Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday of the year. I have such fond memories of this holiday every year. Large family gatherings, nice and warm inside watching parades and football, men and boys all outfitted in blaze orange, the turkey displayed grandly in the middle of the table with the mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade stuffing, green bean casserole, squash, cranberry sauce, and rolls circling, and the pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies waiting anxiously in the kitchen while we slowly, happily, and gratefully enjoy the feast that I had absolutely nothing to do with creating and therefore is wonderful. The sleepy tryptophan-induced napping that follows. Overall sense of thankfulness that reminds us to remember how blessed we truly are. Oh yes, and the wastewater backups.
According to Colorado Springs Utilities, their biggest day of the year for wastewater backups is Thanksgiving day. Because all that turkey creates a lot of grease, fat and oil. According to Spokesman Dave Grossman, "As the grease goes down into their service line, it will start to solidify or harden, even before it gets out to the main line. And over time, that fat, oil and grease can start to build up and clog drains. And when that happens, it can cause a wastewater back up into your home." That takes 100% of the fun out of the holiday.
So avoid the sewer backups this season. Let's all cool it a little on the clean up, and let that oil, grease, and fat cool in a can and then toss it in the garbage. Here's to everyone having a very happy Thanksgiving, filled with everything that makes us thankful.
For more information and sources, click here.P.S. Emergencies don't wait for normal work days. That's why they're called emergencies. We're working today if you are. Let us know if you need us.
Did you know that B&M is on Twitter? We are, and it's one of the most fun things I get to do for my job. Having never used Twitter, I was a little skeptical going into it in September when I set it all up. But having been doing it for the last few months, with 61 tweets under my belt, and I'm loving it. I often come across little articles, stories, and facts often that don't warrant a full blog post, but are interesting. Twitter gives me the platform to share this information. Twitter also lets us spotlight services and products that we offer that you may not know about. We do a lot of different things, and sometimes even our existing customers aren't aware of the scope and depth of our expertise. Don't worry, our twitter feed isn't one big advertisement for B&M. I try to keep it mixed up and interesting for everyone. Where can you read our tweets? If you're on Twitter, follow us; we're BMTechServices. If you're not on Twitter, you can still get our tweets. On our home page, there is a feed on the right hand side as you scroll down. There's also a feed on this blog page. Finally, we have our tweets going to our Facebook page as well - just click on the Twitter icon on the left hand side of the page.
The blue box in the middle of this post shows you our most current tweet, and you can scroll down by clicking the arrows to check out our past tweets. Check it out and come back too - I've got tweets planned on energy saving resources, the tallest building in the world plumbing system, fracking and earthquakes, drinking effluent, and interesting videos.
Something I've just discovered in the last few weeks is the incredible amount of video there is on YouTube about water and wastewater treatment processes. Who would have figured? I shouldn't be too surprised - I used to study biology and cellular processes by watching YouTube videos (no joke - I highly recommend it). So I've been spending some time pursuing YouTube's collection of wastewater and water video. Here's a couple of my best finds today.
This video below simply shows the entire wastewater treatment process - from toilet flush (with a pretty ring, no less!!) to effluent. The simplicity of it really appeals to me. I was going to name off all the things we work on that are shown in the video, but I'm practically describing the entire video by the time I get done with that! So the highlights: We install, troubleshoot and service radios, telemetry, and SCADA systems. We work on pumps at all stages - we sell replacements, new installs, troubleshoot problems, do pump checks, and do all of our pump rebuilds in house. Same thing goes for blowers. We work with flow meters every day. We're great at control panel work. All the sensors and level measurement shown - we've got you covered. Seriously, it might be easier to name off what we don't do. What don't we do? Well, we don't sell replacement jewelry. Unfortunately.
Next we've got a pretty cool video from the local City of Nekoosa! When I found this I wasn't even looking for local videos, but this just happened right down the road. Don't worry - this was a planned demolition and they replaced this water tower with a new one.
