Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water: What You Can Do

Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water: What You Can Do

The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYS EFC) are taking a step to help municipalities by offering grants to help pay for planning and development of an engineering report for drinking water infrastructure projects that address emerging contaminants. These projects work toward protecting public health by addressing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), or 1, 4-dioxane. These toxins are found in plastics, stain resistant and stick resistant coatings, and solvents.

Emerging contaminants are trace amounts of chemicals that have been detected in the water supply. When consumed, these chemicals can have a harmful effect on a person’s health. It is important to take steps toward eliminating these emerging contaminants to prevent any toxic health issues.

There is $185 million available in grant funding from NYS DOH and NYS EFC for water treatment system upgrades to combat emerging contaminants. This program is intended to initiate the construction of projects to combat emerging contaminants by providing funding for the first steps in the project planning phase.

Eligible applicants include cities, district corporations, counties, villages, towns, county or town improvement districts, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts, and Indian Nations or Tribes with reservation wholly or partly within New York State.

Eligible projects include providing treatment to remove emerging contaminants, extending or installing new public water system infrastructure to serve areas affected by emerging contaminants, and developing or connecting to a new water source that is not affected by emerging contaminants.

Projects are evaluated for reduction in risk to public health, readiness to advance to construction, and the level of demonstrated support from the community. Higher levels of these factors lead to a better chance that the project will be chosen for this opportunity.

Encorus Group can help with the identification of and engineering design for the elimination of emerging contaminants from drinking water. If you are eligible for these grants and would like to pursue them, contact Environmental Engineer Mary Padasak at mpadasak@encorus.com or (716) 592-3980 ext. 144.

For more information about this grant program and the application requirements, visit https://www.efc.ny.gov/EmergingContaminants.

Fun Fact Friday: Seismic Design

Fun Fact Friday: Seismic Design

During the design phase of a structure, there are certain loading conditions that engineers need to take into consideration. One of those loading conditions is seismic load, which is a dynamic load caused by the acceleration of the earth supporting the structure. Earthquakes can occur in any location at any time with increased activity near known fault lines. In fact, the Western New York area is located near a fault line, The Clarendon-Linden fault. This fault line is not expected to produce a major earthquake event; therefore, the area is generally considered a low seismic area.

Engineers use performance-based design to determine the seismic forces that would be applied externally to a structure and compare that load to other dynamic loads, such as wind forces. Performance based design requires structures to perform based on its purpose, occupants, location, and soil characteristics underneath. Engineers will look at ground motion response acceleration maps as part of the seismic load calculation. Seismic design is required for most designs, and there are very few exceptions in the International Building Code. Sometimes these exceptions in the code are overridden by state and local code requirements.

Building materials with high ductility such as steel and wood are often used to resist seismic forces. Ductile materials allow a structure to flex, absorbing and dissipating energy when subjected to sudden earthquake forces. Brick and concrete structures can be designed to resists seismic forces. However, ductility needs to be built into those structural systems. This is typically done with steel reinforcement.

Certain areas of the world require more consideration for seismic design. Higher seismic areas, such as the West Coast of the United States, require structural systems and connections to be seismically qualified. It is very important for an engineer to select a structural system that makes efficient and economic use of the materials chosen to keep the risks at a minimum.

If you or your company has any need for or questions about seismic design, contact Senior Structural Engineer Daniel Sarata at dsarata@encorus.com or (716) 592-3980 ext 138.

Fun Fact Friday: Magnetometer Surveys

Fun Fact Friday: Magnetometer Surveys

What is the largest magnet you have ever seen? I’ll give you a hint: You are standing on it. Yup, it’s the Earth! But you say, “How can that be?” Deep under our feet, buildings, and roadways, is the Earth’s core. The core is about 4500 miles wide and the outer part is liquid (molten) and the inner part is solid (nickel and iron). It is this core which is responsible for the earth’s magnetic field – think North and South poles. So, the Earth is like a huge bar magnet.

