Enhancing the Efficiency of Your Wastewater Treatment Plant

Water is becoming increasingly precious as climates change and populations continue to grow. Many areas are projecting drastic changes to their water consumption and wastewater production in the coming years. With changes in volume will come changes in quality as well. Your wastewater will have new contaminants and varying concentrations of current contaminants as your population changes. To meet these demands, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) will need to be as efficient as possible to remain profitable and serve their communities’ needs. Following a few steps can increase your water treatment plant’s efficiency and better prepare your facility for the future ahead.

The Importance of Water Treatment Efficiency 

Too often plants treat efficiency as a nebulous metric that should always be measured for improvement. As a result of this goal always being present but never fully understood, water treaters push it to the back of their mind. They know that they want to increase the efficiency of their water treatment systems, but they do not understand the value of meeting that goal. Enacting a focused plan to improve efficiency of your water treatment will lead to benefits for your business and the surrounding community. Increased water treatment efficiency helps protect the environment, keeps your WWTP within regulations, and keeps your facility modern.

Protects the Environment

Wastewater treatment plants directly affect the environment around them. The effluent they discharge can alter the chemistry of the surrounding aquatic environments, impacting the health of flora and fauna. For example, an excess of ammonia, nitrogen, or phosphate could result in algae blooms or eutrophication of surrounding waters. Maintaining an efficient wastewater treatment program ensures you are releasing high quality effluent consistently, minimizing the impact to natural waters. Improving efficiency also protects the environment in a less direct way. A more efficient WWTP will consume less energy and water treatment chemicals, which decreases the carbon footprint of your facility.

Meets Regulations

Most wastewater treatment plants are under strict regulations from the federal and local levels of government. Exceeding the limits set by your permit or other standards could lead to expensive fines. When auditing your treatment systems for efficiency, you will be working within the set limits of your permit. The technologies and processes you establish will naturally help you stay within your regulations. An efficient wastewater treatment facility requires less maintenance and gathers consistent reliable data, both of which will keep you within regulations.

Keeps the Facility Modern

Technology is evolving, and the wastewater industry is no exception. New products such as chemical feed pumps, online analyzers, reverse osmosis systems, and flow switches are helping operators do more with less resources. By including potential upgrades and new technologies in your efficiency audit, you will keep your facility up to date and in-line with the latest practices.

The efficiency of your wastewater treatment program is not just another goal to mention on a checklist. The efficiency of your water treatment is the foundation to creating high quality effluent at the lowest cost to your plant.

The Benefits of Improving the Efficiency of Wastewater Treatment 

Efficiency is clearly important to a wastewater treatment plant and the surrounding community, but what are the benefits of being more efficient? The immediate benefit of increased efficiency is cost savings. However increased efficiency will also conserve water, reduce energy consumption, and increase the overall capacity of your facility.

Saves Money

Optimizing wastewater treatment will have an upfront cost, but in the long run it will save money. Don’t view the time, labor, or equipment being used to increase efficiency as a cost. View it as an

investment instead. By upgrading your equipment or process, you are spending money to lower costs moving forward. Replacing an aging pump that requires frequent maintenance may be expensive but overtime you can make that money back in labor time saved. The time previously spent on maintenance for the old pump can be put to good use elsewhere in the WWTP. The same thing will occur when replacing an inefficient process with a more streamlined version. It may take some time to implement the new process, but in the end your team will be more efficient and lower the labor cost. Over time the more efficient equipment or method will pay for itself with the savings gained.

Conserves Water

An efficient WWTP helps conserve water for the entire community. Without wastewater treatment, untreated sewage would enter natural water sources until they became polluted to the degree that they could not support life. A municipal wastewater treatment plant with high efficiency will be able to handle spikes in influent and prevent untreated water from entering the environment. The treated wastewater will replenish water sources through being returned to the water board. The effluent will help recharge ground water, streams, and rivers conserving water for your community.

Reduces Energy Consumption

Removing organic matter, microbes, suspended solids, and chemicals from water takes energy. The efficiency of your water treatment correlates to how much energy is utilized. As you work to improve the efficiency of your onsite wastewater treatment, you will actively reduce your energy consumption. Most technologies and strategies you will implement will be more energy efficient than your current implementation. Using less energy will lower your wastewater treatment cost and make your process more environmentally friendly.

Increases Capacity

Most operators imagine building more tanks or increasing the footprint of their plant when they imagine increasing capacity. However, by optimizing your processes you can increase capacity without building extensive infrastructure. When improving efficiency, you will likely ease bottlenecks you had previously. Opening the bottlenecks will allow higher flow rates through your system, improving the overall capacity of your treatment process.

7 Steps to Enhance the Efficiency of Your Wastewater Treatment Plant

1. Assess Current Performance

The first step to improving efficiency is understanding how efficient your plant is now. Sit down and consider what metrics you use to evaluate your efficiency. Frequently used key performance indicators (KPIs) include amount of chemical used, maintenance to operation time ratio, and energy consumed, but each plant will have their own KPIs. You don’t want to have too many KPIs, but you should touch on the important aspects of your facility. Once you have decided on your KPIs you need to gather baseline data for each one. Try to gather 2-3 months of data and account for seasonal changes. With reliable baseline information you will be able to set reasonable goals for your plant and determine the true impact of the changes you implement.

2. Inspect Flow Rates

Flow rates are particularly important to a wastewater facility and deserve a special mention. A common area to find bottlenecks are with water pumps in the treatment process. Pumps that are not working at peak efficiency can lead to increased cost and potential problems further in the system. If you were not already tracking your pump’s discharge rate, be sure to start now. You want to ensure that you are using an appropriate capacity pump. Too small and you may not meet peak demand, too large and you may be wasting energy. If you notice that the flow rate is lower than expected, it could be due to leaks, clogs, or worn-out parts in the pump. Depending on the problem the pump may require maintenance or an entire replacement.

