WTP Filter Inspections

WTP Filter Inspections

August 19, 2016

Filter Check from Greenville Utilities on Vimeo.

 Staff at the Water Treatment Plant got the opportunity to dig in the sand recently. It was in the anthracite actually (the stuff that makes up the first filters in the water treatment process), and it wasn't to play, but to check the condition and test the efficiency of those filters.

Beginning last year, staff has drained the water out of the filter basins to conduct the tests. Since there are seven filter sets and shutting them all down at the same time would mean we would not be able to provide clean drinking water for a period of time, they temporarily shut them down one at a time over several months.

After the water is drained, workers climb down into the filter basin and push a PVC pipe into the filter materials similar to sand (anthracite) to collect samples. The goal is to get a sampling every few inches down. Lab workers then measure out specific amounts of the samples, place them into beakers, pour water on them, and then stir (or agitate) them to loosen the flocculants contained in the samples (flocculants are clumps of dirt and debris that are filtered from the water during the treatment process).

The water is then poured into containers and taken into the lab for analysis. The hope is that we will find a decrease in how much dirt is present as we sample deeper in the filter bed  — that's a sign of an efficiently-performing filter.

"Most plants contract this work out, but after seeing contractors do this for us once, we felt like we could do it in house," said Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Julius Patrick. "It gives staff a better understanding of the filters and the media, and it also saves us some money in the process."

This first round of inspections will also establish a benchmark for how the filter materials are doing, which will help staff determine when they will need to replace them. After the first round of inspections and tests are completed in September, they will be continued on a regular basis with a filter inspection every one to two months.