My Weird Project: Sewage StatsBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-05-28 Print
Andy Harbison, Instrumentation Chief, City of Orlando Wastewater Dept., maintains the systems that track how much raw sewage sloshes through Orlando's waste-treatment plants.Project Manager: Andy Harbison, Instrumentation Chief, City of Orlando Wastewater Dept.
Project: Flushing Out Data. Harbison maintains the systems that track how much raw sewage sloshes through Orlando's waste-treatment plants. Up to 20 million gallons per day come from counties and towns north of Orlando, which pay the city based on the volume of wastewater they pump out. To help calculate that bill, Harbison used to drive three miles to a sewer main and take a flowmeter reading two or three times a week. "It was about an hour a day I spent doing all this crap," he says.
But it wasn't just a hassle. The city of Orlando sometimes lost thousands of dollars because when its total was different from the northern counties' manual talliesand the numbers could be off by as much as 10%the lower figure was used.
Last year, Harbison and his team figured out a better solution: They wrote a simple application that grabs a daily reading from the sewer flowmeter and sends it to a Microsoft Access database at the head office via two wireless routers. The database automatically e-mails the total to Harbison each month. "Now we know that our readings were taken at the exact same time every single night," he says.
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