We all can do our part for the planet

Half the world away? Fecal sludge and septage treatment in low and middle income countries

Co-authors: 
Jan Willem Rosenboom, Sr. Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 
Rebecca Gilsdorf, Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, the World Bank
Ruth Kennedy-Walker, Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, the World Bank 

An engineering design manual is an unlikely device to set pulses racing and even less likely to grab headlines. Yet within the pages of such a newly-released manual, there are vital solutions for one of the most important sanitation challenges which most people have never heard of. 

Alongside the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s Citywide Inclusive Sanitation team has worked with globally-renowned expert Kevin Tayler to produce the newly-published book ‘Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment – A guide for low and middle income countries.’ For those not familiar with the sanitation sector, this subject may not sound particularly exhilarating but, trust us on this, it’s a crucial issue and the book is a game changer. Here’s why.

Across the world today, 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation along the full-service chain. This means a majority of the global population go without safe containment, emptying/collection, conveyance, treatment and end use/disposal for their fecal waste. Put simply, over half the human waste generated on earth is not being safely managed before being released into the environment. That is seriously scary stuff! Especially since lack of safely managed sanitation services not only impacts the environment but also poses significant risks to human health.

This issue isn’t going away anytime soon either, as the world is urbanizing rapidly and most of this growth is occurring in precisely the low- and middle-income countries this book targets.  When they have toilets at all, these urban residents rely on on-site systems, such as pit latrines and septic tanks. In dense urban areas, the only option for households living with these technologies is to have them emptied when they become full. Once emptied, the fecal waste (also known as fecal sludge or septage) needs to be treated or otherwise dealt with in a way that allows for its subsequent safe reuse or disposal. But this is a major problem because many cities lack treatment sites, or existing treatment facilities are dysfunctional.

Part of the issue stems from the need for tailored treatment in those cases where a majority of the waste is coming from septic tanks and pit latrines – as this waste is much stronger than conventional wastewater (that flows through sewer systems). Another problem is that engineers are accustomed to designing wastewater treatment plants and not those for treating fecal waste. Issues with both technical designs, that are all too often inappropriate, and operation and maintenance, that are all too often inadequate, mean that even the limited number of fecal sludge and septage treatment facilities in existence do not function properly.

That’s where this book comes in. Currently, there are many books on wastewater treatment, often including chapters on septage treatment. But these books focus heavily on fecal sludge and septage treatment technologies that are expensive to build, complex to maintain, and often require significant energy inputs for operation. These approaches may work in high-income countries but are not suitable for countries at other stages of development. And, up until now, there were no comprehensive guides to the engineering design and operation and maintenance for fecal sludge and septage treatment facilities that are appropriate for low- and middle-income countries. So ‘Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment – A guide for low and middle-income countries’ fills a critical gap in this regard. This book will help engineers across the globe design, operate and maintain appropriates systems for treating the fecal sludge and septage generated by our ever-urbanizing world.

The book provides an evidence base which underpins the urgency of treating increasing volumes of fecal sludge and septage in the rapidly expanding towns and cities of developing countries. It looks at the urban contexts that influence treatment requirements and at the overall treatment processes. It examines the options and design approaches at each stage of treatment. And it provides straightforward guidance on the options for fecal sludge and septage treatment and the choices between those options. All concepts and approaches are clearly explained, meaning the book is accessible to a non-specialist readership.
 
Whether you are a specialist or not, the book paints a picture that is hard to ignore. The issue of fecal sludge and septage treatment may not spark public excitement nor drive media coverage. But getting it right will help stop public health and environmental crises before they even start, reverse those that have already begun, and allow large swathes of the planet to live with the dignity and convenience that so many of us take for granted. Sometimes, the smartest solutions to the biggest challenges can be found in the most unlikely of places.

The book will be launched at Stockholm World Water Week on Wednesday August 29th, 13:00-13:45 at the World Bank Booth (Booth No.3). Please come join this exciting launch and learn about our other activities on sanitation during World Water Week. 


 

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Half the world away? Fecal sludge and septage treatment in low and middle income countries

Co-authors: 
Jan Willem Rosenboom, Sr. Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 
Rebecca Gilsdorf, Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, the World Bank
Ruth Kennedy-Walker, Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, the World Bank 

An engineering design manual is an unlikely device to set pulses racing and even less likely to grab headlines. Yet within the pages of such a newly-released manual, there are vital solutions for one of the most important sanitation challenges which most people have never heard of. 

