Category Archives: Operations and Maintenance

Operators are the most Important Factor Affecting Drinking Water Quality

Anna Scheili, Manuel J. Rodriguez, Rehan Sadiq. Impact of human operational factors on drinking water quality in small systems: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Cleaner Production, In press.

Small distribution systems face numerous challenges in drinking water production because of financial insufficiency. In these systems, where treatment installation is often based on a simple step of disinfection, every element of water production and monitoring is under the responsibility of local operators. As a result, drinking water quality in small systems becomes more sensible to operators’ interventions, which should be considered in the comprehension of the variability of water quality. The objective of this study is to define the impact of human operational factors on drinking water quality. Observations and individual interviews were conducted with operators of 21 small systems in two Canadian provinces. Drinking water quality was sampled at the same time in the systems under study. A first analysis allowed to categorize systems according to their human operational factors and to identify factors contributing the most to drinking water quality. Results suggest that the most important human operational factor is experience, which has a positive correlation with other factors, as motivation and autonomy. In order to determine the relative influence of human operational factors, raw water quality and the applied treatment were also considered. Multi-level analysis has revealed that global human operational factors do not explain global drinking water quality, as raw water quality and treatment are the main explanatory parameters. However, when drinking water quality was assessed daily, only the variability of human operational factors could explain the variability of drinking water quality.

Santa Clara Valley Water District (CA) renegotiates union contracts

The three new contracts are expected to save the water district $7.7 million over the life of the contracts. A small savings compare to the $600 million needed to renovate 6 of 10 dams….click here for news report…

Moonshine still found in Massachusetts Water Plant

Click here for a most unusual hobby at a water plant.  Perhaps this operator (or former operator) was just trying to sell moonshine to raise money for state infrastructure spending.    (Did the special committee think of this?)

Lodi, California: hire staff or hire a private company to operate the water plant?

A question many cities and towns are asking today….should water (or wastewater) treatment systems be privatized…..there are benefits to using a private company to manage the water system (or wastewater system)……but cost estimates can differ widely……so buyer beware.

Once the smoke clears on the debate over the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a private company…..the bottom line reason that cities decide to not privatize seems to be the desire to expand or retain political control over the citizenry….having a water department generates city revenues…..and cities can use their water department to generate revenue to help pay for other city services (which is a rip-off for the citizens, by the way)…. 

At this point Lodi is undecided….click here.

“Operator Error” or Pump Failure in Dade City?

I find it curious that the reported water outage in Dade City, Florida was attributed to operator error.  Click here for the story. The pump apparently stopped working for some unknown reason…so wasn’t this outage cause by a pump failure? Why did the pump fail in the first place….that is the more important question. The incident would not have occurred if the pump had not failed. Additional clarification would be informative….