Industry Trends: The Rising Costs of Crumbling Infrastructure, Part I

The Rising Costs

Recently, negligence and possible misconduct of Flint government officials concerning the lead poisoning of that Michigan city’s water supply has brought crumbling infrastructure to the national spotlight. But this is not an isolated incident; every day, additional infrastructure problems and subsequent neglect are discovered in more and more cities across the U.S.

RJN Group, Inc., knows this too well, having been evaluating, studying, designing, and rehabilitating collection system pipelines for the last 40 years. Fortunately, from our perspective, there is no shortage of engineering workforce, talent, and solutions; unfortunately, on the other hand, there is a lack of funding in the industry to meet the dire needs of the crumbling infrastructure. … Read the rest

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Technology Spotlight: RJN Deploys Device that Provides 360-degree Image Captures of 100 Percent of Structures

RJN Group, Inc. has yet another option for manhole inspection in its growing portfolio of evaluative tools: It is called Panoramo SI, offered by IBAK, and it proves to be very helpful due to its technologically advanced capabilities.

As RJN rolled out this IBAK camera for manhole inspections in Fort Smith, Arkansas, crews quickly became familiar with the easy-to-use scanning system while building speed and production numbers. On the office side, manhole images coming in for coding are extremely clear and detailed, allowing office staff to quickly provide accurate NASSCO MACP, Level 2 inspections to the client. Soon RJN will be expanding usage of this technology to other upcoming projects, including Jefferson, Arkansas, and COSA stormwater (City of San Antonio, Texas).… Read the rest

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RJN Implements InfoMaster to Meet Capital Planning Needs

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati is the publicly-operated wastewater utility serving 43 out of 49 Hamilton County, Ohio political subdivisions, as well as parts of the three adjacent counties of Butler, Clermont, and Warren.  It has a ratepayer base of approximately 230,000 residential and commercial users and operates seven major wastewater treatment plants and more than 120 pump stations.  MSD provides sewerage collection and treatment services to an area covering approximately more than 290 square miles, containing over 200,000 separate sewer connections which tie into approximately 3,000 miles of sanitary and combined sewers.

To optimize its capital improvement program and maintain the highest level of customer service, MSD initiated a comprehensive enterprise asset management solution aimed at getting the most for its investment. … Read the rest

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RJN Represented at WATERCON 2016

During WATERCON 2016, RJN’s own Zach Matyja, P.E., and Cathy Morley, P.E., will be presenting. The Illinois Section of the American Water Works hosts this conference and expo (WATERCON) every year to facilitate networking opportunities and idea exchanges among experts in the “total water” cycle.  This year, WATERCON will take place from March 21 through March 24, 2016, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Illinois.  To learn more about the event, visit… Read the rest

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RJN Experts to Speak at 2016 MWEA and MO-AWWA Joint Conference

During the 2016 Joint Conference of the Missouri Water Environment Association (MWEA) and the Missouri Section of the American Water Works Association (MO-AWWA), four RJN associates will be presenting—Elizabeth Aguin, Margaret Fryer, Jeff King, and Thomas Inman. In addition to presenting, the four will also be hosting a booth at the conference—Booth #47. The Joint Conference will be taking place from March 20 to March 23, 2016, at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach, Missouri. To learn more about the event, visit… Read the rest

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Technology Spotlight: New Technology Puts RJN at Forefront of Innovative and Sustainable Collection System Engineering Solutions

RJN Group, Inc., has added a new technology to its impressive portfolio of evaluation tools. The new technology is BEM (Broadband Electro-Magnetic) pipe thickness scanning, and it has already proven itself to be a huge benefit to RJN’s team and a major value-add for clients. BEM technology again positions RJN at the forefront of innovative and sustainable collection system engineering solutions.

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Funding Stormwater Programs: The Challenges AND Steps to Success

RJN Group, Inc. actively participated in the recent EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference held in Hot Springs, Arkansas (October 19-24).  RJN is ramping up our focus on Stormwater Collection Systems to better serve our clients.  More than 50 utility leaders were in attendance to hear our own Noelle Gaspard, PE, GISP, CFM present her insights on stormwater utility fees and programs.  The following is a synopsis of her presentation:

“Stormwater Utility Fees: What Are They and Why Should My Community WaCreating-a-Stormwater-Utilitynt One?”

In recent years, stormwater utility fee programs have risen in popularity as the cost of running a stormwater program continues to increase.  … Read the rest

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The Value of Enhanced Field Services: Accurate Data = Effective Rehabilitation

40 Years of RJN Innovations (Part 3 of 3)  In celebration of our 40th anniversary, RJN is reflecting on its contributions to the collection systems industry as a pioneer of new techniques and early adopter of breakthrough technologies for greater accuracy and efficiency.

