Water treatment plant solution solves DEP requirements and more

By Jim Barish

Figure 1. Quality Life Services in Butler, Pa., required a local water treatment plant after receiving a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Founded in 1971, Butler, Pa.–based Quality Life Services offers skilled care and personal care in nine nursing homes and pharmacies throughout six counties in western Pennsylvania. Their 100-bed Fair Winds Manor in the small rural town of Sarver (just south of Butler) posed a problem for them. They were using well water and tanks for this facility, but then they received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Steve “Moose” Saylor, director of facility management for all Quality Life Services locations, recently discussed the situation and the solution. “We received notice from the state that we needed to do something better due to regulation changes. Naturally, our first thought would be to connect to city water somehow, but with Fair Winds Manor that just wasn’t viable.” Saylor continues, “In rural western Pennsylvania, with little towns like Sarver, it’s tougher to connect with city lines. The need for us to consider other options became apparent.”

The planning and project execution took two years to complete from beginning to end. “Our ownership group met to discuss the best-case scenario for Fair Winds Manor. They consulted with engineering firms to choose the best course of action. Once the idea of building a mini-water-treatment plant was presented, and its feasibility examined, the project continued with design and construction.”

A programmable logic controller–based control system was installed to connect the site’s existing wells to a new water treatment system and storage tower. The system has a simple PLC controller and a straightforward door-mounted human-machine interface (HMI). The HMI allows plant personnel to view the status of the system, view signals in real time, and run the system in both manual and automatic modes. This new control panel is mounted in a new water processing room, with remote sites in the basement of Fair Winds Manor and in the existing sewage treatment building.

Figure 2. Three existing site wells were connected to the influent of the processing water system and metered.

The Fair Winds Manor basement panel connects the starters for both Well 2 and Well 3 to the system via a 900-MHz radio connection. In addition, I/O is provided to connect a warning lamp and audible alarm system for the Fair Winds Manor’s nursing station. The information at this nursing station is the day-to-day user’s interface with the system. At the sewage treatment plant building, Well 5’s existing pump starter and feedback signal are connected via a new hardwired connection to the main control system.

These three existing site wells were connected to the influent of the processing water system, and water is now metered both through the treatment components and to a new bulk water storage tank. The new tank is gravity-fed back to the facility with no required metering or controls.

When the project was completed, in addition to making Quality Life Services compliant with the state, Saylor noted other enhancements in the system. “Simply put, it is better quality water. It’s not that what we had before was bad, it’s just that now we’ve refined it more than it’s required to be.”

The new system is computer monitored and operated, which reduces Quality Life Services’ maintenance costs. “Overall, it’s made our daily maintenance activities more efficient. Before, workers had to change filters frequently,” noted Saylor. “The new system saves on labor, and it checks the system continually without a person having to watch it. If something is wrong, or is not performing as it should be, a message is sent directly to the nurse’s stations. This is particularly helpful on weekends when maintenance personnel may not be around,” he said.

Saylor also pointed out significant time savings in the process of reporting data to the state. “Compiling data for reporting is much faster,” he explained. “With just clicking on a couple things on one screen, the data is gathered, whereas before we had to manually leaf through pages of documentation to put a report together.”

About the Author

Jim Barish is the vice president of client services for Process and Data Automation (PDA). He focuses on client management and project support in areas like technical research and design, engineering and programming, installation, and commissioning. PDA was the system integrator for the Quality Life Services water project and is a member of the Control Systems Integrators Association (CSIA). CSIA has more than 400 members in 27 countries.

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