Category: Blog (Page 2 of 2)

Excel Engineering’s Survey Results

In a survey conducted in February 2011, 96% of our clients gave us a score of 10(1) for customer service experience and 100% of our clients gave us a score of 10(1) for recommending us to their friends and colleagues. Our clients told us that they liked our team, responsiveness, accessibility and our in-depth expertise. Over the Past 20 Years we have developed a proven “9 Steps to Project Success” process to save our clients time, money and frustration in the project design and permitting process.

(1) The survey asked 5 questions one of which was “on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best) rate your customer service experience”. 99% of our clients gave us score of 9 to 10. The other was “on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best) rate if you would recommend us to a friend”.

40% Flow Reduction saves owner Big Bucks

A 40% reduction in waste water flow was achieved within a 4 months period solving a compliance situation which had resulted in a Consent Order. This action saved owner hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to the waste water facility. The waste water treatment facility was processing over 57,000 gallons per day of waste water while being permitted at 35,000 gallons per day. The option of adding additional capacity was not feasible due to space limitation and associated costs. We worked with the owner to develop a program that reduced the waste water flows to the plant by 40%.

Parkwood Estates is located in Plant City, Hillsborough County, Florida. The community consists of 213 mobile home units. The community was originally developed as a 55+ adult community. Approximately 5 years ago the community was converted from a 55+ community into a family community. The typical population of a 55+ community is 1.75 people per home. However, in a family community the population is 2.5 people per home.

The flows to the waste water treatment facility increased. The community was experiencing waste water flows in excess of 57,000 gallons per day, while the permitted capacity of its on-site waste water treatment facility was 35,000 gallons per day. This resulted in a violation of its waste water treatment facility operating permit which resulted in a Consent Order and fines being paid.

In order to achieve compliance two alternatives were evaluated: 1.) Expand the effluent disposal system and treatment plant to accommodate the additional capacity; and 2.) Institute an aggressive water conservation plan. In either case an evaluation of the collection system known as an Infiltration and Inflow (I &I ) evaluation was to be conducted.

The I & I Study found several sources of infiltration and inflow in the collection system and these were repaired. Following the completion of the I & I Study an aggressive water conservation plan was implemented. The water conservation plan included installation of remote read electronic water meters, charging for water use, a water audit of each home and hiring a part-time environmental utility to monitor the water use and water audits. The water conservation plan in large part reduced the flows from over 57,000 gallons per day to less than 35,000 gallons per day within 4 months..

This water conservation plan of action saved the owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in upgrades to its waste water treatment facility. It also restored the confidence of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission; the permitting agency on the facility.

When you Don’t Know you Live Next to a Superfund Site

A Superfund is a federally designated clean-up site that is usually contaminated with hazardous substances. Most of these clean-up projects take years to complete; sometimes even decades. There are hundreds all over the United States, and often times, public citizens aren’t informed about their whereabouts. This was the case recently for residents in the small town of Billerica, Massachusetts. 31 Superfunds are listed by the government in Massachusetts, and one of them was nestled perniciously in their quiet neighborhood.

The Superfund site is called Iron Horse Park, and it was formally an industrial complex built on the premises of a railroad yard some hundred years ago. What has been left behind from the site is rusting equipment and an overwhelming amount of wastewater. Residents of the town were unaware of the site for the most part, but acknowledged that the town had a sort of “chemical smell” that was nearly palpable.

More than 61,000 people in the town were within three miles of the site. The main contaminants were asbestos and lead. With the bureaucracy and red-tape that most Superfund sites are tangled with, the process of decontaminating and cleaning up the site often times takes decades. The Iron Horse Park site was listed in 1984 and isn’t planned on clearing until 2031. The cost of the clean-up is slated at four million, but an addition million dollars will expedite the process and cut 15 years out of the process.

