How to Remove Lead from Water

Civilizations have used lead for industrial purposes for centuries. While it is a durable metal, it is also flexible at low temperatures. These characteristics were ideal for shaping everything from pipes to plates in the Roman Empire. Ingesting lead poses dangerous health risks. In children, low-level lead poisoning can cause stunted growth and learning disabilities. High concentrations of this heavy metal may result in kidney failure, high blood pressure, and cognitive issues in adults. For this reason, the 1974 Safe Drinking Act states that there is no safe level of lead in the public water supply. Therefore, industries need to understand how to remove lead from water.

Lead and Industrial Water

Many industries use lead during production processes. The metal is part of the creation of glass, ceramics, circuit boards, and batteries. Manufacturing plants often release water as a byproduct of their operations. If this water contains lead, the plant must consider the proper industrial water treatment solution for its situation.

The EPA divides water-discharging industrial plants into two categories. Direct dischargers are plants that send effluent directly into local waterways. Indirect dischargers send their water to water treatment plants. In either case, the company must decide how to remove lead from water.

Common Forms of Industrial Water Treatment

Even companies that release their water to treatment plants will typically need lower lead levels before discharging it. Factors such as initial lead levels, water temperatures, and pH levels affect the abilities of standard removal techniques. Other considerations for adopting a lead treatment solution include cost and water volume.

Precipitation

Chemical precipitation is a frequent pre-treatment for lead removal. Adding a fundamental solution to increase the pH draws some of the dissolved lead out as a precipitate. The factory can then remove the solid lead compound through sedimentation or a filtering process. While this process is relatively inexpensive, it will not altogether remove the metal. After precipitation, the industrial water will require further treatment to reach safe levels.

Adsorption

In adsorption, water flows through a substance chosen for its ability to draw out lead ions. Activated charcoal and biomass are effective solutions for pulling ionic lead out of a solution. For most industrial sites, adsorption provides an economical water treatment option. However, manufacturing processes that produce high lead levels may find frequent media changes inconvenient and expensive.

Ionic Treatment

Lead ions carry a positive charge. An ionic exchange treatment uses this property to capture the contaminant. Water streams pass over a polymer resin that contains anionic chemical groups. These negatively charged ions bind the lead. After the treatment, lead levels in the water are often low enough for safe discharge. As with adsorption, factories with high lead levels may find the cost of frequent resin renewal prohibitive.

Membrane Separation

Advances in material science have developed physical techniques for filtering lead from water. Pressurized water passes through membranes with specially designed pores. These small openings block lead ions and divert them in a separate stream. Running water through a series of membranes will reduce the lead count to acceptable levels without adding extra chemicals to the water stream. Factories that use this technique can produce clean effluent, but they will also have to deal with the reject stream with an even higher lead concentration.

Electrodialysis

As the world looks for freshwater sources, researchers have discovered new applications to desalination techniques. In electrodialysis, water enters a porous material. An electric wave then creates streams of clean water and contaminated water. The plant can discharge the treated water and collect the toxic stream for disposal. This technique is in its early stages, but it may provide another economical means for filtering lead from water.

Monitoring Industrial Water Treatment Solutions with SCADA

At High Tide Technologies, we specialize in designing and implementing SCADA solutions for water collection, treatment, and distribution systems. In an industrial setting, SCADA sensors can provide data about contaminant levels before and after treatment. This knowledge offers an advanced warning about changing a treatment’s substrate material and insight into the treatment’s effectiveness. For more information about the benefits of a SCADA system, contact us today.

Do Water Restrictions Effectively Mitigate Droughts?

The changing climate is raising concerns about local water supplies. While some regions deal with heavy rainfall and flooding, others must endure chronic drought conditions. Water restrictions are one of the first responses to a dry season. It makes sense that limiting per capita water use would stretch the water supply. However, recent research by the Alliance for Water Efficiency has raised questions about the efficacy of standard water restriction strategies.

Seasonal and Chronic Drought

In North America, the summer months often bring water shortages. Sunny days bring lower precipitation levels and higher municipal water use. Homeowners who want to maintain green lawns water them frequently, and gallons pour into swimming pools to help people stay cool.

