El Nino and California Stormwater

With drought like California has experienced, its hard to think about the EPA requirements for monitoring and reporting storm water. But, in El Nino years Aqua Operations is here to help you understand your permit, and compile and report your data.

Annual Storm Water Reports are required by all commercial, industrial, municipal, CalTrans and construction sites issued a Storm Water Discharge Permit by the EPA, any Regional Water Quality Control Board, or are regulated by a General Order of the State Water Resources Control Board.

Order 97-03-DWQ is an NPDES permit that regulates storm water discharges associated with 10 broad categories of industrial activities. The General Industrial Permit requires the implementation of management measures that will achieve the performance standard of best available technology economically achievable (BAT) and best conventional pollutant control technology (BCT). The General Industrial Permit also requires the development of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and a monitoring plan. Through the SWPPP, sources of pollutants are to be identified and the means to manage the sources to reduce storm water pollution are described.

Limiting storm water pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Aqua Operations can help you understand your responsibilities and identify sampling locations according to your permit for compliant monitoring and reporting.

Know what Storm Water is removing from your property, and file your reports by July 1st.

The EPA Redefines “WOTUS”

Final Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” – Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules

This rule has been replaced by the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

On October 22, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (the agencies) published a final rule to repeal the 2015 Rule defining  “waters of the United States” and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 Rule—i.e., the 1980s regulations, informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice. This final rule became effective on December 23, 2019, but was replaced by the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. On June 22, 2020 the Navigable Waters Protection Rule became effective in all states and jurisdictions, except for the State of Colorado due to a court-issued stay in that state. For now, the 2019 Rule remains in effect in Colorado.

With the final Step One rule, the agencies maintained a longstanding regulatory framework that was more familiar to and better-understood by the agencies, states, tribes, local governments, regulated entities, and the public prior to the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule taking effect.

Plant Startup – Fresno-Clovis Regional Reclamation Facility

facilityAqua Operations is working with W.M. Lyles Co. on the startup of the City of Fresno-Clovis Regional Tertiary Treatment and Disinfection Facility designed by Parsons Engineering. Mike Popichak is the startup coordinator of the MBR facility featuring UV disinfection designed to take the primary effluent of the existing secondary treatment facility receiving approximately 70 million gallons per day collected through more than 1,500 miles of sewer.

This is the second time teaming up for plant startup of a IMG_3494Parsons design and W.M. Lyles construction with Aqua Operations. Mike Popichak, a principal partner of Aqua Operations, will act as coordinator of this project in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Previously, this same team designed, built and commissioned the  City of Tulare Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility  featuring 6 sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) with a designed flow of 12 million gallons per day.

Why We Monitor and Record

Records You are making your plant rounds and looking, listening, smelling, maybe touching, hopefully not tasting, and writing down lots of numbers. These could be flows, hour meters, DO’s, pH, and many more. Do you ever ask yourself “what do these numbers mean.”

I was on-site one time and noticed a large difference in daily flow measurement. I asked the operator if he had noticed any difference. He informed me, that “all he did was write down the numbers”. A scary thought that an operator, first line of quality control, was not paying attention to their job. So, I ask again, “do you know what those numbers mean?” If you don’t, then ask.

What do your operators know about the monitoring numbers they record?

Design – Build – Operate: Synergistic Proposals for Enhanced Results

Kiewit-MWH-AOAqua Operations, Inc., partners with engineering firms and builders to present complete municipal and private sector proposals for water and watsewater projects. Recent partnerships include joint proposals with Kiewit Corporation and MWH Global for the Los Angeles Groundwater Reliability Improvement Program Advanced Water Treatment Facility. Our water and watsewater operations division also provides joint services with other operations providers, and is equipped to respond to the operations needs of the worldwide water industry.

Aqua Operations provides plant startup services and technical operational assistance to engineering firms and construction companies in varying packages from complete operation startup with staff training options to startup with longterm operations options.

Thank You For 2020, and Best Operations For 2021!

AO BlackThank you to our clients for another successful year at Aqua Operations in 2020. As we look back over the past year, we enjoy knowing that operations programs have benefited  with our relationship. Achieving and maintaining compliance at your facility or preparing your staff for operations or certification are never ending events.

