Wastewater maintenance is the combination of inspections and tasks the team does to keep a wastewater treatment plant up and running, delivering clean water to communities, while keeping pollutants out of the environment.
Before looking at the work the maintenance team does, it’s worth first better understanding these unique facilities.
What is a wastewater treatment plant?
The process of turning wastewater into effluent that can safely return to the water cycle is called wastewater treatment. In some cases, the treated water is released into the environment. In others, it is reused in a process called reclamation.
You can classify wastewater based on its source, with each requiring a different type of wastewater treatment plant. Domestic wastewater, which you can also refer to as municipal wastewater or sewage, goes to a sewage treatment plant. Industrial wastewater goes to either an industrial treatment plant or, after pretreatment, a sewage plant. There are also treatment plants specifically for agricultural wastewater.
Types of assets
Although there are many types, they all tend to have the same types of assets, including:
As the wastewater moves through the phases of the process, it travels between large storage tanks.
Types of treatment
Once the wastewater is in the facility, it can pass through types of treatment. First, there is physical water treatment, which is some combination of filtering and skimming. Some facilities use sedimentation, while others rely on aeration. At this stage, no chemicals are added.
With biological wastewater treatment, microorganisms metabolize the organic elements. For chemical treatment, plants add chlorine or ozone. Sludge treatment is when plants work to get the maximum amount of solids out of the liquid while also trying to get all the solids out of the liquid.
What is wastewater maintenance?
Wastewater maintenance is all the work the maintenance team does to keep the assets and equipment up and running. The goal is to maximize uptime while minimizing unscheduled downtime using the smallest possible amounts of time and money. An additional goal is extending the life cycles of assets to get the most value out of them prior to replacement.
What are examples of wastewater maintenance?
A job posting for a wastewater treatment plant maintenance person in the Canadian city of Red Deer has a long list of common maintenance responsibilities:
“Regular maintenance, modifications, construction, emergency repairs and call out repair of the equipment, building, and process systems at the wastewater plant. This includes a variety of pumps up to and including variable speed pumps, air compressors, boilers, heater exchanges, heating and ventilation, air conditioning and a variety of piping valves, etc. It also includes a wide variety of treatment process equipment.”
Reading through that job description, there are many “including,” which goes to show the large number and variety of maintenance tasks.
How does a CMMS make wastewater maintenance easier?
Wastewater maintenance is challenging because of the size and complexity of the assets, as well as the serious consequences when things fail. Most obviously, it would be dangerous is wastewater was able to reach the environment. But it would also be dangerous if the plant were to lose control of many of the chemicals it uses at different stages in the cleaning process, including chlorine and ozone.
On top of the environmental issues, there are regulatory and political ones, too. Many of these facilities fall under the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who can aggressively sanction facilities with large fines. On the political front, accidents increase the public’s pushback on the development of new facilities moving forward. It’s already often hard enough to locations where you won’t have to deal with a lot of not in my backyard (NIMBY) sentiment from local communities.
Because of the importance of maintenance at these facilities to extend asset life cycles and avoid accidents, maintenance teams need to be proactive. A modern CMMS solution helps them stay a step ahead.
Every single feature in a CMMS makes life easier for both the maintenance department leads as well as the technicians. But it’s worth looking at two in particular.
When techs are moving around the facilities dealing with maintenance issues, the last thing they should be doing is running back to the office to grab MRO inventory they didn’t know they needed, ask questions, or pick up paperwork on the next on-demand work order or preventive maintenance inspection or task.
But if you’re stuck using paper-based methods, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
With a CMMS mobile app, they have direct access to up-to-date data, including everything they need to work efficiently. In just a few taps and scrolls, they have access to open work orders packed with critical data. If they run into issues, they can directly upload images and post comments to the work order, asking for help remotely.
The app is great for sharing data and helping techs capture data in real time, which means the department gets more and accurate data.
You can then leverage your data into reports that help you pass audits and address compliance requirements much more easily. Now, instead of having to sort through stacks of paper or click around endless spreadsheet files, you can autogenerate reports using the software. Because your data is safe, secure, and searchable, it’s a lot easier to prove you did the right work at the right time.
Wastewater water maintenance is the work you do to keep a wastewater treatment plant up and running. These plants turn different types of wastewaters (municipal sewage, industrial, and agricultural) into water that can be returned to the water cycle or reused through reclamation. Because of the complexity of the processes, there are a large number and variety of assets and equipment, including tanks, pipes, valves, and controls. Maintenance teams work on all of them to ensure the plant’s safe and successful operation. A modern CMMS system makes life easier for maintenance teams by helping them skip the slowdowns and wastes of time connected to paper- and spreadsheet-based methods. With a mobile app, techs have instant access to the data they need. A good CMMS system also makes it much easier to remain compliant and then prove it. With automated reports, maintenance managers can quickly access data and generate reports that show the work the techs did and when they did it.