Water System Monitoring

Effective operation of a water system includes monitoring various operating data, and use of that data to adjust operation, to troubleshoot and to indicate alert conditions. Data can also be archived and analysed and the results used to make improvements. For example you need to monitor trends in water consumption to know if your water source will be adequate in the future; and even to find out if you have leaks in the distribution system.

Benefits of Automated Monitoring

Monitoring can be automated using computer and communications technology. Effective monitoring can:

  • Help protect the safety of your customers and the security of your water supply
  • Demonstrate that you apply best management practice
  • Be an important part of you risk management strategy
  • Respond to increased focus by regulators.

 Many larger water supply systems in BC monitor operational parameters such as flow rate and pressure using a SCADA (Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition) system. A SCADA system can help a water system to save time and money. For example it may enable a reduction in the number of site visits by staff for inspection, adjustments and data collection. SCADA enables monitoring of operations in real time; the technology can auto-generate reports, support modifications to the system, and help trouble-shooting activities. SCADA systems are able to make immediate adjustments in system operation, so they can increase the useful life of equipment and save on the need for costly repairs. And the auto-generated reporting system helps compliance with regulatory requirements.

However the typical SCADA software system can be complicated and expensive to install, configure and operate. This may make it difficult for smaller community water systems to use this technology.

 A Solution for Community Water Suppliers

With these considerations in mind the Sustainable infrastructure Society (SIS) is working with an Industry Partner to create a new automated monitoring service (AMS) for community water suppliers. This new monitoring service connects to your water system over the Internet and delivers multi-level secure, real-time data to you on any computer with Internet access.

Unlike traditional SCADA systems our automated monitoring service is accessible from any location, giving operators much more flexibility. Whether in the works yard, at home, or on the road, real-time data is available to authorized users. There is no limit on the number of users who can access the data, and no limit on the number of authorized computers that connect to the data at any given time. The service is professionally managed and maintained by an experienced Industry Partner, data is systematically secured and backed-up, and the system is regularly upgraded.

Extensive Features

The features of the AMS are extensive, and the service is flexible and can be altered quickly as needed. For example, if a new flow meter is installed by you on a pipeline, the monitoring data can be easily integrated into the AMS, usually within a day or two after physical installation of the meter. As soon as the change is incorporated by the AMS service provider, the new data is immediately available to you without the need to install or update any software on your computers.

Another key feature of the AMS is the ability to signal alerts. Based on parameters established by your operator, alarm conditions will trigger alerts that get to the right people at the right time. The AMS can alert operators by email or text message (SMS) to a cellular phone. The schedule of operators can be designed into the system so that certain operators, or a contractor, are alerted at different time of the day or week, or they can be informed based on the location or type of alarm condition. In addition, operators can use their smart phones to view some or all of water system using dedicated applications. This feature alone brings substantial benefits.

The data collection and storage capabilities of the AMS are substantial. There is virtually no limit to the amount of data that can be stored. Data point storage resolutions of as little as one minute will provide ultra-high graphing and trending. Tank levels, pressure levels, flow information, turbidity levels, and other parameters in the system can be used to generate highly customizable reports that can be used by you in their native format for a wide variety of purposes, including reports to management regulators.

 Flexible Service Delivery

The Automated Monitoring Service (AMS) has been developed to recognize the varying characteristics of the monitoring equipment currently in place in community water systems. Managers and operators can select the configuration of the AMS that meets their technical needs.

The terms of service can also be varied to recognize the variety of financial circumstances to be found in community water suppliers. Typically the service can be provided to a community water supply system for an affordable monthly fee. The water supply system may also need to make an initial capital investment in upgrading certain monitoring equipment prior to start of the AMS operation.  

For more information, please contact SIS

More About SCADA Technology



More about SCADA (on new web page)

SCADA is an acronym for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. SCADA technology is used in managing automated industrial operations, water systems and other facilities. A SCADA system consists of an HMI (human machine interface) which could be several miles away from the site of operations, and one or several remote terminals close to the site of operations. The remote terminals – commonly referred to as RTU’s – send data to the HMI which monitors and manages this data. Communication devices, a user interface and the software to make it all work together area also part of the SCADA system.

By far the largest single cost of any SCADA system is the HMI. The HMI serves as the “central nervous system” of every SCADA system. This is generally a complex computer system with  proprietary software and complicated programming that interfaces with every device in the network. Typically, the HMI software needs to be maintained and upgraded as technology evolves. Another drawback of the conventional SCADA installation is that HMI software is generally sold based on two parameters; first, the number of I/O points in the system; and second, the number of computers needed in the system to display the data. It is not uncommon for even a small system to make an investment of $25,000 to $50,000 just to get a “starter” system in place and running.

The RTU’s are connected to the various parts of the system that need to be monitored. These include pumps, valves, tank levels, pressure sensors, flow meters, as well as various quality sensors, such as turbidity sensors. The values and/or status of all of these data points are brought to the HMI and displayed on the operators screen, giving a complete overview of every aspect of the entire system.

Often, the RTU is connected to a PLC (programmable logic controller) that takes digital and analog input data, and generates digital and analog output, thereby providing automatic system operation. Quite often, the PLC can also act as the RTU when appropriate communication ports and protocols permit. (Most PLC’s installed in the past 15 years have such capability.) Using various forms of communication, such as leased line telephone systems, auto-dialers, and radio networks, the HMI communicates with each PLC and/or RTU in the network.


Parameters to be Monitored

Parameters to be monitored in a typical small water system may include the following:

  • Turbidity of surface water sources
  • Water levels in wells & reservoir levels
  • Temperature & pH
  • Pump runtimes
  • Water flow rate at points in the system
  • Pressure at points in the system
  • Chlorine dosage rate
  • Chlorine concentration
  • Consumption of chemical additives
  • UV transmittance
  • Other water quality parameters
  • Status of any pending alarms

Using Monitoring Information

In addition to monitoring the real time values of key parameters you should keep accurate records of historical values, and include a means for convenient analysis of trends and variations. You will also want to easily display parameter values and trends for review by your operator, by regulators and possibly by your customers. It is important also that you receive notification when parameter values exceed set points, indicating that there may be a problem with your water system.

For more information: Contact SIS