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.