Data Management Keeps Plant in Compliance

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Data Management Keeps Plant in Compliance

The Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant was using manual processes for data collection, yielding inconsistent and often inaccurate data, leading to numerous permit violations, wasted staff time, and excess costs associated with over-treatment.

The large plant, located along the South Platte River near Denver, is required to exceed secondary treatment requirements by removing ammonia and nitrate from water. The plant is the third-largest publicly-owned treatment works in the state of Colorado.

Manual processes
Technicians at five different locations would fill data into paper reports, which were later entered into spreadsheets. Automated data collection was limited to lab-generated data only, and did not include operations or field data such as flow indications or pump status.  

Data analysis
Data analysis was severely limited, essentially limited to generating regulatory reports. Little time was given to interrogating the data for excursions.

Permit violation, excess costs, wasted time
During the 1990s, Littleton/Englewood averaged two permit violations per year. The manual system didn’t help troubleshoot the causes of the violations or provide information to help prevent them. Over-treatment meant excess costs, and staff were unable to focus on higher-priority initiatives.

Littleton/Englewood chose Hach WIMS to manage their data collection and process controls. Information is transferred from the SCADA system, portable solutions in the field, and LIMS, and is stored in a central database designed specifically for water and wastewater facilities.

Hach equipment and processes have enabled Littleton/Englewood to save time and money while staying within compliance with no further permit violations. Staff time can now be refocused to more strategic initiatives, and the plant has expanded flow capacity while significantly reducing overall costs.

Results and improvements
Hach WIMS was selected to manage the data flow, providing actionable insight for critical decision-making around plant optimization. Accurate real-time data allowed the utility to update operations, eliminating inaccuracies and alleviating the critical time drain of the manual process. Hach’s WIMS system was a cost-effective solution that helped save both time and money. 

Data access, operational efficiency
Littleton/Englewood operators can quickly check the accuracy of their data by pulling up correlation information to compare data relationships for optimizing plant processes. Process control manager Greg Farmer analyzed the effects of pump configurations. By systematically testing the operations and configurations, he was able to optimize the equipment’s performance and immediately wrote these new processes into the plant’s standard operation procedures. “In just the last three to four months we’ve made changes that save $70,000 annually,” says Farmer.

Littleton/Englewood now includes a denitrification process in its plant that uses methanol. The plant had been using nearly 900 gallons of methanol a day in order to perform the task. By monitoring the results with WIMS, they found the plant could operate on only 500 gallons a day with the same output results, providing $176,000 in annual savings.

Refocusing staff resources
Data-entry time among several employees was immediately reduced by 32 hours a week, allowing those employees to focus on more strategic initiatives. A plant expansion to increase flow capacity and denitrification generated 10 times more data, and the Hach system’s automated data entry made it possible to gather and analyze the additional data without increasing resources.

Today, the staff is able to spend 25 percent of its time on strategic analysis looking for opportunities to increase cost savings, which is something it did not have the time to do with the manual process.

For a large wastewater treatment plant like Littleton/Englewood, discharge monitoring reports are vital. The task of generating the reports has been reduced from two to three days to about 30 minutes. Operators can spend just a few minutes looking over the numbers, and if any concerns arise, they can immediately dive into the WIMS audit trail. The audit trail identifies the origin of the data and provides a track all the way back to the supervisor who approved it.

Hach’s intelligent devices allow users to prioritize efforts, scale solutions, optimize efficiencies and remain in compliance while realizing significant cost savings and allowing staff members to focus on high-level initiatives.

Littleton/Englewood operators now have increased confidence in the accuracy of their reported information and more efficient and effective internal communications.


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