Temporary wastewater solids handling facility: Operations phase

Posted in: Infrastructure, Water


We are now entering the operations phase of a temporary wastewater treatment solids handling facility project. We recently completed the design-build and startup phases of this project. In fact, we’ve been operating the system for about three months. The wastewater solids are being pumped, dewatered and conditioned for safe application to the landfill.

Operating a temporary solids dewatering facility efficiently requires a team who are very experienced with wastewater operations and maintenance. You need to ensure that each team member is properly trained to operate the equipment and troubleshoot the system. Safety training for chemical handling, guarding and PPE is mandatory. In addition, I recommend that all training be documented so that anyone on the team can review the status of the training and review what needs to be done.

With any wastewater system operation, it’s important to be consistent with your plan. Keep a good balance between sludge tank levels, solids feed rates, press speeds and chemical feed rates for the sludge dewatering presses. Being consistent will allow the operations team to be more efficient with final percent solids and chemical usage.

As part of our operations, we’ve developed a shutdown plan for major repairs. It’s a good idea to set a preventative maintenance schedule to keep pumps, equipment, bearings, conveyor and presses in good working condition. This will help avoid major unplanned shutdowns.

Consider these important factors to manage during the operations phase:

  • Safety comes first. Start the day discussing safety with your team and documenting walkthroughs and meetings.
  • Communicate clearly and frequently with the facility owner, operators, project managers and construction managers. Find an appropriate balance in the number of regularly scheduled meetings that addresses key issues without taking time away from operations.
  • Monitor the quantity of polymer onsite, as dewatering will stop without product. Avoid slippery hazards by minimizing potential polymer spills.
  • Maintain thorough operations documentation and maintenance records. Perform daily labs to monitor and troubleshoot your system.
  • Manage the onsite team. I like to double-check that sufficient staffing is available to address personal leave issues with longer maintenance shutdowns. I reach out to specialty subcontractors so that, should the need arise at the facility, there is additional staff ready to go.
  • Accurately inventory your backup supplies and spare parts to prevent long shutdowns.
  • And, last but definitely not least – monitor your budget.

Those are the primary concerns for water-wastewater facility operations, but it is equally important to have your Preventative Maintenance Plan in place. Consider these issues when drafting your plan:

  • Wash presses and conveyors at the end of each day.
  • Change hydraulic fluids and monitor the entire system daily.
  • Clean the polymer feed system daily.
  • Grease roller and auger bearings weekly.
  • Monitor sludge and water feed system weekly.
  • Change upper and lower press belts periodically.

Just like the design-build and startup phases, I create detailed operations and maintenance plans to keep our clients happy and their facility running smoothly.

In my next blog article, I provide an overview the final shutdown phase of a temporary dewatering facility.


Troy Gallagher

About the Author

Troy Gallagher has focused his 25-year+ career in the water and wastewater field, working for both industrial and municipal clients. Before joining Mead & Hunt, he started and built his own water and wastewater consulting, engineering and training company. Troy now serves as Market Leader responsible for new business development and teaming relationships to pursue nationwide opportunities in  water and wastewater treatment within diverse markets (municipal, aviation, food and dairy, and industrial).

Read more posts by Troy Gallagher

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