Quite literally, without the expertise of our employees who serve in the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Departments, our services would not run. Without their extensive knowledge of systems, processes, technology and the plant sites, there would be a lot of waste left in our water. We’re talking knowledge of pumps, deep wells, gates, valves, lift and booster stations, flows, sludge, chemicals, etc. – the list could go on and on! So today, and every day, we tip our hats to these skilled professionals and are honored to highlight their work.
Here at Metro, the Operations Department controls hundreds of biological, chemical, and physical processes required to treat wastewater through computerized systems, data interpretation, sampling and decision making. Maintenance, on the other hand, performs preventative, predictive, and corrective work to ensure that all equipment on the plant site is functioning properly.
Annual Switchgear Maintenance
The team’s responsibilities are endless, but an impressive feat is their annual switchgear maintenance effort – an event that was recently completed at our Northern Treatment Plant (NTP). The purpose of switchgear maintenance is to make sure electrical gear is tested and meets standards from the International Electrical Testing Association (NETA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), meets manufacturer specifications, and prevents unexpected break-downs/failures. This effort is key to operational continuity and workplace safety.
What makes this effort so challenging is the need to remove power across the plant without interrupting treatment processes. To prevent detrimental disruptions, NTP Operations must review every single piece of equipment impacted by the testing and determine whether:
- it is safe to remain without power
- a redundant piece of equipment should be placed in service instead
- operational strategies must be changed entirely to accommodate the outage
O&M must also coordinate with other departments, like lab sampling and biosolids hauling, who are impacted by the outages. This requires a tremendous amount of coordination, planning and teamwork.
After the equipment review is complete, the maintenance efforts can take place. This involves Operations switching to backup equipment, changing process control strategies, and monitoring all systems closely as Maintenance shuts down large segments of power to the plant. With segments offline and powered down, Maintenance and contractors can then work to physically remove the medium and low voltage electrical breakers for inspection, cleaning, and any necessary repair work. When each breaker has been racked out and inspected, it is then placed back into service and safely re-energized, allowing the O&M team to move on to the next section.
Until Next Time
This activity is done routinely to ensure the electrical supply equipment is healthy and working properly. As you imagine, it’s far better to plan for a power outage than for one to happen unexpectedly. We’re happy to report that, yet again, our NTP O&M Departments have successfully led us through this maintenance event. This year’s switchgear maintenance work will commence later in the year. Until then, we’re taking the time to appreciate the crews whose effort keeps our services safe and functional. It’s their on-the-ground behind-the-scenes work that makes Metro Water Recovery possible!