In some parts of the country, a short rainy season leads to chronic drought conditions. Water utilities must pay careful attention to the water supply. Residents rarely see any relief from drought restrictions. Determining the most effective water conservation strategies is critical in these areas.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency looked at studies from several parts of the country. They wanted to determine if water restrictions were an effective tool for maintaining the water supply during shortages. They found that year-round restrictions tended to be less successful than seasonal strategies. If regulations are in place for too long, customers are liable to become restriction-fatigued. Conservation messages lose their ability to change habits.

However, conservation messaging and practices that last through the worst of the drought season tended to spark change among residents. They were more willing to conserve water when they knew that the restrictions would lift.

Seasonal restrictions also spur changes that lasted beyond the formal restriction period. For example, residents that install drought-free irrigation systems for their lawns and gardens will continue to use this efficient equipment at other times of the year. Installing low-flow toilets and other efficient plumbing fixtures also has a year-round benefit.

Effective Conservation Strategies

Municipalities trying to conserve water need to use an arsenal of conservation tactics to promote behavior changes. Calling for voluntary restrictions can be a helpful way of introducing an upcoming drought season. However, voluntary measures tend to be the least effective. Most people will not change their water use habits if given a choice.

Clear messaging must be part of the water restriction strategy. Residents need to know when measures go in and out of effect. They must also have clarity about municipal expectations. If the message is concrete, residents are more likely to follow the rules.

As shortages become more severe, mandatory drought restrictions will come into play. These include practices such as watering lawns every other day as well as per capita restrictions. The compulsory level is where seasonal strategies have an advantage over year-round strategies. People are willing to endure the inconvenience for a limited time.

Some of the most effective water conservation strategies are those that affect residents in their wallets. The ability to assess drought surcharges provides greater authority to conservation messaging. When breaking the rules costs money, people pay more attention. 

Some municipalities are experimenting with financial incentives for water conservation efforts. Rather than punishing people for exceeding their water allotment, they reward those who use less water than allowed. Other incentives include rebates for upgrading to more efficient plumbing fixtures or drought-free irrigation equipment.

SCADA and Municipal Water Management

In regions that are prone to drought, monitoring municipal water use is a necessity. At High Tide Technologies, we specialize in SCADA systems that provide real-time information about municipal water distribution networks. A well-monitored system lets utilities in sensitive areas prevent water loss through leakage by improving maintenance and addressing problems quickly. When municipalities design their systems for water conservation, it makes it easier for residents to do their part. For more information about the benefits of a cloud-based SCADA system, contact us today.

Iridium Satellite and SCADA System Communication

Monitoring the performance of a complex utility system requires reliable communication. It may be possible to work with a local wireless network or cellular network for smaller areas. However, these solutions may not provide sufficient coverage for larger systems. For reliable communication and real-time monitoring, many organizations look to the heavens for solutions enabled by satellite technology.

Real-Time Monitoring with a SCADA System

A supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is a tool for monitoring and controlling a complex system from a single location. These systems began in industrial settings where sensors sent information to a central terminal. Managers could see the system’s current status and address problems quickly. At this point, communication was confined to a local network.

As information technology improved, the possibilities for effective SCADA systems increased. Cellular networks allowed data to flow from sensors over long distances. Utility companies could monitor larger systems like a water distribution network. Empowered by SCADA technology, they could send repair crews into the field more efficiently and prevent service disruptions.

Satellite technology represents the next level in reliable communication. The network of 66 iridium satellites in low-earth orbit allows information to travel anywhere in the world in real-time. This arrangement resolves several of the issues of older communications solutions.

The Benefits of Working with Iridium Communications

Floating far above the earth’s surface, data packets flow back and forth within the Iridium communications network. The company has positioned its satellites to relay information between any two points in the world with minimal delay. While Iridium may be best known for its satellite phone technology, the same system can also facilitate real-time monitoring for a SCADA system.