3. Evaluate Infrastructure and Technology

Once KPIs are identified it is time to evaluate the technology and infrastructure the plant is utilizing. Audit the performance of your plant from influent to effluent and evaluate the equipment at each step. Check the age and effectiveness of your equipment both large and small. Review pumps, filters, feed and control equipment, and flow switches but also large pieces like reverse osmosis systems, settling tanks, and aeration systems. Don’t forget technology infrastructure like modems either. These keep your devices connected to the internet and offer secure connections. If any piece of the process is underperforming, assess why and determine if you are able to correct the issue with maintenance or if it is time for an upgrade.

4. Consider Upgrading Your Equipment

Some of your equipment may be out of date and require an upgrade. Consider how much maintenance a piece of equipment requires. Also ask yourself if it is creating a bottleneck for the rest of your water treatment process. If either of these answers is yes, it might be time to consider upgrading. Much of your WWTP’s technology was put into place when your community’s population level and wastewater make-up was different. Even if it is still functional, you may be more efficient performing an upgrade now. Research what your options are. If equipment is 10+ years out of date, there may be an energy efficient version or even alternative.

5. Implement New Systems and Technology

Identifying and implementing new technology to areas needing improvement can be difficult. This can be a struggle is that you need to be aware of the possibilities of these items prior to your review. You may not realize that new developments have been made in water treatment that could streamline your process. For example, your activated sludge process may be functional but new technologies like Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactors (MABR) may be more efficient for your treatment system. Keep an open mind to new technologies and do your best to stay informed on new industry developments.

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Integrating a new system or technology can be difficult and the upfront cost may be high, but through better energy efficiency, saved labor time, and reduced maintenance time an upgrade will pay for itself.

6. Automate Your Operations

The ability to automate processes in wastewater facilities has grown in recent years. Complex software now has simplified user interfaces and mobile apps for added convenience. The technology is poised to leap forward again with the introduction of AI predictive models. When reviewing your systems, determine if your process could be automated to save labor cost and time. Feed and control software can help you automate dosing of chemicals while data management platforms allow you to automate report generation. Automation will make your plant more efficient by reducing the time your operators have to spend on simple tasks and allow them to tackle the more complex issues where their expertise is required.

7. Review the Data

Once you have made a change to optimize your wastewater treatment you must collect and record the necessary data to verify that the improvement is working as intended. Too often operators implement a change and do not review the data to determine how successful the change is. Refer back to the baseline data you gathered during your audit. Consider the direct change as well as secondary effects like saved labor or energy. If your modification has alleviated a bottleneck, you may find that your data will reveal new areas for improvement. This information can also help you secure further funding for other improvements.

How Feed and Control Equipment Boosts Efficiency

The right feed and control equipment can provide a big boost to your WWTP’s efficiency. Feed and control metering pumps act as the primary delivery system for liquid chemicals. High-quality chemical feed pumps can accurately and safely deliver the required quantity of product to the treated system. These pumps are programmed with a computer called a controller. The pumps can be programmed to dose chemicals at a set time or as a reaction to conditions in the water. These features will increase chemical dosing accuracy and conserve resources for your wastewater treatment facility.

Increases Dosing Accuracy

Walchem-Panel-Intuition-9-Controller-719x1024A quality feed pump and controller can increase your dosing accuracy. With today’s technology pumps can be programmed to very specific conditions. When paired with an accurate measurement of water quality, an operator can program their pump to dose the exact quantity of chemical needed to keep the water quality consistent. This removes the chance of operator error in measuring and does not require someone to spend time manually dosing the system. With remote monitoring and wireless technology, operators can adjust pumps from anywhere or pre-program them to keep dosing accurate and efficient. Controllers should be sized correctly to the number of inputs and outputs required and can integrate easily into your data management software.

Conserves Resources

Having the appropriate control and feed equipment will conserve resources across the wastewater treatment process. Accurate dosing will prevent wasted chemicals while wireless access and programmable pumps will conserve labor hours. When paired with the appropriate data management software, you can save time and labor generating reports as well.

Achieve Greater Wastewater Treatment Efficiency with AquaPhoenix Scientific

AquaPhoenix Scientific is here to assist you with your efficiency goals. We manufacture and distribute wastewater supplies from reagents to equipment. Whether you need reagent for your testing lab or customized chemical feed and control systems, AquaPhoenix is here to be your one source for testing needs.

Connect with our team today to save time in the field and improve your service visits. Download our industrial catalog to browse thousands of products or request a quote to get started on your next job.

AquaPhoenix Scientific Featured in Nextec Group Customer Story

Here at AquaPhoenix Scientific we are always working towards making our business more efficient to better serve our customers. As we grow it means looking hard at how we conduct business to ensure it is efficient and serving our customer’s needs. Whether it is improving our warehouse practices to get orders out the door faster or upgrading our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to more efficiently handle our day-to-day business.

Around 15 years ago we needed to upgrade our ERP software to meet the needs of our growing business. We landed on Sage X3 as the software and enlisted the help of the Nextec Group to help us launch and integrate fully with the software. They understood our needs and had specialty in implementing ERPs for manufacturing businesses like us.

After a decade long partnership, our friends at the Nextec Group felt we warranted a customer story. Our dedication to lean manufacturing and requirements for flexible processes made us an interesting (to put it generously!) partner to work with. In the water treatment world, no two customers are the same and we needed a system and a partner that could handle that.

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Thanks to our IT Director Mitch Medina and his team working tirelessly with the wonderful people at the Nextec Group, we were able to get Sage X3 integrated. It is now a daily part of our business and we continue to receive valuable support from our partners. Sage X3 is constantly being refined to make our business run smoother. We also owe Mitch a big thank you for representing AquaPhoenix Scientific by sitting down with the Nextec Group for an interview so this article could be written.

Read the full story by clicking on the button below to learn how AquaPhoenix Scientific is using Sage X3 to get you the right product, right on time.

The chemical feed and control system is key to the success of a water treatment solution. Along with delivering the water treatment chemistry to the system, the feed and control equipment package also assumes the task of controlling and monitoring system parameters such as conductivity, pH, ORP, and more. A feed and control solution is comprised of controllers, sensors, pumps, valves, tanks, feeders, analyzers, and sometimes customer-provided system data.

