Process optimization at the Hayward Water Pollution Control Facility is as much training and morale building as it is improving operations.
That’s thanks to Jeff Carson, Operations and Maintenance Manager at the plant, which is 130 percent energy positive and winner of EPA’s Green Power Award.
“He’s the CIP and project coordinator for process optimization,” wrote Gayle Tupper, in the Emerging Leader nomination form. “He solicits staff input, researches the project, and collaborates with managers and engineers for ongoing improvements. As a coach, he focuses on learning and improvement of plant processes and performance.”
Jeff has a BA in biology and environmental studies from Cal State University-Hayward, and came to Hayward from the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin, where he was interim general manager.
His approach is ground-up. “For every single area that is optimized,” he explains, “we have detailed meetings, everybody has a bare bones understanding of how a process works, and all are encouraged to contribute ideas.”
“It’s critical that everybody be on the same page,” he says.
An example is the plant’s solids contact process. “On average, we had two and a half out of three blowers running all the time. We grouped all the ideas together and selected the best and took that concept to our electricians. Our instrumentation wasn’t tight enough for the process. We refined the PLC mode of operation and in the end we have one blower running in steady state operation. We’ve experienced a significant savings in electricity.”
In another example, Jeff’s team approach solved a problem of erratic gas production in the digesters.
Today, the Hayward plant produces enough electricity through its co-gen and solar processes to power the plant and some 20 export accounts. There are plans to expand both co-gen power production and the plant’s solar array.
Tupper wrote that Jeff’s focus on growth and partnerships with staff have brought tremendous improvements to morale, which in turn have led to better productivity and teamwork.
“Jeff’s energy and enthusiasm for his work are contagious. His work has often been behind the scenes, and now he deserves recognition for his accomplishments.”
Carson, however, isn’t about to become complacent. “I’m humbled by the award,” he says. “But I’m a realist; it puts you on the map. You need to make sure the same standards and expectations are shared with everybody, all the way down the line.”