Three major hurricanes have already hit the United States this year. Being prepared for a hurricane has never been more important, especially for those who run and manage water treatment facilities. Water treatment is essential for removing constituents that can be unpalatable and lead to illnesses and other serious conditions. Houston experienced an outbreak of E. Coli due to water contamination from the impact of hurricane Harvey, which knocked out at least 40 water treatment facilities in the area. Water is essential for our survival so it is of utmost importance that water treatment facilities are prepared to handle and respond to natural disasters, like a hurricane.water
Let's explore some of the ways water treatment facilities are affected by hurricanes and how you can better prepared for such instances:
The Quality of the Water
With a hurricane comes a surge of water. This surge of water pushes toxins and other contaminants into the water supply. This makes water treatment all the more vital, and yet during a crisis, it may be next to impossible for a water treatment facility to run at normal capacity. Water quality is something that needs to be at the forefront of everyone's mind during a natural event like a hurricane.
The Distribution of Water
The high winds of a hurricane rip trees out of the ground and consequently damage the piping buried in the ground. When pipes are damaged to the point of leaking, or have broken completely, there will be a loss of water pressure in the distribution. This will result in the inability to provide water to the entire city depending on where pressure is lost. It can take time for the damaged pipes to be properly repaired or replaced and water distribution to return to normal after a hurricane. Also, when the distribution pressure is reduced, contaminated groundwater can seep into the distribution, further contaminating the supply. Be prepared to lose access to water.
A water treatment facility's equipment is very valuable. The facility equipment, like pumps, tanks, etc are often placed outside the building. When a hurricane hits anything that is left outside may experience significant damage from high winds and debris. Try to shelter or protect as much of your water treatment equipment as you can, if it is outdoors. Hurricanes cause a lot of damage so if you have equipment outside prepare to experience losses if you can't move it or protect it.
Loss of Power
Power loss is the most common effect of any storm, even a minor hurricane. Most water treatment plants incorporate emergency generators. But generators may not be useful if there is a weak link in the treatment process that is not on the emergency power supply, or if there is not an adequate fuel supply or spare parts on hand for operation and maintenance like fuel filters, etc.
A hurricane is a force of nature that is hard to reckon with, but there are ways that you can make sure that your water treatment facility is prepared to handle what may come.
- Make sure you have a substantial supply of pre-treatment materials, like cartridge filter elements since they will have to be changed more frequently due to the high-levels of contaminated water.
- Make sure that your membranes are in full operational condition. If you need to replace them or clean them, make sure that you do this before hurricane season arrives at your door.
- Make sure that all of your outdoor equipment is safely and securely fastened or protected, in an appropriate manner.
- Exercise your emergency generators regularly and do periodic check-out runs to ensure the entire treatment process can be operated on generator power.