It is a fact that most people never think about their potable water. They turn on the faucet and the water comes out. That is unless the water smells, looks bad or ruins their plumbing fixtures.
However, if you own, operate, or manage a wastewater treatment facility, you should learn some basic strategies to keep you out of trouble.
WARNING—The FDEP holds you the permittee responsible for compliance with all terms and conditions of the permit. This responsibility CANNOT be delegated!
Water treatment facility owners deal with 3 common problems:
- Water that smells foul, has a dark color, is corrosive, or has contaminants
- Practicing proper operations and maintenance of the tanks and equipment
- Understanding the documentation you need to be in compliance
If you are an owner, operator or manager of a small water treatment facility and you are experiencing any of these water quality issues, there may be a quick and cost effective way to fix it.
Water quality problems aren’t just associated with small water treatment facilities. Larger facilities, even huge, municipal water treatment facilities have water quality problems, too. The downside of the small water treatment plant owner is the lack of expertise in helping you find a fix.
A Water Treatment Facility needs to meet water quality standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).These standards are modified somewhat by each state to meet the specific requirements of that region. Water quality problems at small water treatment facilities typically stem from one of the following:
- Hard water—water that is high in calcium and leaves high calcium deposits.
- Smelly water—water typically high in sulfur has a rotten egg odor to it and sometimes smells a little like sewage.
- High colored water—water that is high in color typically has a high organic content.
- Corrosive water—water that has high dissolved solids or acid may cause corrosion of the plumbing fixtures and pipes.
- High Trihalomethanes (THM)—water that has a high organic content and is chlorinated for disinfection will have high THM.
Of course, there are many more contaminants that may affect a potable water supply, but these are some of the most common ones. There are a number of good, cost effective technologies to deal with each of these problems.
The key is to have an experienced professional environmental engineer on your team to help you identify good, cost-effective solutions that will keep your customers happy and are easy on your wallet.
Just a Few Simple Steps to Proper Operations and Maintenance of Your Water Facility.
- Have a Professional Team
- Professional Environmental Engineer
- Licensed Water Plant Operator
- Well Driller
- Proper and regular maintenance of pumps and electrical equipment
- Inspect and clean your water tanks at least every 5 years.
Once you have your professional team in place then managing the water treatment facility gets easier.Any situation that comes up you will have a team that can help you get it under control quickly.
Professional Environmental Engineer
The professional engineer can help you provide:
- Overall regulatory compliance
- Solutions to water quality problems
- Serve as a resource for more complex situations or regulatory compliance.
A professional engineer is the only one allowed, by Florida Statutes, to make changes to the water treatment process. This is the reason that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) requires that a professional engineer sign and seal any engineering reports, plans and specifications for altering any part of the water treatment facility or providing solutions to compliance problems.Having a qualified and experienced professional engineer will help you operate a more efficient and cost effective operation and keep you from making unnecessary investments that have little value or just don’t provide results.
Water treatment facilities need to be modified from time to time because of changes to the regulations or characteristics of the community. These modifications typically require the addition of tanks or equipment.Subsequently, the modifications need to be constructed and the professional engineer will develop plans and specifications and oversee the construction of the project. This will ensure that you get what you pay for and that you hire a qualified and experienced contractor.
Licensed Water Treatment Plant Operator
You will need to hire a licensed Water Treatment Plant Operator. The operator is responsible for operating and fulfilling the day-to-day activities required by the permit. Your operator will be the one keeping records of the operation, performing the required water quality sampling and filing the monthly operating reports (MOR) with the FDEP.
Did you know that any time that the pressure in your water distribution system falls below 20 psi you need to file a “boil water notice” with the FDEP? Generally the operator does this for you. This typically occurs when a water main breaks and the pressure in the distribution system suddenly drops.
You should rely on the licensed operator to keep you in compliance and let you know of any problems. The operator usually takes care of the maintenance and repairs of equipment. You can certainly hire an outside contractor to do this.
In Florida you should know a well driller that can assist you in maintaining your water supply wells. Your well pump is going to fail from time to time. This can be a result of normal aging, wear and tear or a lightning strike. When trouble with the well or well pump occurs the well driller has the expertise and equipment to assist you in getting your system operational.
Operation and Maintenance of the Water Plant
Generally, the water plant is comprised of a water source, treatment, storage, disinfection and distribution. In Florida, most of the water supplies are from groundwater by way of a well and pump. Most of the time the water is of adequate water quality which only requires disinfection. However, from time to time the water may have constituents that need to be removed prior to delivery.
Once the water is pumped out of the ground, it could be stored in a holding tank or a pressure tank or both. This depends on how the water plant functions.
If the water quality is of exceptional quality, the water is typically pumped directly to a pressure tank disinfected and delivered to the customer. If the water needs some level of treatment, it is typically pumped to a storage tank where the water is treated and then it is pumped by high service pumps into a pressure tank where it is disinfected and then delivered to the customer.
In order to keep you out of trouble and stay in compliance, the pumps and equipment need to be in good operating condition. When one pump is out of service, it should be repaired immediately to avoid having the community run out of water. When a community is out of water, a report must be sent to the FDEP which then starts an investigation.
It is always best that either you or your maintenance man check the tanks and equipment periodically to make sure that the systems are being maintained properly.
You are required to have copies of all records current on-site. In order to accomplish this, you must obtain copies of all reports from your engineer and operator. Typically, you need to have the following records for the most recent 3 years:
- Monthly Operating Reports (MOR)
- Copies of all water quality analysis
- Copies of the operator’s log book
- Copy of Operator’s current license
- Annual water meter calibration
- Copies of all correspondence with the FDEP
Keeping the records does not have to be an onerous task. You need to obtain copies every month from your operator or engineer and keep a file for it. This can be as simple as a 3-ring binder.