It is imperative to plan a site efficiently and with an immense attention to detail to avoid your facilities from contributing to a potential Superfund. For professional civil engineer consulting and land planning and development, contact us at Excel Engineering. Call us today at 1-800-806-1206

Superfund Sites That Are Still Toxic Nearly 30 Years Later

Impervious to scrutiny by much of the nation’s population, many superfund sites are sprawled throughout the nation, still as toxic and pernicious as ever. 31 of them are located in Massachusetts, which many seem like an unassuming location for most of the country. Some examples of these superfund sites and their environmental implications are as follows:

  • Industri-Plex in Woburn-Contaminated groundwater mitigation still isn’t control
  • Iron Horse Park in Billerica-Human exposures are not under control and EPA is currently working on its progress.
  • New Bedford Site in New Bedford- Human exposures are not under control and EPA is currently working on its progress.
  • Nuclear Metals, Inc. in Concord-There is insufficient data to determine migration control status
  • Blackburn and Union Privileges in Walpole- Contaminated groundwater mitigation still isn’t control

Though some sites have continual observation by the Environmental Protection Agency, these superfunded sites still present problems from people living in their vicinity, such as prolonged chemical exposure. There are even many toxic sites scattered throughout Massachusetts that didn’t make the Superfund list-a number ranging between 3,000 and 5,000. The sites that make the Superfund list are the ones that pose immediate and imminent health risks.

The EPA estimates it spends more than $1 billion dollars on contaminated sites in Massachusetts every year. Six facilities on the lists are actually military compounds, and are especially troublesome to clean up. The difficulty of cleaning up Superfund sites is they require advanced, sophisticated technologies to remove heavy pollutants. Once toxins get into soil and groundwater, they are extremely hard to extract. It often times takes decades to perform this task completely.

Congress has slowly been appropriating more funds to cleaning up toxic sites after almost dissolving the fiscal contribution in 2003. It is going to take the efforts of the Federal Government and EPA to collaborate and figure out how to address these problems sooner than 50 year projections that are already being discussed. The growth of large scale pollutions will have serious repercussions in years to come.

Stormwater Management-Terrain

Stormwater is water that essentially comes from all forms of weather (rain, melted snow) and has an acute tendency to flow across hard surfaces that don’t soak up water. These surfaces are commonly parking lots, roof tops, sidewalks, and streets. The trouble with stormwater arises from two issues:

  • If the actual volume of stormwater is too great, it can lead to flooding and other forms of water
  • Stormwater is notorious for carrying contaminants quickly and over a large area.

Some of the common pollutants in stormwater are heavy metals, debris, oils, bacteria, and harsh elements. It is difficult to treat stormwater before it enters bodies of water such as streams and lakes. It also has the chance of creating problems within cities’ wastewater treatment plants.

If stormwater isn’t moderated, it also contributes many problems because of its overwhelming volume. Streams, for example, have a certain amount of water they can manage. With an excess of stormwater, natural drainage ways become eroded, banks and bottoms are worn away, and the natural habitat of wildlife is harmed.

It is important for every project to develop stormwater pollution prevention plans. These control measures will benefit the area of land development in the long run. Many times, these construction projects are required to have a Construction Stormwater General Permit, but it is also up to the individual to execute a strategy to control stormwater on their site.

Stormwater management has to be an ongoing topic of importance for land planning and development in Orlando, especially for bigger projects such as apartment complexes and assisted living facilities. These developments take far larger amounts of planning and time. It requires well-conceived execution to be able to manage stormwater, especially here in Florida.

Excel Engineering Consultants are experts in Orlando land planning and Orlando civil engineering. By using our comprehensive civil engineering services, we will ensure stormwater management and drainage at your site is optimized and efficient. Contact us today at 1-800-806-1206.