Alongside the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s Citywide Inclusive Sanitation team has worked with globally-renowned expert Kevin Tayler to produce the newly-published book ‘Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment – A guide for low and middle income countries.’ For those not familiar with the sanitation sector, this subject may not sound particularly exhilarating but, trust us on this, it’s a crucial issue and the book is a game changer. Here’s why.

Across the world today, 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation along the full-service chain. This means a majority of the global population go without safe containment, emptying/collection, conveyance, treatment and end use/disposal for their fecal waste. Put simply, over half the human waste generated on earth is not being safely managed before being released into the environment. That is seriously scary stuff! Especially since lack of safely managed sanitation services not only impacts the environment but also poses significant risks to human health.

This issue isn’t going away anytime soon either, as the world is urbanizing rapidly and most of this growth is occurring in precisely the low- and middle-income countries this book targets.  When they have toilets at all, these urban residents rely on on-site systems, such as pit latrines and septic tanks. In dense urban areas, the only option for households living with these technologies is to have them emptied when they become full. Once emptied, the fecal waste (also known as fecal sludge or septage) needs to be treated or otherwise dealt with in a way that allows for its subsequent safe reuse or disposal. But this is a major problem because many cities lack treatment sites, or existing treatment facilities are dysfunctional.

Part of the issue stems from the need for tailored treatment in those cases where a majority of the waste is coming from septic tanks and pit latrines – as this waste is much stronger than conventional wastewater (that flows through sewer systems). Another problem is that engineers are accustomed to designing wastewater treatment plants and not those for treating fecal waste. Issues with both technical designs, that are all too often inappropriate, and operation and maintenance, that are all too often inadequate, mean that even the limited number of fecal sludge and septage treatment facilities in existence do not function properly.

That’s where this book comes in. Currently, there are many books on wastewater treatment, often including chapters on septage treatment. But these books focus heavily on fecal sludge and septage treatment technologies that are expensive to build, complex to maintain, and often require significant energy inputs for operation. These approaches may work in high-income countries but are not suitable for countries at other stages of development. And, up until now, there were no comprehensive guides to the engineering design and operation and maintenance for fecal sludge and septage treatment facilities that are appropriate for low- and middle-income countries. So ‘Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment – A guide for low and middle-income countries’ fills a critical gap in this regard. This book will help engineers across the globe design, operate and maintain appropriates systems for treating the fecal sludge and septage generated by our ever-urbanizing world.

The book provides an evidence base which underpins the urgency of treating increasing volumes of fecal sludge and septage in the rapidly expanding towns and cities of developing countries. It looks at the urban contexts that influence treatment requirements and at the overall treatment processes. It examines the options and design approaches at each stage of treatment. And it provides straightforward guidance on the options for fecal sludge and septage treatment and the choices between those options. All concepts and approaches are clearly explained, meaning the book is accessible to a non-specialist readership.
 
Whether you are a specialist or not, the book paints a picture that is hard to ignore. The issue of fecal sludge and septage treatment may not spark public excitement nor drive media coverage. But getting it right will help stop public health and environmental crises before they even start, reverse those that have already begun, and allow large swathes of the planet to live with the dignity and convenience that so many of us take for granted. Sometimes, the smartest solutions to the biggest challenges can be found in the most unlikely of places.

The book will be launched at Stockholm World Water Week on Wednesday August 29th, 13:00-13:45 at the World Bank Booth (Booth No.3). Please come join this exciting launch and learn about our other activities on sanitation during World Water Week. 


 

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Telling Stories With Maps

story map image
Story map images show housing density
that bears live in from 6-50 houses/km2

Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEAR, used the research results on black bears in Connecticut to create a companion “story map,” an application created by GIS industry leader Esri that enables the seamless combination of online maps with other types of information such as images, videos, graphs and graphics. Story maps are designed to communicate complicated information, data, and analysis to the public in a user-friendly, interactive story-telling experience.

