Collection systems play a critical role in public health. Aging underground sanitary and combined sewer systems are prone to infiltration, inflow, and stormwater runoff, while lift stations are overwhelmed by a rise in personal care wipes which wreak havoc on the pumps. As regulatory frameworks become more stringent, agency staff must do more to maintain compliance.
The rise in IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) technology makes it possible to combine remote sensors and cellular communications with the power of cloud computing. Cloud-based SCADA systems allow operators to monitor conditions, receive alarms, control equipment, and view data and trends. We will examine case studies from two agencies that have used cloud-based SCADA to improve their operations and lower the risks of overflows.
Concerned about excessive false alarms from an auto-dialer system, a Southern California Community Services District turned to a cloud-based SCADA system in an effort to gain better visibility into the system and reduce overtime callouts. The cloud-based system allowed them to monitor wet well levels, pump statuses, and AC power remotely from their mobile phones and tablets. The District gained greater visibility by integrating their remote sewer level data into the cloud-based SCADA platform’s user interface. Gaining insight into pump run times before, during, and after rain events enabled District staff to visualize the impacts of inflow and infiltration on their system. The upstream sewer water level data also gave the staff a heads-up in terms of the downstream impacts on the wet wells and lift stations during storm events.
Another Community Services District used a cloud-based SCADA system to calculate the volume of raw sewage they were delivering to a neighboring agency for treatment to reconcile service fees. The system provided district staff with alarms during a power outage when malfunctioning equipment threatened to overflow a lift station. The high water and loss of power alarms received via SMS text and email-enabled staff to get generator power up and running to avoid an overflow event.
Much like a crystal ball, cloud-based SCADA systems allow operators can monitor conditions remotely and take proactive measures to maintain their systems.