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Why Air Valves are Needed in Water Applications

Why Air Valves are Needed in Water Applications

Air valves are hydromechanical devices d...

Achieving Profitability Through Maintenance Management

Achieving Profitability Through Maintenance Management

One of the distinctions between maintena...

Control Valve Positioner Performance Diagnostics

Control Valve Positioner Performance Diagnostics

There has been discussion for some years...

Are Your Safety Instrumented Systems Proof Tests Effective?

Are Your Safety Instrumented Systems Proof Tests Effective?

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Industry Headlines

Smart Technology Transforming Oil & Gas Industry

Wednesday, 21 June 2017  |  Chris Guy

“A new cadre of services companies, trying to sell the energy industry on the promise of a more efficient digital age, is fighting to get smart ...

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Industry Headlines

Chesterton Expands Environmental Consulting Expertise

1 DAY AGO

A.W. Chesterton Company  is expanding its global environmental solutions expertise with the addition of two highly experienced industrial emissions specialists, Bronson Pate and Beau Stander. Both will be joining FluidEfficiency, a Chesterton business group. Pate and Stander will serve in the ro...

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VMA Members Take Home 2016 Plant Engineering Awards

1 DAY AGO

Plant Engineering celebrated its 29th anniversary of the Product of the Year award program this year. The winners were honored at the annual Engineering Awards in Manufacturing dinner on April 3, 2017, in Chicago, hosted by CFE Media.

Emerson Automation Solutions took home a Bronze Award in the Asset Ma...

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Smart Technology Transforming Oil & Gas Industry

12 HOURS AGO

“A new cadre of services companies, trying to sell the energy industry on the promise of a more efficient digital age, is fighting to get smart technology onto pipes, tanks, platforms and drills, in some cases deeply discounting prices to gain market share,” the Houston Chronicle reports .

C...

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U.S. Refineries Running at Record-High Levels

1 DAY AGO

Gross inputs to U.S. petroleum refineries, also referred to as refinery runs, averaged a record high 17.7 million barrels per day (b/d) for the week ending May 26, before dropping slightly to 17.5 million b/d for the week ending June 2 and 17.6 million b/d for the week ending June 9. According to th...

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U.S. Economic Picture for First Half of 2017 Changes Little

15 HOURS AGO

Economic indicators released in May and June point to continued moderate growth and a mostly unchanged outlook for the U.S. The economy is approaching full employment, long-term inflation expectations remain anchored despite a recent dip in inflation, and real GDP is projected to grow at a moderate ra...

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Global Spending on Robots to Hit $87 Billion by 2025

16 HOURS AGO

The global market for robotics is growing far faster than expected and is projected to reach $87 billion by 2025, according to new research by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Updating its previous estimate of $67 billion from three years ago, the BCG recently revised its forecast sharply higher, mo...

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A Conversation with Stacy Passaro: Looking at the Future of Water

vm-smr12-conversation stacy passaro

In the past, utility personnel didn’t want the public to have to think much about sewer and water treatment plants. The idea was to build the public’s trust that tap water was safe and reliable and wastewater was treated properly.

Today, however, as municipalities struggle to find funds to maintain and upgrade these essential services, many feel a public awareness campaign may be in order.

With 20 years of experience in wastewater treatment engineering, Stacy Passaro, P.E., BCEE, president of Passaro Engineering in Maryland, is one of those people.

“The fact is most people have no idea what happens after they flush their toilets,” she says. “It’s only when their bills go up or the infrastructure fails that it comes into the public consciousness. The wastewater industry has work to do informing people about the impressive assets and high-tech processes that are working to serve them.”


CHOOSING A CAREER

As president of her own engineering firm, ­Passaro has worked with a wide variety of groups within the wastewater field, including utility staff from frontline operators through utility managers and elected officials, regulators and non-profits.

When asked what drew her to the wastewater field, Passaro laughs. “It’s pretty rare to find somebody who says, ‘I always dreamed of being a wastewater person.’”

She goes on to explain that, when she was a junior in college, she was hired as a co-op and placed in a wastewater design/construction group.

“I remember being worried about what I’d be doing. But I worked there eight months and went back when I graduated. The more I learned about the field, the more fascinated I was,” she says.

Gradually, she realized the field was where she belonged.

Passaro went on to become a project engineer and manager in the industry, designing several treatment plants. In that capacity, she wrote valve specifications, which she says is a challenge because of the variety available.

“There are so many options and pros and cons that it’s really almost mind boggling. A challenge for design engineers is to stay on top of that, to be able to pick the optimal mechanical design and material for a specific application.”

Today, as a consultant to municipalities and other parties, she gets involved more often once the plant is under construction and put into operation.

“I work with the municipality to look at the assets and say, ‘Okay, we have these valves and want them to last forever. What do we need to do with these to prolong their lives, to be sure they’re going to perform when needed?”

“Valves are a challenge because the plants have so many of them,” she adds. “The effort must be made to know where they all are and what they all do.”

Plants have to schedule exercising and maintaining the valves, some of which are keys to keeping the public safe, she says.

“Some are emergency valves, and you want to make sure they operate when that rare emergency happens. It can be the $2,000 valve that is the key to the system. If it doesn’t work, the whole system fails,” she explains.


PLANNING FOR GROWTH

While the water/wastewater field certainly offers job stability, the many technological challenges in wastewater treatment keep the field interesting.

For example, “We have to be sure the water we’re discharging meets the end-user requirements,” Passaro says. “Funding is a challenge for all infrastructure, but that prompts us to be smarter and more efficient,” she continues.

Peeking into the future also keeps the job stimulating.

“We look at planning, at growth and land-use patterns and make the best educated guess we can about what the future’s going to hold. Managing and prolonging the life of assets, including valves and attendant equipment, is a huge piece of what many utilities are focusing on today. The systems need to serve the public indefinitely,” she says.

Passaro adds that the future holds a change in the way water is viewed. “In many areas there is still the mindset that water sources are unlimited. We all need to recognize water as the precious resource it is.”

Also, “Treatment plants should not be viewed just as facilities that allow safe disposal of waste. They are morphing into factories that take used resources and return them to a condition where they can be used again,” she explains.

Wastewater has many useful things in it, including nitrogen and phosphorous. It also contains up to 10 times the amount of energy within it that is used to treat it, Passaro explains.

“The theory is that, if we could extract the potential, wastewater facilities could produce energy in excess of what is needed to treat the wastewater.” In other words, “We’re looking at ways to turn wastewater facilities from energy users into energy producers,” she says.

 


Kate Kunkel is senior editor for Valve Magazine. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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