A Complex Blend of Science and Math: What it takes to operate a water treatment plant

A Complex Blend of Science and Math: What it takes to operate a water treatment plant

Environmental science. Geometry. Chemistry. Physics. Math. These five unique academic subjects have one important element in common – they are all applied daily by our water treatment plant operators, a team of 10 who keep water in production 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Multiple times throughout each shift, our plant operators will adjust chemical feed rates to account for changing weather patterns. This requires a deep understanding of complex topics like active product in the water, specific gravity and dose rate. They verify pump calibration to ensure the right amount is flowing, which requires expertise in unit rate conversions, flow rates and surface area. They have to understand and be able to adjust load rates – the amount of water that passes through a specific surface area at a given time. They have to know when and how to backwash a filter, and if a filter is offline for cleaning or maintenance, they have to determine the right adjustments to keep production. They draw samples and test the water for pH, turbidity and other water quality metrics, and when needed, calculate adjustments needed to keep the water safe for consumption.

In other words – our water treatment plant operators are a unique blend of scientist and mathematician. They are highly trained and highly skilled at what they do. And it doesn’t happen overnight.

Our water treatment plant operators have completed rigorous coursework in those five subjects mentioned above, and they’ve also logged many hours of on-the-job learning. In fact, all of our operators are Grade IV certified, and our newest operator-in-training is preparing to take the exam.

In addition to this team of 10, we have five other Grade IV certified water treatment plant operators who can fill in at a moment’s notice.