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Process Instrumentation in Oil and Gas

Process Instrumentation in Oil and Gas

Process instrumentation is an integral p...

Check Valves in LNG Cryogenic Service

Check Valves in LNG Cryogenic Service

Because natural gas is currently conside...

Will Smart Machines Obsolete Human Resources?

Will Smart Machines Obsolete Human Resources?

Is artificial intelligence (AI) going to...

Is Valve Live Loading an Option?

Is Valve Live Loading an Option?

Valves leak. There’s no getting ar...

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Industry Headlines

EIA Forecasts Record U.S. Oil Output in 2018

Thursday, 14 December 2017  |  Chris Guy

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that U.S. crude oil production averaged 9.7 million barrels per day (b/d) in November, up 3...

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Construction and Mining: Is 2018 The Year for Growth?

Construction and Mining: Is 2018 The Year for Growth?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017  |  Kate Kunkel

While there is a degree of optimism in the mining industry that hasn’t been seen for some years, much uncertainty still exists in this sector. A...

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Industry Headlines

Setpoint I.S. Honored by Baton Rouge Business Report

11 HOURS AGO

Setpoint Integrated Solutions (Setpoint I.S.) was honored this fall at the Baton Rouge Business Report’s Top 100 Private Companies Luncheon. Celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year, the Baton Rouge Business Report hosts many events in the community.

At the most recent event , the Top 100 Private C...

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Emerson to Modernize Controls for Phoenix-Area Hydro Fleet

1 DAY AGO

Arizona-based Salt River Project (SRP), one of the nation’s largest public power utilities, has selected Emerson to modernize the controls of multiple hydropower units and its central service center. SRP provides electricity to 1 million customers in the metropolitan Phoenix area and is also one...

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EIA Forecasts Record U.S. Oil Output in 2018

7 HOURS AGO

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that U.S. crude oil production averaged 9.7 million barrels per day (b/d) in November, up 360,000 b/d from the October level. Most of the increase was in the Gulf of Mexico, where production was 290,000 b/d higher than in October. Higher pro...

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Chemical Industry Growth Rate Surpasses 20-Year Average

1 DAY AGO

The U.S. chemical industry is riding a global wave of growth as the world’s major economies experience an upswing for the first time in a decade. Increased output and accelerating growth rates that surpass the previous twenty-year average will help cement the business of American chemistry as ...

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U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Up 6.3%

1 DAY AGO

Orders for manufacturing technology kept their momentum in October 2017, gaining 6.3% over September to a total value of $428.32 million, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report from The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). Year to date, orders are up 7.6% comp...

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NAM Survey: Manufacturers’ Optimism Reaches Record High

2 DAYS AGO

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released the results of the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2017, showing manufacturers’ optimism has risen to unprecedented heights amid the legislative progress made on tax reform. With 94.6% of respondents saying ...

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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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