Wastewater Treatment Division’s Mr. Fix-it
When Stanley Caberto (left) gets a work order to fix equipment, the first question he asks is “What’s causing this equipment to break down?” – because he knows from experience that he can do more than just replace a part – he can find a permanent fix.
While it’s the treatment plants that often get the most attention, Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) has dozens of offsite facilities that need the same operations and maintenance that the plants do – including 25 regulator stations, 47 pump stations, and over 40 combined sewer outfalls and CSO treatment facilities. Offsite maintenance mechanics help keep everything running – including some pumps and process equipment that have been around since the system was formed in the 1960s – which often means creative solutions.
“These guys can’t just go down to Home Depot to get parts,” notes John Bowen, lead industrial machinist / mechanic.
Stanley installing a gear guard around the red fins on a pump.
Mechanics like Stanley often invent and machine parts they need to complete a job. Plus, because their work sites are spread out all over the system, they have to manage their time and priorities well – and often create solutions that can be done by one back and two hands.
A few of Stanley’s innovative designs:
- Made of lightweight but strong aluminum – and just big enough to fit through the door, the “Carbon Launcher” is a hopper device that funnels the carbon needed for odor control into the vessels – eliminating the need for a crane, as well as the dust that the carbon delivery dumping used to create.
- An alignment tool that can be used by one mechanic to align a heavy motor and pump within a 1000th of an inch – moving them incrementally in any direction for adjustments.
- Plexiglass gear guards and fins on pump bearings at Lake Ballinger Pump Station use the spinning motion of the shafts themselves to funnel air and cool the equipment like the blades on a fan. This “self-cooling” improvement has resulted in far fewer equipment shutdowns – which means a lot of time saved for operators.
Stanley’s work is certainly appreciated by his coworkers, who are happy that his good work is being highlighted, but also nervous that other work groups would try to recruit him away.
As for Stanley, he likes where he works. “I like that I’m not working in one place all day, the freedom I’m given to come up with solutions, and the people are like family.”