The Bears are Back story map includes information about the research project, including:

• Recolonization of historic black bear range in northwestern CT

• Sow (female) & cub sightings by town

• Reported incidents and conflict frequency maps

• Locations where conflict can be predicted based on incidents and landscape characteristics

• Research methods and location of field sites

• Wildlife camera trap photographs of corral visitors

• Bear counts and estimated “center of activity” per individual

• Extent of “exurban” areas in CT where ideal development patterns may lead to higher concentrations of bears

• Estimated distribution map of current estimated bear density across northwestern CT

• Links to more information about how individuals can become “bear smart” and co-exist peacefully with CT’s black bears

• Link to research published in Landscape and Urban Planning

• Additional information from UConn’s Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Center and CT DEEP.

Visit the Bears Story Map: https://s.uconn.edu/bears.

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Tackling a crisis of too much, too little, too polluted

Cape Town counts down to Day Zero as water supply evaporates
 
Flooding and heavy rains rise 50% worldwide in a decade, figures show
 
Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World’s Poorest
 
The world’s water problems have regularly made the news in 2018. And the scale of the crisis behind the headlines is stark. It is a crisis of too much, too polluted and too little.

Too much because the devastating impacts of floods, exacerbated by climate change, is hitting poor people first and worst. Too polluted because so much wastewater does not get collected or treated. And too little because across the world today 2.1 billion people lack reliable access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.5 billion lack safely managed sanitation services. All the while, water scarcity could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP, spur migration and, in the extreme, spark civil conflict.
 
Tackling this crisis is one of the most urgent issues for the global community to address. That’s why a team of experts from the World Bank are attending World Water Week in Stockholm from August 26 to 31 to deepen knowledge, shape debates and amplify action for a water-secure world for all. 
 
With a portfolio of water investments of US$29.4 billion and a staff of hundreds across the world, the World Bank is uniquely positioned to contribute to World Water Week. Organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), it’s the annual gathering where practitioners, policymakers and water professionals come together to generate ideas, share their experiences and advance solutions.
 

 
This year’s focus on human development is certainly very timely. A recent World Bank report Uncharted Waters found that children in Africa who experience dry shocks (droughts) in their infancy, receive less food in the critical first 1,000 days of life.  As a result, they do not reach their full cognitive or physical potential: they drop out of school earlier, have less wealth, bear more children and may be stunted.  Most tragically, their children are also more likely to be stunted and less healthy, perpetuating a vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. And our WASH Poverty Diagnostics Initiative proposes that a drastic change is required in the way countries manage resources and provide key services, starting with improved targeting to ensure they reach those most in need and better coordination between water, health, and nutrition interventions to make substantive progress in the fight against childhood stunting and mortality.
 
On August 28, together with the FAO, we will be releasing a new joint discussion paper on water management in fragile systems, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. This is a region where water scarcity is particularly pervasive and getting worse, and where the water crisis poses great risks to human development and sustainable growth.
 
Such research will be among the many issues we will be engaging with at World Water Week. Our sessions have a strong focus on the five priority themes we have identified to deliver a water-secure world: sustainability, resilience, inclusion, institutions and financing.
 
The panels with a World Bank presence will cover financing issues including ‘Can Valuing Water Change our Attitude towards Water?’ to ‘Follow up on the High-Level Panel Water: Financing & Valuing.’  Fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV) is another critical development challenge that threatens efforts to end extreme poverty, affecting both low- and middle-income countries. That’s why a number of sessions look at how to enhance resilience to both shocks and protracted crises in FCV contexts. And when it comes to inclusion, there are sessions on making global water efforts disability inclusive and diversity and inclusion in water utilities – two areas where the World Bank has extensive experience.
 
In combination, these five priority themes represent the World Bank Water Global Practice’s strategy to achieve the water-related SDGs. They also form the core of a partnership for a water-secure world, the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP). This is a Multi-Donor Trust Fund, launched in 2017, that enables the World Bank Water Global Practice to address the five themes across its global portfolio.
 
More recently, in 2018, the 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) – a public-private-civil society partnership – became part of the World Bank Water GP family. 2030 WRG supports government-accelerated reforms with the aim of ensuring sustainable water resources management for the long-term development and economic growth of their country.
 
World Water Week (#WWWeek) always provides opportunities to foster proactive collaborations and strengthen alliances between partners. And partnerships were also the foundation for the High Level Panel on Water (HLPW). Over the past two years, the HLPW deliberated upon the major challenges of the sector and produced an outcome document – this New Agenda for Action calls for a fundamental shift in how the world understands values, and manages water. As a legacy of the Panel, the World Bank will continue to leverage the high-level partnerships forged with ongoing work in a number of areas. In particular, we look forward to further advancing the Valuing Water agenda, working with a wide range of stakeholders.
 
