Big Muddy Speakers Series

WaterOne by Tom Schrempp

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Tom Schrempp

As Director of Production, Tom Schrempp is responsible for all aspects of water production from WaterOne's source, treatment, pumping and storage facilities.

Mr. Schrempp is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He has been with WaterOne for over 15 years and has previously held the position of Assistant Director of Operations/Production. Mr. Schrempp has over 29 years of engineering experience, including one year with a state health department, six and a half years with a consulting engineering firm, and eight years working for municipal governments. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. He is also a Class IV Water Operator in the state of Kansas. Mr. Schrempp is a member of the American Water Works Association, National Society of Professional Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Water Environment Federation. He has co-authored several papers presented at state and national AWWA conferences and has served on several Project Advisory Committees for the AWWA Research Foundation. He is a member of the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce and alumni of the Leadership Lenexa Program. He represents WaterOne on the Missouri River Public Water Supply Association as the Association’s secretary. He represents WaterOne on the MO-ARK Association and is Vice President of Management of Dams & Reservoirs. He represents WaterOne for the Kansas River Water Assurance District and is Vice President.

Tom Schrempp WaterOne: Audio Transcript.

Well thank you for the kind introduction there, and I am Tom Schrempp with WaterOne. I manage the water treatment operations for WaterOne, and thats from the water source all the way out to the customer. We have a different area that handles the pipelines and that sort of thing. With, our facilities on the river have quite a long experience over about 20 years with WaterOne in dealing with Missouri River issues. I thought wed tell you a little bit about the extreme weather challenges that WaterOne has seen over the years and give you a little bit of an idea of what we do there.

Photos here are kind of interesting just to start with. This first one is our new collector well, horizontal collector well on the Missouri River; and, the Missouri River normally is on the bottom part of the trees here, but in the flood of 2011 we had to take a boat ride to get to that and operate that collector well. Behind it is our lime residuals treatment basin and its behind the levee, but the levee overtopped and all of the farm field behind it for almost a mile was flooded with water also, so it was a very complicated way to get to the collector well.

I have a couple of photos up here of our Kansas River intake. A few years back we had a breach of the jetty, rock jetty structure that makes sure that water can get to the intake, and we were left high and dry.

The last photo was actually of our Missouri River intake. Its a surface water intake. We were in the middle of putting in low water pump capability on it and ice formed in front of the barges that were working to form the construction and proceeded to cut off all the water to our Missouri River intake, so we were scrambling at that time in the middle of the winter.

Fortunately. Ill tell you a little bit about WaterOnes operations and one of the things we have multiple water sources that gives us some flexibility in times where 1 particular source is in distress we have some fallback capabilities.

Just to tell you a little bit about who WaterOne is, it is not a private company. Its a government entity, quasi municipal government very similar law to a city government, but our sole purpose is drinking water. We serve most of Johnson County, about 18 cities in Johnson County that we supply water to the customers, retails. Its not that we sell water to the individual cities and then they sell it to their citizens. We sell water directly to the retail customer. We have a 7-member elected board. Theyre elected from essentially our city limits, or Water District boundary. They have full jurisdiction to set water rates, determine whats needed. We dont go to state agencies. If our customers dont like whats being decided there, they go directly to voting on the elected representatives there to cause change to occur with our organization. WaterOne serves Johnson County, which is a rapidly growing area. Most of you are pretty familiar probably with Johnson County. Our current service population is about 407,000 people. Our treatment capacity is 200 million gallons a day. Our record so far in treatment is about 157 million gallons a day, so we are trying to, we try to build our facilities and stay ahead in the process so that theres always an adequate supply of safe drinking water to our customers. Our largest supply is 125 million gallon-a-day intake on the Missouri River. We project that in 2050 continued growth in Johnson County is going to generate a need for 260 million gallons of water. As we go into the future we will be planning future expansions of our facilities in order to meet the needs of our customers. We dont try and discourage water use, but we encourage wise water use. We dont want to see water being wasted, you know, people watering their lawns to the extent that water is running down the gutters really kind of a shame when you see that happening. But, we try and meet what the customers are telling us they need and want as a water supply.

Our older facility is called the Hansen Facilities, and theyre supplied with 2 river intakes and a well field. The picture on the left is our Kansas River. The intake is down here. The river is down here at the bottom. Its a little bit dated picture. Weve since put in a weir across the river that was permitted by the Corp of Engineers, and that weir you may have seen from I435 if youre driving north across the Kansas River. For about 3 years the construction took place. We kind of wondered whether it was ever going to get done. The weir assures that the water is available to go into our intake. The water goes in a tunnel under the railroad tracks and road to some treatment basins where we pretreat the water and then it goes to our main treatment plant.

