Post COVID Restarts are Tough on Resort Water Treatment Plants

In 2020, COVID-19 shutdown drastically affected resorts across the country. With no guests staying at resorts using bathrooms and resort facilities like the pool, water and sewage, treatment plants were left mothballed and on restart severely compromised. Water treatment plants left to run slowly or in mothball on restart typically are in need of partial refits and can struggle to keep up with demand when resorts were eventually re-opened to guests.


In one particular case, an island resort’s desalination plant, normally relied on for potable water, struggled to produce enough flow and remove all the salt. The plant was struggling and presented a major risk of disgruntled guests.


Simmonds & Bristow’s O&M team, Chief Water Engineer and Senior Plumber were deployed to assess and solve the issue.


Assessment of the desalination plant revealed the membranes had been compromised resulting in loss of capacity and physical water quality. Replacing the plants membranes was deemed to be the simple and practical solution. This is normally a delicate but straight forward 4-6 hour job, a task the Simmonds & Bristow team was more than capable of.


However, it soon became apparent on day one that end caps & retainers on either end of the membrane vessel had succumbed to pressure distortion and corrosion from the high pressure, saline environment and wear and tear, making removal of these caps extremely difficult.


A long lead time to obtain entire new membrane vessels posed a further risk of significant delay that could result in evacuation of the entire island’s guests and staff and weeks of the island having no inhabitants. So, destroying the membrane housing whilst removing the end caps was not an option to the Simmonds & Bristow team.


A careful, risk-base approach was applied to removing the end caps. This included careful preparation and smoothing of surfaces to loosen the caps. Over a day and a night, all possible (including all the usual techniques and remedies) avenues to remove the end caps were exhausted. The team weighed up risks versus benefits to the client’s business and made the decision to remove the end caps using a bespoke design end cap remover.


Day 3 saw a Fabricator arrive by helicopter, with additional tools, to build the extractor to methodically but forcibly remove the end caps from the distorted housing. This was a success, and the membranes were then able to be removed and replaced and the end caps refitted.


The water treatment plant was fully commissioned and operational within a few of hours following. Guest were not disturbed thanks to the planned barging of water into the water supply tanks across the plant shut down period. The RO system with new membrane elements were all correctly installed and documented. Critical environmental values were also upheld and maintained during this process.


The taste and quality of the water on the island improved dramatically very quickly, so guests were able to enjoy clean, potable water once again.


The client was relieved that the Simmonds & Bristow team was able to restore the plant to its original design flow without causing a major disruption to guests and business operations.


The resort’s Maintenance team was also heavily involved in the work, and our thanks to them for all the critical help they provided for the successful membrane change out.


Simmonds & Bristow provide a fully supported Turn Key service to comprehensively manage, operate and maintain site water systems, including drinking water, sewage, stormwater and trade waste systems. Our focus is proactive and preventative to ensure continual improvement to our clients’ maintenance and treatment systems.