September 24, 2012

A Day in the Life of: Control Center Operator

Des Moines Water Works has been providing safe drinking water to Des Moines since 1871. Today, Des Moines Water Works serves approximately 500,000 people throughout the Des Moines metro area. Few people realize the importance of providing citizens with safe and reliable drinking water. Like police officers, fire fighters, and other emergency personal that work to keep our cities safe, proper water operators are needed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure public health in central Iowa.

At Des Moines Water Works, there is a Control Center Operator always on duty managing the treatment of the water at all three of Des Moines Water Works’ treatment plants. They also monitor and control the distribution system, which includes 10 pumping stations, 12 booster stations, and 25 water towers throughout the Des Moines metro area.

Depending on the time of day, the priorities of the operator varies. Operators that work the day shift perform numerous processes for cleaning water and replenishing the distribution system.  The evening shift operator’s goal is to monitor the distribution system to keep it regulated. The overnight operator focuses on refilling the water towers for the morning rush.

The peak demand for water is usually Monday-Friday from 5:00 am to 10:00 am. The demand will then pick back up during the evening when people get home from work. During the summer, the demand is also high towards the end of the evening when businesses and homeowners typically irrigate lawns. It is important to keep water storage facilities filled for optimal water pressure throughout the distribution system and for use during fire fighting.

The day shift operator also manages chemical deliveries at three treatment plants, which is done remotely from the control center at the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant. There may also be requests from other utility employees related to maintenance of the treatment plants. The overnight shift operator’s responsibility is to prepare the treatment plants for the next day, such as updating all of the logs.

To handle all that needs to be taken care of, Control Center Operators must be able to prioritize all of the requests and duties that they face each shift. They must be able to multitask and handle an emergency in a calm manor.  Each shift is different than the one before, but Des Moines Water Works Control Center Operators understand that their role is vital to the health of residents of Des Moines and surrounding areas.

Posted by: Terilee H. Clark No Comments
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