Stormwater Management-Geography

We discussed the negative impact stormwater has, but there are different ways to conquer its adverse effects.In fact, there are ways of even benefiting from stormwater.One of the best ways to utilize the benefits of stormwater is having the capacity to actually capture it and eventually reuse it.By capturing stormwater, wastewater treatment plants are able to tap into a new source of water to distribute to municipalities and private enterprises.Some approaches that are able to accomplish this are constructed-wetland stormwater treatment systems, small lot reuse, source reuse, and a few others.

Cities are considering stormwater more with the construction and expansion of their infrastructure.Proper runoff is going to be a core concern for any stormwater management system.The motion is moving further away from sewer collection and providing benefits and efficiency to watersheds.Diverting stormwater appropriately benefits the usage of alternative land, such as vegetation and wildlife. Different surfaces are going to have the ability to route wastewater to its desired location.

By working to mitigate runoff, water quality can be enhanced along with being able to harness the benefits of improved groundwater.Many cities around the world are working on the “best practices” for managing stormwater, and we should see exciting results in years to come.

Managing stormwater is not only important for vegetation, the efficiency of municipalities, and water treatment facilities.It is important for developing a sustainable infrastructure for assisted living facilities and apartment complexes.Land development in Orlando must be measured expertly and executed professionally.

Excel Engineering Consultants are experts in Orlando land planning and , Orlando civil engineering.By using our comprehensive civil engineering services, we will ensure stormwater management and drainage at your site is optimized and efficient.

Call Excel Engineering for all your Orlando Civil Engineering needs: 407-260-2292

Excel Engineering for Water Treatment Operation and Maintenance help

The Future of Wastewater

While treating wastewater around the world is imperative for preserving our most precious commodity, wastewater is also being directed as an excellent alternative energy source. This is important because of the fact that most forms of electricity ultimately have a negative impact on the environment and require special considerations.   The following fact is from a study called the State of Science Report: Energy and Resource Recovery from Sludge-“sewage contains 10 times the energy needed to treat it”.  In this regard, it is possible to actually recover energy from sludge.

Along with sludge, wastewater plants process biosolids, which alone have a number of benefits.  Nutrient-rich organic materials have numerous applications, such as being used as an excellent fertilizer. The purpose of effective management of wastewater is to not only treat and distribute usable water for  usable purposes (reuse), but to strategize ways of how sewage, sludge, and biosolids can be recycled for a number of purposes.

Here are some ways these technologies are being used around the world (According to a study by the Water Environment Research Foundation):

•    Thermally dried biosolids substitute for 5-10% of coal used to fuel a cement kiln in Maryland
•    Watsonville, CA uses restaurant grease to increase sludge digester gas production by over 50%.
•    In 2005 in the U.K., waste (including sewer sludge) combustion and biogas production accounted for 10.8% and 4.2% respectively of all UK renewable energy.
•    Stockholm’s energy company uses heat recover pumps to extract heat from treated sewage to provide hot water and heating to 80,000 apartments.
•    The Sewerage Bureau of Tokyo Metropolitan Government turns dewatered sewage sludge into fuel charcoal for thermal power generation.

We in the United States live in a society where we nonchalantly water our lawns when it isn’t necessary, leave sinks running while we brush our teeth, and buy millions of water bottles that have lower health regulation standards than many municipalities’ tap water.  Though it’s hard to move away from a lifestyle that is so rooted in our daily activity, there is a dire need to re-evaluate the necessity of efficient Florida wastewater management if our water consumption should find itself limited.

Excel Engineering has assisted numerous clients with sustainable Florida wastewater regulations.  Our experience with compliance, professional design, and necessary permitting has given us the ability to work closely with state and local agencies and establish effective relationships with essential governments.  Whether it’s an existing or new facility, small or large, we support you from start to finish.

Call Excel Engineering for all your Orlando Environmental Engineering needs: 407-260-2292

How Will These New Florida Land Development Regulations Affect Your Next Project ?

Are You Aware that in July of this year some new laws came into effect in Florida which will affect your Florida land development project. Some of these new Regulations are good and others may be not-so-good. Let me explain…..