In the early 1980s, RJN made a discovery during a sewer study in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The same drainage basin was inadvertently smoke tested twice, once by a consultant using a single blower and once by RJN using dual blowers. The results could not be ignored: 69 defects were found during single blower testing and 234 with dual blowers.… Read the rest

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RJN’s 1979 I/I Quantification Method Drives Modern Hydraulic Models

40 Years of RJN Innovations (Part 2 of 3)  In celebration of our 40th anniversary, RJN is reflecting on its contributions to the collection systems industry as a pioneer of new techniques and early adopter of breakthrough technologies for greater accuracy and efficiency.

By the mid-1970s, the study of sewer system hydraulics and stormwater drainage were based on the century-old Manning’s Formula and Rational Method, and other core principles of hydraulics, such as Bernoulli’s Equation which was older still. The EPA had released its Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) earlier in the decade, which refined upon these principles, and computers were available to run complex dynamic models of sewer networks.… Read the rest

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BIRTH OF AN INDUSTRY: How the Clean Water Act and Invention of the Microprocessor Helped Establish RJN as an Early and Modern Day Sewer System Analysis Pioneer

40 Years of RJN Innovations (Part 1 of 3)  In celebration of our 40th anniversary, RJN is reflecting on its contributions to the collection systems industry as a pioneer of new techniques and early adopter of breakthrough technologies for greater accuracy and efficiency.

Back in the 1970s, the Clean Water Act and the microcomputer were both brand new. Civil engineers were in hot demand, with municipal clients eager to conduct Sewer System Evaluation Surveys (SSESs) to qualify for 75% federal grant funding to build wastewater treatment facilities. RJN Group, Inc. opened its doors in July 1975 and was performing sewer studies, but with the ultimate intent of developing new engineering methodologies to inspect, analyze, and rehabilitate sanitary sewer systems.… Read the rest

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Attending WEFTEC 2015?

July 13, 2015—Paul Costa, RJN’s Vice-President and Chair of the WEFTEC Collection Systems Sub-Committee welcomes everyone attending WEFTEC in Chicago to join him at the 13th Annual Collections Systems Luncheon.  The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 from noon to 1:30 pm and features Phil Hubbard, P.E., of the Hampton Roads Sanitation District. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from and network with fellow collection systems professionals.  Register early to guarantee a spot:

 … Read the rest

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Can Conserving Water on Rainy Days Prevent Sewer Overflows? Part 2 of 2

June 26, 2015—In Part 1, Vincent Bergl, P.E., discussed whether or not conserving water on rainy days could help prevent overflows in separated sewer systems. Here he explores combined sewer systems, which were primarily constructed in the early twentieth century when the goal was to convey both untreated sewage and stormwater to the nearest river or stream as quickly and cheaply as possible.

OVRFLW005_lowBy design, combined sewers are significantly larger than sanitary sewers, so in a well-functioning combined sewer system, pipeline capacity is rarely the primary constraint. Rather, it’s the capacity of downstream treatment facilities that’s easily exhausted. Most urban treatment plants were built prior to the Clean Water Act.… Read the rest

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Can conserving water on rainy days prevent sewer overflows? Part 1 of 2


June 12, 2015—Project Engineer Vincent Bergl, P.E. recently caught up with an old college friend who mentioned she was refraining from using water during heavy rains so that she wouldn’t contribute to overloading the sewer system. It sparked an impromptu lesson on urban hydrology (lucky her), and after hearing similar concerns expressed elsewhere, Vinnie decided his thoughts were worth sharing:

No one welcomes beach closings or basement backups, but can water conservation during storms prevent sewer overflows? The answer is maybe sometimes, but not really, depending on context. Let me explain.

SEPARATED VS. COMBINED SEWERS. Let’s start by distinguishing separated from combined sewer systems because the difference affects the answer.… Read the rest

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RJN Group to Present at Texas Water 2015

Joseph Cotton, PE, ENV SP, of RJN Group, Inc. (RJN), will co-host a technical breakout session at the upcoming Texas Water 2015 on Friday, April 17 at 9:30 am. In this session, “How to Clean and TV Siphons at One of the Busiest Intersections in Texas During Construction Season”, Mr. Cotton and his co-presenters, Jerome Iltis, PE, and Dennis Laskowski, PE, both of San Antonio Water System (SAWS), will highlight their applicable experiences, challenges, and successes with work conducted in February through April, 2014.

