Water and Wastewater Treatment Operator Hub2023-03-01T15:19:25-05:00

WBAFN Water Operator Hub

Currently, five out of six Waabnoong Bemjiwang Association of First Nations (WBAFN) communities have water treatment plants and distribution systems. Each of the five has one operator that meets provincial regulations for plant operations and in some cases they are building capacity for backup coverage of their main operator. Of the five communities, there are two that have wastewater plants.

There are many challenges with the current water and wastewater management systems, including:

  • Geographic areas requiring significant travel time are costly and time consuming
  • Independent operations and maintenance do not capture any economies of scale as a Hub and operate independently
  • Lack of tools and information for financial planning
  • Turnover among First Nation plant operators. Once trained, they often pursue better paying opportunities
  • Challenged to provide proper maintenance (planned and unplanned) at some facilities
  • Data collection and analysis from water and wastewater systems is difficult and time consuming
  • Responses to issues are delayed and costly
  • Lack of financial and technical resources

To address these and other issues, the WBAFN is proposing a solution that begins the process towards developing a Hub to ensure that its water and wastewater treatment plants are consistently managed, operated and maintained in an effective, professional and responsible manner. The goal is to empower our communities and operating teams with the technology and training for remote water and wastewater monitoring and asset maintenance capacity using OCWA’s technology and expertise in the areas of field mentoring and best practices.

The project is proposed in two phases. This proposal addresses the Phase 1 Pilot Project, with some reference to Phase 2 for context and long-term goals. The purpose of Phase 1 of the project is to create a Hub and install long-term water and wastewater monitoring and maintenance capacity at two First Nations communities within the WBAFN: Nipissing and Wasauksing. All technology and accompanying training will be provided by the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA).

Two systems – a remote monitoring system and an asset management system – will be installed at the two sites during the first phase of the project.

Water Maintenance

Remote Monitoring System

OCWA’s remote monitoring system allows for water and wastewater to be monitored off site and in real time. It will enable the sharing of information amongst operational delivery teams and WBAFN. While independent operations can continue with shared resources, remote monitoring has several benefits to the First Nation communities (spokes) of the Hub including:

  • Ensures that operations teams have current and reliable tools to manage their water and wastewater systems
  • Builds consistent and accurate knowledge and capacity that fosters information sharing
  • Provides alarm protocols to alert operators of issues without the operator having to go to the site
  • Identifies real-time issues for prompt problem solving using state-of-the-art trending data and information with detailed graphic analysis
  • Reduces system down time thereby improving service and reliability
  • Security protocols and preventions
  • Reliable and secure data storage
  • Saves time and resources
  • Fosters consistent, across-the-board record keeping
  • Improves the safety for system operators
  • Gives key performance indicators with the available data
  • Improves Pump Stations by:
    • Informing operators of local conditions
    • improving data for identifying and resolving maintenance issues
  • Improves call-out management resulting in time and money savings due to the reduced number of call-ins
  • Ensures treatment processes are properly functioning
  • Facilitates a safe and potable water supply for WBAFN

Asset Management System

A work management system, also known as a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) can gather key information in the development of Asset Management Plans and helps to answer the following questions:

  • What are the assets in the water and wastewater systems?
  • What condition are they in?
  • What is the likelihood and consequence of failure?
  • How should the assets be maintained?

OCWA’s CMMS will provide a standardized platform for managing water and wastewater assets. It contains a comprehensive history of the work, condition, cost, criticality and life expectancy of the equipment and tracks, schedules and documents all work related to infrastructure operations and maintenance. It will provide WBAFN with the ability to analyze more than just maintenance-related activities but also operational duties, administrative tasks and even project-based activities. Over a period of time, the program will focus on critical assets, analyze how data is collected, assign work orders to prioritized assets and enable better updates for financial forecasting.

It will assist the Band leadership and staff to understand in knowing which assets are under their care and control, and help to ensure that all assets are being maintained in the best possible way.

