The New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Student Design Competition (SDC) promotes “real-world” design experience for students interested in pursuing education and/or careers in water engineering and sciences. Two categories make up the competition, one for “wastewater” that includes treatment facility design and one for “water environment” that includes just about anything else related to water in the environment. The teams presented their designs to judges, peers, and mentors during the SDC presentations, held in May via video conference.

Students at Water Treatment Facility


This year, UVM had a team presenting in each category. 

The wastewater team’s project, “South Burlington Wastewater Treatment Facility Chemical Reduction” was created by Ian Kosnik, Sam Mikell, Olivia Nachbauer, Jake Senecal. The team’s faculty advisor was Matt Scarborough, and their professional mentor was Bob Fischer of the South Burlington Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The water environment team’s project “Bristol, Vermont PFAS Treatment” was put together by Daniel Cliche, Lucy Murphy, Julia Szymanski, and Zhiyi Wan. Their faculty advisor was John Lens and their professional mentor was Jill Marsano of Bristol Municipal Water.

UVM saw a win in the wastewater category, whose project was on the South Burlington Wastewater Treatment Facility, which operates with high quantity chemical addition of aluminum sulfate and caustic soda. This operation results in adverse effects on the symbiotic relationship between the biological and chemical processes. Through field and laboratory testing and research, the wastewater team proposed reworking the current biological nutrient removal system to incorporate a return activated sludge fermentation stream. BioWin modeling for this proposed alternative predicted lower chemical usage, higher biological nutrient removal (BNR) system performance, and a 75% and 35% cost reduction for alum and caustic soda respectively.

The winning teams of the SDC have the chance to present their projects under NEWEA sponsorship at the international WEFTEC Connect virtual conference in early October.


CEMS Communications