Performance When It Counts

Storms, floods and other disasters seem to be getting more severe and frequent. That’s reason for water systems to make sure emergency plans are up to date.

When a grocery store loses power, the owner loses sales and customers are inconvenienced. When a major website like Google or Facebook crashes, users are annoyed. When a factory is damaged in a tornado, production is halted and for a while the workers may be without jobs.

Generally speaking, in those instances, no one gets sick or dies. But when a water treatment plant must shut down because of some disaster, or if a drinking water distribution system is compromised, the impacts can be dire.

Seeing the rashes of storms and floods that have hit in recent years, anyone responsible for a water system should be thinking about dusting off that emergency plan.

Sunny day savings

Speaking of calamities, droughts can fall into that category, too. Dry weather doesn't tear up infrastructure the way a storm or flood can, but it does cause major difficulty, including inconvenience to customers in the form of water usage restrictions.

The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) has a unique defense against drought. Its $250 million Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system lets SAWS store water from its annual allotment in deep wells in times of plenty and draw it back out when needed. The system includes a well field with 32 deep wells and a 30-mile concrete pipeline through which recovered water is delivered to pump stations for distribution to customers in dry periods.

Plant manager Roberto Macias and a crew of 10 operate, monitor and maintain the system. It's a remedy that isn't for everyone, and it's certainly no substitute for responsible water conservation and leak detection and abatement – both of which SAWS takes very seriously.

Using it wisely

Wise use of resources is the motivation behind an integrated, systemwide control system that helps the Niagara Region Public Works Department manage an annual flow of 17.2 billion gallons of drinking water. The system gives operators better, faster, more reliable access to critical information.

The department also manages the region's wastewater. Both the water and sewage systems require fault-tolerant access to data from hundreds of field instruments and 16 treatment facilities in real time. The control system gives operators absolute control over the vast network — a job that grows bigger as the population and industry expand.

The department deployed the system using in-house resources, giving all involved a deep understanding of what it can do and how to operate and maintain it. It's a recipe for a future of reliable, effective performance and quality service to the region's nearly half-million people.

Look for stories on all these items in this issue of Water System Operator. And remember, we are always interested in your story — how your
operating team keeps your system compliant, how you sustain high efficiency, how you train and elevate your team, how you provide superior service to customers.

Pass along your ideas to I promise to respond to each inquiry. I look forward to hearing from you.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.