Built in 1968, Sonoma Raceway is a self-contained facility with its own water production, water treatment, water storage, water booster pumps and a water distribution pipeline system. Sonoma Raceway also has an on-site wastewater system which includes a network of wastewater pipelines, wastewater pumping stations, wastewater treatment plant and an irrigation system fed with reclaimed water.
The Raceway’s systems are regulated by the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) through the Department of Public Health, Sonoma Division for the water system, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region, for the wastewater system. The SWRCB has established minimum levels of staffing certification to manage and operate both the water and the wastewater systems. Both the Raceway’s water and wastewater system must have a Chief Certified Plant Operator to manage the system. NSUs predecessor (Phillips and Associates) provided back up certified operator services for the Raceway since 2014, providing backup for the Raceway’s operator on a part time basis. When their full time operator retired, NSU was ready to step in to provide full time operations services.
The Sonoma Raceway had a sophisticated membrane treatment system for water treatment and a lot of modern equipment, but had a very limited communication system to tie all of their equipment together. Because of such limited communications, operators had to spend several hours weekly traveling across the extensive site to collect data and determine system conditions. Through our experience in owning and financing utility systems, NSU has learned to appreciate automation as a better way to run systems remotely in the more than 200 plants that the Company operates, often located in rural areas.
NSU invested in a system for the Raceway. System integration was the key because several different types of treatment equipment were involved. NSU brought in its expert staff to help the local operators to develop the systems which are now accessible remotely behind a security enhanced firewall.
After an initial year that saves an estimated 23% in operator charges, this system will result in an annual savings of 55% in operator costs compared with the manual systems.
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