Together with GWSP, 2030 WRG and many other partners, we continue to implement programs and projects across the world, convene a wide range of actors to achieve cross-sectoral solutions, and share our data, knowledge and expertise with others with the aim of making headlines about water crises a thing of the past.
 

Join the sessions convened and co-convened by us,
visit our exhibition at Booth 3 to learn more about our work,
and follow us on Twitter via @WorldBankWater.

 

 
 

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Inclusion in water: breaking down barriers

In many countries, women walk over six kilometers to collect water. Between 2006 and 2012 in Niger, women traveled an hour, on average, to fetch water. Worldwide, 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation services and 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water services.
 
Yet even these large numbers and stunning statistics cannot fully reflect the reality for pockets of societies which bear the brunt of inaccessibility. Marginalized groups and low-income communities often lack basic water and sanitation to a staggering degree – a  recent World Bank study found that in Guatemala only 33 percent of the indigenous population have access to sanitation, compared to 77% of the non-indigenous population.
 
So, what does this mean for the water sector? Visibly, it is the case that water remains largely unsafe and inaccessible. Less visibly, it may also be the case that marginalized individuals and groups do not have voice or agency when it comes to managing water. As people are excluded based on facets of their identity – such as ethnicity, social status, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status – their obstacles to safe and accessible water remain unchanged and overlooked. With the previous numbers in mind, these cases make it all too clear that women and other marginalized groups are absent from decision-making roles. They reveal that water and sanitation all too often become conduits of exclusion and disparity.  It is time for the water sector to fully recognize and scrutinize the overlap between inclusion and water.
 
Social inclusion can involve one or a combination of factors that exclude people from markets and services. It is the path to ensuring that marginalized groups are given a seat at the decision-making table. To this end, inclusion is an important component of the work of the World Bank’s Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP). The GWSP aims to deepen social inclusion in water through knowledge generation and curation, country engagements, learning, and stronger partnerships. Moving into its second year, GWSP has supported a number of initiatives and projects to help advance the inclusion agenda:

Knowledge for Inclusion in Water
In terms of knowledge generation and curation, the World Bank report “Rising Tide: A New Look at Water and Gender” reviews a vast body of literature to show how water often reflects, and even reinforces, gender inequality. Notably, the report demonstrates that gender inequality does not always show up where one might expect. The purpose of the report is multifold – it provides policymakers and practitioners with a new framework for thinking about the intersections between water and gender; it helps those who want to advance social inclusion in water; it makes the case for closing gender gaps; and it provides actionable insights to help lift those who are left behind or left out. The World Bank also supports a number of engagements related to menstrual hygiene management.
 
Diversity and Inclusion in Water Utilities
Women are highly underrepresented in water utilities and even when present, their progression through the organization is slow, with few women in leadership and decision-making positions.  Indeed, it is symptomatic of a larger issue of women in science, technology, engineering and math jobs.  With support from GWSP, the World Bank has already made progress in its own lending operations.  The Baghdad Water Supply and Sewerage Improvement Project in Iraq and the Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project in Malawi, are examples of projects that have taken significant steps to close gender gaps in women’s representation in the utilities, including through increasing female participation in decision-making roles. These developments precede the launch of a program on Diversity and Inclusion in Water Utilities, planned for late 2018.


 
Indonesia: Disability Inclusion in Water
Disability inclusion presents an important development opportunity – as well as a challenge. To address it, the World Bank has developed a guidance note to improve the lives of persons with disabilities by giving them equal access to the benefits of the Water sector operations. In Indonesia, the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project aims to improve access to school sanitation and public facilities for children with disabilities. Through a number of strategic measures – such as constructing handrails and ramps – the project is championing inclusivity in the water space. In addition, the project embraces community participation and citizen engagement by involving disabled community members in project design and implementation, as described in this blog post.
 
In short, it is simply not possible to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals without enhancing efforts for inclusion in water. The GWSP will continue its work to break down barriers to an inclusive water world through driving debates, on-the-ground project implementation, and knowledge leadership. To learn more about what we do on inclusion, I invite you to listen to this podcast, and to share your thoughts with us on Twitter, with #inclusivewater. A water secure world for all may present a multifaceted challenge, but a world where this fundamental resource is safe and accessible to all, even marginalized peoples, is within our grasp.
 
