Aerobe & RobustSynopsis: Wastewater treatment systems’ performance depends on proper sampling by a maintenance provider.

Application: Bio-Microbics details proper sampling procedure in its FAST® systems, along with links state-specific sampling regulations on its Industry Links page.

Before Robust could respond to the insistent buzz coming from the TRACK® monitor on his belt, an urgent voiced paged him, “Robust, you’re needed immediately in regulatory.”

“Something’s definitely up,” he said to himself. He set down the SaniTEE® wastewater screen that he was getting ready to pack for the next shipment and zoomed toward the front of the building.

A familiar, good-natured chant of “Blur speed! Blur speed!” rose from the folks in shipping. While Robust was a familiar sight in all areas of Bio-Microbics, his colleagues never tired of watching—and cheering on—his unique abilities.

He found his coworker Abby pacing at the entrance to the regulatory department. She explained solemnly, “We’ve got a critical case down in southwestern United States. A WWCSI—you know, a wastewater crime scene investigation—was conducted by the DEP and they found a few sites that were releasing untreated wastewater into community reservoirs. These sites need our wastewater treatment systems immediately.”

She continued, “Fortunately, one of our distributors has been contacted by a contractor, Jackson Froth, who is taking on these cases. Although Jackson is ready to integrate our FAST® Wastewater Treatment Systems into the different sites, he needs to be trained in our sampling procedures before he can proceed. Strap on your extra large jet pack, Robust, because you are heading to the desert!”

“I’ve been hoping to get to the desert one of these days,” Robust responded enthusiastically. “Maybe I’ll have some time to explore while I’m there.”

“You’ll love it,” Abby replied, “Just be sure to take along plenty of wa–.“

She stopped as soon as she realized what she was saying and they both laughed. Robust was familiar with every aspect of water except drinking it. His robotic physiology didn’t require hydration.

Robust swiftly collected the necessary items from inventory that he would need for training. Soon his pack was filled with certified laboratory sample bottles, dissolved oxygen and pH meters, logbook, cooler, thermometer, garden hose, a chain-of-custody sheet, cleaning brush, sludge measurement device, disinfectant, and safety wear. He set his coordinates for the wastewater treatment system test site where he was to meet Jackson, gave a friendly wave to his coworkers, and was out of sight before a single “Blur speed!” could escape their lips.

“Hello there!” Robust greeted Jackson as he descended down onto the test site, “You must be Jackson. My name is Robust and I am here to train you.”

Jackson looked up in surprise and then grinned widely, “I was told you’d be dropping by soon, but I didn’t realize they meant it literally. Great to meet you.”

He shook Robust’s bionic hand. “Thank you so much for coming on such short notice. This job is a bit of a challenge, to say the least. I had heard about your FAST® system through some customer referrals. Then when I researched your company, I was impressed by the low-maintenance requirements of the systems and by your support network.”

“That’s good to hear! And we look forward to doing business with you, too,” Robust said with a smile. “So, let’s get started on training you in sampling procedures. The sooner we finish, the sooner you will be qualified to operate and maintain our systems according to state regulations. And the sooner your friends at the DEP will be smiling again.”

“That would be great. We have a saying around here: ‘If the DEP ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’ But, if you don’t mind my asking, why does your company require this certification?” Jackson inquired.

“Actually, this training depends upon state and county regulations. Your territory does require you to be trained and qualified to maintain our systems. You were right, we do design them to be as low maintenance as possible, but we also know how critical proper testing and analysis are to keeping them that way. Regular routine testing assures you—and us—that our plants are performing to their design specs. That’s why we put a priority on these training opportunities. The amount and frequency of testing required depends upon the area of installation and the specific type of wastewater treatment system,” Robust answered.

“So, shall we begin?” Robust inquired.

Jackson nodded, “Ready when you are!”

Robust opened his backpack to reveal the array of tools and began explaining their use, “To sample a specific site, you will need a sample bottle that contains a preservative to test for TKN and ammonia concentrations, along with another sample bottle for nitrite (NO2) and nitrate (NO3), a sample bottle for BOD and TSS, and one final bottle for the sample to be tested for pH. This means that for each water type that you test, you will need at least four bottles along with the rest of these tools. I will explain their function as they pertain to each procedure.”

Robust began a step-by-step tutorial with Jackson following intently. Finally, Robust began closing up his backpack and turned to Jackson, handing him his business card, “That pretty well covers it. You can always refer to the Bio-Microbics service manual for testing information and please feel to call us with any questions. But now you’re probably ready for a meal break and I have a desert to explore.”

Jackson replied, “Normally I tell desert visitors to stay hydrated, but in your case, I’ll simply say ‘enjoy the adventure.’ Seriously, though, I really appreciate your taking the time to bring me up to speed on the testing protocols.”

Robust gave Jackson a hearty robotic handshake. Jackson tucked the business card in his wallet and when he looked up, Robust was a shimmering blur in the distance.

Just as the setting sun was painting the desert sky in deep purple and gold hues, a couple in hiking gear, Jana and Rafer Gibson, returned to a small rustic lodge near a desert trailhead that had become a favorite base camp for hikers. The innkeeper looked up from the desk and gave them a smile, “Enjoy your time in the desert?”

The couple hesitated for a moment, looked at each other, and Jana began to speak, “This may sound awfully silly, but—“

“We think we just saw a mirage,” Rafe added.

“It was sort of silver,” Jana said.

“Yeah, and blue. And it seemed to hover over the dunes.”

“But before we could get our camera out, it was gone in a shimmer of light.”

“So it must have been a mirage. Right?”