Remote Monitoring

Geological features like mountains and valleys can make cell service unreliable in some areas. Regions with low populations may also have fewer accessible towers. A satellite communications system is unaffected by these issues. This technology allows for SCADA applications in previously inaccessible locations.

System Redundancy

If a cell tower sustains damage or fails, it will affect communications over a large area. The Iridium network is designed for redundancy. If data fails to transfer to the closest satellite, the system immediately works around the problem and sends the signal to its nearest neighbor. This flexibility means minimal disruption for SCADA systems.

Reliable Communications

Hurricanes and other powerful storms can damage equipment and disrupt cellular signals. Satellites orbit at altitudes where they are unaffected by weather events. Heavy precipitation can temporarily weaken the link between a ground antenna and a satellite, but extended disruptions are rare. The satellite communications system will transmit before, during, and after a dangerous storm.

Real-Time Data

SCADA systems rely on real-time information about equipment and conditions. Wastewater management utilities need immediate information about changes in water pressure and runoff volume. Addressing issues quickly can prevent expensive damage and environmental hazards.

Cloud-based SCADA systems significantly benefit from satellite connections because teams in the field can also access the data when cell service is not an option. When looking for a potential leak or a failing pump, the team can pinpoint the location and repair the equipment without returning to their home base. With a well-designed system, an employee’s smartphone or tablet will receive satellite data and act as the human-machine interface.

An Experienced Partner for SCADA Applications

High Tide Technologies develops and supports cloud-based SCADA systems for clients in the water, wastewater, and gas and oil management industries. Our team builds solutions that use cellular, satellite, or a combination of the two networks to maintain effective communications. A SCADA system that uses the right communications technology will increase efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and improve customer satisfaction. Contact our team today to learn more about incorporating cloud-based SCADA technology into your organization.

Monitoring Surface Runoff in Stormwater Management

Rain supplies moisture that nurtures plant and animal life. Natural precipitation fills water reservoirs so that human residents can have everyday lives. However, as rainwater flows through the landscape, it can cause erosion, flooding, and water damage. Intentional stormwater management must also incorporate plans for surface runoff.

What Is Surface Runoff?

In a short sprinkle, the ground absorbs most of the precipitation. However, during sustained rainfall, the earth becomes saturated. When rain can no longer soak into the ground, it begins to flow on the surface. Gravity exerts its pull on the liquid, and it follows the most accessible path downward. Eventually, surface runoff makes its way to a water source, such as a creek or river. In northern climates, the spring thaw will also lead to runoff. As the temperatures rise above freezing, melting ice and snow increase the water levels of rivers, lakes, and other reservoirs.

Water Running Through the Natural Water Cycle

Water running on the surface is a normal part of the water cycle. About two-thirds of the precipitation either soaks into the ground or evaporates into the air in heavy rain—the final third flows as surface runoff. The water into the earth also flows slowly underground. Some will nourish plant life, but more will make its way into aquifers and the water table. Because water flows slower beneath the ground, heavy rains will cause gradual increases in river and stream levels.

Runoff over the Human Landscape

Cities and towns provide a challenge for stormwater management. Much of the urban landscape consists of impervious surfaces like rooftops, roads, and sidewalks. The portion of rainwater that would generally soak into the ground also flows as runoff. This additional volume can cause flash floods when waterways rise unexpectedly.

Pollution and water quality are additional concerns when runoff flows through the human landscape. The flowing water picks up non-biodegradable debris like plastics. The water washes petroleum products from streets and into stormwater drains. When water flows over agricultural areas, it can pick up pesticides and fertilizers. These impurities result in algae blooms and other water quality issues in lakes and bays.

Water Quality and Stormwater Management

As climate change affects rain patterns, some areas struggle with too little water and others with far too much. Municipalities must examine how they will address stormwater in their communities. These strategies should consider both increased water volume and water quality.

In many areas, rainwater drainage systems have emptied into natural water resources without any filtering or treatment. However, engineers are developing new techniques that both slow the flow of runoff and remove some impurities.

