Lean meets Drinking Water
By Jason Turgeon:
Drinking water and wastewater treatment are the two crowning achievements in public health for our species–arguably more important than vaccines and antibiotics. We tend not to think about these plants until something goes wrong, which is fortunately not very often here in the US. But just because our water infrastructure tends to stay out of the news doesn't mean there's not plenty of room for Lean.
A story brought to me by my subscription to the SafeDrinkingWater.com newsletter this week illustrates my point nicely.
Where was the Lean approach in Arizona?
Operator error is blamed for a malfunction in January at a plant owned and operated by the Arizona American Water Co. that treats groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, a suspected cancer-causing chemical.
That is the conclusion of an investigation conducted for Motorola Inc. and other companies that were the source of the TCE contamination decades ago. The companies are paying for cleanup of the contaminated groundwater, including the treatment facility.
A separate investigation done for Arizona American concluded that the plant's systems and components were not designed or operated in an optimal manner.
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- Wegman's Cuts Wasted Energy and Costs, not "Wasted" Time Serving Customers - December 18, 2008
- Amazon's "Frustration-Free Packaging is Lean and Green - November 12, 2008
- Three Formal Efforts Tie Lean and Green Together - October 9, 2008
We may learn from the case above, that human error is very common in such tragedy. Water treatment plant is vital for all living things in this world, human beings and environments.