Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Operation & Maintenance

Operations & Maintenance for Small Water Systems

There are many tasks related to operating and maintaining a safe water system, including management and ongoing and preventive maintenance. A properly operated and maintained system will reduce the occurrence of health-related problems.

Each water system has specific requirements for operation and maintenance (O & M) based on system reliability and complexity. The number people required and their respective levels of skill and experience must match the complexity of the system. At least one person should be a qualified water system operator.

O & M duties involve routine and non-routine tasks and can include:

Routine tasks

  • preventive maintenance
  • housekeeping duties
  • sampling

Non-routine tasks

  • repair of broken watermain

Managing a Water System

Proper water system management is an important part of a successful water system. Things to consider are:

  • administrative procedures
  • financial issues
  • hiring and training staff
  • regulatory compliance
  • facility renewal

System Renewal Plan

Water distribution systems have a limited life expectancy and, for reasons such as increased water demand, may need to be upgraded. Preparing a System Renewal Plan will help you identify the deficiencies in your system. It compares your water system to standards and helps you pinpoint any required upgrades.

After you have developed your System Renewal Plan, review it occasionally so that you can keep on top of any new demands on the system. Good record keeping will assist with this process.

Preventive Maintenance

The maintenance required for a water system will vary with types and numbers of components. Regardless of the size and complexity of the system, it is valuable to have a regular maintenance plan to keep the system performing satisfactorily.

Preventive maintenance can help you:

  • learn more about the features of the system’s components
  • help you avoid problems with water quality and system breakdowns
  • reduce overall operating costs by preventing costly emergency repairs

This plan should include details about how to perform the maintenance duties and a maintenance schedule. Some tasks must be done daily, while others need only be done seasonally or annually. By creating and using a maintenance schedule, the duties can be spread out and not forgotten.

Some common maintenance duties include:

  • refilling chemical feed tanks
  • backwashing sand filters
  • changing cartridge filters
  • cleaning UV light systems
  • recharging water softeners

Operation and Maintenance Manuals

Most systems will have O & M manuals that provide information about the system’s equipment, its operating and maintenance requirements, and schedules for preventive maintenance. For instance, it may be necessary to apply grease to a mechanical part or to replace a seal after so many hours of operation.

These manuals should also contain warranty information and specify replacement parts and where to obtain them.

If your system doesn’t have an O & M manual, then consider preparing your own. Do an inventory of your equipment and ask equipment suppliers or manufacturers for the technical information. Many suppliers post technical information on websites.