Water plays a critical role in our communities and in our future. As infrastructure systems age and population growth continues to flourish across the U.S., communities must be equipped with long-term, sustainable and up-to-date water solutions.

Whether it’s retrofitting an existing water treatment plant or designing a new facility, with the right tools and the right partner, you can discover cost-effective, innovative solutions for your water system.

When considering strategies for your water treatment plant, it’s important to proactively plan for one that will meet the needs of current and future generations who depend on your water services.

One approach you may consider is “piloting,” which can test specific technologies and confirm that your water system is operating efficiently. Piloting helps determine how processes will work and can help test the effectiveness of various chemicals in treating water.

Benefits of Piloting

To determine if piloting is right for your community, here are a few benefits you should consider:

Time: Time can be saved by testing for specific emergency conditions or error situations before actual operations begin. If there is an error in the system, it can be addressed before design and/or construction of the facility is complete, avoiding wasted time during startup and normal operation. In addition, with piloting you can evaluate processes during a certain month or season to see how the treatment technology is impacted by seasonal variation in the water source.

New Technologies: Using new technologies can often create uneasiness for operations staff when launching a new system. Piloting helps ease nerves by providing hands-on experience to learn how the system will work. As we enter the future, technology will continue to be a major component of our conversations. For example, piloting ozone and biofiltration processes can be useful for municipalities to manage taste and odor concerns as well as tackle emerging contaminants, creating environmentally friendly solutions.

Data Analysis: The data you compile during piloting is useful for the duration of the treatment plant’s life. The data helps to ease startup activities for a new facility as well as provide insight for chemical dosage setpoints during challenging situations (including seasonal variations in source water and emergency situations). Developing a piloting report can also provide a resource for the end user that can streamline training of new operators, verify that all team members are following the same protocols, and serve as a tool that is useful in the case of a new plant administrator or staff turnover.

The piloting process has helped many communities achieve on-time, efficient water designs and will support the efforts of building and designing sustainable water solutions for years to come.


For your next water treatment plant project, consider the advantages of using a collaborative delivery method.

Discover Collaborative Project Delivery

Emily Huth is a senior process engineer and project manager at Burns & McDonnell, based in the firm’s Denver office. She specializes in advanced water treatment facility and pump station engineering design and has performed graduate-level studies on beneficial reuse and produced water treatment. She is experienced in providing multidiscipline coordination and construction support on a wide range of projects.