After being recognized several years ago by the U.S. EPA for its environmental leadership, the Landis Sewerage Authority (LSA) is still finding innovative ways to contribute to the region. Jersey Water Works checked in with LSA Executive Director and Chief Engineer Dennis Palmer to learn more about how the authority is benefiting the local community and fostering collaboration among stakeholders.
Recently LSA has undertaken a number of community benefit projects. In 2014, it adopted a shared services agreement with the City of Vineland and the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, promoting partnership in the public sector through its model of joint contracting and shared management expertise, saving money for taxpayers and ratepayers. As host to a wind turbine and one of the largest solar arrays at a treatment facility in New Jersey, LSA also benefits the community by supplying a clean, renewable source of energy to the local electric grid.
The LSA sewer district service area covers 70 square miles, including the City of Vineland. Of this, currently half is sewered, serving a population of 37,000 residents. The authority’s infrastructure includes 120 miles of collection system and 27 pump stations.
LSA’s most recent community-oriented venture involves hosting a weather station. Palmer explains that local government and emergency services, including the Cumberland County Office of Emergency Management and the local fire department, were seeking to install a weather station that could provide real-time local weather conditions, especially wind speed and direction, in case of an emergency.
With direction from the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist at Rutgers University, LSA’s property was identified as a suitable location for the installation, which requires a minimum distance of 700 feet from any tree or building that might influence variables such as wind speed. LSA allocated a parcel of land for the installation, which was completed and began operating on Aug. 31. See weather data and photos of the installation.
We asked Palmer to discuss with us the significance of the project as well as what the collaboration offers to the community and the partners involved.
JWW: How will the new weather station be used for emergency management?
DP: The weather station will be used in emergencies to provide real-time, local wind direction and speed for events like nearby accidents involving tractor trailers or tankers with a release of dangerous liquefied or gaseous chemicals. It will also be used for events like rail car accidents.
In addition, it offers the opportunity to track and monitor extreme weather events such as storms, rainfall, or intense and damaging winds like the derecho that came through Vineland a few years ago, knocking out most of the area’s power.
JWW: How does this project contribute to LSA’s goal of being the most environmentally friendly wastewater treatment plant in the state?
DP: First, I would look at it as a service being provided to many end users, including local residents, farmers, and landscapers who would like local weather information, and a service to our first responders who in time of environmental emergency might be trying to contain or handle a leak or spill resulting from a rail tank car or tractor trailer tanker that may have overturned.
The weather information will also be helpful to our agriculture program, which uses biosolids as a fertilizer. And since the station is powered by solar panels and contains no hard-wire electricity, it promotes renewable and clean energy.
JWW: What advice would you offer to utility authorities seeking to establish and cultivate partnerships such as this?
DP: Always be on the lookout for, seek and be open to collaborations with other organizations that will have beneficial results for all. Things like this can have multiple positive results for multiple organizations. Look beyond and outside of the box.