A major project to design a water treatment plant for the Atomic Energy Commission at Richland, Washington, using new treatment and control concepts, culminated in the development of the new Microfloc Process, a high-rate filtration system. This process was later to become a part of the highly publicized Lake Tahoe Treatment Plant project that propelled the firm onto the national scene, literally starting it on the road to becoming a major player throughout the United States.

Continuing to demonstrate that innovation and imagination were hallmark traits of CH2M, studies being made on the Eugene, Oregon, 13th Avenue Pumping Station led to the invention of variable speed pump motor controls by Burke Hayes and Carl Ryden. A patent was applied for, and later granted, under the name of Flomatcher, and for a time both the Microfloc Process and the Flomatcher control system were separately manufactured and commercially sold as part of the General Services Company, a CH2M subsidiary.

Too much cannot be said about the innovativeness and inventiveness of the CH2M professional staff during those early years. It was during that period, while CH2M was inching its way upwards in the field of capable and responsible engineering that the free-thinking staff was constantly on the alert for better and more efficient ways to cope with the myriad of problems that plagued their industry. Microfloc and Flomatcher were only two of a number of specialized tools and/or systems that were generated in the minds of those young engineers and then turned into reality when incorporated into projects already in process. A brief history of some of those industry-changing techniques can be more closely examined by reviewing a selected few of such patented inventions created by the talented young engineers on the CH2M professional roster. Many innovations never lead to Patents. None the less, these innovations are what made and continues to make CH2M HILL the number one Consulting Firm in the world!

Note: Many other Innovations that are our Company’s exist in our constant new business development proposals. As a reader of this site, if you remember something that you think is worthy of this History site, please contact Gordon Koblitz. If you see something, just send it to Gordon and his team will edit the proposal language that is not appropriate to our History site.

Composting Invention (PDF)
Rather than just dumping garbage in a land fill, would it not be better to waste decompose more effectively. Jan Allen, a senior technologist with the Energy, Environmental, and Systems Business Group, and Chuck Kemper, waste management market segment leader, have developed and patented the “C:N Composting System” to do just that.

Flomatcher is an electrical device that enables continuously variable speed drive for pumps. It utilizes wound-rotor motors and varies the speed according to the incoming flow requiring pumping. Speed control is affected by use of a liquid rheostat that paces speed (hence pump output) as a function of wet-well depth. The result is a pumping system that can pump at nearly any output, from nearly zero to the maximum pump/motor capability.

History of Water and Wastewater (PDF)

Mueller, Myers Invention Patent Pending (PDF)
Paul Mueller, and Tony Meyers combined two existing water treatment processes to make a space-saving, cost effective water treatment process that had a patent pending as of 2002.

The technology pairs a vacuum-driven hollow fiber ultra filtration process, which provides state-of-art removal of disease-causing micro-organisms, with a suspension of small ion-exchange resin beads that absorb dissolved organic compounds.

New Wastewater Treatment Method Patented (PDF)
It is often a primary goal when treating wastewater to phosphorus levels, thus helping to allow wastewater to be more safely discharged to the environment. Bruce Johnson recognized this need when he saw two methods of phosphorus reduction, chemical and biological phosphorus removal, could be combined to remove phosphorus and subsequently received a US Patent No. 6,982,036.

Patent Perfection (PDF)
CH2M Hill, Englewood, Colo., has been assigned a patent (8,105,490) developed by Glen T. Daigger, for “low phosphorus water treatment systems.

The abstract of the patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office states: “A water or wastewater treatment system to reduce phosphorus or other pollutant concentrations in water or wastewater may include an optional primary treatment stage in fluid communication with a biological secondary treatment stage.”

The secondary treatment stage may, in turn, be fluidly connected with a tertiary treatment stage, which may include a chemical treatment portion for reducing phosphorus or other pollutants to desired levels. The precipitated phosphorus and other solids or sludge produced from the chemical treatment portion may be recycled upstream for reuse in the primary, secondary, and/or tertiary treatment stages.”

Such recycle may reduce the amount of added chemicals required in the tertiary treatment stage to phosphorus or other pollutants to desired amounts.” The patent application was filed on April 15, 2001. [Editor’s note: While the patented has been approved, the date of such approval is unknown to the Alumni History Committee]

PitCon Process for water clarification (PDF)
The PitCon process of water clarification used by the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) was considered to be the first major breakthrough in water filtration methods since 1895. The process was introduced by two General Electric (GE) engineers, Ray Pitman and Walter Conley, at the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) water treatment plant at Hanford, WA in 1953. Walt Conley would later join CH2M in 1962. Also see The Microfloc Process.

Smith Slope Meter
The Smith Slope Meter is a device that, when inserted in any underground conduit, measures the slope (rise over run) of the conduit at the spot in the conduit at which the meter is located. Slope information is relayed back to the operator on the surface above the conduit being tested.

Suhr Sampler
The Suhr Sampler is a device that extracts a water or sewage sample from a sewer or other free-flowing water surface and aspirates the sample into an aboveground chamber. The sample is expelled into a container located inside a refrigerator for storage until lab tests are performed. The device is powered by an aboveground combination vacuum/compressor unit and is able to take samples that are representative of the entire flow even though solids are present in the sewage or other flow being sampled.

The Microfloc Process
Microfloc is a filtration process that uses three or more specific-gravity filtration media. Lighter weight but larger grain-sized media forms the top layer and heavier but smaller grain-sized media are successively located in the filter. In this way, the filter is able to utilize essentially the entire filter depth to remove solids in the liquid being filtered. When the filter is plugged with the solids that have been removed, it is backwashed from beneath by a rapid inflow of clean water. This flushes the solids out of the filter but the layers of media remain in place because the lowest media particles are the heaviest and are not forced upward into the overlaying lighter particles. Microfloc was first used for filtration at the Hanford Atomic Facility in Washington state.

Valley Initiative Plant (VIP) Process in Biological Nutrient Removal (PDF)
The VIP process, co-developed by Glen Daigger and Liliana Maldonado and patented by Glen, is a high-rate biological wastewater treatment process using a single sludge activated sludge recycle for biological removal of phosphorus and nitrogen. Also see Patent Perfection. (PDF)

VOC Recovery Process Yields a Patent (PDF)
Hill Air Force base in northern Utah wanted to increase its production workload. Aircraft painting operations generated large quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Mitch Lindsay in Salt Lake City had already been thinking of ways to reduce air emissions for this project. Lindsay put his head together with Jim Mavis from the Seattle office, and suggested a centralized distillation system connected to absorbers at each plant. They applied for and received a patent on this approach.