Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Work Pix

I always tell people I love my job. Most who know me realize I love to build things, tear them apart, figure out what makes them tick. So give me a water treatment plant that isn't functioning correctly, toss in a couple of savvy water treatment engineers and a first-rate superintendent, send us all out there together to fix it, and I'm in hog heaven. So, off we go on the usual 6am jet from Anchorage to Bethel, then on upriver a few minutes to Akiak where we meet our equipment and superintendent. This trip happened a few years ago but remains a classic.

This is what over 30 mg/L of iron in the source water can do when things aren't dialed in...yes, this is the water treatment skid, first stage after coagulation.


No worries, we'll figure it out....but first, we gotta figure out some of this automation that has never worked in the past and still didn't seem to function consistently.

After a few hours of tinkering (we'd done this before in the past...), we decided to forget the automation, especially since manual is preferred for these small plants. So we re-worked the whole process...I jumped up top and tore into the filter header after ripping some of the non-functional controls out of the way. This was about 10pm or so of that first day, but the energy was high so we kept going...

I think we finally called it around 2am, for a 21 hour day!

The next day we got up early and started in again - it took some serious brain power, and we were stumped multiple times but we kept banging away until the wee hours of the morning again, totally engaged and knowing there HAD to be a solution. Getting everything to manual was a huge help.

Finally we got our pilot study equipment laid out and operating and started jar testing and tweaking chemical doses and such...I think we were already into the 3rd day here.

By the end of day 4 or so, we had made a huge improvement in the operability and output quality of the plant. We also vowed to get some funding to install additional equipment, which was successful and the design is underway currently.

Thanks to John, Mike, and Jim for a memorable trip. The quote of the trip was when we were stumped again around 2am of day 3 and I exclaimed that we had too much horsepower in the room to not figure this out. Mike, normally bright-eyed and gung-ho, looked at us with red eyes and a dull, pathetic look and replied, "I think I'm down to about 1/4 horsepower right now." But 10 minutes later he's the one that came up with the keystone idea that got us back on track again.


Eric said...

Nice Dan, from that first photo looked like you could be in a literal hog heaven!

leslita valentina said...

"What is that crazy red head doing in the vat? This is a water treatment plant, not a god-damned Italian grape-crushing party!"....

(oh, just looked like you were in one of those vats of sludge in one of the photos.....)