Temporary wastewater solids handling facility: Shutdown

Posted in: Infrastructure, Water


temp wastewater treatment operations shutdownWe’re entering the final phase – shutdown –  of a large design-build-operate-supply wastewater treatment project in New Mexico. It has been Mead & Hunt’s job to complete a full design, build and operate project. We were also responsible for all equipment and chemical needs.

The project, a temporary, wastewater solids handling facility, needed to pump, dewater and condition wastewater solids for safe application to the local landfill. The past 11 months operating a temporary wastewater treatment facility have been interesting, and my team has learned a lot. But now the project is done, and we need to manage an efficient, smooth and safe shutdown. My number one bit of advice? Don’t lose focus. It’s easy to do when operations are completed and staff are beginning to leave the job site.

This is the fourth and final blog in the series about this unique project. Previous articles are: Design and construction, Start-up and Operations.

Key items in the shutdown of a temporary wastewater facility

It’s a given that change will occur during shutdown. As much as you’ve planned and scheduled, a large team with many moving parts requires flexibility, adaptability and foresight. An experienced team, prepared to address any upset that might occur, is therefore essential. A team with experience on projects like this will understand the necessity of having a strong plan in place and will know how to hold to that plan.

My checklist for shutdown phase plan items includes:

  • Create final safety plan and complete all required training for equipment transfer
  • Plan and schedule shipping and removal of equipment (crane, fork ruck, etc.)
  • Address all permit requirements, such as trucking and oversized loads
  • Hold and share solid records, receipts, bill of lading, contact phone numbers
  • Hire additional team members with expertise for pulling system apart, rigging for equipment, etc.
  • Allocate additional budget for this phase
  • Develop plan to remove all unused chemicals and empty containers
  • Collect financial credits for returned spare parts

The potential for negative impacts on the project budget can escalate during the shutdown phase for this type of project. Vigilant monitoring can reduce the risk of additional costs for labor, equipment and transportation. If you want to keep to the scheduled plan, then detailed and regular communication with all team members is a must. During the shutdown phase, safety remains a high priority for the team preparation and training, especially when moving large equipment.

A successful shutdown is essential for a successful project. I coach my team to stay focused and keep their eyes on the end goal as we near completion. If we do that, the shutdown phase can be the icing on the cake for your client and the entire team.

My favorite part of a huge, multi-phase, complex project like this? Party! Yes, celebrating the completion with your client and team is an important way to end the project, and it’s a great way motivate everyone for the next exciting wastewater project.


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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