Bringing Information to Your Doorstep

September 1, 2015

Halff’s Water Utilities Symposium

A full-service engineering consulting firm. What does that mean to you? At Halff, we take pride in offering professional services in numerous disciplines, providing a one-stop shop for many types of projects. However, meeting the standard of full service means much more to Halff than preparing plans and specs. When you need guidance on rules, regulations and red tape, Halff wants to be your trusted resource, and one way we deliver that guidance is through seminars, workshops and symposiums personalized to the needs of you and your staff.

As a recent example of this service, Halff staff members, led by Frank Crumb, PE, developed a one-day symposium covering pertinent water utilities issues and presented it July 30 in our McAllen office to key municipal and water district staff members in the Rio Grande Valley.

Providing Perspective to Learn from the Past and to Plan for the Future

Frank, who joined Halff last year after serving as the City of Fort Worth Water Director, worked with water utility experts from Halff offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and McAllen to prepare a program focusing on lessons learned from previous EPA administrative orders in Dallas and Fort Worth; best practices on maintaining and upgrading a wastewater collection system; GIS applications for a wastewater asset management system; and utility management.

Tony Almeida, PE, who worked for Dallas Water Utilities for many years before joining Halff, and Frank led the morning session with a discussion of the difference between administrative orders and the current process of negotiating consent decrees with EPA and the Department of Justice for violations of the Clean Water Act. They also reviewed the TCEQ program for Sanitary Sewer Overflow Initiative (SSOI) and the EPA Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance program (CMOM).

Tony presented the history of the City of Dallas administrative order that was issued during the early 1990s, a time when only the Cities of Houston and Dallas were under administrative order. He compared the two programs and discussed how the corrective enforcement action from this period laid the foundation for the current regulations. Frank then gave an overview of the methods used by the City of Fort Worth to address an administrative order regarding wet weather overflows in its wastewater collection system.

During the next session, Erin Atkinson, PE, CFM, GISP, offered attendees a glimpse into how a wastewater asset management program can simplify the daunting task of monitoring, evaluating and repairing miles of system components. He illustrated how the program uses GIS to locate assets and determine network connectivity, survey all above-ground assets, perform condition assessments, develop a comprehensive GIS database integrating the condition assessment and deliver a CIP plan.

Jennifer Ramos, who served on the San Antonio City Council (2008-2012) before joining Halff, offered some insight on how to approach elected officials to get their support for specific projects. She encouraged ongoing communication, planning for the future and keeping the betterment of the community in mind at all times. On the other hand, Jennifer also gave a list of things not to do, including bringing problems without solutions, asking for rate increases every year and requesting rate increases during an election cycle.

Robert Saenz, PE, CFM, PMP, of Halff’s McAllen office conducted a panel discussion with Frank, Tony, Erin and Jennifer, and then Frank wrapped up the day with a review of utility management tools and challenges, including the 10 Attributes of Effective Utilities.

The Take-Away

Halff has the expertise to offer guidance on administrative issues as well as engineering projects. We welcome the opportunity to provide seminars and workshops, and we will work with clients to schedule educational sessions in your area. Halff has a multi-disciplined team of engineers, modelers and planners who work together to help clients achieve long-lasting results and the greatest value for our clients’ investments. If Halff Associates can assist your team, please call Executive Vice President Jessica Baker, PE, CFM, PMP, at (214) 217-6692.