Temporary wastewater solids handling facility: Operations
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.
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