At a basic level, these solutions include filters and screens that remove larger debris from runoff. Other possibilities mimic the natural process of water flow. Some cities are incorporating green spaces like artificial wetlands and rooftop gardens. In other areas, retaining ponds slow the water flow while letting impurities settle out.

How a Remote Monitoring Solution Can Help

Because water running during a storm can be unpredictable, water management systems must monitor the situation in real time. SCADA technology allows remote monitoring of the entire system. A SCADA system consists of sensors that let managers observe what is happening over a broad area. In rainwater management, the system can provide alerts about volume changes and performance.

SCADA systems also allow operators to control parts of the system remotely. With this resource, a water utility can address issues before they become critical. They can manage the flow to prevent flooding. The sensors give information about individual parts of the whole operation. This knowledge provides insight into which strategies are most effective in mitigating stormwater levels.

A Cloud-Based SCADA Partner

At High Tide Technologies, we specialize in cloud-based SCADA technology for municipal water collection, treatment, and distribution systems. As cities expand and storm patterns change, stormwater drainage strategies must change with them. A SCADA system is a remote monitoring solution that can improve the efficiency and safety of your stormwater management system.         

The Difference Between a Cellular and Satellite SCADA System

Moving water, oil, or natural gas through pipes is a complicated process. Many things can go wrong along the way that the provider must address quickly. Pressure drops and burst pipes can cause environmental hazards as well as service disruptions. A well-designed SCADA system provides remote monitoring that allows for a fast response.

SCADA and the Advantages of Remote Monitoring

Supervisory control and data acquisition systems have applications across many industries. For water and wastewater management, SCADA has become a necessity. Even a small water distribution system covers a broad area. Without remote sensors, crews must go into the field frequently to perform inspections. SCADA equipment lets managers observe the performance of the entire system from a single location. When there is a problem, they can react immediately to minimize the effects.

In a SCADA monitoring system, sensors on the equipment send data to remote terminal units. These computers may have pre-programmed logic for automatic responses to prevent significant issues. From there, the signal travels to a master station that collects and interprets that data. At this point, managers can view and respond to the information on a human-machine interface. The HMI may be a computer in an office or a tablet or smartphone in the field in a cloud-based system.

SCADA with Cellular Communication

Communication is the key to a successful wireless SCADA setup. Data must travel without interruption so that managers receive alerts at the right time. For many municipalities, cellular communication provides the necessary level of information flow.

Cellular networks involve a series of cell towers that relay information, and each cell has several receivers and transmitters. Data travels from the sensor or remote terminal unit to the nearest cell in the network. From there, it travels wirelessly from tower to tower until it reaches the SCADA master station.

Many towns already have ample cell coverage, so a water distribution or wastewater management system can set up SCADA equipment without building additional infrastructure. Working with a cellular network is often the most affordable solution.

The downside of cellular communication is that land-based towers are vulnerable to the elements and the landscape. If a cell in the network fails, it will cause disruptions in communication. Just as cellphone customers may stumble into dead zones, utilities covering a large area may also find communication gaps.

SCADA with Satellite Communication

Working with satellite data communications addresses some of the problems with depending on cell service. In a satellite model, information travels from sensors to a satellite in space. The satellite then relays the data down to the master station.

Satellite communication does not depend on land-based transmission, so mountains and buildings will not block the signal. Satellite data communications may be the only solution for SCADA equipment in a remote location. In such out-of-the-way places, it may be unfeasible to erect cell towers.

While a satellite system allows for reliable communication across a broad area, it comes with a price. Sending satellites into space and maintaining them is an expensive proposition, and satellite providers pass on the cost to their customers.

Weather events can also impact the quality of satellite data. While the equipment will not suffer from the elements, thick clouds can delay the signal traveling to and from space.

A Comprehensive Approach to Cloud-Based SCADA Systems

High Tide Technologies specializes in cloud-based SCADA solutions for customers in the water distribution, wastewater management, oil, and gas industries. We take a comprehensive approach to SCADA system development. Our team will analyze your current needs and provide software and hardware to meet them. We will deploy a system that makes the best use of Ethernet, cellular, and satellite communication technologies. To learn more about how remote monitoring can benefit your company, contact us today.