All these work in concert to ensure that the water treatment solution is properly delivered, monitored, and controlled. As communication technology has evolved, electronic data management has become essential as well. Remote monitoring, data acquisition, and alarming have become commonplace in many chemical feed and control equipment packages.

 How Do Chemical Feed and Control Systems Work? 

The parts of a feed and control system can vary by the type of system being treated, but they all share very similar components. These include a controller, pumps and/or other chemical delivery apparatus, sensors, valves, and in some cases, bulk storage tanks.

In a typical chemical feed and control system, a controller or PLC monitors various system parameters and acts on these parameters based on settings (setpoints) that have been predetermined by the water treatment professional. These can include parameters such as conductivity, pH, ORP, tank level, chemical treatment levels, etc.

An example of parameter-based control is conductivity control. This control loop or algorithm is comprised of a conductivity sensor and a control valve. The setpoint is typically a “force lower” setpoint, meaning that as the conductivity rises past its setpoint, the system forces it lower by opening a valve to let the high conductivity water out, thus allowing lower conductivity makeup water to be added to the system. It’s important to note that the act of bleeding water from the system does not lower the conductivity; it’s the addition of the lower conductivity makeup water that accomplishes this.

Chemical addition can be accomplished using pumps, valves, eductors, erosion feeders, pot feeders, etc. The most common method for chemical addition is via metering pumps. The pump draws the water treatment chemical from either a drum, pail, or bulk container and “injects” it into the system. Metering pumps are precision instruments and can be activated using several methods:

  • Sensor-based control
  • Timer-based control
  • Scenario-based control

An example of sensor-based control is the use of a fluorometer to control the addition of chemical to a system. This is a “force higher” feed method where a sensor, typically PTSA, monitors the level of product in a system by looking for PTSA that is present in the system as a tag or tracer that corresponds to the level of scale and corrosion inhibitor present in the system. When the level of PTSA falls below a setpoint, a metering pump is activated and delivers product that is tagged with PTSA to the system. Once the system recognizes that the PTSA level has come up into the desired control range, the pump turns off, and the system continues to monitor the PTSA level.

These are just a few of the many ways a chemical feed and control system works. Modern systems have a virtually limitless number of methods to ensure that the feed and control equipment meets the demands of the treated system.

The Benefits of Chemical Feed and Control Systems 

In addition to the basic chemical feed and control role that equipment plays in the water treatment program, chemical feed and control systems offer several other benefits. These include the ability to control parameters based on system chemistry, operating conditions, and other system parameters that may be ignored without modern feed and control equipment.

Improve Dosing Accuracy

Dosing accuracy is improved by setpoint-based control vs. the past choice of timer-based control. With the addition of water meters and remote monitoring and/or local alarming, modern feed and control systems will alert personnel if a system uses an excessive amount of water. This simple solution can save a large amount of water and, therefore, money by detecting common issues such as a malfunctioning makeup valve. If undetected, even a small valve leak can lead to a substantial loss of water and chemicals from the treated system.

 Maintain System Efficiency

Along with water loss, excessive water retention is also detrimental to system performance and can lead to fouling of the heat exchange surfaces. Systems are designed to function properly with the correct ratio of cycles of concentration and chemical levels. An increase in cycles of concentration due to a loss of ability to release water from the system can lead to scaling or fouling. Similarly, failing to add the proper amount of deposit control chemistry or biocides can lead to the same. The energy increases due to fouled heat exchange surfaces can be many times more costly than excessive water use.

 Reduce Operating Costs

The financial and environmental payback of a quality feed and control system is difficult to overstate, as even a minor excursion can result in costly repairs, excessive energy use, overuse of water, and in some cases, safety issues. Properly configured feed and control equipment will ensure systems run at peak performance while bringing measurable ROI to your customer.

Types of Feed and Control Systems 

There are many types of feed and control systems on the market. The following are the most commonly available.

 Pre-packaged Water Treatment Controllers

Pre-packaged feed and control systems come pre-configured with industry-standard feed methods and are typically designed specifically for industrial water treatment. These systems are comprised of a base controller and sensors. The water treatment controllers in this setup will have a limited number of inputs and outputs, the number of which is generally sufficient for most water treatment programs. The controller manufacturer provides a line of sensors that have been designed to work with the base controller. This simplifies the operation since the calibration, configuration, and diagnostics are incorporated into the controller for these sensors. Along with these, most OEM water treatment control systems will allow for the addition of generic sensors. These include level sensors, fluorometers, analyzers, water meters, and a multitude of analog and/or digital sensors. The addition of these may necessitate additional boards (cards) in the base control system. A major benefit to these systems is the built-in programming and simplicity of configuration. This system can be configured and maintained by a water treatment professional or system operator and does not require any true programming.

 PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) Systems

Occasionally the basic water treatment control systems may not be sufficient for an application. A specific customer requirement or control algorithm may not be available in a pre-packaged control system and must be custom programmed in a PLC system. PLC systems are comprised of a processor, input/output modules, and an HMI, or Human Machine Interface, used to interact with the PLC. These are commonly referred to as a touch screen or operator interface. PLCs can be costly due to the equipment cost and programming time associated with this type of system, however, the benefits of meeting a specific system need often offset these costs. These systems require true programming. Modifications to feed methods will most likely need to be performed by a programmer or systems integrator.

 The Role of Controllers in Feed and Control Equipment 

As the heart of the treatment program, the chemical feed and control system is key to its success. It not only monitors the system and delivers the product, but it also acts as the water treatment professionals’ eyes and ears. The feed and control equipment monitors system parameters 24 hours a day and can be invaluable as it can provide the data used to determine the cause of an unfortunate system failure. These control systems may also possess the ability to adjust chemical use.

Since most modern control systems now offer the ability to data log and, in many cases, push that data to the cloud, electronic data management and analysis has become commonplace amongst water treatment professionals. Online solutions like eSR with Flex Reports provide a centralized location to store controller data and allow you to compare the data with field-acquired data such as daily operator logs, service reports, corrosion data, microbiological data, etc.