On the Missouri River the intake, or the river is upper right corner here and our intake is right there on the river. In the flood of 1993 we had to take a boat to get out to it. The water got so deep and totally surrounded it. It came all the way out to this railroad track right here. We pump the water out of the Missouri River into 3 sedimentation facilities and then pump it 9-1/2 miles to our main treatment plant, the Hansen Treatment Plant.

On both of these, the rivers are very variable in water quality. They can be very turbid, or dirty. We have seen as high as 4000 NTUs, thats turbidity units. Other times of the year itll be as clear as say 20 to 30 NTUs. In order to be able to deal with those swings we put in this very robust advanced treatment here, pretreatment kind of process, before it goes on to our main treatment plant. This is an aerial photo of the 2 treatment plants. Water comes from the Kansas River down the road here and from the Missouri up here, and there are actually 2 treatment plants. Facility 1 is the older facility. It was originally designed for the Kansas River. And, Facility 2 was originally designed for the Missouri River. Weve got a lot of flexibility built into them if we need water from one of the sources to go to one or the other of the plants we have that capability.

Our newest facility is the Walcott Treatment Facility, and it is out where Hwy 5 and I435 roughly located, or cross there. Were a little bit further west than that. Its ultimately designed to deal with future expansion population growth. This is the first stage of construction on it. Built a lot of advanced features into it. Its a membrane filtration plant, which is a new filtering technology vs. conventional sand and anthracite filters. Part of trying to work with the neighborhood, you can see that its a, kind of a barn style, a horse barn. We went to the neighbors, and we said we, we want to work with you in facility that looks like what you would like to see. Being a rural setting that was what they came back with, that they, they would like that. Our Hansen Facility is more of kind of a corporate campus kind of look there with brick structures, and so on this one the feedback was that this what they, the neighbors, wanted there.

As far as dealing with extreme weather challenges, our Missouri intake has been faced both with drought impacts and flooding impacts, and Ill go through that process. Same thing with the Kansas River intake and the collector wells. So each of those has seen extremes, and there are impacts to them. The high river flows, the low river flows both of them are challenges in the operation of our facilities. On the Missouri River back in the 1990s we monitored the river levels for our intake, and in in 1990/1991 St. Joseph actually ran out of water. The river flow, river levels dropped to a point they couldnt get water out of the river. We thought that was kind of a fluke, didnt think that much about it; but, in 2000/2001 BPUs Nearman Power Plant ran out of water, and its just downstream of our Missouri River intake, and it cost them several million dollars operationally and in modifications to get back into operation. And so as we were going to Corp of Engineer annual operating plan meetings, um, they started sharing with us, a, a chart here that, a, shows that this is, the bottom here is years, starting in 1930 to about 2010, that as time goes on a tide bar here is staged in the river and the actual different colors are different flow rates. So the light green here is 20,000 CFS. The highest one is here is about 100,000 CFS. And what were finding is that the river level where the same amount of flow has been dropping off and really has dropped quite a bit from 1990 all the way out to 2010. Because of that channel degradation thats going in the Kansas City reach was kind of a sudden light bulb coming on that we needed to, we needed to pay attention to this and do something about it.

On our, a, this is a cross section of our intake as it was built, and what you run into. Get a sill height here of 718 elevation and that was put in with what was supposedly the bottom of the river at the time, and what weve seen is the bottom of the river has dropped lower. Our actual operation submergence level requires an elevation of 723. In the last 10 years weve had a couple of instances where weve dropped below that. Recognizing that trend weve made, took some steps to address that. This is just another chart kind of showing, um, kind of over a period of time. This was the level in 1991 and then as each year, in 2000 we have kind of plotted the lowest point in the river. The lowest weve measured is about 722-1/2. That occurred in 2007, and at that time there was 20, or 16,200 CFS flowing by. Um, back in 1991 when St. Joseph ran out of water we were way up in this elevation, about 725 or actually this dot here recommends, recognizes the low point, and there was only 7000 CFS going by then. So a lot more water is having to be released to keep the same water level in the river right now.