Programmable Logic Controllers for Industrial Automation

When a manufacturing plant wants to streamline its processes, automation is a winning strategy. A well-designed system will improve productivity while maintaining quality. Automation technology involves hardware and software that use pre-programmed actions to improve production.

What is programmable logic?

Every day, people make decisions based on conditions. If it is raining outside, you take an umbrella. Computer languages work with a similar kind of programmable logic. The programmer has the computer check whether a condition is true or false. Then, the system responds accordingly.

The condition could be a practical concern telling the system to make 100 widgets in a session. However, the logic can also handle safety issues. If a machine’s temperature crosses a certain threshold, the program will turn it off. If the pressure in a pipe reaches an unsafe level, the system can send an alert and adjust the flow.

PLCs and Industrial Automation

Programmable logic controllers are hardware units used in industrial settings. PLCs improve industrial automation by providing process control for a single machine. These devices maintain consistency while also offering flexibility. As manufacturing needs change, programmers can easily adjust the instructions.

Incorporating PLCs into System Architecture

In the past, industrial processes used timers and counters to control production levels. PLCs will work with these conditions, but they can do much more. Programmers can link conditional logic to several different aspects of the machine’s operation. However, ideal automation requires continuous monitoring of the whole system. While PLC hardware carries out performance monitoring on a single device, a SCADA system oversees the entire process.

SCADA Systems and Continuous Monitoring

Supervisory control and data acquisition software gathers information from sensors throughout a system. In a manufacturing setting, the SCADA system will retrieve information from every machine in the process. At a central human-machine interface, managers can observe the status of each part of the whole. They can also control features of the system remotely.

SCADA is a critical technology for many industrial sectors, but it is beneficial in settings that involve a large physical layout. For example, municipal utilities use SCADA systems to monitor the water supply as it travels through treatment plants and miles of pipes. Real-time data allows the company to resolve problems quickly with minimal disruption.

SCADA Automation Software and PLCs

Combining SCADA with programmable logic controllers allows a layered approach to automation. The PLCs provide automation for individual steps of the process. At the same time, they can transmit performance data to the SCADA system.

This setup is ideal for both safety and performance monitoring. When one piece of equipment reports a safety issue, the SCADA automation software can trigger immediate responses for the whole system. If there is no need for a system-wide response, managers can use the SCADA connection to change the individual PLC programming.

For example, programmers might set a PLC attached to an industrial lathe to set an rpm limit. However, information collected by the SCADA system indicates that this setting creates too much vibration. Managers will then receive an alert from the SCADA software. Through the HMI, they can adjust the PLC programming remotely without disrupting the operation.

SCADA software also provides resources for developing intentional maintenance programs. Real-time performance data lets maintenance crews see which units require repair. They can handle minor problems before they cause a system shutdown.

An Advanced SCADA System for Industrial Automation

High Tide Technologies develops cloud-based SCADA systems that monitor the whole system architecture of clients in the water, wastewater, and oil and gas industries. We create remote monitoring solutions that users can access on their portable devices. When you work with us, advanced process control is only a few taps away. Contact us today to learn more about how SCADA software can improve your system.

SCADA Systems and Leak Detection Services

Across the country, residents depend on distribution systems for wastewater removal, water, and natural gas. A leak in any of these systems can lead to supply interruptions and environmental hazards. Timely leak detection services are a critical part of maintaining a high level of customer service.

The Consequences of Leaky Pipes

Many municipalities have water systems that are past their prime. Unfortunately, water and gas infrastructure does not have the same public visibility as roads and bridges. Digging up pipes is expensive and inconvenient, so it is not unusual to put off these repairs until there is a noticeable problem. However, failing to maintain such systems has serious consequences.

Lost Revenue

Water or gas that does not make it to residents is lost revenue for the supply company. Most water utilities expect some amount of loss as water flows through miles of pipe, but a significant leak will drain gallons every hour.

