Sep 24, 2007

Lompoc Plant Going High-Tech

Once the upgrades at the Lompoc Regional Wastewater Reclamation Plant are done, the entire treatment process will be managed by a fiber-optic SCADA system.

“It allows new equipment to be monitored in the control room by a computer,” said Susan Halpin, superintendent of the plant.

The new system, which is expected to be online by late 2009, will monitor the plant's flow rates, gather information about its operations, and be able to turn pumps on or off.

“Data is sent to the control room and put in a historical database,” Halpin said. “It's easy to track trends that way.”

The high-tech system will replace a dated computer that has limited capabilities. It controls gas equipment at the plant, but monitors no pumps or other equipment.

The plant, which will face stricter state regulations in a few years, has undergone no renovation since it opened in 1974.

Two change orders for the renovations have increased the project cost by $228,204, to nearly $80 million. Also, the completion date has been pushed back a couple months to September 2009, Halpin said.

Renovations will affect virtually the entire wastewater treatment process, from the time that water used in homes and businesses is collected and piped to the treatment plant. At that point, pebbles, rocks, coffee grounds, waste and other debris, known as settable solids, are removed before the water is pumped to the influent pumping station.

The pumping station, which will be replaced instead of updated, sends the water to other areas of the plant. Once that occurs, the treatment process begins in two new oxidation tanks.

“There is a biological process that removes ammonia and converts the ammonia to nitrate. This is then converted into nitrogen gas,” Halpin said. Nitrogen gas is then denitrified to meet nitrate discharge limits for the plant, she said.

The next step involves three new secondary clarifiers.