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Identifying a Cost-Effective Wastewater Treatment Plant Monitoring System

wastewater treatment plant monitoring

There's a reason why stories about the water in Flint draw so much attention. Especially in America, in the 21st century, people expect clean water. They expect basic sanitation. And, they expect clean water to flow through the taps.

This clean, disease-free water is staggeringly new in human history, and that advancement is created by modern wastewater treatment plants. It's not a stretch to say that water sanitation is what allows modern society to flourish. But while many of us take water for granted, people who run wastewater treatment plants are keenly aware of the work it takes to keep them running.

These are enormous, interconnected systems, employing everything from reverse osmosis to UV sanitization to basic filtering. That's a lot of moving parts, and they all have to work right.

If you're in charge of making sure things go right at a wastewater treatment monitoring plant, you are probably thinking about remote monitoring systems. These systems let you know what is happening at your plant, pump stations, and treatment operations, alerting you if anything is going wrong, so you can fix the problem before it goes public.

You need a cost-effective system that works. By partnering with a wastewater treatment plant monitoring system provider that helps you install and implement the right system, you'll save money, solve problems, and get a great return on your investment. It'll keep your books in order while keeping the water clean.

What a Wastewater Treatment Plant Monitoring System Protects

If you were asked how a wastewater treatment plant worked, your answer wouldn't just be "it cleans water." That's far too simple. These are extremely complex operations, and they require an enormous amount of machinery and systems to work together.

These all have a cascading impact on one another, so it is important to monitor everything. Some of the things you can monitor with a proper system include:

Water Cleaning Technology

This is obviously the heart of your plant and the reason it works. A monitoring system can help you keep an eye on the function of:

  • Ultrafiltration systems
  • Vacuum evaporation and distillation systems
  • Reverse osmosis systems
  • Paper bed filters
  • Solid bowl centrifuges
  • Tramp oil separators
  • Vacuum filters

All of these systems contain many sensitive parts and are under constant stress. Water, as you know, is a relentless force, causing rust, erosion, and breakdown. It doesn't stop, which means you always have to work to stay ahead of it. If parts start to break down, you need to understand what, where, when, and why.

Electrical and Communication Systems

All of these parts need to communicate with each other, and with the main system. This is largely an automated process, and it has to be - you have a 24/7 type of operation, bringing in water from whatever area you cover and sending it back out to the right places.

These electronics are sensitive to heat, water, and whatever is in the water. Wastewater, in particular, is incredibly damaging to electronics. And if they go out, the whole system gets shut down.

Stormwater Monitoring

We talk all the time about electrical plants being overwhelmed by a "surge" - like when everyone suddenly turns on their air conditioners. Water treatment plants are just as vulnerable to surges, and for reasons they can't control like: storms.

When huge storms fill sewers, wastewater treatment plants take the brunt of it. They have to know when to divert water into tunnels or reservoirs, or else it could easily break the system or release unsafe water.

That means that plant technicians need to know what is happening at all times in their tunnels. The way to do that is with discrete or analog inputs on remote telemetry units (RTUs). We'll take a look at how one monitoring system could work in your wastewater treatment plant.

How a SCADA System Works in Wastewater Plants

What a wastewater treatment plant needs is a SCADA system. SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, and if you're a technician or a manager, you want data from everywhere in your plant and in the field, and you want control over how that data is used.

So, a SCADA system, at its most basic, is composed of those RTUs and a control unit, known as a master. The RTUs send information to the master, which is programmed to take action if something is going wrong.

This action consists of a few types, including:

  • Sending out more "asks" for more information to get a full picture
  • Sending text or email alerts to relevant parties
  • Automating solutions

Let's look at how this works in practice.

We'll say that you have a series of sensors in your tunnels. These are programmed to send alerts when the water starts getting higher. So one day, it was raining pretty heavily (that's right, our story starts on a dark and stormy night).

  1. When the water in one tunnel gets to a certain point, it sends an alert to the master.
  2. The master then sends out queries to other points in the tunnel to see if this is an anomaly or if the system is at risk.
  3. It receives replies and learns that all the tunnels are being flooded.
  4. It sends out text messages to plant managers and technicians alerting them that there is a potential problem.
  5. At the same time, it opens up pipes leading to a reservoir to start to funnel rainwater that way.

This all happens nearly instantly.

With this information, you would have the ability to take action based on real, measurable data and actual events. You can decide what goes into the reservoir - and what doesn't. None of this takes power out of your hands or away from your intuition and expertise. What it does is automate information gathering and the critical first steps.

You can have this kind of information for any number of "events" in your system, including temperature, security, and more. You just have to be able to set it up right.

How the Right Monitoring System Saves You Money

You might be thinking that this kind of SCADA system probably costs more than if you didn't implement a system at all. Water treatment monitoring, however, can actually save you a ton of money. Here's how:

  • Parts can be fixed before they break
  • Systems can be adjusted before they are overwhelmed
  • You can prevent disasters and complete system replacement

Just as importantly, you won't be wasting time on false problems. Sending people out to fix something that isn't broken costs you time and money, and is a waste of resources. By having an eye over everything in your system, you'll preserve and conserve.

But to do that, you need the right SCADA system.

That means one that:

  • Monitors everything that needs to be monitored
  • Has the right amount of analog and discrete sensors
  • Is customized for your plant (so you don't have too much or too little)
  • Can monitor all aspects of treatment operations, pump stations, and remote stations
  • Has a master that can communicate with even your legacy equipment
  • Comes with implementation help to set up, troubleshoot RTUs, and ensure they are programmed correctly
  • Comes with training and technical support for your maximal advantage

The right wastewater treatment plant monitoring system will save you money and improve your ROI. The right partner can help you with cost-effective system implementation including free training and technical support.

Working together, you'll be able to give the public the greatest gift of all: never having to think about whether or not the water is clean.

DPS Telecom has the experience and expertise to help companies monitor what matters most - including their costs. Our technicians can work with you to install RTUs with easy-to-use interfaces for more automatic responses. Reach out and get a quote today!

Image courtesy Shutterstock

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