Secondary Damage

Water and gas leak detection can prevent secondary damage. A constant stream of water will loosen the soil around the leak. This soft earth can cause settling that leads to sinkholes and road buckling. A large leak may cause structural damage as buildings lose support. Repairing this type of damage can be even more expensive than fixing the leaky pipe.

Leak Detection and Public Health

A leaky wastewater system will create dangerous pockets of raw sewage that can pool on the surface. Such seepage is a biological hazard that requires extensive cleanup procedures.

Leaks in a clean water distribution system are also problematic. When water pipes operate correctly, the water exerts an outward pressure that prevents groundwater from seeping in. Leaks lower the internal pressure and allow bacteria and other biological material into the water supply. Leaky pipe infrastructure is a common cause of boil-water mandates.

Gas leaks are a significant public safety concern. Natural gas is both poisonous and flammable. Any leak in the distribution system is a concern. A gas explosion will cause extensive damage to buildings as well as serious injuries.

Water Leak Detection

In the worst-case scenario, a sinkhole or another severe issue reveals a leaky pipe. Because much of the infrastructure is underground, water leak detection can be a challenge. However, pressure sensors and acoustic leak detectors have improved the process.

Pressure and Volume Changes

Water should travel at a predictable pressure throughout its journey. An unexpected change in water pressure or flow volume may indicate a leak. Most leaks result from pipe damage, but a pressure drop may also indicate someone tapping the supply illegally.

Water suppliers can place pressure sensors and flow meters at critical points throughout the system. When there is a drop in pressure or a change in flow volume between two points, they will have a general sense of the location of the problem.

Pinpointing the Problem with an Acoustic Water Leak Detector

Once the utility recognizes a leak, they need to send out a crew to fix it. However, they do not want to excavate a large section of pipe if it is not necessary. When water escapes from a pipe, it makes a telltale hissing sound. Using an acoustic water leak detector allows the crew to pinpoint the location.

How a SCADA System Can Help

A SCADA system is a powerful tool for improving leak detection services. SCADA systems receive data from sensors throughout the pipeline and convey it to a central server. Utility managers can view real-time information about water pressure and flow changes. Access to this information will minimize the time between leak detection and repair.

A well-monitored system will simplify auditing and help create intentional maintenance schedules. Large municipalities may be working with sections of pipe infrastructure of different ages and materials. When a leak appears in one area, the utility can plan to repair or replace units of a similar age and construction.

A SCADA system also empowers remote control of connected devices. For water or gas leak detection, the utility can shut down sections immediately when hazardous conditions arise. In larger systems, they may be able to reroute the flow to minimize customer disruptions.

Advanced Leak Detection Services

Hide Tide Technologies specializes in cloud-based SCADA software for municipal water and wastewater distribution systems, as well as natural gas pipelines. Our team will provide the necessary hardware to monitor your equipment from any location safely. Careful monitoring combined with planned maintenance will keep your system reliable and safe.

What Actually Makes Something Flushable?

There is a fair amount of confusion about what makes a product flushable. Manufacturers market wipes and hygiene products as safe for sewer and septic systems. However, the lack of a clear definition leads to expensive problems at wastewater facilities.

Differing Definitions of Flushable

For many people, an item that is safe to flush is anything that can fit down a toilet’s plumbing. This understanding leads to non-biodegradable products making their way into the sewer system. Many of these items are removed in the primary filtering and treatment process, but they can also serve as building blocks for sewer clogs.

Manufacturers say that a consumer can safely flush a product if it breaks down in water by 60% in an hour. Unfortunately, this breakdown rate leaves plenty of solid material that can create clogs or gum up the works at a water treatment plant.

The International Water Services Flushability Group has a much stricter standard. Items labeled as safe for flushing should break down by 95% half an hour after contact with water. This rate allows products like toilet paper to travel through sewer systems without any issues.

The Impact of Clogs on a Sewer System

Cities around the world spend millions of dollars dealing with clogged sewer lines and sluggish wastewater plant machinery. Often, the only way to handle the problem is to manually break up the clogs and clear the way for sufficient effluent flow. The extra weight of a layer of wipes puts strain on the machinery and will shorten its life. All of these factors increase the cost of wastewater management.

