Symposium Plant Tour – August 5, 2014 – RSVP Required

PolkCounty-Plant AerialAs part of the symposium, attendees will have the option of attending a Tour of the Polk County Northeast Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The tour takes place in the late-afternoon of Tues, Aug 5, 2014 (3:45pm to 6:00pm) and requires prior-sign-up.  Transportation to/from the hotel is provided. The bus leaves the hotel lobby at 3:30pm. Invitations will be sent to registered symposium attendees 3 weeks prior to the tour.  Space on the tour is limited, and attendees must sign-up beforehand. Inquiries about the tour can be sent to our volunteer symposium tour coordinator Bryan Sinkler.

Symposium attendees are invited to tour the Polk County Northeast Regional Water Reclamation Facility. The Northeast region wastewater treatment facility NER WWTF is the newest and largest regional plant currently in Polk County. The original plant was constructed in 2001 with a capacity of 2 mgd. In 2012 the facility was expanded to a 6 mgd facility with a build out capacity of 9 mgd. The facility is a state of the art BNR/Oxidation Ditch treatment facility consisting of the following: an influent lift station, a screening structure (with two mechanical perforated plate screens, one manual bar screen, one biological nutrient removal tank (with grit removal and flow equalization capability) of 3.5 million gallons, two oxidation ditch aeration basins, three clarifiers, a standby polymer feed system, four deep bed filters, six chlorine contact chambers, ten aerobic digesters, two screw presses, and a docking area for a mobile sludge centrifuge. Also included is a RAS/WAS pump station with three pumps and a blower building with five positive displacement blowers. This plant is operated to meet secondary treatment with high level disinfection and meets Class I reliability.

Tour attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the plant’s treatment process and its fully automated control system. Major pieces of equipment will be explained, and insight will be offered as to how the plant’s automated control system works. The tour will comprise of a walking tour where attendees will have the chance to “walk through the process.”  In addition to walking through the plant, attendees will also have the opportunity to see the plant’s central control room and see how the operators use the plant’s SCADA system to remotely control the various parts of the plant. Hosted by the PCU’s Northeast Regional WWTF Supervisor, the tour will give symposium attendees a glimpse into the facility’s extensive instrumentation and SCADA control system which provides continuous monitoring of the plant processes and data collection to maintain compliance with regulatory agencies.

PolkCounty-HMI Screen of HeadworksThe plant has a fully automated control system consisting of redundant iFIX HMI servers with Historian and terminal server based clients communicating to distributed Siemens PLCs over a fiber optic Profibus DP network.  Instrumentation and valve actuators at the plant are “smart” type having Profibus DP and PA communications back to the system PLCs to provide additional data to the control system.  This facility also utilizes WiFi hotspots throughout the plant to provide operations staff access to the SCADA system while working out in the plant environment.  Additionally, the facility has an integrated Electronic Security System allowing viewing of CCTV cameras and gate controls from the operations building.  Other County systems can also be viewed from the operations building across the County Wide Area Network.


Chuck Nichols is the NE Regional Supervisor for the Polk County Utilities Northeast Wastewater Treatment Facility. The NE facility just completed a multimillion dollar upgrade taking the plant from 2 mgd oxidation ditch process to a 6 mgd Biological Nutrient Removal process with flow equalization. Mr. Nichols has co-authored a publication in the Florida Water Resources Journal called “Starting Up an Underloaded Biological Nutrient Removal Process”. Mr. Nichols holds a state of Florida class A wastewater license and a class B water and class 2 wastewater license from the state of Illinois. Chuck has been involved in the water, wastewater & reclaimed water industry for approximately 38 years. He is an active member of the Region X Florida Water & Pollution Control Operators Association and is currently the webmaster for the region.

Note: Please do not contact Mr. Nichols directly for any tour inquiries.  Instead, please direct all questions about the tour to our symposium tour coordinator Bryan Sinkler at .


Polk County Utilities Department provides water, wastewater and solid waste services to the unincorporated areas of Polk County, Florida. Polk County has a population of over 600,000 citizens and spans over 2,000 square miles, nestled centrally between Orlando and Tampa.  Polk County operates 4 regional Water Reclamation Facilities, 60 Water Production Facilities and over 300 lift stations.

Bus transportation for the tour is kindly being provided by Schneider Electric.

About Kevin Patel

2016 Water/Wastewater Industry Division Director ---- Kevin Patel, PE, MBA is an automation engineer and partner at Signature Automation, which is an automation engineering firm that focuses on system integration, data visualization, and SCADA planning. Signature Automation's core market is within water and wastewater. Contact Kevin Patel at: