By Brandon Most, Portfolio Director
Wastewater treatment issues in the news
While largely overlooked by national and global outlets, dispatches highlighting the challenges of wastewater treatment are trending among local news outlets. In Wisconsin, the Fond Du Lac Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility announced an Open House to share its newly-installed advanced nutrient removal technologies.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) awarded over $76,000,000 in financing for water, sewer and wastewater infrastructure improvements to sixteen Georgia communities. Funding for one of these communities, the City of Baconton, will go towards enhancing the treatment process to ensure compliance with water quality standards. Another community, the City of Tybee Island, will implement energy-efficiency improvements to lower the cost of electricity used to operate its wastewater treatment plant. These efforts will all go toward helping these communities enhance their current wastewater infrastructure and operations while meeting regulatory mandates.
Energy consumption costs, inefficient operations, aging infrastructure, population growth, and climate change have all converged to compel civic and business leaders to tackle these complex issues. And while most recent news has appeared in local outlets, detailed performance data is freely available at the national level, via the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS), an online database of public water systems and violations of EPA's drinking water regulations under the Clean Water Act.
Staying off of this list and out of the news is Priority One. Unfortunately, achieving this has grown more challenging with the steady aging of treatment infrastructure.
Industry challenges are tangled and contentious
The body of regulations governing wastewater treatment continues to grow, increasing the monitoring and reporting burdens on plant operators.
There’s also a generational shift affecting these operations, as skilled, experienced managers and technicians age out of the workforce, leaving plant managers with significant knowledge gaps.
Of course, there’s no question about the advancing age and increasing disrepair of treatment plant systems, hindering their safe and reliable operation, and forcing budgetary showdowns across towns and communities. Small and large wastewater plants alike must be prepared.
Data paves the path forward
Predictive data analytics solutions provide you an opportunity to overcome many of these challenges and restore control of your operations. While predictive analytics solutions can’t stop your assets from aging, they can help you and your teams anticipate, recognize, and remediate issues proactively, helping you build and manage a roadmap for improved maintenance and programmatic equipment replacement. The last time the EPA refreshed its SDWIS nearly 25 percent of all wastewater systems reported a reporting/monitoring violation.
The right solution will speed up reporting and monitoring, provide additional insights into your operating performance and free up your engineers' and operators’ time to do more substantive project work. The proper application of data analytics eases the fire-fighting burdens on your team and helps shift your organization’s culture toward more predictable, programmatic, and strategic work.
Additionally, the Center for Water Studies has found that over a third of water industry professionals will be retiring within a few years, and there are concerns about finding experienced, knowledgeable replacements. Data analytics software can streamline knowledge transfer, increase workforce efficiency and automate repetitive tasks – all to ease this transition and significantly improve the bottom line.
A right-sized solution for your operation
While wastewater treatment leaders, operators, and technicians understand the benefits of predictive Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions, they often assume the investments required will break their banks. The reality is quite the opposite.
True, some high-profile APM companies come across as 800-pound gorillas, offering solutions that are staggering in cost, labor-intensive to implement, and slow to deliver value. You can spend months trying to get their solutions implemented, provoke frustration among both executives and technicians, and ultimately fail to bring a working solution into production.
I know. I’ve seen it far too often.
The good news is that an affordable APM solution – tailored specifically to your assets and the way you and your people work – is here today. With it, you can be up and running in weeks (not months).
And if you’re attending WEFTEC, we’d love to share a demo with you. Stop and see us in booth #8624.