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The City of Roseville is a growing community twenty miles east of Sacramento, California. As lead agency for the South Placer Wastewater Authority, it originally operated a single regional wastewater treatment facility known as the Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (DCWWTP). The facility served the City, rural portions of Placer County, and the South Placer County Municipal District. In 1996, the City completed a Master Plan, which predicted that ultimate build out for the service area would increase to 45.6 million gallons per day (mgd) over the next twenty years. To provide capacity for the predicted growth, the City and its partners have constructed a new regional wastewater treatment facility, the Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant. This new plant will be built in two phases, a 12 mgd phase I with the increase to ultimate capacity of 21 mgd constructed in phase II.

As the completion of construction approached the operators of the new Pleasant Grove Wastewater Plant were faced with a number of operational issues:

How will the operators daily logs be entered into the plant database?

How will operators have access to personnel schedules, in order to coordinate meetings, training, or vacations?

Who will prepare maintenance requests?

Who will schedule preventative maintenance tasks?

How will the operation and maintenance manuals be maintained, who will have access and how will the staff know that they have been updated?

Due to the emphasis on operator efficiency, the operators discussed the opportunity to improve efficiency through personal data assistants (PDA's) or tablet computers. The operators are longtime employees of the City of Roseville as well as recent hires from other agencies. Some operators had personally used PDA's and others utilized City issued PDA's. Electronic devices offered the opportunity to eliminate duplication error from transcribing hand written data to digital format, and allowed the operators to have access to a readily searchable database.

This paper focuses on the decision making process to incorporate electronic devices into the operators rounds. It will review the advantages and disadvantages of PDA's, tablet computers, and the conventional paper. The paper will also address the challenges of setting up a new plant with a new operator philosophy of minimizing paper. The paper will review the decision process and discuss what additional opportunities the operators found for electronic devices. In addition, the previously perceived advantages and determine if they have indeed resulted in operator efficiency.

In addition, the paper will identify areas in which the conversion to electronic assistants could be enhanced with proper planning. Electronic assistants were not considered during the design phase of the new Pleasant Grove Wastewater Plant. Consideration of electronic assistants during the design phase would likely have required the Contractor to provide HTML formatted documents particularly the manufacturer Operation and Maintenance Manuals. This small modification to the specification would reduce the cost to implement PDA's in the material conversion costs. As a new plant, designed as a good neighbor, the Pleasant Grove Wastewater Plant has no outdoor speakers, all paging is through an on-site cell phone system. On-line SCADA access costs would be significantly reduced with a coordinated effort in the antenna system for the cell phone and wireless computer access.

The ability to implement new tools has resulted in the improved operation of the Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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