San Antonio’s River Walk and Downtown are premier tourist attractions. People from across the nation and the world go to San Antonio to visit the sites that make San Antonio a vacation hot spot.… Read the rest

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Zach Matyja Awarded Young Leader Award

Zach Matyja, P.E., a Client Manager at RJN Group, Inc. (RJN), recently received the 2015 Young Leader Award from the Suburban Branch of the American Public Works Association (APWA) Chicago Metro Chapter. He is the current Past-President of the chapter, previously serving as Secretary in 2012 and as Vice President and President in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The Young Leader Award is given to recognize and encourage young APWA members who have demonstrated an initial commitment to the profession and the association, and show potential for future growth within the association. The award promotes the concept that length of career does not necessarily indicate leadership abilities or potential for service.… Read the rest

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Safety Training in the Summer

A major responsibility of both new and current employees at RJN is to always be “safety certified” in various field work tasks.

Recently, RJN eHarness-Safety-2mployees participated in two days of training classes becoming certified in OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 10-Hour, Pipe Plugging, and 4-Hour Traffic Control. The training was conducted by David Miguel, RJN’s Safety Consultant from Underground Safety & Supply.

The training for Pipe Plugging consisted of proper installation of plugs into sewer systems and proper daily maintenance.

The 4-Hour Traffic Control training had the employees learning proper traffic cone patterns for different situations when manholes are located in streets.… Read the rest

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Clay Thompson is Inducted into the Five “S” (5S) Society

Thompson_ClayOne of our Client Managers, Clay Thompson, was recently inducted into the Five “S” (5S) Society at the Arkansas Water Works & Water Environment Association’s Annual Conference.  The Five “S” Society stands for the Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers.  Per Water Environment Federation (WEF), membership requirements vary from Chapter to Chapter. The text that follows are excerpts from Five “S” Chapter’s procedures. There are no “real” rules.

Selection to membership in a Chapter is recognition of “Outstanding, meritorious service above and beyond the call of duty.” Selection bestows the accolade of elevation “on the official shovel to the highest ridge on the sludge bed, with the title of Select Sludge Shoveler and all the honor, atmosphere, prerequisite, and dignity pertaining thereto.”

Selection of a person to membership should be approved by the Member Association’s Board.… Read the rest

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APWA Congress & Expo: RJN’s 2014 Wrap-Up

Well, another successful APWA Congress and Expo has come and gone…  Thank you to Toronto and OPWA (Ontario Public Works Association) for being great hosts!

Today, I’m posting my thoughts about this great International event and why I find so much value to be an exhibitor with RJN Group and as an attendee.

I have four years under my belt (2011-2014, Denver, Anaheim, Chicago, Toronto), so I feel I should share some of my thoughts to all of you who might consider attending a future Congress.

For a Chicagoan, Congress starts at Saturday night’s Chapter Dinner.  It’s crazy to think that you need to travel hundreds of miles to get some quality time with some great people, but it’s true. … Read the rest

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New Project Engineers Join RJN’s Central Operations

Our Central Operations continues their expansion with the addition of two new Project Engineers, Anna Kesler and Yann Gallin.  They will both be based out of our Wheaton office.

Kesler’s work focuses on Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Studies (SSES), flow monitoring, and hydraulic modeling.  Her responsibilities consist of report writing, data analysis, hydraulic modeling, and occasionally dyed water flooding.

She earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Marquette University and is currently working towards a Master of Science in Water Resources Engineering at Marquette University.  Prior to joining RJN, Kesler worked as a Design Engineer at SPACECO, Inc.

Kesler was born in Poznan, Poland and moved to the United States with her family just before turning 6 years old.  … Read the rest

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Recent Engineer Graduates Getting Their Start at RJN Group

Two graduates from the class of 2014, Nadia Simek, E.I. and David Edgren, E.I., wasted no time in jumping into the engineering world and both started work at RJN Group, Inc.’s (RJN) Wheaton office in June.  They will be working as Staff Engineers for RJN’s Central U.S. Operations.

Simek_NadiaSimek earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). While at UIC, Simek was an Undergraduate Research Assistant where she researched pipeline detection leakage with the use of acoustic emission (AE) sensors. During the summer and winter, she interned at Engineering Enterprises, Inc. in Sugar Grove, Illinois.… Read the rest

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Surcharge Monitoring & Alarming – Successful in the Field

We are using a simple surcharge gauge monitoring system to measure sewer flows and alert us when manholes surcharge and/or overflow. This monitoring system does not require equipment to  be installed within the pipe where it is at risk for fouling by debris. Furthermore, installation of the equipment is easy and quick.

The surcharge gauge consists of a pressure sensor that measures depth of flow in the manhole and a telemetry device to send data to a server. This photo shows the monitoring equipment when looking down into the manhole.