Early indications of the Earth’s magnetic field were detected via a simple compass used by seafarers for at least the past 1000 years. So where does that put us today? Zip ahead to now.

Magnetics have been a fascination for generations and have been studied with regards to radio communications, cell phones, motors, generators, and more geologically and environmentally for mineral exploration, coal mine hazard detection, unexploded ordinance detection, location drums of toxic and hazardous wastes, underground storage tank locating, as aids for directional drilling, and for oil exploration.

By recording and analyzing minute changes in the magnetic field proximate subsurface features it may be possible to determine the source of the readings and thereby evaluate the appropriate course of action: exploration, digging, drilling, excavation, etc.

Magnetometer surveys are completed at the ground surface or via airborne methods (drones, aircraft, and satellites). Depending on the survey goals, various magnetometry can be used such as fluxgate, gradiometer, vector, potassium/cesium vapor, or proton procession magnetometers.

Encorus has used magnetometers such as the EM-61 to locate buried metal objects like tanks and utilities. The Geonics EM-61 is a time domain metal detector which detects both ferrous and non-ferrous objects with excellent spatial resolution, perfectly suited to brownfield site mitigation or locating tanks and unexploded ordinance.

Another type of magnetometer is the Geonics EM-31 which is used to determine terrain conductivity. The EM31 maps geologic variations, groundwater contaminants, or any subsurface feature associated with changes in ground conductivity. Surveys can be carried out under most geologic conditions including those of high surface resistivity such as sand, gravel, and asphalt.

It should be noted that no single geophysical method alone can fully identify differentiate subsurface objects, as each has its inherent limitations. Generally, a suite of equipment and methods are used to fully investigate a site. For more information regarding our geophysical applications and your site-specific project requirements contact Senior Geologist Andrew Kucserik at akucserik@encorus.com or (716) 592-3980 ext 149.

Encorus Authors Published in Roads & Bridges Magazine

Encorus Authors Published in Roads & Bridges Magazine

An article co-authored by Encorus Group’s Joseph Lowry III, PE, and Sheila A. Ransbottom, PE has been published in the December 2018 issue of Roads & Bridges magazine.  The article covers some points to remember when working with government set-asides, such as those for minority-owned, women-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.  Check it out here!

Fun Fact Friday: Hydrometer Analysis Testing

Fun Fact Friday: Hydrometer Analysis Testing

This Fun Fact Friday article will describe the procedure for hydrometer analysis of soils. This procedure measures the particle-size distribution of fine-grained soils and is one of the services offered by our Civil Testing Group to ensure the integrity of subject materials.

This test method begins with obtaining a representative sample of soil material from the construction site or desired area. The soil sample is passed through a sieve to ensure that it is the appropriate size for the test. This material is placed into a cylindrical container along with a fluid mixture to suspend the particles within the container. The mixture is then agitated using either an agitation machine or the tipping method, which involves placing a rubber stopper in the opening of the cylinder to prevent any leaks, and then turning the entire cylinder upside down and then back for a period of time.

After the sample mixture has been agitated, it is placed on a flat, stationary surface so that the contained material can be measured using a hydrometer. The hydrometer measures the position of the soil particles within the fluid suspension at a specific time. Hydrometer measurements should be taken and recorded at 1, 2, 4, 15, 30, 60, 240, and 1440 minutes.

The readings from the hydrometer are plotted to create a gradation curve, which sorts the particles by size in both time and position as they settle to the bottom of the container. According to Stokes’ Law, larger particles will fall through a fluid faster than smaller particles. Calculations are performed based on the gradation curve and other factors to determine the particle size distribution of the sample soil material.
The resulting particle size distribution calculation can be used to help determine other engineering properties at the construction site, such as hydraulic conductivity, compressibility, and shear strength.

If you need hydrometer analysis or other testing services, contact Civil Laboratory Supervisor Jeremy Lake at jlake@encorus.com or (716) 592-3980 ext 133.