In my travels, I meet many enthusiastic men and women who aim to help their clients enjoy a better lifestyle by improving the water that they use for work, play and the necessities of life.
While many dealers only work in Municipal water applications, there is an ever-growing number of rural treatment opportunities. A troubling trend that I see in rural project management is dealers who don’t help their clients properly due to poor implementation of technologies, improper equipment sizing, or inadequate maintenance. Rural water treatment is enjoyable and rewarding when you do it right. You owe it to yourself and your clients to learn how to do the very best job you can. Allow me to share four concepts that will help you with rural water quality management projects:
Knowledge is power
Read magazines like this, join regional and national trade associations, go to the regional and national tradeshows, and of course sign up for the WQA’s Modular Education Program (MEP). Learn everything you can about water and the methods available to improve it. Be smart enough to realize there’s always someone who can teach you something. The more you learn, the better you can help your clients.
Measure twice, cut once
When a prospective client contacts you to solve their rural water problems, the more data you have, the better job you can do. After the initial conversation with your client, schedule a site survey to gather the data you need. Selling water quality solutions without a site survey is like buying clothes by mail-order; things don’t always fit the way you expect them to. It is quite appropriate and reasonable to charge for the site survey. When visiting the job site, pay attention to what you see and hear. If you see massive iron staining on the sidewalk, chances are good that there might be iron in the water, whether the client complains about it or not. Listen to what the client tells you about how their lifestyle is been affected by their water and what they want fixed. Take notes as you go, these are the foundation of the case file for the project. Pay attention to the interaction of the water with toilet tanks, drains, shower stalls and other points of use. If the water looks, smells, or tastes funny, there obviously has to be a reason. You should always gather the following information:-
- Water source (type, location, protection, depth etc.)
- Influent pressure and temperature
- Peak water flowrate available to the water treatment system and downstream users
- Drainage availability and capacity
- Influent water pipe size and material
- Space available for the system
- Electrical power available for system
- Dimensions of doorways and other entry-ways
- Peak flow demand of the facility being treated
- Daily water consumption habits
- Client’s perception of water quality issue to be treated
- Water chemistry
Water chemistry is critically important, and you should never rely on someone else’s data. Always test yourself, or draw your own samples for third-party analysis. You need to know what is in the water before you can treat it properly.
Naturally, testing requirements will vary based on the problem that you’re addressing, but always test for the following, at a minimum:
- Total hardness
- Total alkalinity
- Total dissolved solids (TDS)
While not all contaminants in water are problems, their presence can often interfere with a treatment technology’s effectiveness or longevity.
Don’t be shy to perform BART tests for IRB (iron-related bacteria), SRB (sulfur-related bacteria) and slime-forming bacteria; they are increasingly prevalent in groundwater supplies and can cause complications if not properly identified and addressed. Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to choose a solution that accomplishes three goals:
- It fixes your client’s problem
- It is affordable and reliable
- It is simple to install and service
This is where your relationship with a qualified equipment vendor is important, since they can help you in sizing and selecting while drawing from their own real-world experience. Choose your vendor(s) wisely; your reputation and bottom-line are at stake. Quality and support are always worth the extra cost.
Install for the next guy
Once you have decided on the treatment solution, and your client has made the requisite financial commitment, it’s time to install and start-up the system. Have you ever gone to do a maintenance/service call on a system and just sighed, because whoever installed it made your life unnecessarily difficult or complicated? Of course you have, that’s why you’re reading this article. You should carefully consider future service and replacement of components and consumables when planning your equipment and piping layout. Allow enough room for access to fill ports, support and anchor plumbing properly and allow room for removal of filter sumps or UV lamps and sleeves. A little extra time and material at the time of installation will save countless hours of frustration later. Make sure that all manufacturers’ installation instructions are followed in accordance with prevailing plumbing code(s). The system should be pressurized and conditioned properly before bringing it online. A number of treatment technologies require gradual hydration of conditioning media or specific regeneration steps before being placed into service. Don’t ignore or shortcut the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines; they are often the difference between success and failure.
A key step that many installers forget is the rinsing and sanitization of household plumbing and appliances (like the water heater) after start-up. A proper rinse and disinfection will minimize callbacks and provide your client with the very best water as quickly as possible. Always clean up your installation, teach your client about the care and feeding of the system, register the warranty and leave them to enjoy their higher standard of water.
Service what you sell
There are still dealers out there who take the money and run. Don’t ever be that guy. Your client has invested in you and your company to solve their problems permanently, not just today. They want a lifetime service-based relationship, and you should want to be there for them. Your preventative maintenance program is key to keeping clients happy and supporting your dealership. Be sure to stock wear-components and consumables so that you are ready when your client needs you. Answer your phone and respond to online messages, so that your clients can have the peace of mind knowing that they have a true professional taking care of their water.