In a Nutshell: The Water Treatment Plant Inspection
Drinking water is fascinating. You turn or lift a knob or even wave your hand and out comes fresh, clean, cold water. This is the case for much of the world, even in areas of scarcity. There are 783 million people who do not have access to clean water (UNESCO 2013). However that implies that over 5 billion people access clean water to some degree.
How does this process happen? There are many ways that clean water is collected and delivered to your tap. Accessible fresh water begins as either surface water, in the form of lakes, rivers, or swamps. This form of water accounts for 0.3% of the fresh water available. 68% of water is frozen in ice caps or glaciers, leaving about 30% accessible through ground water (National Geographic 2015).
Ground water is collected either naturally in the form of springs, manually by man made wells or by storage tanks. These are the first points that must be well documented, not for just water quality, but for recharge. If water is being taken without being replenished, it will quickly be exhausted and run dry.
Once the water is collected, there are a series of filtration processes that the water embarks on. There are also chemicals that are mixed to ensure drink-ability and remove bacteria. These processes include mixing, coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, liquid disinfection, and gas chlorination. That’s a lot of tions! At each of these points, there are components: valves, vents, screens, drains, alarms, and pipes that are battered with water constantly. The technical explanation can be found here.
Above is a diagram of your average water treatment facility. You can only imagine how many of those components exist within this network. These need to inspected for rust, for marine growth, and for functionality. Traditionally, commercial divers would inspect underwater systems or sections of the system would be drained periodically. This stops the process and leaves only water storage facilities as the resource for the population in the area. Many treatment facilities may opt to avoid the checklists and inspections altogether, compromising the quality of drinking water. Drinking water is the most important resource to protect, with only 2.5% of water on Earth being fresh (USGS 2014).
Affordable technology has been developed that ensures no compromises need to be made. Deep Trekker mini ROVs are being used to ensure that the taps where you wave your hand still pump out fresh, clean water. Watch our DTG2 in action inspecting a water facility, and the process involved in inspecting just the tank that stores the treated water.