To combat this issue, some cities pay for marketing campaigns to educate residents about safe flushing practices. However, it is difficult to dissuade people from enjoying the convenience of items that are supposedly safe.

Non-flushable Items and Flow Rate

Fatbergs are becoming a chronic problem in major metropolitan centers. These collections of wipes and other non-flushable items are bound together with congealed cooking fat. As they grow, they will slow the flow rate in sewer lines before they cause a complete blockage.

The rate of water flow in a sewer system varies throughout the day. In most residential areas, the flow is highest in the morning and evening when residents are home. It decreases during the night when most people are sleeping.

When a blockage begins to form, wastewater managers can expect a decrease in the average flow time for a metered area. The rate will continue to fall as the blockage grows larger. SCADA software can send an alert before this becomes a critical issue.

How SCADA Software Can Prevent Problems

Remote monitoring of changes in the average flow time is one way to prevent unexpected blockages. These clogs build over time. Without a way to observe fluctuations in readings like water pressure and effluent flow, the first sign of an issue may be unsanitary water backups or sewer line breaks.

A supervisory control and data acquisition system collects data from system sensors for observation and analysis. The SCADA system provides a real-time overview of what is happening throughout the system. It can send alerts when there are dangerous conditions like significant drops in flow rate. The control part of the system also allows administrators to program automatic responses that can prevent damage.

Looking at SCADA information over time will also allow operators to pinpoint potential clogs before they disrupt the system. This information will lower operating costs and minimize disruptions that affect customers.

Expert Remote Monitoring Solutions

High Tide Technologies specializes in SCADA systems for municipal water collection, distribution and treatment systems. Our cloud-based platform gives operators the ability to access information and control parts of the system while in the field. A remote SCADA solution will lead to faster response times and improved system efficiency. For more information about our comprehensive SCADA systems, contact us today.

Monitoring Pressure in a Water Distribution System

Municipal residents depend on a well-functioning water distribution system to meet their daily needs. They expect to turn the tap and have an uninterrupted supply of clean, freshwater. To achieve this goal, water and wastewater systems require constant monitoring. Inconsistent water pressure can have serious consequences down the line.

The Consequences of High Water Pressure

Adequate pressure levels vary from system to system. An area with tall buildings must maintain a higher pressure than a suburb with single or two-story homes. When the pressure is too high, it puts a strain on the system. In areas with aging infrastructure, the excess force can cause cracks, leaks, and water main breaks.

Water pressure is not constant. An unexpected change in water flow can cause a high-pressure event. When a water utility tracks these surges, it can employ a preemptive maintenance program that will minimize disruptions and decrease repair costs.

The Dangers of Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure presents a different set of problems. At the right pressure, water flowing through a pipe exerts enough outward force to prevent groundwater seepage. At low pressure, water can make its way in from the surrounding environment. Water that leaches into the water system can bring unwanted chemicals like fertilizers and insecticides.

Viruses and bacteria are another concern in systems with low water pressure. When groundwater seeps into the water supply, microorganisms can travel with it. Areas with this issue must declare “boil water” advisories to their residents. This safety procedure is not only inconvenient for customers, but it also decreases their trust in the water supplier.

Monitoring a Water Distribution System

Regular monitoring is the key to a healthy distribution system. The number of necessary monitoring sites can depend on the landscape. Elevation changes will require booster pump stations that change the local pressure. There should be a water pressure sensor providing data for each unique water pressure area.

Wireless pressure recorders are the current standard for taking regular measurements. Often, water utilities install monitors that sit directly in a water main or measure pressure at a fire hydrant. The devices then send pressure reports to a data server.

SCADA and Industrial Automation

A supervisory control and data acquisition resource offers a utility company tools to monitor the system and respond to emergencies. With a SCADA system, each water pressure sensor will send its data to a central server for storage and analysis.

The SCADA platform then gives real-time updates to system managers. If there is a sudden change in pressure, the managers will receive an alert and can respond quickly. They will also use historical pressure data to develop intelligent maintenance priorities.

