On Friday, July 7th 2017, Timberline had the opportunity to visit our local 75th Street Wastewater Treatment Facility Laboratory here in Boulder. Not only was it great to see our Ammonia/Nitrate Analyzer being regularly used in such a fantastic lab, we loved finding out more about what the Boulder WWTF does for the community and beyond. During our visit we had the chance to interview Melissa Mimna, a Water Quality Analyst at the City of Boulder lab, to find out more about what she does and why she uses our ammonia analyzer.
Melissa has an undergraduate in Geography from University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science in Geoenvironmental Studies with a focus in water quality from the Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the Water Quality Analyst and QA/QC focus person. Melissa expressed, like many of the employees there, that she loves her job because of one main thing; she feels like she’s making a difference. Aside from general wastewater treatment procedures, the City of Boulder lab contributes to making a positive environmental impact every single day.
We went ahead and asked Melissa a couple questions about our analyzer. Here is what she had to say:
Me: “Why are you measuring ammonia?”
Melissa: “Obviously ammonia is a huge concern in a wastewater lab. We measure ammonia on our effluent 7 days a week. We measure our influent and our process several times a week and we measure TKN on influent, process samples, and effluent a lot. So we do a lot of ammonia/TKNs here.”
Me: “Who is the data for and what do they do with it?”
Melissa: “Our data is for different people actually. The most important data is for our effluent permit limits. We also look at loadings coming in and going out for percent removal of ammonia. Our other clients are process optimization people looking at intermediate samples within the process and trying to make the process more streamlined, more efficient. So the plant is one of our clients as well as the permit. We also run ammonia/TKN for the drinking water plant, as part of our industrial pretreatment program, on creek samples, and for stormwater monitoring. We just did an outfall survey where we were monitoring stormwater outfalls in the city. So lots of different things.”
Me: “How did you measure ammonia before you had the Timberline Ammonia Analyzer?”
Melissa: “I didn’t work here before we had this instrument but at my previous job I measured ammonia with an ISE probe.”
Me: “How does it compare to competitors?”
Melissa: “Well the only other way I’ve measured ammonia is either my Test N’ Tube, which isn’t approved so I can’t use that for permit, or an ISE probe, which is pretty problematic and not as automated. And you can’t get as low of levels, ISE can’t go nearly as low.”
Me: “What do you like the most about the instrument?”
Melissa: “I like that it’s easy, it’s automated. With the autosampler, load up the samples and go. I can get the low levels that we need. And it’s reliable, we don’t have problems with the instrument and if we do I feel comfortable doing steps of troubleshooting. It’s an analyzer I can try working on vs. a black box.”
Me: “How often do you have to service the instrument?”
Melissa: “Not often at all honestly. I think we’ve replaced the membrane once in the five years that I’ve been here. We had been replacing the pump tubing fairly often, but recently we haven’t been because we haven’t seen the need. When something goes wrong that’s the first thing we’ll change, but honestly we just release the tension after every run. Very low maintenance.”
Me: “How would you describe Timberline in one word?”
Melissa: “Reliable. If something goes wrong you guys are going to fix it pretty quick. So reliable.”
After further discussion, a huge reason the lab invested in our Ammonia Analyzer was due to its space saving and efficiency benefits since the prior method they were using to analyze ammonia involved distillation. After our interview we had the privilege to go on a tour of the plant and see even more of how Boulder’s Waste Water Treatment Facility functions. To find out more about our local wastewater treatment facility, check this pdf out.