When combined with cellular technologies, modern feed and control systems can be monitored and configured remotely. This gives the water treatment professional the ability to monitor critical systems and parameters between regular service visits that would historically require additional site visits. By using remote monitoring software and automated alarms, you can be notified of problems in real-time that would otherwise go undetected until the next regularly scheduled site visit.

Simplify your Equipment Set-up with AquaPhoenix Scientific

As an industry leader in feed and control technology, we can create a standardized chemical feed and control equipment package for you. When you design a system with AquaPhoenix, you get to choose from all the top brands. Our team will work with you to recommend and select the best equipment for your application.

By integrating these components into one of our custom panel and/or skid systems, you can deliver a true water-in, water-out control system that will greatly simplify the installation and maintenance of your feed and control equipment.

Connect with our team today to save time in the field and improve your service visits. Download our industrial catalog to browse thousands of products or request a quote to get started on your next job.

Routine water testing is a necessity for industrial water systems.  These include cooling towers, steam boilers, hot water boilers, drinking water, wastewater, ultra-pure water, and others.  Analyzing water samples is key to understanding the general conditions of the treated system.  The samples are not only indicative of the treatment levels, but also the levels of other constituents that are indicators of the general condition of the treated system and program performance.  The water testing will also ensure that the system is being operated within the prescribed parameters.

To ensure that decisions made around the results of the water testing are based on accurate information, it is important to consider the impact of interferences and other factors that could affect the accuracy of the test results.

What Should Water Be Tested For?

While the specific testing parameters and ranges can vary by the type of system being sampled, the majority are common between systems.  Along with the common testing parameters, there are also testing parameters that are specific to the type of treated system and the treatment program associated with the system.

Common, non-system-specific testing parameters may include:

  • Conductivity
  • Hardness (Calcium, Total, and Magnesium)
  • Alkalinity (Total)
  • pH

In addition to the parameters listed above, the following system-specific parameters are common to the system type.

Cooling Towers

  • Phosphonates
  • Polyphosphate
  • Chlorides
  • Orthophosphate
  • Molybdate
  • PTSA
  • Oxidizing biocide level (total chlorine, bromine, free chlorine, chlorine dioxide, etc.)
  • Non-oxidizing biocide level
  • Copper
  • Silica
  • Azole Level (TTA, BZT, HSA etc.)
  • Biological testing (dip-slides, ATP, etc.)

Steam Boilers

  • Fluorescing tracers
  • Polymers
  • Phosphate
  • Sulfite
  • Amines
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Alkalinity (P and OH)
  • Iron
  • Low Level Hardness

Heating Boilers (Hot Water Boilers)

  • Nitrite
  • Molybdate
  • Silica
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Filming Amines
  • Tannins

Wastewater

  • Polymer
  • Various metals
  • Turbidity
  • Jar Testing (product performance)
  • Treatment specific testing
  • Biological testing (dip-slides, ATP, etc.)
  • Chlorine (discharge water)

Drinking Water

  • Oxidizing biocide level (total chlorine, bromine, free chlorine, chlorine dioxide, chloramines, etc.)
  • Biological testing (dip-slides, ATP, etc.)
  • Copper
  • Iron

The examples above are a few examples of industrial water systems.  These systems are found across many industries related to comfort heating or cooling, energy, food sanitation, clean in place, food preparation, manufacturing, laundry, agriculture and many others.

How to Interpret Your Water Test Results 

The water analysis gives the water treatment professionals and system operators a snapshot of

the system conditions.  Interpreting the testing results is key to understanding the overall product and system performance.  Each tested parameter will have a control range or recommended range based on:

  • The water treatment professional’s knowledge of the system
  • Quality of the make-up water
  • Water limitations
  • Discharge limitations
  • Overall performance expectations.

Interpreting the test results should be done using all the testing results.  Many parameters are directly linked to each other and will move up and/or down with another parameter.

An example of this is PTSA and phosphonate in a cooling tower system.  Since PTSA is present in the system as a tracer or indicator of the amount of corrosion/scale inhibitor in the system, the phosphonate level should correlate directly to the amount of PTSA in the system.  For example, if the PTSA level is within the recommended control limits and the phosphonate is over or under the limits, the calibration of the PTSA sensor should be examined.  If the PTSA sensor is properly calibrated, the phosphonate level should be evaluated further as this could be indicative of other system and or product concerns.

Since parameters such as pH, hardness, conductivity, and alkalinity are commonly used to determine important system conditions such as cycles of concentration, close attention should be paid to these and the relationship between them.  Any variation of these parameters from the prescribed control limits should be compared with the overall water analysis.

An example of this is the relationship between conductivity and alkalinity when they are used as indicators for cycles of concentration.  In a water system with a make-up conductivity value of 300 mmhos and 100 ppm of total alkalinity, at four cycles of concentration the system conductivity should be approximately 1200 mmhos and 400 ppm of total alkalinity.  At these levels, the numbers balance with the cycles of concentration.  However, if the pH of the system is being adjusted by the addition of acid or caustic, the alkalinity of the system will not correlate to the conductivity cycles and cannot be used to estimate the cycles of concentration.

Another example is the relationship between hardness and conductivity when used in the same way as our previous example.  If a system has a make-up conductivity of 300 mmhos and a total hardness of 100 ppm, at four cycles of concentration, the conductivity should be approximately 1200 mmhos and the total hardness should be approximately 400 ppm.  If the hardness level is noticeably less, the testing should be evaluated further.  Examples of the conditions that could impact this balance would be a variation in the make-up water chemistry over time or the loss of hardness due to scale formation.

If the testing results do not make sense or do not fit a known scenario, a close examination of the testing procedures may be warranted to ensure that the information is accurate and can be acted upon appropriately.