 
The World Bank with GWSP and other partners will be sharing examples such as this in the following sessions at World Water Week:

  • One billion left behind: Making global water efforts disability inclusive – Wednesday 29 August | 16.00-17.30 | Room: FH 300
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Water Utilities – Thursday 30 August | 11.00-12.30 | Room: NL Music Hall

 You can also vist the World Bank exhibition at Booth 3 to learn more about our work on inclusion and join in the conversation using the hashtag #InclusiveWater
 


 

This blog is part of  the“Water Flows” blog series, showcasing examples of work
funded by Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP). 
The GWSP gets knowledge flowing to and from implementation via first-rate research and analysis.

 

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Fairholm Farm: CT Green Pasture’s Dairy Farm of the Year

Morin and Hermonot families with their cows in Woodstock, Connecticut
The Morin and Hermonot families at Fairholm Farm in Woodstock. Photo: Chrissy Peckam

The Green Pastures Award judging team has chosen Fairholm Farm as the Connecticut Dairy Farm of the Year for 2018. The annual award will be presented at the Big E Green Pasture’s banquet where each New England state presents their winning farm. The farms present a slide show of their management strategies and innovative goals that result in a successful dairy operation that will grow into the future.

Located in Woodstock, Connecticut, the farm team prides themselves on providing the highest level of care for their growing herd.  Enjoying a cool breeze flowing through the modern freestall barn, over three hundred milking cows relaxed as the judges discussed the changes that the four generations have made since the farm purchase in 1920. Strawberries and racehorses, cottage cheese, and finally wholesaled high quality milk, are some of the products sold by the Barrett family, then granddaughter, Diane and husband, Todd Morin, and now their daughter, Erica and husband, Jon Hermonot.

The farm grows about eight hundred acres of corn silage and haylage, packing the harvested feed under plastic to ferment for year-round feeding. The farm’s challenge is to keep the air and water out of the stored forage to reduce losses due to mold. Todd wishes the crows, looking for corn under the plastic, would hang out somewhere other than the top of the silage pile.

The farm has seen many improvements in the last ten years, including the new barn, shop, and manure storage needed for an efficient dairy operation. The most recent

Erica Hermonot with the robotic milking machines at Fairholm Farm in Woodstock
Erica inspects the robotic milking equipment at Fairholm Farm in Woodstock. Photo: Chrissy Peckham

adventure has been the installation of four robotic milkers, reducing labor costs as well as providing extensive computer data that allows the herd management team to know which cow is feeling great, and who may need extra care. The new office is welcoming for the evening computer viewing, with a white board covered with cows to watch, benchmarks to reach, and goals needed to allow the farm to remain profitable despite the low milk prices.

The judges enjoyed an extended visit, as the four-owner team’s knowledge of herd health, crop production, and business economics, shared openly, resulted in many questions and follow-up discussions. It was a beautiful day on the farm, with a progressive dairy family, happy to be there working together.

We are proud to welcome Fairholm Farm into the family of Green Pasture’s Award winners, a New England tradition since 1948 when the contest first began. Green Pastures started when then governor of New Hampshire challenged the other governors to find a better pasture than in New Hampshire. Governor Dale lost his wager, presenting a top hat to Connecticut Governor McConaughy at the Eastern States Exposition in front of 6,000 people. Now each state chooses a winner, based on the overall dairy farm management. Congratulations all!

Article by Joyce E. Meader, UConn Dairy/ Livestock Extension Educator

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Food Safety for Produce Buyers

On July 17, UConn Extension and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture hosted a meeting in Storrs for operations (distributors, schools, institutions, restaurants, grocery stores, and foodservice operations) that buy fresh produce from farms in southern New England. A team of regulators and produce safety educators from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island conceived and developed the program to raise awareness and answer questions about how the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Produce Safety Rule (PSR), Preventive Controls for Human Food, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits and state produce inspection programs will affect regional farmers and their customers. More than 50 retailers, regulators, distributors, school and university foodservice personnel and farmers from across New England came to learn.

