Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of water and wastewater operators across the country, clean, safe water continued flowing – even amid a global pandemic. Garver launched the Behind-the-Scenes Operators Initiative to give an inside look at what it takes to supply our communities with reliable water services.
Power outages, a pandemic, and perseverance
Some of us are fortunate enough that our work becomes a passion. That happened to Ryan. After becoming an operator, he fell in love with the overall processes and how everything works together. When one piece isn’t working correctly, the whole system is affected. The intricate nature of wastewater treatment drew his attention and fascination. From there on, Ryan was hooked.
Ryan’s job requires him to be constantly active because there’s always something to monitor, a role to fill, a problem to solve, and a question to answer. It keeps him constantly on his feet and thinking. “I enjoy solving the challenges, and once you get used to them, the things that were once difficult really aren’t anymore.”
Fortunately for Ryan and his team, they run an advanced plant that has recently had a major overhaul. What was once a conventional wastewater treatment plant is now an expanded and advanced water reclamation facility serving the City of Norman, Oklahoma. The plant’s overhaul was one of the largest capital improvement projects in the history of Norman.
But what does all this mean for their operations? Well, thankfully, a large portion of the processes are automated and can be controlled and monitored with the facility’s detailed supervisory control and data acquisition platform, also known as SCADA. This allows Ryan and his team to easily keep the plant running at peak efficiency.
However, given the stormy nature of Oklahoma, power outages can be a consistent problem, especially when much of your system is automated. During Oklahoma’s storm seasons, Ryan’s team stays at the ready to either move the system to standby power or to keep the system functioning through power glitches that cause hiccups to the automated controls.
Additionally, for such a large facility (17 million gallons of treated wastewater a day), Ryan’s team consists of only 19 people total. This includes operators and maintenance staff. With a small team, communication is incredibly important to knowing how the plant is running between shifts. During the pandemic, team interaction was limited with staggered shifts and the lack of in-person team meetings. Like many utilities, Ryan’s team turned to web-based platforms to maintain team meetings.
Pandemic or not, Ryan and his diligent team are always working to make sure the people of Norman get the quality service they deserve. Every hour of every day, members of his crew are at the plant keeping the water moving.