Interferences That Can Impact Water Testing Results

It is important to understand that there are a variety of conditions and factors that can impact the accuracy of the water sample testing results.  These are generally referred to as interferences and can be related to chemical, mechanical or human issues. The number of interferences is too numerous to list, but there are several examples of these that apply to routine testing.  These may include interferences by products being added to the treated system or even the tested parameter itself. With 80-85% of errors related to water quality results being impacted by user error, it’s important to follow best practices to minimize and eliminate errors

Here are some essential steps to follow:

  • Use clean equipment – properly rinsing and cleaning equipment before and after testing helps to eliminate contamination from previous tests.
  • Collect accurate samples – there are a variety of factors around sample collection. For starters, it’s important to make sure you collect a sample that is representative of the entire system. When performing your test, pouring an accurate sample size is also important. Small errors in sample collection can have a big impact on your results.
  • Use proper testing technique – Holding bottles vertically for consistent drop size, proper lighting and simply following written procedures are very important. While they may seem minor, they can add up in a big way.
  • Interpreting your results – making sure you are using the proper factors and expressing your results properly during your test is also important. Is your test expressing results as sulfite or sodium sulfite or nitrite vs sodium nitrite? When calculating and interpreting your water testing results, these matter.

A common chemical interference is seen in the testing of chlorine using the DPD method.  While DPD is commonly used to determine the amount of chlorine in a sample, higher levels of chlorine can cause bleaching of the reagent and mask the test results.  The phenomenon can occur with as little as 5 ppm of chlorine in the sample.  To mitigate this problem, the sample can be diluted, and a multiplier can be applied to the results to compensate for the dilution.

An example of physical interference is seen when a sulfite test is run on a boiler water sample when waiting for an extended period between sampling and testing.  Exposure to air for an extended period can result in a lower-than-expected result.  To avoid this, the sample container should be capped and the sample tested as soon as possible. It’s also critical that sulfite samples be cooled before testing. Not following these important steps will lead to inaccurate results.

Though the list of possible interferences can be overwhelming, many common interferences are listed within the test kit documentation and can be easily avoided by following the basic procedures outlined in the testing instruction.

Analyze Your Water Supply With Customizable AquaPhoenix Test Kits

AquaPhoenix Scientific offers standard and custom test kit solutions for every water treatment need.  We can formulate custom testing procedures designed around your specific products and application needs. Our EndPoint ID testing procedures are easy to follow with photographic step-by-step instructions to make testing simple and effective for users of all experience levels.  By including testing tips, safety reminders and interferences directly in our test procedures, you can have confidence knowing you are setting your team and customers up for success from the start.

Contact AquaPhoenix Scientific for a quote or reach out to your water treatment professional for questions or concerns about specific testing parameters.

Historically, water treatment feed and control systems have functioned as stand-alone controls and have seldom been integrated with the facility water treatment systems. While possible, integrating water treatment systems has typically required the involvement of control system integrators. Advancements in commercially available feed and control systems have been made that have simplified this often-underutilized technology. With environmental concerns and conservation efforts coming to the forefront of the water treatment industry, communication and collaboration with plant systems to provide critical system data have become even more important as a means of servicing water treatment systems. This system information may include water usage, chemical levels, chemical consumption, and various alarms. The ability to remotely mitigate these is also one of the integration focuses.

Wastewater System Integrators 

Water and wastewater system integrators provide the products and services required to allow systems to communicate both data and control across multiple control platforms.

The system integrators provide a myriad of services, including engineering, programming, planning, project management, and often, the labor required to physically couple the systems. The expertise required to perform these tasks is paramount to the success of water treatment integration projects. Water treatment system integrators are knowledgeable about multiple platforms and the benefits and/or limitations of each.

With the growing popularity and cost-effectiveness of IoT solutions, the integrator’s role in providing automation solutions has also expanded to include the integration of these technologies. With IoT typically involving wireless communications, the role of the system integrator now includes supporting the technologies associated with this type of communication.

Automation technology is in a constant state of advancement, so the continuing education of the water treatment integrator is critical to their understanding and knowledge of emerging technologies along with regulatory changes.

Since these automation solutions often require the installation of wire and cable or the utilization of existing facility infrastructure, the knowledge of the control system integrators is invaluable to the success of water and wastewater integration projects. Ongoing services including software updates, security audits, control changes and visual enhancements, along with general maintenance tasks that are typically in the integrator’s scope of work as well.

Common Challenges and Solutions for Water Treatment Facilities

  • Communication between multiple protocols
  • The involvement of multiple media types
  • The inherent limitations of OEM or industry-standard water treatment feed and control systems available to the water and wastewater treatment industry
  • Cost of integration
  • Distance between integrated platforms
  • Availability of facility manpower to complete tasks associated with the projects
  • Security concerns
  • Misconceptions about the complexity of the integration process

While most water treatment feed and control systems offer the built-in ability to send a limited number of signals to plant automation systems, they are seldom used due to the limited number, quality and general complexity of the signals. Distance limitations, installation costs, signal quality and general understanding contribute to these being overlooked.

Since multiple facility automation systems, often referred to as SCADA or BMS, can be involved in the integration process, it’s important to understand the differences and similarities between these systems.

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems are based on PC technology and involve software of machines that communicate with PLC systems (programable logic controller) or, in the case of water and wastewater treatment systems, OEM controllers. The SCADA platform provides the visualization, data acquisition, reporting and control interface. These are typically interfaced with PLCs via a bus such as Fieldbus, Ethernet IP, Modbus (TCP or RTU), Profibus, etc. Most OEM water treatment control systems available to the water and wastewater treatment industry now include the ability to communicate with SCADA. The most common of these is Modbus TCP.

Building management systems, often referred to as BMS, are comprised of multiple embedded control systems and are often associated with HVAC, lighting, security, and facility systems. While BMS systems are very similar to SCADA systems in that they are comprised of multiple controllers in communication with a PC type system, they generally differ in scope. The protocols involved in a BMS system are often manufacturer specific and include BACnet, LonWorks, Metasys, and others. Many commonly available OEM water and wastewater treatment control systems now include the ability to communicate in this manner. The most common option is BACnet. There are many solutions available to convert between protocols in the event that the facility system is not one of the more common methods.