We have been involved with the Corp and the Mid America Regional Council and quite a few other stake holders in participating in a study to try and identify what measures can be done to correct the degradation problem and deal with it because to put in a new intake eventually to deal with further degradation we are talking about many millions of dollars, probably hundreds of millions of dollars. So we want to find solutions that protect the river, still provide us access to water on it.

So, what we saw with the problems caused in the drought, we had record low river elevations. At times with a low flow we can have taste and odor problems develop. Theres not as much runoff coming in and things tend to kind of concentrate, so we get taste and odor issues that develop there. Operationally, its a question of whether theres enough water depth to be able to actually operate our pumps. If they lose suction then were kind of out of business at that location. Drought conditions have been part of that factor and particularly in the wintertime limits the amount of flow theyre releasing as a water conversation measure with drought. We wouldnt have as much problem with the drought if the degradation werent occurring there.

This study that the Corp is doing is looking at the causes of it. There are number of different things. The reservoirs themselves upstream actually retain an awful lot of this sediment and so the stream itself has been described as, as sediment starved because of some of the flood control structures maybe have constricted the channel and some of the navigation improvements possibly also have constricted the channel to cause it to try and cut, get a higher velocity and cuts the channel down. Theres been some concerns that dredging, that sand dredging thats used to kind of fuel the economy as far as building, building, you know, as a main source for, a, a, Portland cement, or concrete to be, construct new facilities; but, that dredging has an impact by being taken out of the river.

We designed some facilities to, a, as a temporary measure to get us by. We spent $2 million on a low-water pumping facility, and it was completed in 2004. This is actually, each of these white units here, columns, is an individual pump. They pump water up and over into our main intake and then we run the pumps in our main intake to pump it on up to the presedimentation facilities. In 2007 with the record low levels we had to turn those pumps on, so it was money well spent to keep us from running out of water.

We began to realize that its not just the river intakes or water supplies impacted by this degradation project, so its one of the things that weve continued to, to follow; and, one of the first things is if we were back to the 1990 conditions they could be getting by with about 10,000 CFS lower releases than they currently do. Typically in the wintertime we are seeing about 20,000 CFS now, where in 1990 less than 10,000 would have been adequate for our operation. But, and that leaves more water in the reservoir if we can conserve it. That water benefits recreation up there, its available for other uses and releases hydropower generation in the summertime when there is peak need for the power, its available for release to support navigation. When we see the channel cutting down, we believe that its eroding habitat and has some potential adverse impacts on endangered species. Theres been a number of things like that that have been a concern. Water can be released to support water quality if thats an issue. If its been released then its gone and there is no way to take advantage of it. Were starting to see with the channel cutting down that theres a threat to the Corps flood control structures, that they could be undermined. Weve got levees with a tow of slope. Well, if the channel now is 5 feet deeper, then the tow is undermined and there is more risk that those levees could be in danger also.

Part of the stakeholders in this study have been with KDOT and MODOT because with river bridges theyve put their piers in and their piers were designed to be covered with a certain amount of silt, and if the river is cut down its exposing more of the piers and there is risk for corrosion or damage to them. Thats been a concern, also.

From the design of the lakes upstream for, you know, one of the potential uses for that water in the lakes is for irrigation on farmland and the water stored, if its not released because of the degradation could benefit that. So we tried to identify that there are a lot of potential benefits to, to finding some solutions to the problems with degradation.

Our new low-water pumping facility cost us $2.35 million total. We estimate that there is a certain amount of energy cost and taste and odor cost, taste and odor treatment cost. We use powder-activated carbon to treat for taste and odors in the river. Because of low flows potentially we can end up with having taste and odor problems that could be very expensive.

There were some studies done. John Lorando with the Corp of Engineers did a survey in 2005, and he estimated based on what he got information from different utilities that just between 2000 and 2004 about $18 million was going to be spent on dealing with the degradation problems eventually. In the near future possibly $63 million would be expended, and if degradation is not corrected and continues to cut down that, that a lot of, you know, power plants, water supplies, levees, and everything could be undermined, and theres up to $286 million of infrastructure at risk by this. There was a research institute at Columbia that looked into if, if navigation were discontinued for a season and the flows were dropped because of drought that the potential costs for a non-navigation season is somewhere in the range of $128 million.

