“This has been a great project overall as it started up and has operated without problems,” said Austin. The project is now in its second year of operation with the only shutdown due to the Geysers fire that cut off the electrical supply for 20 days in September 2004. Austin shut down the system remotely from his laptop at home before the fire destroyed Calpine's electrical poles.
A staff of only seven (Austin, a maintenance planner scheduler, and five field technicians) operate the automated system through laptop computers. The supervisory control and data acquisition system connects to the city's operations site on the Internet through GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) wireless connection provided by a commercial cellular company. Laptops are connected by private servers to the city site.
“We don't even have a control room in our office as we gather data and control operations remotely,” said Austin.
Each of the mountain pump stations has five 1000-hp pumps, providing a maximum pumping capacity of 16 mgd with four pumps. Usually three pumps work at a time, leaving a spare and a standby so pumps can be serviced without a shutdown. Austin oversees an aggressive preventive maintenance program to keep all the pumps operating within correct parameters.
The flexibility built into the pipeline and the pump stations has already been put to good use. “With the valley portion of the pipeline expandable to 43 mgd, we expect to achieve our mantra of more than a generation of service from our pipeline,” said Carlson.
The WateReuse Association gave the project its 2004 National Project of the Year award in category 1. The Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California named it first in the water category, and the entry also took a first in the 2005 American Council of Engineering Companies national competition. Additionally, the project captured a Grand Award in the Design Category of the America Academy of Environmental Engineers 2005 Excellence in Environmental Engineering Awards.
— Carder is a Denver-based business writer