With the compatibility of these systems becoming less of a factor, the focus has now shifted to the physical integration of these controllers to the facility BMS and/or SCADA systems.

Since most protocols require the use of Ethernet as a means of communication with the facility systems, the availability of these connections is one of the first steps in determining the feasibility of an integration project. Along with the availability of Ethernet, security is often a determining factor. System integration professionals provide an invaluable resource to communicate with the facility engineering and IT staff to alleviate or mitigate any security concerns. These solutions often include devices that act as firewalls or providers of physical separation of the water and wastewater control system and the facility BMS and/or SCADA system. Wireless Ethernet solutions such as cellular gateways, WIFI devices, IoT devices, Ethernet radios, etc., often fall within the scope of the water and wastewater integrator as well.

When the project requires that devices be interfaced with the facilities system via physical or virtual inputs or outputs, the system integration team will determine the best method for doing so. Considerations for these types of connections can include wire type, distance, local code requirements, facility best practices, industry best practices, and integration of these connections to and from the facility BMS or SCADA system.

Clear, open, and professional conversations with the facility engineering and IT staff is paramount to the success of most, if not all, integration projects.

Wastewater System Integration Services 

At AquaPhoenix, we have taken a “manufacture agnostic” approach in providing water and wastewater control systems. This approach gives us the unique ability to recommend water and wastewater feed and control systems based on the specific requirements of the system to be treated. Along with the standard requirements for sensors, pumps, valves, etc., communication with the aforementioned systems is also a consideration when selecting a platform.

Our team of industry professionals includes electrical engineers, draftsmen, IT experts, and sourcing professionals. With having a vast network of suppliers and integration professionals that can be consulted to offer the best possible solution for a water or wastewater integration project. During the installation process, our team can also act as an interface between the water treatment professional and the facilities system integration team.

As with any process, clear, complete, and upfront communication is key. As a provider of equipment to water treatment professionals, our involvement upfront is confidential. Sharing all documents, such as scope of work, drawings, etc., will ensure that the recommended equipment is correct and compatible with the integration project.

Contact us to discuss any equipment required for your water or wastewater feed and control integration project. Our team can provide easy-to-implement solutions for almost any integration need, including protocol conversion devices, custom PLC systems, wire and cable, remote input/output devices, networking hardware, and software solutions.

Building a Panel to Make the Water Treaters Life Easier

Around AquaPhoenix, we are always talking about continuous improvement and looking for ways to advance our manufacturing operations and the customer experience. We feel the same principles of continuous improvement should also be applied to the daily life of a water treater. After all, improving efficiency and reducing problems should always be on our minds.

Recently, Blaine Nagao, CWT, and President of our Equipment Division went out to the shop floor and started creatively thinking about ways water treaters can improve their daily routine. He started grabbing things from our shelves, cleared a spot on a workbench, and built his ideal panel.

Below, he outlines what you can do to a panel that will make your program work more effectively. Hopefully, these ideas make you look at your day-to-day routine and see areas for improvement, and the next time you need to build and install a new system, you can incorporate some of these job-enhancing features! How can you make a panel build serve you and your customer better?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes your job easier?
  • What makes a customer’s job easier?
  • What makes your program work effectively?

Work Surface

We’ve all balanced our laptop or test kits on a drum that may be covered with chemical or something else and gotten it all over our stuff. That’s not what tanks were made for. Tanks and drums were made for holding chemical and for pumping out of.

Integrate a work surface onto the panel. Integrate lighting or shade if needed. How many times do you have to go to a panel out by a cooling tower and you have to put your jacket over or hold your hand over to read the screen? That’s not a failure on the controller manufacturer’s part. An LCD screen does not work well in direct sunlight. In contrast, you may have to run tests in the evening or in a dark basement. Why not put a light on your panel? It’s low cost and easy to do.

Internet Access

Receive alarms, emails and upload data from anywhere internet service is available. Wi-Fi is great because you most likely will have a laptop with you on location. Most manufacturers have routers on their controllers however, many people do use that feature as a hotspot. Create a password that only you know to eliminate the risk of an operator using all of your data.

Our routers have an extra waterproof ethernet port. You can plug your laptop right into that and access your controller. It’s nice to have a port that you can access without opening the controller.

Storage for Parts and Coupons

There is plenty of open space on a panel. Make use of that space by designing holders for all of those miscellaneous items. Save time and expense by eliminating those ‘quick’ trips to the hardware store.

Examples:

  • Corrosion coupons
  • Coupon envelopes
  • Spare holder screws/nuts
  • Corrator tips
  • Injection valves
  • Electrodes, etc.

It may seem like a lot of money upfront to keep these items stocked, but it does not compare to overnighting just one of those items or having to not feed product, or compromise performance.

Toolless Fittings

Order parts with toolless fittings. A simple union fitting on an injection valve is much better than trying to pull the tubing off of an injection valve to check to see if it’s clogged.

Consider adding a tee with a plug to your next panel build. If your rejection line clogs, you can inspect it. Valve it off and run a cleaning/rod brush on the end of a drill to clean out those clogged-up tees and lines.

If you replace your injection valve, tees, and coupons, with toolless fittings, you will eliminate the need for additional tools to service your system.

Learn More

To see the entire presentation, including tips for choosing the correct products for your panel, click here to see the entire on-demand recording.

 

Cooling towers are significant components in many commercial buildings and industrial facilities. While they keep spaces and process water cool, they’re also susceptible to fouling which can lead to inefficiencies and breakdowns. In addition to a properly designed chemical treatment program, an in-depth maintenance program will keep your cooling tower in working order all year.

The Importance of Cooling Tower Maintenance

A functioning cooling tower is essential to the HVAC systems and processes in your facility. With the proper, routine maintenance, you can ensure your tower is functional, efficient and safe throughout the year.

Performance

Preventive maintenance of a cooling tower is the best way to catch potential problems before they cause excessive wear. Extended periods of wear can reduce your tower’s overall life span. A comprehensive maintenance program will help you identify issues and respond with immediate solutions, keeping your cooling tower functional for longer.