SCADA is not just about data collection. Through the SCADA interface, managers can open or close valves and perform other operations remotely. Combining SCADA with industrial automation allows the system to adjust itself as water pressure rises or falls. An immediate automated response can minimize the impact of a water pressure surge.

A Cloud-Based SCADA Solution

High Tide Technologies specializes in SCADA resources for water collection, treatment, and distribution systems. Our cloud-based approach provides greater options for utility administrators. Managers can use mobile devices to access our interface instead of a fixed unit at an administrative office. This ability gives them a direct connection to critical information while in the field.

Employing a SCADA system that uses the latest technology brings several important benefits.

  • Comprehensive water pressure monitoring: Receive reports from every DMA at the same time.
  • Lower operating costs: Planned maintenance is less expensive than emergency repairs.
  • Consistent water safety and quality: Consistent water pressure in the system will prevent impurities.
  • Greater customer satisfaction: Minimize customer complaints by avoiding disruptions.

For more information about the benefits of a SCADA system for your water distribution system, contact High Tide Technologies today.

An Overview of OPC UA

What is OPC UA in SCADA systems?

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems use hardware and software to improve system operations. The goals of these solutions are to minimize friction points and increase efficiency. SCADA allows for greater automation and faster decisions across a variety of industries. OPC UA is a communication protocol used by SCADA systems to enable an exchange of data between devices.

SCADA and Remote Monitoring

The SCADA structure involves several layers of devices. At one end, sensors gather and send data from different assets in the system. For water-related industries, they might send information about valve status, pipe pressure, and water quality. The data then travels to several devices: remote terminal units for local control, data servers for analysis and storage, and a master station that allows for system-wide control.

Running a complex system requires an advanced communications architecture. OPC allows data to flow between the different devices in an industrial system.

What is OPC UA?

Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture was developed to solve machine-to-machine communication issues to improve industrial automation. Historically, companies would invest a great deal of time and money into developing drivers that allowed computers to interact with other devices. Every new device meant new drivers. This hub-based approach also restricted communication to a computer that had the correct drivers installed.

The OPC model allows for systemic communication. It takes a data-centered approach where the server doesn’t need to know the device’s function requesting or transmitting data. Instead, data travels in a uniform format that all devices on the system can recognize.

Benefits of an Object-Oriented Communication Architecture

Computer languages like Java, Python, and C++ are object-oriented. An object is a structure made of data and functional methods. An object could be a book in a library database, a local weather report, or an NPC in a computer game. Although they have different applications, the language treats them all the same in the background.

Within a SCADA system, the OPC model views every device as an independent object. The server doesn’t discriminate between sensors, control devices, or other equipment. Instead, it works with the parameters set within the object itself. An object-oriented approach brings several benefits to complex systems.

Scalability

By treating devices as generic objects, the system can incorporate new components with minimal disruption. Simple scalability is an essential advantage in growing municipal areas.

Flexibility

New technologies and devices come online every year. An object-oriented system can easily include changes while allowing old devices to communicate with new ones.

Security

System security is a significant concern for municipal utility and service providers. OPC UA uses end-to-end encryption as well as authentication protocols to prevent attacks that could disrupt service.

OPC UA and Industrial Automation

The OPC protocol improves operations in complex systems by enabling communication between devices in different system sections. For water distribution, this arrangement will allow components of the system to reroute flow when there’s a water quality or pressure issue. When one component sends a status alarm, the system can automatically calculate a solution based on the data from other devices. This real-time reaction will prevent minor damage from becoming worse and minimize customer disruption.

A Partner for SCADA Solutions in the Water and Wastewater Industries

Clean, reliable water is a quality of life issue for residential and commercial customers. High Tide Technologies specializes in SCADA solutions for clients involved with water collection, treatment, and distribution. Employing SCADA technology helps our clients operate systems that are more dependable and profitable. A robust communications architecture, remote monitoring, and intelligent automation will keep your water system flowing smoothly. To learn more about SCADA systems uniquely designed for your industry, reach out to High Tide Technologies today.