Finally, this is spectacular. How would you like this in your water system? If you've got one, I want to come see it! The pumps (14,000 HP jet engines to be specific) are unbelievable.
Are you on YouTube? I'm afraid I haven't done much as far as creating content. I'll have to remember next time we do something interesting to try and take make video of it.
As we continue to search for more and alternative sources of energy, a new term has come creeping up - hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. Fracking is a drilling process used to extract natural gas where traditional extraction will not work. It's a particularly interesting subject to us because almost certainly has a direct link to the water and wastewater industry. Additionally, as Ed Morse points out in an excellent article in the Fall 2011 edition of the Wisconsin Rural Water Journal there is great potential for fracking in particularly in Wisconsin. The sand that makes up a great deal of our sandstone is ideal for fracking, and has brought a flood of hydraulic fracturing prospectors in what Ed calls "the great sand rush." This is apparent in the numbers alone - there were less than five frac sand mines five years ago, but now there are at least 22 active or in development, and another sixteen are proposed.
The diagram below helps demonstrate the process of fracking. Very basically, water is injected at high pressures to open up natural gas supplies, and sand is used to hold open the wells long so that the natural gas can be extracted.
I'm certainly not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but intuitively fracking makes me a little uncomfortable. When I look at the picture above, the first thing that jumps to mind is the potential for earthquakes. Because it seems to me that we're putting a giant crack in our foundation. This isn't a baseless fear, as this study cited by Joe Romm on the Climate Progress Blog shows (LINK):
A previously unreported study out of the Oklahoma Geological Survey has found that hydraulic fracturing may have triggered a swarm of small earthquakes earlier this year in Oklahoma. The quakes, which struck on Jan. 18 in a rural area near Elmore City, peaked at magnitude 2.8 and caused no deaths or property damage.
The study, currently being prepared for peer review, follows news today that Cuadrilla Resources, a British shale gas developer, has found that it was “highly probable” its fracturing operations caused minor quakes of magnitude 2.3 and 1.5 in Lancashire, England. The Cuadrilla study could complicate the expansion of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in risk-averse Europe, where France has already banned the practice.
Besides the potential for minor earthquakes, fracking uses quite a bit of water. There's quite a bit of concern about the wastewater from fracking and how it is treated. Where does it go, who stores it, who treats it, etc. It appears that there is little impact on groundwater in fracking operations and the surrounding areas. However, the potential threat, however small it may be, to the water supply has moved several United States towns to ban the practice.
The video below is a debate of fracking that centers on The City of Syracuse (New York) to ban fracking within city limits and limit where the wastewater from fracking can be stored. A proponent of fracking, Don Siegel, professor of earth sciences at Syracuse University, is confident that fracking does not have any long lasting, inherent risks to the environment based on the research. He is backed up by a great deal of research and evidence, and this greatly supports his cause. While they do not deny that the risks may be small, Kathleen Joy, Syracuse Council majority leader and Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of Onondaga Council of Chiefs of Onondaga Nation, helped push through the ban in order to prevent even the chance of errors. Lyons states that we must take the "long view and the large view...you have to protect the commons." Joy compares the current push for fracking to the past push for industrial uses that resulted in great pollution of lakes and water sources, and the ban helps to "stop the process before that happens."
It's undeniable that there is a need in this country to search for alternative sources of energy and to become less dependent on foreign sources. Certainly we should be seeking to use our natural resources to the best of our ability, and fracking may have a place in that. Additionally, innovation is the engine of success, and we should stop innovation based on small fears. However, we've got to be careful that we don't destroy our supply of the most basic human need. Water is probably the most common of goods, and it is because it's common that it becomes all of our duty to watch over it and ensure that it is protected. After all, it will be our supply of water, not natural gas, that continues to sustain life for generations to come.
"The Scoop on Frac Sand." Morse, Ed. Wisconsin Rural Water Journal, Fall 2011, Pg 44-45.