Efficiency

Beyond preventing malfunctions, maintenance can optimize performance. When all components are clean and functional, your tower will cool your building precisely as needed. Fouled fill, blocked distribution nozzles, buildup or broken parts may cause your cooling tower to work harder to achieve the same result, leaving you with higher running costs. Basin fouling can lead to under deposit corrosion that can cause irreversible damage to the cooling basin.

Safety

Open recirculating systems are a common area for Legionella and other pathogens to grow and proliferate. Maintenance programs should include cleaning practices that clear your tower of any potential deposits and build-up that provide an area for microbiological activity to flourish.

How to Maintain a Cooling Tower

Cooling tower maintenance requirements include several cleaning processes and areas to examine. Creating a defined maintenance process ensures that every scheduled procedure is effective. Work through the following steps on a regular basis.

1. Talk to the Experts

Refer to your system documentation and/or consult with the equipment supplier for unit-specific precautions and/or procedures. Consult your water treatment professional prior to adding any products to your system as undesired reactions could occur if incompatible products were to be introduced to the system.

2. Inspect the Tower

You should begin by taking some time to perform an inspection of the entire tower. This initial step can help you identify any areas that require immediate attention, such as cleaning or repairs. Your maintenance program will likely include the same basic steps every time, but the inspection will reveal which areas might need extra attention.

3. Follow Safety Procedures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines for handling lockout or tagout on hazardous energy sources. The pumps and fans in a cooling tower can lead to severe injury if they start-up during maintenance. Make share you follow the lockout procedures thoroughly so you can protect yourself while you work. It’s also vital to wear eye protection and respiratory gear during maintenance so you can protect yourself from any airborne bacteria. In many cases, a cooling tower will be considered a confined space. If this is the case, all confined space procedures should be followed.

4. Disinfect to Eliminate Bacteria

With the possibility of Legionnaires’ disease, disinfection should be a priority during every maintenance cycle. OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) all detail how to handle the disinfection process for Legionella. Find a disinfectant product that’s effective on your tower surfaces. Many products are designed specifically for cooling towers and are able to kill up 99.9% of Legionella.

5. Remove Fill Deposits

Cooling towers remove heat through evaporation, which leads to scale buildup. The level of scale buildup will depend on the mineral levels in your water, and some types of scale can be more severe than others. The fill is an area that may foul over time. Since this surface area is primarily responsible for passing the air into the system and cooling the water, a clogged fill can lead to extensive performance and efficiency problems. Deposits on the outer edges of the fill (non-water contacting surfaces) can be caused by drift and evaporation. These deposits do not typically affect performance but can be unsightly and add weight to the tower fill. Extreme caution should be taken while cleaning tower fill. High-pressure nozzles can cause damage to the tower fill. This damage can affect the performance of the tower system and result in the need for fill replacement.

6. Clear the Basin and Other Components of Sludge

Sludge is another substance that often forms during the cooling process. It often appears in the basin, and it can be a major cause of performance issues. Cooling tower vacuums can help you remove sludge efficiently. In many instances, a pool vacuum can be used by creating a siphon to a roof or outdoor drain. Always make sure that the selected drain or drainage is approved for the water and debris being discharged. The water being discharged may have a pH, conductivity, or halogen level that exceeds the levels acceptable for the drainage.

7. Inspect and Clean Heat Exchange Tubes

Debris, scale and biofilm can build up in the tubes, causing fouling and reduced performance. Again, the buildup relates to your water quality, so your cleaning needs will vary depending on the type and amount of the substances found in your tubes and exchangers.

8. Check Airflow

If the airflow in your cooling tower is not up to standard, the performance declines. Loose parts, misaligned fans and failing gearboxes can all relate to airflow problems. Making sure these components are in working order will keep your tower functional.

9. Examine the Water Pump

The pump moves water back and forth — another process that’s essential to your cooling tower. Lubricating the water seal, bearings and pump can keep the system running efficiently, helping you cut back on operating expenses in the long term.

10. Keep a Regular Schedule

While you may not need to do an in-depth cleaning or repair process at every scheduled maintenance procedure, a consistent program is crucial. Twice a year is generally a reliable schedule, but you may need to do it more frequently if buildup occurs more often.

Find Water Testing Kits at AquaPhoenix Scientific

At AquaPhoenix Scientific, our water testing kits for cooling towers help you understand mineral contents and treat your water as necessary. Place an order for yours today or get in touch with us for more information.

Robert Nalley, Metal Fabricator at AquaPhoenix, sat down to discuss his approach to custom builds and may surprise you with his favorite food. 

Q: What is your role at APS? 

My name is Robert Nalley and my role at AquaPhoenix is welder and metal fabricator. How long have I been here? I tend to lose track. I think it’s 13 or 14 years. I think I’m going on year 14.

Q: What has been your favorite project?

I don’t have a single favorite project. What I like are the prototypes. So when somebody just gets an idea. There’s no CAD drawing; it’s a pencil sketch on a napkin at best and we start a collaboration on how to build it. And you start grabbing scraps and building a prototype and stuff like that. That’s what gets me excited. That’s where creativity comes into play and you know you get to build something that nobody else is doing, right.

Q: What has been your most embarrassing moment at APS?

So there’s actually quite a few embarrassing moments but you can roll them all into one because the building next door it has a habit of splitting people’s pants. I personally have had to run to Walmart twice to get a new pair of pants just in the past two – two and a half years. And I know it’s happened to Jeremy and a couple of the others next door as well.

Q: What advice would you give to a new hire?

The basic thing with a new hire as far as advice would be you just gotta stick it out. Stick the newness out because every new person has a huge learning curve and you’re not going to be the new guy forever. So once you just stick it out that first 60 or 90 days, you’re going to feel comfortable and right as rain.

Q: If you could learn something new, what would it be?

If I could learn to do anything…that’s kind of what I do anyway. So even when I leave here, I go home and I make stuff. I wanted to learn to make fishing rods out of carbon fiber, so I learned to make fishing rods. I wanted to learn to make my own golf clubs, so I taught myself to make my own golf clubs. that’s just kind of what I do. That’s why I love fabricating so much because if it can be built by a man, I want to build it.

