Turned to WaterTrax to Help Manage Increasing Water Quality Regulations in Ontario
We see WaterTrax becoming the standard in our area as more and more utilities adopt this technology to manage their water quality data.
Since Walkerton, Ontario utilities have experienced a wave of new regulations requiring higher treatment standards and more frequent testing and reporting. Increases in staff and enforcement budgets have been followed by more frequent visits from the regulatory authorities with ever more demanding requests.
A growing number of utilities in Ontario, including the Town of Midland, have chosen to respond to this wave of regulation by employing the WaterTrax Utility Service.
Midland’s water system, serving about 16,000 residents, has 53 sampling points and two contract labs. The utility also had specific water information management objectives: quick and accurate reporting, automatic notification of any adverse test results, and a reduction in staff time concurrent with improvements in efficiency and accuracy of information being collecting.
Looking at available solutions, Tim Toole, Manager of Water and Waste Water Operations, recalls hearing about WaterTrax from colleagues at a neighbouring utility. “I found that the WaterTrax service was unique, and that to develop our own customized system was going to be time-consuming and had too many risks associated with it.” “Here was someone who had already worked out all the wrinkles at their cost,” he says.
Five months after implementing the WaterTrax service, Midland had over 25,000 water quality records in its database. All records were reviewed, recorded, screened against standards, and summarized for ready reporting. Now they are able to produce reports easily from a logical and well-organized archive to respond to potential inspections, customer complaints or freedom of information requests. “We didn’t realize just how much data we had to work with,” said Mark Pinkney, Chief Operator.
Understanding the importance of having a systematic way of collecting their water quality data, he welcomed an on-line system like WaterTrax which allowed him to share information and review it with Ministry of Environment regulators to reach agreement on plans of action. “We now can get together and discuss what needs to be done in a cooperative way,” said Mr. Pinkney.
As Manager of the Water and Waste Water Operations, Tim Toole relies on the service primarily to create the reports as and when he needs them. This year he expects to be able to generate his annual report with much less effort. “We were spending hours and hours looking for the information in five different places,” he says. “It was time to have one central database…now that answer is at my fingertips.”
At first Mr. Toole was concerned that implementation would be a problem. “I have one operator on staff who is not comfortable with technology but he soon saw the benefit and ease with which he could keep his sampling information current and was won over. It didn’t take him long to come on board. In fact, he told me, ‘I hate using computers –but I love WaterTrax’.”
“The support from WaterTrax has been great,” says Mark Pinkney. “If I email a question I get a response right away from whomever I asked or a follow-up from someone in the company. I feel I have the entire company working for us and that I have access to anybody in the organization anytime I need it.” Tim Toole is appreciative of the fact that by taking advantage of new technology such as that offered by WaterTrax, Midland is perceived to be a leader within the industry, and that regulators who have viewed the service with him are impressed enough to recommend it to other utilities.