Depoe Bay to Update Water Plant
By Kendall S. Cable of the News-Times, Newport, Oregon
Copyright © 2008 Newport News-Times
"Still operating in the DOS operating system era, Depoe Bay's water treatment plant is about to leap into the current age with the purchase of a new control unit.
Depoe Bay City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a $42,336 expenditure to purchase a new programmable logical controller. The contract was awarded to Automation Group of Springfield.
The project originally was included in a water improvements project, but it was pulled out due to monetary concerns, according to City Superintendent Terry Owings. The plant, located on Collins Street, was upgraded in 1994 with what was at that time state-of-the-art controls.
“That stuff is outdated,” Owings explained. “If it ever had faulty equipment, we would have to be down there 24 hours a day, seven days a week pushing buttons.”
He stressed if there was a burnout, the city would have no way to control the plant because it would be in DOS mode.
“It is hard to program and has started to not work,” warned Field Supervisor Brady Weidner.
What the new control unit means for the city is that all the components of the water treatment plant will be located in one area and automated. The unit is responsible for turning filters on and off, chemical feeds, chlorine residuals, meters that measure inorganic particles in the water, as well as measuring levels in the storage tanks.
Owings said with the new controller, the city would be able to use a laptop to go online and answer an alarm and evaluate problems. In other words, in the comfort of one's home, staff could make a tweak prior to an employee physically leaving to assess the problem if it is complicated. Less major problems could be handled without even driving to the treatment plant.
“Right now, if controls go, we don't have the ability to change things,” Owings said. “With this new system, we can control every aspect of the water plant.”
Weidner added that the new controller is also to keep the city in compliance with the health department.
Although the project is to commence within a month, and is expected to be completed by June 30, it will not affect the city's customers. Owings said the city's 1.2-million gallon water storage tank on the north side will be topped off to buy time during the changeover.
“We will make sure the water is not discolored, and they will have good water quality,” Owens said. “It shouldn't be a disruption at all.”
Weidner looks forward to a more user-friendly water treatment plant.
“I am really excited about it. It is great. It is going to be nice to program it right on a computer,” Weidner concluded. “It is really going to be slick.”