We are pleased to have helped, and look forward to seeing you in 2017 –  Lake Isabella WWTF,  Marquez Bothers International,  City of Wasco,  Ski West Cooperative,  Los Angeles Resource Recovery, I-5 Utility Company,  Langer Juice Company,  City of Tulare,  June Lake Public Utility District, Crimson Renewable Energy,  Nipomo Community Services District,  Sweetwater Tech Resources,  City of Farmersville, City of Fresno, Rosamond Community Services District,  Sun-Pacific Farms, Lamont Public Utility District,  Hi-Desert Water District, Stoco Mutual Water Co., and the California Counties of Fresno, Kern and Los Angeles.

Happy New Year!
Mike Popichak, President
Aqua Operations, Inc.

Purple Pipe White Knight – it’s actually Lavender

Drinking-Water-Sign-NHB-14608_600What’s the difference between Recycled Water and Reclaimed Water?

These terms are generally used interchangeably and which word is used depends on the region. Recycled or reclaimed water is water that is used more than one time before it passes back into the natural water cycle. Thus, water recycling is the reuse of treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, or replenishing a groundwater basin.

The leaders in use of reclaimed water in the U.S. are Florida and California, with Irvine Ranch Water District as one of the leading developers. They were the first district to approve the use of reclaimed water for in-building piping and use in flushing toilets.

In a January 2012 U.S. National Research Council report, a committee of independent experts found that expanding  the reuse of municipal wastewater for irrigation, industrial uses, and drinking water augmentation could purple-pipesignificantly increase the United States’ total available water resource. The committee noted that a portfolio of  treatment options is available to mitigate water quality issues in reclaimed water. The report also includes a risk analysis that suggests the risk of exposure to certain microbial and chemical contaminants from drinking reclaimed water is not any higher than the risk from drinking water from current water treatment systems—and in some cases, may be orders of magnitude lower. The report concludes that adjustments to the federal regulatory framework could enhance public health protection and increase public confidence in water reuse.

In many cities using reclaimed water, it is now in such demand that consumers are only allowed to use it on assigned days. Some cities that previously offered unlimited reclaimed water at a flat rate are now beginning to charge citizens by the amount they use.

Nonpotable reclaimed water is often distributed with a dual piping network that keeps reclaimed water pipes completely separate from potable water pipes. In the United States and some other countries, nonpotable reclaimed 20120123_Dairy_2593_jpg_CROP_original-originalwater is distributed in lavender (light purple) pipes to distinguish it from potable water. The use of the color purple for pipes carrying recycled water was pioneered by the Irvine Ranch Water District. The EPA publication Guidelines for Water Reuse  and the Uniform Plumbing Code designates the color for reclaimed water piping as Pantone #512C or #522C.

In California’s San Joaquin Valley more than 800,000 acre feet of municipal wastewater is reclaimed annually for agriculture. That equates to nearly 840 million gallons per day irrigating non-food and fodder crops. In Wasco, California, all of the treated wastewater effluent is used for crop irrigation.

There will be more communities investing in systems that recycle water for use on lawns and crops, but much of the growth, especially in Southern California, will be in turning human wastewater into drinking water, according to Dave Smith, the managing director of  WateReuse California.

In October 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires state health and water officials to report by September 2016 on the feasibility of developing uniformwater-law-logo standards for recycling wastewater for “direct potable reuse.” That means purified wastewater would flow straight to household faucets.

“California needs more high-quality water, and recycling is key to getting there,” Brown said in his signing message for SB 322, authored by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego.

Parkson’s Biolac® System

cover-biolac-43Of the many types of treatment available to municipal and privately owned utilities providing treatment for domestic waste, extended aeration of modified treatment ponds is sweeping across California to fulfill many new regulatory requirements.