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

Well, a lot of people know I like to smoke barbeque. What they don’t know is I like to cook pastries also. You can’t have a main course without a good dessert.

Q: Any favorite line from a movie?

I am the king of misquoting. So the one I’m most known for is, I always want to say, “alright, alright, alright” by Matthew McConaughey but it always comes out, “right on, right on, right on.”

Q: Which AquaPhoenix Core Value Stands out to you?

The core values I like the most would be safety, quality control, and customer service. And that’s because I’m a craftsman and so the quality control really hammers home to me. I like customer service because well I know a lot of our customers. I’ve been here long enough they know me by name. I used to work with a lot of our customers. And then safety; everybody goes home the same way they came into this building, right. Ten digits, ten toes and we’re all breathing. So that line, I dig it.

Q: What is your favorite food?

My favorite food. I know a lot of people are expecting me to say barbeque. It’s actually fish sticks. Every year for my birthday I get 50 fish sticks and it’s been like that since I was about yay high.

Q: Do you have pets?

I have one, most people would call a pet, I call her my daughter since I don’t have a daughter. But I have a dog, Lucy. She’s going on eight and a half years – nine years now. She’s half red heeler half lab. And I also work with a heeler rescue. On weekends, I’ll do transporting of heelers; pulling them from shelters, getting them to vets, and stuff like that.

Vengierell King, PVC Fabricator at AquaPhoenix, reminds us to always ask questions and proclaims his love for pizza in this employee spotlight interview. 

Q: What is your role at APS? 

My name is Vengierell King. I’ve been employed at AquaPhoenix for a year and a half. I wire, mount, build panels; anything pretty much that I need to do. What they tell me to do, I do it.

Q: What has been your favorite project?

My favorite projects at AquaPhoenix are the wiring part and the mounting part. I like the wiring because it keeps me busy and I just like the detail of it. So, I like the wiring part.

Q: What has been your most embarrassing moment at APS?

Well, the most embarrassing things probably I’ve seen here weren’t for me personally, but for somebody else. They were trying to go out the door and they got their coat caught up in the door and they almost haha it looked crazy as hell trying to get out of it. It was pretty funny to me.

Q: What advice would you give to a new hire?

If a new hire came in, I would definitely tell them to ask as many questions as they can because sometimes it can be a lot to learn initially. Just ask questions to make sure the job gets done right.

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a trader. I like trading Forex, cryptos online. I love that. I look at it all the time – every day to see what’s going on in the markets.

Q: Any favorite line from a movie?

My favorite line from a movie would probably be; I like westerns, Clint Eastwood, “make my day” and he pulled out the 44 on them boys. Yeah, “Make my day.”

Q: Which AquaPhoenix Core Value Stands out to you?

One of my favorite core values would be to Do the Right Thing. I feel like if you do the right thing, everything else will fall in place. Jobs will be done more efficiently. You do the right thing, everything else is right. So that’s my take on it.

Q: What is your favorite food?

My favorite food – who doesn’t like pizza, man? Pizza, pizza, pizza. Pepperoni. Pretty much everything except the crazy stuff like pineapple and spinach. I don’t like all of that.

Q: Do you have pets?

My girl has a Shih Tzu puppy and we love that thing to death. He just runs around the house. He’s so cute. Diamond, she named it Diamond. It’s her pet actually, but it’s ours.

Taylor Segovia, QA & Software Support at AquaPhoenix, discusses behind-the-scenes software support and gives his best Robin Williams impression.

Q: What is your role at APS? 

I do software support and QA for the software division. My role at AquaPhoenix is to test the software before it goes out and after it goes out and then support it afterward.

Q: What has been your favorite project?

A favorite project of mine was transitioning from one hosting environment to another. At the time, it was really stressful and a lot of panic. But afterward, it was very rewarding. Seamless to the users; they saw nothing. But to us, it was a very big change. In the background, we’re moving mountains, but to them they see nothing. The magic behind the curtains.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment at APS?

My most memorable moment was the chili cook-off back in 2017. Our only chili cook-off and I took first place. I like to remind everybody around here that I’m still the reigning champ. I’ve got the plaque in my office so anytime anybody comes in and wants to talk food or anything like that, I usually just point to it and remind them.

Q: What advice would you give to a new hire?

Embrace the culture that we have here at AquaPhoenix. It’s very inviting, very warm. Everybody wants you to thrive. That’s how we get things done. If everybody is working hard and getting their part done, then as a team we’re doing great things.

Q: If you could learn something new, what would it be?

If I could learn to do anything new it would probably be to fly or to weld. Flying – of course owning your own airplane or getting to know somebody who has their own airplane. A little bit of a barrier there, but one day it would be awesome to learn how to fly a plane. The welders here have tremendous talent and some of the stuff I’ve seen them do on the side or even here on the job is pretty awesome.

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

Something that most people probably don’t know about me is I worked in the service industry for eight years. I picked up a lot of useful information there; people skills, getting to know people for better or for worse every day. Seeing so many new faces was pretty awesome.

Q: Any favorite line from a movie?

Favorite line from a movie, “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger. Can I take your order?” and “Hellooooo!” from Mrs. Doubtfire.

Q: Which AquaPhoenix Core Value Stands out to you?

The core value that stands out to me is Create a Culture of Team and Family with Open and Honest Communications. So our team is definitely open and honest with each other.  It creates an awesome environment where we can kick butt, get everything done that we need to get done, and our customers really appreciate it.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A favorite food that I don’t normally cook is a steaming bowl of pho. I love Vietnamese food.

Q: Do you have pets?

I have three pets. Me and my wife have three rescue dogs. They’ve all been to the office. I love that we can bring pets to the office here. So there’s Maxwell, Sophie, and Lady Bird. Maxwell is our mix of hound and shepherd. Sophie is a pit. And then we have Lady Bird who is a pug and lab mix. She looks like a little lab puppy but she’s full grown. She has a lot of energy.

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