As far as the activities going on to address that, as I mentioned, were working with the Corp and Mid America Regional Council. The Corp completed a reconnoissance study. Thats the first stage of identifying is there a problem or not, was completed in 2009. The Corp is now in the feasibility study. It was initiated in 2010 and is currently underway. Were involved with that process. With the things Ive described there it has been determined to be a regional problem, and there are probably 30 different stakeholders that contribute dollars to funding this. The Corp is funding about 50% of the cost of the study. As I mentioned, the threats to river structures, levees, jetties, and discharge structures, the extra water, and impact on species and environment are all things that we are trying to look at as a part of this study.

Kind of on, you, you know after covering all that about degradation and drought and that sort of thing, the flip side of it has been flood impacts. In 2011 for our Missouri River intake we were pretty fortunate the level didnt get up as high as it did in 1993, and we were able to access it without having to use a boat, so the water didnt get up that high. But in 1993 this photo shows the intake. We had to take a boat from the railroad tracks over here all the way over to the intake. And the way we designed it, it did stay in operation during that. Brambled a few times in keeping it going, but, but were quite successful with that.

Wanted to move on and talk a little bit about our Kansas River experience. The Kansas River was our original surface water supply put in, in the early 1960s. The Missouri River first was constructed in the 1980s and then has been expanded since then, also. But, WaterOne is a member of the Kansas River Water Assurance District (KRWAD). Its an organization that was formed to pool utilities and businesses dollars to buy storage in the Kansas River reservoirs, and it purchased storage in the 1980s when the reservoirs were being built in Milford, Tuttle Creek, and Perry Reservoir. As a part of that has an operations agreement with the Kansas Water Office (KWO) to provide some minimum amounts of flows. Basically, when the river gets so low that below a certain target point they will start releasing water from the Assurance District storage to help keep the flows up and the river levels up where all of the users up and down the river can still access water and stay in operation.

We did update a study there in 2010. Theres still a 2.0 safety factor with some evaluation of whether climate change in the long term might impact us. What we found was that we were still in pretty good shape there assuming worse, some of the worst case conditions we felt like, a, we still had more than a 1.0, really more than 1.5 safety factor for the storage that we had, so; but, it is something that, that concerns with climate change and, a, being able to maintain your operations is part of what we put a large value on. On the Kansas River with the low river flows weve had to deal with icing and low levels off and on since 1963. Originally we, a, you know, when it first started having problems they just put a little extra rock out there in the river, and each year that rock pile got higher and higher. In 2004 there was somewhere between 10 and 20 foot of drop in the river from what it used to be as a river level to downstream of where we have our structure, so we realized at that point that we were fighting a losing battle of piling up this rock. Some studies of risk analysis showed that periodically it was going to get washed away, and if it washed away at the wrong time we wouldnt be able to get water out of the river. So we went back to make concrete coffer dam style weir to lock in the same river level that was protected by the rock structure, so it functioned essentially the same as the rock structure. That was one of the reasons I think the Corp was willing to permit it, was that it was a continuation of what we had been doing there and it reflected what the historical river levels were at our intake. At the same time it made it a permanent installation that was not going to get washed out by a flood or damaged in adverse conditions like that. Its got a, a drawing here of the river that you can see the light part here is actually the rock jetty that was originally built there. Got taller and taller. We came in with a circular coffer dams. All the way across the river there are 18 cells that were constructed, and those are sheet piling driven all the way down to bedrock and filled inside with sand and rock and then a grouted concrete top. You can see that almost any day when youre driving across I435 across the Kansas River going north. Were on the east side of the river there.

As far as trying to monitor those oper, river operations. In the past working with the USGS and the Corp of Engineers and the state agencies, um, wed seen times where river levels had gotten so dangerously low we were in danger of having to shut down. We didnt know how bad it could get with the new weir. We tested that pretty much this last winter. The Bowersock Damn in Lawrence now has a web gauge that you can go and look up on the USGS website and see what the flows are coming down to us, and so we monitored that pretty closely and we saw lower flows than wed ever seen before. We were in communication, say, hey you need to open the flood gates a little bit and let us have enough water to keep a minimum level in the river. We monitor a number of different things. The actual USGS charts here. This is some of Corp of Engineers discharge information. You know, we go to the, the websites on weather forecast and what the temperature are when the river gets extremely cold water is actually kind of, a, seems to be sucked out of the river. I think what goes on is that the tributaries start to ice in so that ice isnt flowing into the river. Its not liquid anymore, and we end up with much reduced flows sometimes. Also you can get ice flows build up and damn up and stop the water from coming through to us, so those kind of things have caused us operational problems in the past; but this past year we really were pleased how well the new weir worked out with the operation there. The way it was designed resulted in the area right in front of our intake stayed open water without icing where in the past weve seen ice jams there that have kind of cut us off from the river.

