Efficient, precise water and wastewater management is critical to providing your community with clean, affordable water. From source to tap, and drain back to the source, the water we use every day goes through a lot of steps to ensure the water quality is consistent and in compliance with EPA regulations. 

Older water and wastewater systems required a lot of staff, time and resources to keep operations running. Now it is common to see digital networks that monitor each step of the process. Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is the standard term for computer systems that gather and analyze real-time data.

Water and wastewater management, utilities and other manufacturers use SCADA due to the control it allows system operators and the consistent data it provides. Key personnel can see where there are problems through various measurement points. 

SCADA has steadily improved over the last several decades. It took years of technological evolution to get the current data and analysis systems we see today.

SCADA’s Development

Before SCADA, industrial, utility and manufacturing operations were limited to the workers they had available to monitor and operate the equipment. As these operations grew in scale, the need for networking capabilities began to drive companies to use industrial control computers and telemetry in the 50s and 60s. As computer technology advanced, its application to the industrial fields grew as well. Microprocessors and programmable logic controllers led to better automation.

Monitoring became more sophisticated in the 80s and 90s as utilities implemented local area networks (LAN). Updated human-machine interface software became easier to read. While these systems were superior to the older tech, third-party software was difficult or impossible to integrate. 

Open-source SCADA systems finally became the norm in the 2000s and adopted modern information technology like structured query language (SQL). Now, advanced systems can be connected through secure servers to smart devices, like tablets in remote locations. These improvements make 24/7 data flow possible from across the globe. These advancements have massive implications for public services and utilities. 

SCADA in Water and Wastewater Operations

Instant access to information allows operators to make decisions and analyze data regularly rather than in segments. Digital monitoring makes the data they receive more accurate and up-to-date. 

Up-to-Date Information for Predictive Analysis and Security

Flowmeters installed in strategic locations send data to the remote terminal units, then send that data to the operators. The operators have an opportunity to see problems like leaks, overflows or chemical imbalance. Access to up-to-date information gives water operations a chance to fix these issues in advance, reducing downtime for machinery. 

Security is an ongoing priority for utility companies. For vulnerable parts of the water infrastructure, SCADA allows for connected camera systems, which are remotely accessible to give more peace of mind and security to these areas. This kind of supervision allows your staff resources to be more efficiently distributed throughout the system for repairs or support.

Automate System Functions

Some SCADA systems allow for automation, which help alleviate problems water and wastewater operators have dealt with throughout their history. While water facilities still need excellent field and plant operators, SCADA helps detect the smallest of inconsistencies. In addition to advanced problem solving, water and wastewater systems are more energy-efficient with automated systems

This scheme is crucial to wastewater treatment facilities as overflows can result in EPA regulation violations and costly fines. An automated or cloud-connected SCADA system can alert operators to make repairs or changes to manage the flow of wastewater that needs to be treated. 

Reduced Costs for Water Utilities and Consumers

SCADA can help reduce the cost of operating the water distribution or treatment plant. This is because of the data available to operators; they can see where systems need to be optimized and how to utilize the workforce. SCADA has changed the way that utilities operate by improving the way operators absorb and interact with data. 

Want to learn more about water and wastewater operations? Visit the Alliance Water Resources news page for more information. Are you looking for professional operators who know the ins and outs of the latest SCADA systems and modern methods of water treatment? Contact Alliance Water Resources today to see how we can help your community gain more control of management, operations and maintenance goals, bringing balance to your water and wastewater operations.