Past and Present Membrane Plant Operation Assistance in South Florida

Last Modified: Jan 20, 2014


  • Jorge C. Atoche, Geoffrey K. Hart - Hazen and Sawyer

Hazen and Sawyer has a long history assisting utilities in South Florida with membrane plant operation assistance.

In the last two decades many utilities in South Florida have decided to invest in membrane treatment technologies to meet their potable water quality goals, adapt to current and future regulations and replace aging facilities. Some of these utilities include the City of Hallandale, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the City of Plantation located in Broward County. As new membrane technologies are implemented, new challenges are faced by utilities and their water treatment plant operators already adapted to different needs of operation and maintenance. In some cases, as these new membrane treatment facilities are designed and constructed, operations staff are involved and exposed to these new technologies as a preparation for transition. This typically helps to facilitate the initial operation of these new treatment plants. In many instances this does not occur and the role of the engineers or other consultants providing operational assistance and support services to clients operating membrane plants is essential. Operational assistance can encompass multiple areas including basic training, plant start up and guidance, data compilation and normalization, troubleshooting, process optimization, cleaning assessment and optimization, pilot testing and plant auditing among others. Long term challenges faced by membrane treatment facilities such as membrane replacement evaluation and optimization are also critical tasks that require external assistance.

The City of Hallandale Beach operated a conventional lime softening treatment process since 1951. As the need to treat a new raw water supply increased, the City commissioned the design of a new 6.0 mgd membrane softening facility. The facility was constructed and commissioning was conducted in early 2008. Since plant start up, H&S has participated in operational guidance and optimization including acid use reduction, assistance with data normalization implementation and evaluation, troubleshooting, cleaning assessment and optimization. H&S is also involved in other related activities including raw water supply relocation, evaluation of concentrate disposal alternatives and assistance in complying with the Ground Water Rule.

The City of Fort Lauderdale Peele-Dixie Membrane Plant was constructed as a replacement of a lime softening facility originally constructed in 1926. The project also included a new raw water supply wellfield. The 12.0 mgd membrane softening treatment process was selected to treat a high color, high organics, high iron and high hardness raw water supply in the project area. Due to the age and condition of some components of the old wellfield that remained in operation, several challenges were experienced during plant start up and during the first few years of operation. Replacement of old wellfield infrastructure and recent improvements has resulted in a more stable plant operation. H&S provided engineering services to achieve four-log virus treatment certification for Ground Water Rule compliance. These included tracer testing and design of disinfection system modifications. H&S operational guidance, assistance with data normalization implementation, troubleshooting, corrosion inhibitor pilot testing and membrane cleaning assistance among others have been important to help with membrane treatment plant challenges.

The City of Plantation currently operates the Central and East Membrane Treatment Facilities. Recently, H&S has provided assistance at the 12.0 mgd East Membrane Plant for replacement of aging, high feed pressure membranes with lower pressure nanofiltration elements. This project was identified as an energy savings initiative of the City. The project involved full scale piloting to demonstrate desired performance and actual electrical and related post-treatment chemical requirements. H&S also participated in a related project involving construction of a new concentrate booster pump station. H&S is currently assisting the City with operational guidance and optimization, data normalization implementation and evaluation, troubleshooting, scale inhibitor chemical assessment and membrane cleaning assessment and optimization among other activities.

This presentation discusses past and present experiences with membrane plant operational assistance including plant start up and guidance, data normalization and evaluation, troubleshooting, process optimization, membrane cleaning assessment and optimization, membrane replacement, pilot testing and energy savings optimization among others.

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