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Making the Case for Process Control Sampling: If it's not permit required, why bother?

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At many wastewater treatment facilities, comprehensive process control sampling does not routinely take place for all constituents, unless required by the facility's permit. With all facilities having a goal of efficient and cost-effective operations, this paper will show why it is worthwhile for every facility, regardless of its specific permit requirements, to put in place a routine program of comprehensive process control sampling.

Benefits of Comprehensive Process Control Sampling

By establishing and maintaining this program, you will gain the following benefits:



You will know what is “normal” for your plant, allowing you to identify problems when they are still small and easier to fix, resulting in more efficient use of everyone's time and lowering O&M costs.


You will be prepared to deal with changes in your discharge permit requirements, which inevitably will arise.


You will put in place an important management tool, one that will inform staff and provide a greater level of understanding of the plant's operations.


Successful Program at an Aviation Maintenance and Rework Facility

The wastewater treatment staff implemented process control sampling and began evaluating the information it yielded in August 2000. Leading up to that date, permit violations totaled 12 in 1999, and 2 from January through July 2000. The facilities experienced zero permit violations from August 2000 through December 2001. This elimination of violations has a direct connection to the sampling program and changes made in association with it. These changes, put in place since August 2000 in conjunction with the process control sampling program, included:

Adding one person to the staff whose focus would be to determine the type and frequency of process control sampling needed, to provide the proper training to implement those changes, and to maintain the program.


Successfully incorporating changes throughout the facility, based on the data generated by the process control samples. As a result, all departments in the facility wishing to batch discharge to the treatment plant must now submit a sample and proper documentation of what they wish to discharge and receive approval before discharging.


Process control sampling is an important tool in the management of any wastewater treatment plant. Training and understanding, beginning with the treatment plant manager, are key to successful implementation. The manager is in the best position to convince operators to implement something new. There is no substitute for teamwork.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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