Critical role for the Internet of Things in wastewater
Nowhere is the need to adopt new emerging technologies like the internet of things (IoT), cloud-based virtualisation, and data modeling more necessary than in the wastewater area.
The physical and 24/7 temporal demands placed on wastewater treatment facilities’ personnel are putting safety, health, and quality at risk.
No one can forget the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; imaging that was seeping sewage and suddenly the critical role of trained and certified operators at wastewater treatment facilities becomes abundantly clear. From overseeing pipe leaks and vales to electrical and instrumentation equipment, these individuals cannot be overlooked, says Naeem Ismat, Industrial Applications specialist; Operational Technology expert; and founder of AutomationMedia.com
That said, like all industries, the new automation technologies found in global manufacturing facilities are finding their way into the wastewater plants. While there will always be a need for the physical presence of staff to be responsible for the overseeing of activities at treatment facilities, operator management can account for up to 30% of the operational costs of a wastewater treatment plant. Emerging technologies are utilising the benefits of automation which reduces the requirement of operator engagement.
Implementation of these new technological advances are coming in part due to regulatory requirements and compliance. The European Water Framework Directive is aiming to increase the standards of nitrogen and phosphorus removal and change the regulations around sludge disposal. The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has established Effluent Guidelines; national regulatory standards for wastewater discharged to surface waters and municipal sewage treatment plants. EPA issues these regulations for industrial categories, based on the performance of treatment and control technologies.
To develop Effluent Guidelines, EPA and other similar regulatory agencies worldwide first gather information on industry practices, characteristics of discharges (such as pollutants, flow variability, and stormwater.)
This is when technologies or practices used to prevent or treat the discharge are evaluated including economic characteristics. Both agencies and consulting organisation identify the best available technology that is economically achievable for that industry and sets regulatory requirements based on the performance of that technology. Regulations require facilities to achieve the regulatory standards which were developed based on a particular model technology.
One example of wastewater IoT
At the city waterworks in South Beloit, IL, the operators simply wanted to upgrade the remote monitoring of the flow meters on their digesters. They did not tear their entire system apart; they simply replaced their ageing 900 mHz radios with wireless IoT nodes. The new IoT tech was more cost effective and more reliable, and it was very easy to deploy. Meanwhile, the rest of their network continued to function as usual.
The author of this blog is Naeem Ismat, Industrial Applications Specialist; Operational Technology expert; and founder of AutomationMedia.com
Naeem Ismat, Industrial Applications Specialist; Operational Technology expert; and founder of AutomationMedia.com, is an industrial applications specialist with solid experience and proven track record of many challenging projects in multiple industry verticals. Naeem is an industrial technology enthusiast and has helped many customers to minimise downtime for maximising satisfaction to achieve strategic business needs.
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