The Good

IF you have a land development permit with any of the Water Management districts (St. Johns River, South Florida, or SW Florida), or the FDEP, you may be eligible for a 2 year extension-and it will not cost you anything. Here is how it works. Land development permits issued by the FDEP or the water management districts are known as Environmental Resource Permits (ERP).House Bill (HB) 503 provides for a 2 year extension of certain ERP.

Does Your Project Qualify for the 2 Year Extension?

Let’s see if your project qualifies for this 2 year extension of time.

  1. Does your ERP expire between Jan 1, 2012 and Jan 1, 2014?
  2. Have you previously requested any extensions of time?
  3. If you received extensions of time in 2010 or 2011 under other House Bills you may still qualify.

How Do You Get An Extension Of Time

To get an extension of time you should have your engineer submit a written extension of time letter to the FDEP, SJRWMD, SWFWMD, or the SFWMD before December 31, 2012.In this letter you need to let them know that you want the extension of time. You also need to identify the specific permits that you wish to extend. You must also include a schedule for the construction.

What If You’re Permit Expired

If your permit expired you may still be able to take advantage of this extension of time. Some conditions apply.

Permit Conditions that Won’t Qualify

  1. Is your project substantially out of compliance?
  2. Is your project under a court order?
  3. Do you have wetland impacts?

If you believe that your ERP may qualify for an extension of time speak with your attorney or engineer about this to see if you qualify. Make sure that you get this done “pronto”. Because the deadline for completing the process is December 30, 2012.And there will probably be a bunch of last minute requests and some may fall through the cracks. Don’t be one of them.



Self-Certification of Projects that are Less Than 10 Acres:

If you have a project that is less than 10 acres in size and has less than 2 acres of impervious surface you may be able to avoid the lengthy permitting process through any of the water management districts (SJRWMD, SWFWMD, SFWMD) or the FDEP. This new legislation allows your engineer to self-certify the project. This requires a Professional Engineer that certifies that the project meets the following criteria:

  1. It was designed by a Professional Engineer.
  2. The total area is less than 10 acres and has less than 2 acres of impervious area.
  3. The project isn’t part of a larger master planned project (sorry but you can’t chop a big project in pieces to get around the rules).
  4. No Wetland or Surface water impacts.
  5. The size of the drainage pipes won’t be larger than 24 inches.

Well if you have a small project that qualifies you can by-pass the whole lengthy permitting process with the water management district of the FDEP.

The Maybe Not-So-Good

Uniform Statewide ERP regulations: The State has been working on consolidating the land development regulations of the various Water Management Districts and the FDEP into one set of rules. Presently each water management district and the FDEP have different rules. This is both good and bad. The bad is that there is no uniformity in the rules. So for instance; in Orange County you have both the SJRWMD and the SFWMD. Depending on which side of the line your project is located different rules apply.

Now SJRWMD has some rules that are very good for land development as compared to the SFWMD rules and vice versa. My fear is that the consolidation will mean throwing out all the rules from each district that benefit land development and don’t have a significant impact on the environment. And keeping all the rules from each district that are the most stringent.

For projects in Central Florida this will have a marked difference. The SJRWMD allows you to lower the water table by up to 5 feet in order to create volume for your storm water requirements. This allows you to minimize the size of the pond because you store more of the volume vertically. However, the SFWMD does not allow you to lower the water table. This makes your ponds bigger and subjects more of your developable land to being a retention pond. This means more expensive land for you and lower R.O.I. for your project.

We’ll have to wait and see. The rule making is set for October of this year (that’s 2012).And I’ll keep you posted.

If you would like more information about these rule changes and how it may affect your land development project or would like to receive the full rule so that you can read it yourself, send me an email, call me or drop by the office and I’ll get it to you.

Call Excel Engineering for all your Orlando Civil Engineering and land development needs: 407-260-2292

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