide variety of groups within the wastewater field, including utility staff from frontline operators through utility managers and elected officials, regulators and non-profits.

When asked what drew her to the wastewater field, Passaro laughs. “It’s pretty rare to find somebody who says, ‘I always dreamed of being a wastewater person.’”

She goes on to explain that, when she was a junior in college, she was hired as a co-op and placed in a wastewater design/construction group.

“I remember being worried about what I’d be doing. But I worked there eight months and went back when I graduated. The more I learned about the field, the more fascinated I was,” she says.

Gradually, she realized the field was where she belonged.

Passaro went on to become a project engineer and manager in the industry, designing several treatment plants. In that capacity, she wrote valve specifications, which she says is a challenge because of the variety available.

“There are so many options and pros and cons that it’s really almost mind boggling. A challenge for design engineers is to stay on top of that, to be able to pick the optimal mechanical design and material for a specific application.”

Today, as a consultant to municipalities and other parties, she gets involved more often once the plant is under construction and put into operation.

“I work with the municipality to look at the assets and say, ‘Okay, we have these valves and want them to last forever. What do we need to do with these to prolong their lives, to be sure they’re going to perform when needed?”

“Valves are a challenge because the plants have so many of them,” she adds. “The effort must be made to know where they all are and what they all do.”

Plants have to schedule exercising and maintaining the valves, some of which are keys to keeping the public safe, she says.

“Some are emergency valves, and you want to make sure they operate when that rare emergency happens. It can be the $2,000 valve that is the key to the system. If it doesn’t work, the whole system fails,” she explains.


PLANNING FOR GROWTH

While the water/wastewater field certainly offers job stability, the many technological challenges in wastewater treatment keep the field interesting.

For example, “We have to be sure the water we’re discharging meets the end-user requirements,” Passaro says. “Funding is a challenge for all infrastructure, but that prompts us to be smarter and more efficient,” she continues.

Peeking into the future also keeps the job stimulating.

“We look at planning, at growth and land-use patterns and make the best educated guess we can about what the future’s going to hold. Managing and prolonging the life of assets, including valves and attendant equipment, is a huge piece of what many utilities are focusing on today. The systems need to serve the public indefinitely,” she says.

Passaro adds that the future holds a change in the way water is viewed. “In many areas there is still the mindset that water sources are unlimited. We all need to recognize water as the precious resource it is.”

Also, “Treatment plants should not be viewed just as facilities that allow safe disposal of waste. They are morphing into factories that take used resources and return them to a condition where they can be used again,” she explains.

Wastewater has many useful things in it, including nitrogen and phosphorous. It also contains up to 10 times the amount of energy within it that is used to treat it, Passaro explains.

“The theory is that, if we could extract the potential, wastewater facilities could produce energy in excess of what is needed to treat the wastewater.” In other words, “We’re looking at ways to turn wastewater facilities from energy users into energy producers,” she says.

 


Kate Kunkel is senior editor for Valve Magazine. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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