Monitoring Storm Water Runoff With SCADA Systems

Throughout the history of the earth, the water cycle has kept things in balance. Water evaporates from lakes and oceans into the atmosphere. It floats in clouds where it condenses and falls back to earth as rain or snow. The precipitation nourishes the land as it finds its way back to streams, rivers and larger water bodies where the cycle begins again.

Human Progress and Storm Water Pollution

The water cycle continues, but human beings have vastly changed the landscape on which the water falls. In urban areas, much of the city is paved for roadways and parking spots. Water cannot soak into the pavement, so it flows through the streets. In most cities, a drainage system carries the water to the nearest local water source without treatment. 

Although redirecting the water may prevent flooding in the city, it does not stop the water from picking up pollutants as it flows off of rooftops and through parking lots. The number of vehicles in an urban area means the water will be contaminated with oil, antifreeze and heavy metals from automobiles. Urban storm water runoff will also contain bacteria from pet waste that can contaminate drinking water.

Flowing water can pick up the dust and debris from construction sites. This mix is also a source of environmentally toxic heavy metals. 

In agricultural areas, storm water will travel through irrigation trenches where it picks up pesticides, nitrogen and phosphorous. The accumulation of fertilizing chemicals is one of the most common causes of algal blooms in coastal regions.

Overflow Interventions

It is critical for communities to get a handle on rainwater overflow. The results of the pollution caused by water flowing over the ground are devastating to waterways and water bodies. The environmental impact of polluted runoff includes the death of fish and aquatic animals as well as uncontrolled algal blooms.

For people in the local community, uncontrolled runoff leads to excess erosion and damage to recreational water areas. Pollutants will also contaminate water sources and cause a lack of clean water. 

Inadequate drainage leads to backups and flooding. The growing volume of precipitation caused by global climate change will mean increased property damage and loss of life.

Many communities are encouraging both small-scale and large-scale runoff interventions. The goal of these projects is to slow water runoff through collection and absorption. On a local scale, homes might use rain barrels to collect water as it flows down gutters. Homeowners can use this water later to irrigate a garden.

On a larger scale, communities are introducing green infrastructure projects that slow water runoff. Some of these projects include replacing abandoned buildings with green spaces, including vegetated roofs on public buildings and planting water-absorbing gardens near waterways.

SCADA and Storm Water Management

One of the challenges of this kind of water management is data collection. It is difficult to know where to invest resources and the effectiveness of interventions without real-time data during a storm. An answer to this issue is a cloud-based SCADA system.

A Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system connects engineers, scientists and planners to monitoring equipment that can give them information about drainage levels, flooding hazards and water quality in real time. As runoff solutions come online, SCADA-connected equipment will be able to report maintenance issues and other alarms. With a cloud-based system, users can access all of this information from a safe location.

At High Tide Technologies, we specialize in developing SCADA systems for many industries that require real-time data collection and control software. Our cloud-based software and clear user interface allow users to interact with the system from any location and device.

Managing storm water runoff will continue to be a critical issue for years to come. By using the latest in real-time data collection technology, communities can prevent flooding damage and keep their waterways clean.