24 Mar 2022, Q&A's
In 2019, Statistics Canada released national data showing that municipal wastewater systems processed 100 cubic metres per day or more of sewage — that’s equivalent to the volume of water flowing over Niagara Falls in a 24-day period.
So how do water and wastewater treatment operations keep up? Technology, of course. And with increasingly stringent regulations, that technology is constantly evolving to help protect human health and the environment.
SFC’s Philippe Laniel is a SCADA and telemetry expert with over two decades of industry experience. We asked Phil to fill in some of the details of how data collection technologies fit into today’s water and wastewater landscape. Here’s what he had to say:
Water resources, along with water and wastewater network systems, are constantly challenged by emerging regulations, rapid technology change and industrial shifts in accepted best practices. Integrated SCADA and telemetry solutions will go beyond addressing the most challenging remote monitoring and control applications and help efficiently manage and operate secure and reliable water infrastructure.
Initially, some 20 years ago, most of the telemetry and SCADA equipment we were selling — mainly RTUs — were seen as a lower cost alternative to conventional PLCs. They were simply used as another controller on applications like sewage pumping or clean water booster stations.
Over time, with environmental regulations and the obligation to monitor and report critical data impacting the environment and our health as a society, we’ve seen our SCADA and telemetry solutions used on an increasing number of projects related to data collection for critical information. The number of applications related to drinking water quality monitoring in the distribution network, sanitary sewage overflow monitoring and district metering areas (DMA) applications have shown a pretty steady growth in recent years.
As a result, our SCADAPack RTUs and EcoStruxure Geo SCADA Expert (formerly ClearSCADA) have been repositioned in the applications where they shine best and offer their best value — reliable communications and data collections on remote applications and wireless communication infrastructures (UHF, VHF, license-free or 4G/5G cellular).
DMA applications would be a very good example of how a reliable data collection system can contribute to water conservation efforts. DMA applications are often first seen as a tool that allows municipalities to achieve financial targets, either related to invoicing or asset maintenance and optimization. A good, efficient and reliable DMA application can also be used to detect leakage on the sanitary sewage network — preventing potentially dramatic environmental incidents.
An efficient DMA application on the drinking water distribution network provides the ability to inform big consumers about their water consumption, eventually invoicing them based on their consumption. It also allows municipalities to detect problematic areas of their network where they have leakage — allowing them to be proactive, fix their leaks and avoid wasting great quantities of good drinking water by losing it underground.