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Session 04C: Facility Operations
3:00pm - 3:45pm
Development and Deployment of Gamified Simulation Software for Training Wastewater Operators - Cancelled
Maia Analytica, Portland, OR, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
As wastewater treatment has evolved, treatment operations have continued to become increasingly complex. At the same time, our understanding of the environmental, public health, and economic impacts of improperly treated wastes has grown, decreasing tolerance for disruptions. This means new operators are entering into an increasingly demanding environment in which they may not have much time to learn through trial and experience on the job. Additionally, operators are facing these challenges as the work is aging - stressing existing operator training norms. New methods for training operators are needed to help train the changing workforce. Process simulators are particularly well suited to illustrate the complex interrelationships inherent to advanced treatment systems that aren’t obvious or intuitive to new operators. Simulators allow operators to explore the consequences of operational decisions across the facility in an interactive, risk-free way. The emerging generation of operations professionals has shown an increasing affinity for hands-on, computer-based training and games provide an additional level of engagement and motivation that improves learning outcomes.
In this work we present a gamified simulator software called Wastewater Integrated Learning Management Activity (WILMA) designed to help operators learn the uniqueness of the system they will be operating, opposed to a generic treatment system. Engineers worked with partners at a full-scale facility to understand what is required to make informed decisions and analysis then designed mini-games around those decision points. Gamification of WILMA significantly improves engagement and motivation, both key pieces of improved learning outcomes. The game design and user interface is based on cognitive science research and state of the art visualization methods. Overall the presentation demonstrates and provides an example of training tools for the future of the wastewater workforce.
3:45pm - 4:30pm
Improving Operations at an Aging and Overloaded WWTP
Wallis Engineering; email@example.com
As small communities grow, increases in wastewater loads can create outsized problems for their wastewater treatment plants. Over the last decade, the City of Stevenson wastewater treatment plant has seen dramatic increases in wastewater BOD and TSS loads and highly variable influent pH. This change in wastewater characteristics was driven by high strength users, including restaurants and beverage industries. Design for a major wastewater treatment plant upgrade began in 2019, but it would be some years before construction would be completed. In the meantime, the City would need to manage influent BOD loads that were higher than the existing treatment plant capacity, and avoid effluent violations.
To address these challenges, the design team identified improvements that could be implemented quickly to improve WWTP performance, while simultaneously designing the full plant upgrade. Multiple options were considered, including process control improvements, additional aeration, and clarifier modifications. Due to budget constraints, the City selected a low-cost option: adding DO sensors in the oxidation ditch, an influent wastewater pH sensor, additional RAS flow meters, and an improved SCADA system. These interim improvements are integrated with the 30-year old control system. Though they represented a “short-term” fix, they were designed to be integrated effectively into the control system upgrade to be constructed with the full plant upgrade. DOE allowed the City to use design funds to construct the interim improvements, a major budget benefit.
These interim improvements allowed operators to quickly respond to changing influent wastewater characteristics, and more effectively manage secondary clarifiers. In addition, influent pH data has allowed the operators insight into industrial discharges, allowing the City to educate the industrial users on when their discharges were impacting the treatment process, resulting in fewer pH spikes. Process control was improved dramatically at a very low cost, reducing the burden on operators during the interim period before a major treatment plant upgrade.