Lift station wet well problem addressed with low-tech solution

Jan. 10, 2011
MOON TOWNSHIP, PA, Jan. 10, 2011 -- Moon Township's Municipal Water Pollution Control Plant had a problem with a lift station wet well. Grease, rags, rubber material and other debris were clogging pumps and creating maintenance issues on a regular basis...

MOON TOWNSHIP, PA, Jan. 10, 2011 -- Moon Township's Municipal Water Pollution Control Plant had a problem with a lift station wet well. Grease, rags, rubber material and most anything else that could enter the system was clogging pumps and creating maintenance issues on a regular basis.

Raymond (Ray) Moorhead, Water Pollution Control Supervisor, was faced with vacuuming the wet well and sending personnel into an environment that would make even the America's Dirtiest Jobs host cringe.

"I needed solution that I could apply on the fly, without taking the well out of service," Ray commented. "The well is 65' x 65' x 30' deep and accumulated everything and anything that could matte together."

Ray found the answer through a flier that talked about Pulsed Hydraulics Inc. (PHI) and their low-tech approach to the problem. PHI Representative, George Pitcairn, contacted Ray and explained that Moon Township could tap into one of their existing compressors and, by adding a control box, valve and the piping necessary to deliver an airburst the predicament could be resolved.

"You see," George explained, "The PHI-300will introduce a burst of compressed air at the base of the well, in a dead spot, and let simple physics break up the cap. By repeating the burst, at controlled intervals, it will keep the cap from reforming."

Mr. Moorhead was looking for a simple solution and the PHI approach seemed promising. The investment was minimal and the installation could be done on the fly as he needed a "drop in" solution.

The results have been better than expected. "The initial application broke up the grease cap so fast that the pumps clogged again as they tried to digest the chunks of matter that had broken free. I would suggest that the well be cleaned before installation of the PHI-300," Ray went on to say. "But, since the installation, the well is no longer an issue! The compressor is activated by a float and we haven't seen any measurable increase in energy costs."

Mr. Moorhead felt so strong about thePHI-300results; he conveyed his enthusiasm to Robert (Bert) Rateau, Superintendent of the Moon Township Water Authority.

Bert was faced with stratification in the water storage tanks. This was creating all the problems associated with stagnate water: chlorine residual loss through the tank; THM creation because of biological growths on interior metal surfaces; and freezing during the cold weather months.

"We looked at numerous solutions and their costs. Pittsburgh doesn't have an abundance of sunshine in the winter months so a solar system didn't seem practical. Other applications required extensive installation efforts and cost was always a factor," said Bert.

In June of 2010, Mr. Rateau installed the PHI-300 in a 1 mg vertical water storage tank and the results were everything he wanted.

First, Mr. Rateau learned from the Pennsylvania DEP that construction permits were not required so his own staff installed the equipment without contractor assistance. He realized substantial savings from the very beginning.

"We tapped into an on-site compressor, connected the valve and control box, then we ran flex pipe to the top of the tank. We next connected a stainless pipe that joined to a "T" at the bottom of the vessel. The forming plates were then anchored and the installation was complete," Bert stated.

Temperature sensors indicate the tank is mixing consistently while the compressor is operating 30 minutes on and 360 minutes off. The energy cost is estimated at about 50 cents/day.

"Moon Township has three more tanks that will get their PHI installation soon. We will have divers clean the tanks and inspect the interior. Once that is complete, thePHI-300 solution will service those tanks as well,"

"I love low tech, it means low cost, low maintenance, minimal energy consumption and big results!" concluded Mr. Rateau, "I'm a believer."



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