Peter Christou of Chimo Water & Wastewater Services Ltd. writes about his experience in the Antartica.
I had no idea what to expect when I was asked to go to the McMurdo Research Station to help operate the wastewater and water treatment plants. All I knew about Antarctica was mainly the horror stories about frost bite from random cataclysmic winter storms that plagued this land mass. Antarctica is not the same as what you see in movies. The reality of Antarctica is one of a thriving community with an attitude and way of life that is unique to this continent. I was able to come to McMurdo late in the summer season and began to work right away. I have a background in remote water and wastewater treatment plant servicing, performing a lot of work in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alaska. The McMurdo wastewater treatment plant was a standard extended aeration plant and the water plant was a reverse osmosis desalination plant. The water treatment plant had a lot of operational points to monitor but was very easy to operate. The wastewater treatment plant needed a bit more tweaking before the effluent improved, however the general operation of both the treatment plants was very simple but certain things needed to be optimized to ensure treatment consistency. Things went so well at McMurdo I was asked to help out at the New Zealand arctic research station called Scott base.