The Benefits and Pitfalls of Automation, Alternate Test Procedures, and Extensive Cross Training for Production Gains in a Municipal Wastewater Laboratory

Changing the Paradigm for Water Pollution Monitoring
Oral Presentation

Prepared by C. Lytle, J. Shackelford, K. Thomas
City of Portland Water Pollution Control Laboratory, 6543 North Burlington Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97203, United States


Contact Information: charles.lytle@portlandoregon.gov; 503-823-5568


ABSTRACT

The Benefits and Pitfalls of Automation, Alternate Test Procedures, and Extensive Cross Training for Production Gains in a Municipal Wastewater Laboratory
Platform Presentation
Session: Operational and Advocacy Issues

Prepared by J. Shackelford, K. Thomas, and C. Lytle
City of Portland (Oregon) Water Pollution Control Laboratory, 6543 N. Burlington Avenue, Portland, OR 97203

Contact Information: charles.lytle@portlandoregon.gov; 503-823-5568
jennifer.shackelford@portlandoregon.gov; 503-823-5614
kristen.thomas@portlandoregon.gov; 503-823-9593

ABSTRACT

The City of Portland Water Pollution Control Laboratory (WPCL) is a mid-sized wastewater utility laboratory tasked with the analysis of water, wastewater, groundwater, soils, and biosolids for both general and National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) purposes. The laboratory also maintains intergovernmental agreements (IGA) and memoranda of understanding (MOU) with sixteen external governmental authorities and other City of Portland Bureaus. Over the past fifteen fiscal years, productivity has increased over 60% while maintaining the same number of personnel. This has been accomplished through automation, the use of twelve alternate test procedures for methods approved at 40 CFR 136, and extensive cross training of Analysts throughout four operational sections of the laboratory. Each of these tactics has potential for creating problems. Examples include lack of time for Analysts to take ownership of instruments, productivity enhancements limiting flexibility, and delays in the root cause/corrective action process. Others are more subtle and develop over time. Strategies for overcoming these difficulties will be discussed.