Diane Hirsch
Diane Wright Hirsch. Photo: Eshan Sonpal

FSMA is the regulation implemented in 2011 to improve the safety of the US food supply. The regulation includes two rules that specifically impact those who grow, distribute and sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Included are the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), the Preventive Controls Rule (PC). “While many believe that meat or eggs or poultry are likely the source of most foodborne illnesses in the US, in fact it is fruits and vegetables that top the list. We need to work to reduce these numbers,” said Diane Wright Hirsch, Food Safety Educator with UConn Extension. “It is important that anyone preparing fruits and vegetables for a restaurant or school or selling them at a grocery store be familiar with the regulations that affect the industry.”

The Preventive Controls Rule regulates those who warehouse and distribute produce. It outlines Good Manufacturing Practices including procedures that impact the safety of the food they are holding: worker hygiene, worker food safety training, sanitation and pest control are some of the practices outlined in the Rule. The Produce Safety Rule requires growers of fresh fruits and vegetables to implement practices that reduce risks for contamination of fresh produce with microorganisms that cause foodborne illness.

Mark Zotti is an Agriculture Marketing/Inspection Representative with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and says, “Every

Mark Zotti
Mark Zotti. Photo: Eshan Sonpal

farmer should educate themselves on what the FSMA Produce Safety Rule says and how it relates to them. The Rule makes science-based standards for the growing and harvesting and holding/packing of fresh fruits and vegetables. Never before were there laws related to those activities, so it’s important that farms regardless of size, know what the PSR says.”

“There’s been a documented increase in foodborne illnesses related to produce,” Mark states. “A lot of that can be correlated to the increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and the regions and practices used during the production of produce. Nationwide we’ve seen the produce industry require that farms who grow for them implement practices aimed at reducing the risk of microbial contamination during the growing, harvesting, holding, and packing of fresh fruits and vegetables. We hope the information provided today benefits the participants and the farmers they work with.”

Sean Stolarik is the Produce Sales Manager for Big Y Foods, Inc, and he attended the July training on behalf of his organization. “This is very relevant to my day to day life. When it comes to food safety and where our growers have to be in terms of regulations, this is very important.”

Sean Stolarik
Sean Stolarik. Photo: Eshan Sonpal

“Today’s training will help Big Y Foods, Inc. with transparency with customers, knowing that the farms we are buying produce from are using safe agricultural practices. It will help me to know what questions to ask the growers and know what requirements that growers must meet,” Sean continues. “My biggest takeaway is that the rules are complex, with many different parts and some allowed exceptions. We are trying to understand the laws because they can be confusing sometimes.”

To help Connecticut farmers comply with the PSR, the Department of Agriculture and UConn Extension are providing nationally accredited Produce Safety Alliance Grower training to fresh fruit and vegetable growers in the state. Growers can attend training, learn the specifics of the regulation, find out about resources available to them, and go back to the farm with the tools needed to make changes in their food safety practices, including making their facilities easier to clean and taking steps to comply with the regulation.

Produce buyers can have access to the curriculum through the Produce Safety Alliance website as well. Downloading and reviewing the grower training materials will help them to determine what practices or procedures they may want to see implemented by the farmers they buy from.

“Everyone needs to take responsibility for their piece of the food system,” Diane concludes. “Farmers need to produce a safe product, distributors need to take that product and keep it safe for consumers that eat it. Produce is a risky food because you are not cooking it for the most part. It’s important to know how to safely grow, harvest, distribute and prepare fresh fruits and vegetable so that we can reduce the risks for consumers.”

For more information visit foodsafety.uconn.edu or ctgrown.gov.

Article by Eshan Sonpal

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Remembering Grace Hanlon

Grace HanlonGrace Hanlon began her experience at the New London County 4-H Camp at the age of 7.  The camp, situated on 24 ½ acres in Franklin, CT, provides both day and over-night camping experiences to over 2,100 youth annually. 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. As part of the University of Connecticut, 4-H has access to research-based, age-appropriate information needed to help youth reach their full potential. The mission of 4-H is to assist all youth ages 5-18 in acquiring knowledge, developing leadership and life skills while forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of their families and communities.

Don Beebe, President of the New London County 4-H Camp Foundation recalls, “Grace was tiny but had a big personality. She was a great camper, always enthusiastic and with a wonderful smile. She grew into a very capable young lady with a can-do attitude, participating in the camp’s Teen Leader Program as well as the 4-H Teen Ambassador Program.” Unfortunately Grace’s life ended in 2016 at the age of sixteen in a car accident, leaving her family, friends and the 4-H camp devastated and searching for a way to honor and remember her.

