Month: October 2021

3 Steps to Consider when Facing Challenges with Water Supply in Florida

Photo of a well in Florida with words overlayed saying "Water Supply Development Challenges"

One of the societal changes that has taken place because of the pandemic is working remotely, which has allowed people to live anywhere and not be tied down to an office. In Florida, this has resulted in an enormous, unplanned and unexpected real estate boom that has stressed a critical public infrastructure: the water supply.

Pre-pandemic, in January 2020, a study for a city in central Florida projected no need for increasing its permitted supply until 2045. A year and a half later in May 2021, our updated projection found that the amount of newly proposed development accelerated that need to 2027, almost 20 years sooner.

With the real estate boom and pressure on a public water supply, the risk would be running out of water. So, there are some considerations to be made before a municipality can determine next steps.

  1. The first step is to consider its water withdrawal permit. In Florida, these permits are issued by the five water management districts. Like comparable regulatory agencies throughout the US, withdrawal permitting is often complex, challenging and – at times – contentious, given that high quality water is a limited resource subject to competing needs and interests.
  2. Second, consider alternative water supplies. This may include sources like deeper aquifers or saline surface water that has not been considered in the past because of greater treatment requirements and higher capital and operating costs.
  3. Third, focus on water conservation to reduce per capita water consumption as well as increased beneficial reuse of treated wastewater (for example, lawn and golf course irrigation).

The need for additional water supply is, of course, not limited to Florida utilities. In Swansea, Massachusetts, the ground water option was tapped out. The water district was getting as much out of wells as it was going to get and regional alternatives for water didn’t make sense, economically. There, a new supply based on taking water from a coastal tidal river was developed that included treating a wellfield with high iron, manganese and carbon dioxide. After aerating the wellfield, an ultrafiltration membrane system provided iron and manganese removal for the wellfield as well as solids removal pretreatment for the river water. A reverse osmosis (RO) treatment system then desalted the river water. The treated well water helped to stabilize the desalted river water without the need for carbonate addition. Desalting will likely be required for the Florida alternative supply project.

The Floridan aquifer that our Florida client utilizes is one of the largest in the country lying beneath the entire state of Florida and southern portions of South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. It varies in depth and lithology, and the high-quality zones can be stressed by overpumping, leading to the use of less desirable strata both from water quality and greater depth standpoints.

Our engineers have been aiding municipalities and counties with the challenges they face in their drinking water and wastewater supplies and treatments for decades. Do you have questions or concerns about issues your community may be facing? Please contact me!

Employee Spotlight: John Coon

John Coon – Senior CADD Designer & Avid Golfer

1.  What drew you to Hoyle Tanner?
The opportunity to work on airports.
2. What’s something invaluable you’ve learned here?
Teamwork! Everybody has a role to play.
3. What’s your favorite time of year to work at Hoyle Tanner?
Summer. Projects get out the door and golf season starts.
4. What’s the coolest thing you are working on?
Airspace projects. Working on 3D drone models is something special. It’s like the Jetsons.
5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this week?
It was 75+ degrees this week.
6. How many different states have you lived in?
Four: NH, MA, FL, and CA.
7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Grilled steak
8. What kind of pet do you have and how did you choose to name it?
We have a cat named Oliver. It has an attitude, that’s why he’s named Oliver. Its Deb’s (my wife’s) cat, I just happen to live in the same house. Our daughter moved out 6 years after college, so now it’s the cat that rules the house.
9. What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?
Home of the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard and American poet, Robert Frost.
10. What are three things still left on your bucket list
1. Play the Sawgrass Players Club
2. Shoot sub par (71) I’ve come close twice shooting 72’s!
3. Play in a pro-am with Jordan Spieth

11. Name three items you’d take with you to a desert island
1. Wife
2. TV
3. Golf Club (with floating balls)

12. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Honesty That’s the only one that matters to me.
13. How old is the oldest item in your closet?
45-year-old soccer cleats, but they might come up missing like most of my old stuff. Last year, I went to play golf, came back home, and my wife had a dump truck and four workers that were emptying the entire cellar. The cellar was empty. I got to keep a hammer, drill, and a few pliers, that was it.
14. Words to live by? Favorite Quote?
“Yes dear, whatever you think is best.” [to my wife]
15. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Pro soccer player. I made it to semi-pro league playing in the eastern division.
16. If you were to skydive from an airplane what would you think about on the way down?
I’d never jump out of a plane. Never.

The 3 Most Valuable Things I’ve Learned Since Starting 3 Years Ago

Since starting in 2018, shortly after graduating from the University of Vermont, I’ve learned a variety of skills that have benefitted me as both an engineer and team member. While there are opportunities to continue my education, working with my peers has been a valuable experience. The three most valuable things I’ve taken away from my first three years are lessons I will continue to work on and apply throughout my career.

Write everything down – and keep it organized.

Throughout the multiple phases, meetings, and phone calls of a project, many decisions are made, and it’s critical to keep everything well documented. As engineers, we’re liable for the designs we stamp and therefore rely on the justification behind each design decision. When your project manager or client comes asking about a decision, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when you have to scramble through files and specs trying to remember why you did something. I’ve come to appreciate clear documentation as I’ve started to backcheck work and try to apply that mindset when performing tasks.

Always ask the question.

When I get stuck on something or can’t quite remember how to do a certain task, I’ve learned it’s always beneficial to reach out because you usually gain more than just an answer. For starters, spending too much time mulling things over can be inefficient. Your peers are great assets that can often times go beyond answering your question and provide their own insight and experience on a trick they like to use or resource they find helpful. And finally, sometimes your question is just something that nobody else has thought of and needs to be further addressed.

Say yes to everything.

I’ve found that engineering judgment is built primarily from experience, and therefore every opportunity to try something new holds value. Saying “yes” to every opportunity is a great way to gain exposure to a variety of engineering fields to figure out what interests you and make you a well-rounded engineer. By working with new peers in other disciplines, you can build an understanding of how other aspects of a project come together and provide better external team member coordination for multidisciplinary projects.