Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) services over 170,000 residents and businesses and maintains over 1,300 miles of water and sewer lines across a 62,674-acre service area. Keeping up with the water and sewage-disposal needs of the growing community has significant challenges, particularly due to the increase in influent and change in the makeup and durability of the sewage.
The facility initially relied on a mechanically cleaned bar screen to remove debris. Over time, the bar screen was replaced by a CMD single-drum Channel Monster® from JWC Environmental® that would shred debris before it reached the pumps, preventing clogs or damage. Ron Johnson, facilities supervisor for the SMWD facility, said pump clogging hadn’t been an issue when the Channel Monster was installed in the ‘90’s— but that changed when the influent became heavily loaded with disposable wipes. “We have a bank of four VFD controlled pumps at the facility, and typically we run an alternating cycle with two pumps operating and then switching to ensure equal runtime for all the pumps,” Johnson says. “This operating sequence with the pumps modulating around 50 Hz kept up with plant flow requirements. But starting in about 2012, the pumps would begin to lose efficiency as the wipes loading increased, and we would have to run all four pumps to maintain plant production. Once they reached 60 Hz, we would need to shut down the plant to derag the pumps.” The deragging process took place every two to six weeks, requiring two operators for about two hours each time to complete the task. “And due to some aging isolation valves that leaked, the plant needed to be entirely shut down during deragging,” Johnson says.
These unplanned shutdowns cost the district an acre-foot of reclaimed water production per month, and labor costs added up to about $15,000 per year. Beyond the mounting monetary cost, the safety concerns were equally troubling. Besides being unpleasant, the manual deragging process exposed workers to potential sticks from sharps in the rag balls.
“We considered changing out the current pumps to a new set of chopper pumps, but this option came with a $100,000 price tag and wasn’t really going to solve the problem,” Johnson says. “We still needed to maintain our inlet Channel Monster to take care of the larger debris the pumps couldn’t handle.” Johnson decided to upgrade the facility’s Channel Monster to a new Wipes Ready® perforated drum configuration. The Wipes Ready perforated drum on the newest generation of Channel Monsters is designed to better capture the wipes and rags that can pass through traditional coil drums. “This upgrade cost significantly less than purchasing a whole new set of pumps,” Johnson says. “Plus, this is a solution that will completely eliminate the pump clogging problems we were having for the long term.” Since the new Channel Monster drums were installed, the district has had zero pump-clogging issues at the facility, energy costs have decreased $78,000 per year, and manual pump deragging has been eliminated.
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