The goals of a programmed approach for sustainable operations include:

  • Operational optimization – timely, cost-effective, reliable
  • Infrastructure stability – high service level, low cost, reliable/low risk water delivery
  • Measurement and continuous improvement

The CMMS supports operations and maintenance through better equipment data, work order control, preventative maintenance practices and materials control. A CMMS system can help organize work management and trends through planned and unplanned work such as:

  • Preventative maintenance
  • Corrective maintenance
  • Predictive maintenance (PDMs)
  • Emergencies (out of service/shutdowns, etc.)
  • The use of data from CMMS can be used for Key Performance Indicators and level of service indicators, both important items in the development of asset management plans. There are also significant financial planning benefits that may be developed with the use of CMMS data.
  • There are practical operation and maintenances impacts, especially when combined with remote monitoring for a range of issues such as call-out management (when the operator is required to return to the plant)

Phase 1: Pilot Project Work Plan

  1. Water operators from each of the six WBAFN First Nations communities will form an operational support group called the Waabnoong Bemjiwang Operation Networking Advisory Group (WBONAG) to oversee the project and process with the long-term goal to create a Hub. The WBONAG will share resources (human, equipment, information) people and equipment for addressing issues of common concern regarding water monitoring and maintenance. The opportunities for sharing include bulk purchase opportunities, equipment sharing, operator training and back-up, collection, distribution and treatment support.
  2. OCWA will install and provide support during the trial for the remote monitoring and asset management software and will install the software (panel remote monitoring) at the Nipissing First Nations Water Treatment Plant and Wasauksing First Nations Water Treatment Plant. In addition, OCWA’s software program (IBM Maximo) will address the management/maintenance of important water/wastewater assets. OCWA will provide the remote monitoring and asset management software training.
  3. The WBONAG will oversee and assist with the development of procedures and protocols for asset management software monitoring, health and safety, legislation, roles and responsibilities, procurement and resource sharing including operator support. If approved, a more detailed work plan can be provided.
    See Budget for addressing the above steps.

Duration: 6 months

Remote Monitoring

Using OCWA’s SCADA system, a cloud-based remote monitoring system for water and wastewater systems for Wasauksing First Nation and Nipissing First Nation will be installed and commissioned through the guidance of WBAFN.

OCWA will provide a “pilot” program consisting of two instrumentation panels to be installed and used for monitoring/controlling at the two facilities. Set-up, orientation and additional training will also be provided by OCWA. Access will be provided to WBAFN and host communities.

Work Management System

The OCWA Work Management System (WMS) has been developed specifically for water and wastewater facilities. WMS provides the framework for managing and planning work such as maintenance and operational activities and is the framework supported within CMMS. OCWA’s WMS is an asset protection program that assesses equipment according to its financial and service reliability. It is risk-based and evaluates the life expectancy and required maintenance for a piece of equipment.

OCWA will provide a “pilot” program for WBAFN that will consist of setup, orientation and assistance in the development of a maintenance program to be used for the two First Nations Communities during Phase 1. Access will be provided to WBAFN and host communities.


The WBONAG will hold monthly meetings and communicate regularly with OCWA staff to ensure the project is progressing well, on schedule and within budget. The meetings will be held in Sudbury or at various locations on a rotational basis (to provide operators the opportunity to visit other plants).

Training Plan

OCWA’s Training division will provide WBAFN operators with the legislated hours of training required for water and wastewater operators under Regulations 128/04 and 129/04. They will identify emerging training needs and coordinate, develop and deliver multi-purpose training to address WBAFN’s individual and Hub needs while complying with legislative training requirements. The training courses will be continually updated and many will be kept current in an on-line e-learning format.

OCWA has been providing training to its employees and to external participants across Ontario since 1996. OCWA is registered with the Ontario Water and Wastewater Certifications Office and provides Director-approved training courses.

Our Location:
25 West Road,
Pickerel, ON P0G 1J0
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