Thursday, December 6, 2012

Successful Team Work Sees Sunol Plant through Technical Conversion

Recently, the project team at Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant successfully completed one of the most technically challenging shutdowns of the Water System Improvement Program (WSIP). In order to upgrade the technical monitoring and control systems for the treatment plant, the entire operating system, that monitors and controls the water flow as it relates to plant operations, was taken off line for two-weeks. This shutdown meant that operators at one of the two treatment plants in our regional system were without the ability to monitor the instruments and processes throughout the plant to treat water as usual. This shutdown also required the team to thoroughly inspect all the critical elements of the plant’s treatment process to ensure they could run manually without the controls system to deliver water to customers, if necessary.

One of the unique aspects of WSIP construction is that all projects must be completed without any water service interruption to our 2.6 million customers. More than 120 system shutdowns must be performed to accommodate WSIP construction. 

Since the original treatment plant was constructed in 1964, many of the instrumentation and control systems had reached their maximum data capacity. As new facilities are being constructed and others upgraded, there was no room to incorporate new communication and control signals from the new facilities into the existing controls system. To remedy this overload, the existing data on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) were “split” into separate PLCs to create the needed space and capacity. PLCs are like mini industrial computers that help the operators run the treatment plant. During this “split”, new programming codes for this data were loaded and tested.  

Crews worked overtime to ensure the pipe work was completed on time, so it did not delay the treatment plant system coming back on line. In fact, the team successfully completed this shutdown in 12 days, two days ahead of the scheduled 14-day shutdown. This critical shutdown required a detailed System Outage Request (SOR) plan prior to the shutdown identifying contingency options, man-power requirements, material requirements, and detailed work activity schedules to help ensure this critical shutdown was completed without impacts to the water system.   

Simultaneous with this technical shutdown, the contractor had to complete several large diameter pipe tie-ins at the plant (shown above). 

“Completing this technical work in a tight time frame was not an easy feat, but the team was up for the challenge,” said Paul Gambon, System Operations Manager of the Water Supply and Treatment Division. “The complex nature of this shutdown required close coordination, extensive planning beforehand and excellent communication among numerous project team members and the operations staff,” Gambon explained.

Team members from the following groups were involved with the coordination of this shutdown and contributed to its success: Construction Management team; Shutdown Coordination team; Water Supply and Treatment Division; Water Quality Division; SVWTP Operations team; City SCADA group; City IT/Communications group; Shimmick Construction Company Inc. and Transdyn Incorporated.

As of November 2012, the overall Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant Expansion and Treated Water Reservoir project is 90 percent complete. The project is expected to be complete by June 2013.

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