The last area I kind of wanted to talk about is our new horizontal collector wall at Walcott. We, a, put in, its about a 25 foot diameter concrete caisson and then well screen is pushed out horizontally from that location, from the caisson out into the formation, so you can get a lot of production out of the ground water in an area by putting in that time of well vs. a vertical well where its a relatively small diameter and the screen is vertically through the formation and you can actually draw down the formation to the point the screens are exposed to air, which is a, can cause problems. The well was designed for 15 MGD. Weve actually been able to get 31.5 out of it most of the time. Part of thats because weve had higher water level in the river during our operation. In 2011 and early part of 2012, you know, we were in flood situations, so there was a lot of water flowing out of the river and into the alluvial aquifer. So it was a time where the formation was very productive. Warmer temperatures also affect the productivity of the well. You get more water in warm temperature and cold water gets basically thicker or denser, but when you get down below about 40 the viscosity of the water flowing into the river cuts back the capacity. And we began tracking in this chart what we could expect out of the well based on temperature of the well. At 50F we were getting, could expect 33 million gallons a day out of the well. As we got down to about 40 it limited the capacity to about 25 million gallons a day.

This last year we did have to actually cut back our operation on this during the winter. The river levels now are back up, higher levels, and the temperature is much higher also, so were back to where we can get, um, a, 31 million gallons a day out of the, out of the selector well. We also had to design it for flood impacts. It was designed to operate in the 500-year flood, so thats why it stands so high above the ground. The actual equipment and everything is about 20 feet above the riverbank level there and thats so that in a 500-year flood that equipment all stays high and dry. In the flood of 2011 it isolated the collector well. As I pointed out in the picture we had to buy a boat and amphibious ATV to get out to it. While the river was up and there was a lot of current we had to use the boat to come up from our Missouri River intake to the collector well. As the water started doing back down and we ended up with a lot of ponded areas where the water wasnt flowing and it wasnt deep enough to bring the boat up to it we bought an amphibious ATV where it wouldnt be able to traverse through high currents and this sort of thing, but it was good in a kind of a ponded situation to be able to get us out there and continue to operate. We had to coordinate with the Corp of Engineers during the high flooding periods because they closed the river to navigation in Kansas City. We coordinated that through the Wyandotte County Emergency Management Agency and had to get special permission each time we had to go to the well to, to do any maintenance or service or reset equipment that had tripped out. We had to make those arrangements through Wyandotte county to the Corp of Engineers and say, hey, we need to get up there and do it because, a, everyone else was excluded from the river.

This picture of the well, the well is right here. The main channel of the river comes right through here, and you can see the levee had failed on the north side of the river already and is totally flooded. We were just at the brink of overtopping the levee in this photo, and you can see some water starting to appear on the back side of the levee. Eventually this whole area behind the levee that is all green farm fields was totally under water all the way over to Hwy 5. The Lakeside Speedway, which is close by to us, was totally submerged in water also. Our guys would launch at our Missouri River intake, which is about 5 miles downriver, and they would come up the main channel and go through this gap in the trees and tie off the stairs. When we built this we, we put a special garage door that was tall enough to be able to be opened up and pull a boat into if we needed to, to access that; and the stairway also was put on the downstream side of the structure. So we knew that the situation eventually might happen that wed have to do exactly what we were doing, and it happened sooner rather than later for us. This is another picture of the collector well surrounded by water.

During this flood we did a lot of different things to try and coordinate with agencies on it. We were in touch with the county EMA (Emergency Management Association), or agencies in all, in Wyandotte, Johnson, and Leavenworth County. We worked with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management to coordinate things. Corp of Engineers stood up an emergency operation center, and we were regularly in touch with them. They actually took those photos for us when they did their helicopter flyovers of damage up and down the river on the levees. We monitored the National Weather Service AHAPs. A, I dont know what the acronym actually stands for there, but it tells you, you know, what the current river levels are and flows for the river and what theyre forecasting will occur for the next couple of weeks. And we have also stayed involved with a number of monthly updates that the Corp put on, on climate outlook.

As you can see, theres a lot of challenges that weve had to deal with both with high flow and low flow in the river. Its been quite an experience. Were quite successful in our operations on it, and we try and stay engaged with whats going on with the river to follow up with things that are going on. With that, Id open it up to any questions anyone might have.