After her death, Grace’s mother, Beth Hanlon, invited some of Grace’s camp friends over to talk about a fund that had been started after Grace’s death in support of the 4-H camp. One of the reasons the camp was chosen for the fund was that Grace was packed and ready to go to camp days before her death. Beth explained, “She loved it there. We wanted to hear about her experience from her camp friends and ask them how the funds should be used at the camp.” The group discussed things needed at camp that would represent Grace. It started as a structure for the counselors and Teen Leaders. The conversation eventually evolved into a multi-purpose structure abutting the dining hall and the project which quickly became known as “Grace’s Place” took off from there.

The addition’s construction began right after Thanksgiving that year. One of Grace’s friends mentioned that her father had a construction company and would like to help.group of 4-Hers at New London County 4-H Camp About a week later, Beth received a text from the young lady saying, “My Dad’s name is Dan and he’s expecting a call from you.” At that point they needed to obtain other contractors and professionals to move the project forward. Beth added, “We have never built anything. General contractors we are not, and we have also never lost a child before. We were in the early stages of grief and not really sure what we were doing or why we were doing it.”

Paul Hanlon, Grace’s father, explained that this project in Grace’s name has been very therapeutic. It provides us with something to focus on and have control over.” Beth added, “the biggest piece we have taken from this from the day the accident happened and throughout the building project has been the unbelievable support.” As an example, Paul explained that they had huge trusses and beams that had to be put in place, and the builders said when they arrive, we are going to need a crane. Paul had no idea where he was going to get such a large piece of equipment.  He actually googled crane companies and contacted a company by filling out information on their website. Under additional comments Paul explained what the project was for. A company responded shortly thereafter that if they could come on the weekend, the owner would do it for free. They completed the work on Memorial Day weekend right after major storms had devastated parts of Connecticut, so they were extremely busy. This company had no connection to Grace or the camp, but felt it was the right thing to do.

Grace's Place at New London County 4-H CampPaul explained that Grace was very social. “She taught me to be social,” he added. In order to make this project happen we had to come up with ways to raise money. The ways they have come up with so far have been community social events – trivia nights that have to be capped because of the enthusiasm and interest. Beth adds that this is about the camp and the kids. It’s a multi-purpose building that so many youths will benefit from. I know how much they need the space and how much it means to them.”

“This is an incredible addition to the camp,” Don Beebe said. “The fact that it’s tied to Grace actually adds another dimension because it’s not just going to be a building. Her story will be told forever. I think that’s quite a tribute to Grace and to her family who are allowing this to happen. This addition is hard for anyone to take on especially a family that is grieving. Construction is very expensive. They themselves have put a lot of their own time and money into this project. This is a program Grace clearly loved and excelled at. Her story will be a great inspiration to help young people understand the value of the program and what it did for her. It’s also a great thing for the community. Our teen program is growing. To actually have a place where the teens can meet and have activities will be extremely helpful. Obviously, it’s very sad to lose a child, but the fact that this family was able to turn such a tragic thing into such a happy thing is amazing.” Grace Hanlon will be affecting the lives of many youth in such a positive and inspiring manner. What a wonderful way to be remembered.

For more information about Grace’s Place visit the web site at https://gracesplace4h.com.To learn more about 4-H programs visit http://www.4-h.uconn.edu/index.php.

Article by Nancy Wilhelm, Program Coordinator, 4-H Youth Development

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AWS Provides Perfect Wastewater Treatment Solution for US Military

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There is a critical need to provide soldiers with healthy, sanitary places to live all while protecting the local environment when deployed overseas. Wastewater treatment is a key component of keeping our military men and women safe. Wastewater that is improperly managed in the processes of establishing, operating, and closing base camps as part of contingency operations poses health risks to soldiers and surrounding communities, as pollutants released through the surface can seep into the groundwater. Reducing the logistical footprint of wastewater treatment while meeting environmental compliance requirements is a key factor for successful units in the field.

Active Water Solutions was engaged by the US Army to design a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) that treats 35,000 gallons of domestic wastewater per day. AWS designed a custom WWTP capable of supporting a contingency base of 875 soldiers. In addition, the WWTPs are modular and scalable for bases that host more than 875 soldiers and contractors. The Army installed three AWS WWTPs to accommodate up to 5,500 soldiers and contractors within Iraq. The WWTPs are manufactured within 40’ ISO containers, allowing for quick, efficient, and easy transport at a low cost.  

