Although by no means overwhelming, clogging problems in a county prison wastewater treatment system had simply become a nuisance, and it was time to take action with new technology to solve the problem.

Chester County Prison is located about ten miles south of Chester County’s seat, West Chester, Pennsylvania. The current prison was opened in 1959, and operated under the original construction until 1983 when parts of the prison under went renovations and expansion. Chester County Prison is a multiuse complex consisting of a prison, a youth center, a pre-release/work release center, and a convalescent home.
The facility is subject to modern trash, consisting of products that manufacturers label as “flushable,” and includes baby wipes, baby diapers, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and feminine use products. While many of these items claim to be flushable or safe for sewer and septic, they will not break down like toilet paper when flushed down a toilet. Non-dispersible, they wreak havoc in collection systems, but particularly in a prison where it is also not uncommon for clothing, towels, rags, and trash to join the flow, creating a clog potential for the pumps. It is also common for the effluent to contain a high amount of candy and snack wrappers along with plastic eating utensils.
The prison also experiences periods of high flow with extended periods of low flow due to the nature of the complex–a blend of the prison, youth center, pre-release/work release center, and the convalescent home. Although a large amount of debris was being removed by the combination of a lakeside screen and a grinder, enough material was able to make its way to the pumps to cause occasional clogging problems that would be difficult for any pump to handle.

Chester County Prison has existing duplex submersibles that handle the waste generated from the prison. The pumps have performed very well, but occasionally have been subjected to clogging due to the harsh conditions in which they operate. Xylem’s Philadelphia Branch had previously provided repair services to Chester County Prison and knew the challenges of the installation.
Due to the uniqueness of the system requirements, Philadelphia Branch engineers felt that this application would be an excellent choice to test out Flygt’s new innovative Concertor technology, while simultaneously addressing the prison’s occasional clogging issues. The manufacturer’s engineers discussed with the customer how the Concertor system integrated the pump, control system, and software package into one pumping solution. The Concertor includes an algorithm that maximizes efficiency and has the ability to detect and clear potential clogs, thus maintaining high efficiency operation while eliminating the need for maintenance personal to visit the site to unclog the pumps.
Concertor combines a fully integrated control system with IE4 motor efficiency, patented Adapted N-hydraulics, and clog detection, making it easier to start up and operate, as well as allowing better regulation of the process itself and considerable cost savings.
Using a combination of advanced software functions and state-of-the-art hardware, the system senses the operating conditions of its environment and adapts the pumping performance in real time.
Due to its compact, integrated design, Concertor eliminates the need for traditional components in the cabinet such as motor protection, soft starts, and climate control equipment. This provides full process control functionality with a cabinet that can be less than half the size of the traditional one as well as only half of the investment costs.
Chester County prison has had a long and fulfilling relationship with this manufacturer. In addition to two submersible pumps, they also have another pair of centrifugal pumps outside the prison as well as control panels with level controls in both the low side and prison lift stations. With the new Concertor system, the Adaptive N-technology and algorithms that detect and handle clogs, initiate pump cleaning, and minimize energy use, were the most desirable features to county officials.

Control facility with wet well hatch covers
The Philadelphia Branch installed a prototype four-inch Concertor pump and control module into the existing lift station in August 2015. On average, the pumps run between two and three hours per day. The prototype pump was installed as the lead pump with no alternation with the lag pump only being used for high level conditions. During the one-year testing period, the lag pump ran a total of twenty-seven hours. Three times during the testing period the lag pump was used as the primary pump just to ensure that it was operating properly.
Over the course of the testing period the prototype pump exceeded the performance of the previously installed pump, which was a duplicate of the lag pump. It was found that the Concertor pump not only reduced the electrical usage, but also eliminated clogging. The test period also showed that the pumps met the four pillars of the value proposition: Efficient Asset Management, Trouble-Free Pumping, Energy Savings and Reduced Total Investment. Operating for a period of one year without clogging or call outs showed that trouble-free pumping is possible from a pump with integrated software and performance algorithms. Due to the flexibility in performance and energy minimizer functionality of the integrated pump control, results showed an 11 percent savings in energy costs compared to the previous pump. These benefits were possible utilizing the simple Concertor integrated pump package, which provides pump performance and protection in a simple package, reducing the total investment.

Wet well in pumped down state
Chester County Prison operators were impressed with the reliability of the pump and the compact design of the controls. They were also confident having electronics in the pump would not pose any issues.
The prototype pump test has proven the reliability of the integrated concept in real life conditions, solved a customer’s clogging issues, and has validated introduction of integrated intelligence to wastewater treatment. This kind of “out of the box” thinking is not unusual for the management of Chester County Prison, which has always been interested in the latest technology. Tests, such as the one conducted at Chester County Prison, are an excellent way to introduce new product and ideas into a market that is used to proven solutions and resistant to change. ◆
Xylem’s Flygt brand provides customers with a complete range of products and solutions for moving water and wastewater. They design and manufacture dry and submersible pumps and mixers, and advanced monitoring and control equipment, for use in a broad range of applications including municipal water and wastewater systems and industries such as mining, construction, aquaculture, agriculture, and many more. For more information, visit
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