The California Code of Regulations Title 23, Section 3671, defines modified treatment ponds as,  “a pond in which either the biological oxidation of organic matter is enhanced by the addition of aeration or the effluent receives disinfection before discharge.”

gallery-biolac-135Parkson Corporation is a leader of treatment pond aeration with its Biolac® system. Biolac® is an innovative activated sludge process that allows for extended sludge age to create an extremely stable system that is operator friendly. Over the past 2 years Aqua Operations has provided startup, chief plant operator and educational services for 3 new California facilities featuring the Biolac® system.  The Rosamond Community Services District, the Lamont Public Utility District and the Nipomo Community Services District have all been expanded to include the Biolac® system for extended aeration and nitrification – denitrification capabilities. The system maintains the required mixing of the activatedLPUD Biolac Maintenance sludge and suspension of the solids at only 4 CFM per 1000 cu.ft. of aeration basin volume. As a result, air delivery to the basin can be reduced during periods of low loading while maintaining effective food-to-biomass contact and without the risk of solids settling out of the wastewater. Lamont Public Utility District staff are pictured left performing periodic maintenance to the Biolac® system from a pontoon hoist platform.

Nipomo EngPictured right is Aqua Operations’ Mike Popichak and Peter Sevcik, Director of Engineering for the Nipomo Community Services District, who stated “We’re doing a much higher level of treatment, smaller footprint, much more efficient. We used to be able to barely meet our limits of 60 parts per million BOD, 60 parts per million TSS, and right now we’re around five.”

Simple control of the air distribution to the BioFlex® chains creates moving waves of oxic and anoxic zones within the basin. This is known as the Wave Oxidation process. No additional in-basin equipment is required, and air distribution is regulated by simple timer-operated actuator valves. Biological phosphorus removal also can be accomplished by incorporating an anaerobic zone. In the video below you can see the Parkson Corporation Biolac® System in action.

Facility modification that include aeration systems such as the Biolac® System, may result in a higher classification for your California treatment facility.


Modified treatment pond definition taken from the California Code of Regulations Title 23, Section 3671. Biolac® and Bioflex® are a Registered Trademarks of Parkson Corporation.

Industrial Waste Treatment

MP Sampling MBThe City of Hanford Industrial Pretreatment Program permits industries to discharge to the city’s municipal wastewater system once certain criteria has been met. Aqua Operations’ Mike Popichak, pictured left, observes the partially treated food waste stream at Marquez Brothers International’s wastewater treatment facility at its Hanford plant. Mr. Popichak performed start-up of the .75 MGD facility for Carollo Engineering, and has been retained by Marquez as a consultant for process control and to provide operator and laboratory staff education. Industrial Wastewater Teatment Operators and Laboratory Technicians are certified by the California Water Environment Association. Cheese Waste MBRecent changes to the California Water Code now allows Industrial Wastewater Operators to become certified by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Industrial waste streams can be very difficult to process. The Marquez Bothers’ plant processes 750,000 gallons of cheese and other milk product wastewater per day, as in the picture right, showing the primary treatment aeration chamber. In addition to agricultural processing Aqua Operations provides industrial services for the petroleum  and biologigal refining industries.

MP Lab Lecture editIndustrial wastewater operations requires extensive process control utilizing a strict, routine monitoring of the waste stream by sampling and analysis. Left, Mr. Popichak discusses wastewater biology with the laboratory technicians and operators at Marquez Bothers’ onsite laboratory for its wastewater treatment facility.

Aqua Operations can structure a consulting or operations contract, or training program to meet your specific needs. Industrial Wastewater Treatment by Aqua Operations, Inc., will be continued.

CWEA Conference Santa Clara, CA April 28 – May 2

By CWEA Golden Empire Section


Aqua Operations’ Michael Popichak held an SWRCB Grade III Operator certification review at Kern Sanitation Authority in March. The review was attended by operators from throughout the Golden Empire Section, as well as other section operators, preparing for the exam held on April 4th.


From the album: https://www.facebook.com/AquaOperationsIncBy Aqua Operations, Inc.


securedownloadAqua Operations recently recognized Shon Halterman for his dedication and service to the company in 2013. Shon is our mechanic based in the Bakersfield area responsible for service of wastewater component operation contracts with the County of Kern.

Shon will be representing Aqua Operations at the 2014 CWEA Conference in Santa Clara, CA, beginning April 29th – May 2nd. Download conference Apps, brochure, and access webinars by visiting the CWEA http://www.cwea.org/et_attendees_conferences.shtml