The phone call came late on a Friday afternoon :

“Help –  our ‘rural national food processing factory’ has been forced to stop production because of dirty water.”

WATERMARK  reviewed the water supply system using a Public Health Management Risk approach.  The shallow bore fed water supply in sandy soils was the main suspect however thorough investigations identified a number of causes and effects.  The shallow bore was microbiologically contaminated, the defunct aerator and supply tank were cross-connected to the factory through a partly shut valve, waste from a building that housed animals was disposed of near the bore, the overflow from the malfunctioning domestic wastewater system that served the factory was overflowed into surface drains near the bore, the softener designed to soften the water and remove iron and manganese was being partially by-passed , the salt in the brine tank used for regenerating the softener had arched and the chlorine dosing pump was air locked. In addition the water pressure sustaining tanks were partially filled with iron sludge as were the treated water storage tanks, the treated water pipeline to the factory was coated internally with black oxidized manganese slime and there were cross-connections to stock water troughs and if that was not enough there was a careless approach to using washdown hoses.

WATERMARK prepared an emergency plan based on using tankered in water to get the factory operational within 24 hours and then developed and managed a prioritised plan for rehabilitation of the water supply systems that included new water quality security features in the form of  UV  disinfection and alarmed chlorine residual monitoring.  Factory management put the plan into action immediately sourcing tanks, people and equipment over a hectic 5 days.

Once the crisis had passed WATERMARK analysed the problems and actions (or lack of actions) that had lead to the  crisis and the Company accepted  all of WATERMARK’s recommendations including the need to outsource maintenance of the water supply system.  WATERMARK prepared the maintenance schedule that was a key element of the outsourcing contract, prepared standard operating procedures and data recording sheets and carried out on-site competency based training for relevant staff.

A random auditing process was carried out by WATERMARK over 6-9 months to support the factory staff as they gained confidence and the final step in rehabilitation of the system was the preparation of  a new Water Supply Risk Management Plan as required by the then  Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.