The pressure sensor is attached to a bucket installed on the manhole bench.… Read the rest

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Topgolf Chicago APWA Chicago Metro Outing

Practice Makes Perfect for RJN Engineers at Topgolf Chicago

Last Thursday, May 15th, Tom Romza and Ryan Johnson, engineers in our Wheaton, Illinois office, participated in APWA Chicago Metro Chapter’s Youth Professional’s Topgolf Chicago Outing.

Topgolf Chicago is an entertainment facility where players hit microchipped golf balls at targets on an outfield. And for the sake of competition, the high-tech balls instantly score each shot’s accuracy and distance.

Tom and Ryan were on a team with Jennifer Barlas, APWA Chicago Metro Chapter President, and Mike Hall, Engineer for the City of Elgin.  Mike won the first two games. Letting it go to his head a bit, he teased Tom mercilessly for the majority of the night for his lackluster golf skills.… Read the rest

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Lindsey Sylvester, P.E. Celebrates Four Years with RJN

Lindsey Sylvester, P.E., a Project Engineer operating out of RJN’s Baltimore office, is celebrating her four (4) year anniversary with RJN this month!

Lindsey is a native Delawarean and graduated from the University of Delaware (one of four Fighting Blue Hens in the Baltimore office!).  Outside of work she is a musician and a rower.  She plays two (contrasting) instruments – the trombone and the clarinet, and she is a crew rower with the Baltimore Rowing Club.

Some highlights from the past 4 years:

  • Marrying her husband, Joe Sylvester, in 2013
  • Rescuing her dog Ridley
  • Obtaining her Professional Engineer (P.E.) License in the state of Maryland
  • Attending Johns Hopkins University to earn her Master Degree in Environmental Engineering Planning and Management (graduation set for May 2015)

While at RJN, Lindsey has worked on various wastewater collection system projects in both Maryland and Virginia.  … Read the rest

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I/I Pie Chart

What does that flow look like?

As a leading expert in wastewater collection systems, one of RJN’s strongest specialty services is the identification of inflow and infiltration (I/I) sources in sanitary sewer systems. Using a combination of smoke testing, manhole inspection, dye flood testing, building inspection, and sewer televising, detailed data on the locations and characteristics of I/I sources are collected in the field and then compiled in ways that are useful for analyzing their aggregate effects on the collection system.

A key component of this analysis and of any sanitary sewer evaluation survey (SSES) is the flow quantification process — that is, the estimation of the total flow that would be contributed by the identified I/I sources during a wet-weather event.Read the rest

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Memphis Mayor Sees Firsthand RJN’s Smoke Testing Services

RJN Group field technicians were recently in Memphis, Tennessee performing smoke testing on the City’s wastewater collection system.  While performing smoke testing it is not unusual for curious residents to come out of their house to ask questions from our field staff about what we are doing.

In one particular neighborhood that resident ended up being A C Wharton, Jr., the Mayor of Memphis, he saw RJN smoke testing and stopped to say “Hello”.

RJN staff included in the picture with Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. are Field Crew Leader, Joseph Colley; Field Crew Chief, Preston Fisher; Field Technicians Jamie Riggs, Rick Benson, and Frank Baumgartner; and two of our temp workers.… Read the rest

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Extreme Weather, Public Perception, and Lessons from a Very Wet and Weird Year

All across our nation, 2013 was a year during which extreme weather never seemed to take a break. It started with the northeast still recovering from Snowicane Sandy, and the disasters only mounted from there. Blizzards, downpours, floods, and November tornadoes would all top headlines before the year was out, and two months into 2014, the U.S. has already suffered a severe drought, an early wildfire season, and multiple visits from something called a polar vortex.

Here in the Chicago area, we had the second wettest spring on record in 2013. We talked previously about the April 18 storm and the havoc it wreaked on much of the western suburbs.… Read the rest

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Hot Springs Wastewater from CAO to Cutting Edge

In November 2013, we posted an article that was written covering the City of Hot Springs efforts in addressing and correcting deficiencies in their wastewater system under a Consent Administrative Order (CAO).  The article also describes the Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Study (SSES) that is being performed by RJN Group.

The City recently released a terrific informative video that will visually tell you the story of their efforts as well.

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RJN’s Methods for Surviving this Winter’s Madness

Safety for Cold Weather

Snow on a manhole cover resembling a snowflakeThis winter has been brutal and that is putting it mildly. Even though the temperatures are at record setting lows and the snow is piling up to heights well above our vehicles, RJN field crews still need to get out there to perform field investigations for our clients.

To prepare our field crews for the cold weather (and at times Arctic Blasts), we stock every field vehicle with an emergency kit, blankets, and hand warmers. Each crew member is supplied with snow pants, winter jackets, winter coveralls, latex coated winter gloves, and full face masks.

We don’t stop at just providing the crews with the right materials.… Read the rest

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