The military is designed to respond quickly on the battlefield, which requires equipment that can be easily installed, started, operated, and maintained. The AWS Contingency WWTP meets all of those requirements while treating the domestic wastewater generated from soldiers and contractors. The WWTP reduces BOD, TSS, and fecal coliform and has lower energy requirements compared to similar treatment systems.  

Interested in learning more about cost effective packaged wastewater treatment systems? Contact us today! 

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Helping Connecticut Farmers Succeed: A Collaborative Journey

Billy Collins on farm
Billy Collins at Fair Weather Acres. Photo: Winter Caplanson

“Educating farmers in sustainable, profitable and environmentally-sound food production practices benefits every man, woman and child in the country directly, on a daily basis, by helping to maintain a safe and secure food source. Knowledge of effective IPM practices helps prevent excess application of pesticides by otherwise frustrated growers,” Jude Boucher says.

The name Jude Boucher is synonymous with vegetable production in Connecticut. Jude joined UConn Extension in 1986 as the Extension Educator for vegetable crops Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Jude provided cutting-edge solutions to growers on pest management and crop production problems, keeping them competitive on the local, regional, and national level. A multi-faceted approach is used in vegetable IPM that reaches a vast number of growers, not only in Connecticut, but; throughout the Northeast. During the growing season, Jude worked with numerous farms to improve their business and address crop issues as they arose. From conventional to organic farms, new farmers to experienced farmers; Jude worked with everyone and improved their economic viability and production.

Diversifying a Traditional Farm

Jude assisted Fair Weather Acres in Rocky Hill in diversifying and building resiliency to the challenges Mother Nature provided. The farm is over 800 acres along the Connecticut River. Jude advised Billy and Michele Collins on ways to diversify their marketing efforts and the number of crops they grow, after flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011 washed away much of the crops, and left the farm in debt.

Originally, the farm received IPM training on three crops: beans, sweet corn, and peppers. With diversification, Billy began producing 55 different varieties of vegetables. Jude taught him pest management for his new crops, and the Collins hired an Extension-trained private consultant to help monitor and scout pests and implement new pest management techniques.

“I encouraged and advised Michele on developing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture on their farm and introduced them to other successful CSA farm operators,” Jude says. “Michele started the CSA with 120 members in 2012, and – through a variety of methods – has exceeded 500 summer CSA shares.”

Michele and Billy give back to Extension by speaking at state and regional conferences, hosting twilight meetings, research plots on their farm, and UConn student tours. “Jude has been an integral part of the growth and diversification of our farm. His extensive knowledge and passion for agriculture, coupled with his love of people and farmers in particular, made him an unrivaled asset to Connecticut agriculture,” Michele says. “Jude taught us, advised us, and offered us unlimited guidance in many areas including IPM, alternative farming concepts, marketing, and agribusiness just to name a few.”

Building a New Farm

Oxen Hill Farm is a family enterprise in West Suffield that began when the Griffin family inherited an idle hay and pasture farm with the intent of creating an organic vegetable and cut flower farm.

“Besides small-scale home vegetable and flower gardens, they had no experience operating a commercial vegetable and cut-flower business,” Jude says. “They signed up for training with me, and the first year, 2009, started with an acre of organic vegetables and cut flowers.”

Despite the challenges of their first year, they expanded their business in 2010, growing from 36 CSA members to over 150. Oxen Hill enlarged their acreage onto their parents’ home farm, to almost 20 acres of crops, and learned to grow everything from artichokes to zucchini. The farm continues to flourish.

Finding a Better Way

Jude worked with farmers throughout the region on deep zone tillage (DZT). “DZT allows a grower to prepare a narrow seedbed, only inches wide, rather than exposing the surface of the whole field to wind and rain,” Jude explains. “Farms can also till deeply, right under the crop row to loosen any hardpan that has formed after years of using a plow and harrow. This allows the soil to absorb and retain more water and allows the plants to extend their roots deeper into the soil. The system also improves soil quality over time.”

Due to his work, there are Extension programs in every New England state advocating the use of DZT, and over 45 growers in the region have switched to DZT. Although he retired in 2017, the work of Jude carries on in the farmers across the state. They organized a grower’s organization, and are looking forward to working with our new vegetable crops Extension educator, Shuresh Ghimire, who started on July 1st.

Article by Stacey Stearns

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