Stormwater Treatment and the Use of SCADA

The proper treatment of water and wastewater is essential in keeping our potable water supply clean and safe to drink. In a similar manner, a stormwater treatment management system is necessary in order to reduce flooding and remove pollutants before they are discharged into a body of water or absorbed through the ground into the aquifer.

There are two primary sources of stormwater: point and non-point. Much of the work that was done in the past to reduce stormwater pollution focused on point sources, such as pipes, conduits, tunnels, and ditches. Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, though, there has been an increased emphasis on non-point sources of pollution, which can result from water that flows across streets, parking lots, roofs and farmland. Non-point stormwater typically contains various pollutants and contaminants that the water picked up along the way.

Stormwater Management

Older stormwater management systems were designed to collect water runoff and remove it from the premises as quickly and efficiently as possible. Although holding ponds were sometimes used, water was often directed into nearby lakes, rivers, and streams, which led to the degradation of those water bodies. A modern stormwater management system, though, collects water runoff and treats it as it is being collected or holds it for treatment.

What Is Stormwater Treatment?

Stormwater occurs as a result of heavy rain or melting snow. When the flow is relatively low, the water can be absorbed into the soil where it is naturally filtered before entering the aquifer or bodies of water. However, when the soil is saturated and will not hold more water, the water can pick up contaminants as it flows from one location to another. The same is true when heavy rains fall on impervious surfaces, such as streets, parking lots and roofs.

Contaminants typically include such things as sediments, trash and debris, oils, nutrients, and heavy metals. Stormwater treatments use a variety of techniques to remove such contaminants before they are able to reach water bodies or other environmentally sensitive areas.

Stormwater Treatment Systems

There are several stormwater treatment systems available for processing runoff, including filters, settlement ponds, infiltration systems, hydrodynamic separators, and wetlands. Filters are designed to remove contaminants as water passes through the filter.

The most common type of filter is a sand filter. Settlement ponds trap pollutants and hold them in the pond long enough for the pollutants to settle to the bottom of the pond where they can be collected when the pond becomes dry.

Infiltration systems utilize native soils to filter out contaminants as stormwater runoff percolates through the soil. Hydrodynamic separators rely on physical processes to separate and remove contaminants from the water. Wetlands use a natural biological process to remove pollutants. One thing that all of these stormwater treatment methods have in common is that they must be maintained in order to remain effective and operate in an optimal fashion.

Optimizing the Stormwater Treatment Process

There are several ways that stormwater treatment methods can be optimized. For example, a green roof, which is a stormwater system constructed by planting vegetation on a waterproof membrane, can be used to reduce runoff and prevent overflow. Landscaping can also be used as a treatment management system by utilizing green spaces and flow-through planters.

It is also possible to reduce the number of stormwater pollutants by keeping impervious surfaces free of waste materials. This stresses the importance of the proper waste collection and such services like street sweeping. Industrial processes should also be monitored to ensure that pollutants are not entering the stormwater system.

SCADA Monitoring Systems

A supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system can also be used for optimizing a stormwater treatment process. Vulnerable areas can be monitored on a continual basis, and breaches can be immediately reported. This eliminates the need for continuous security patrols and minimizes the number of visits that are needed.

SCADA systems can also be used to control pump stations to prevent flooding and to minimize pollution. Remote terminal units (RTUs) collect data and send it back to a central processor that has the ability to autonomously make decisions or hand the data off to an operator. This automated reporting is also useful in performing hydraulic calculations that are used in the design and modification of treatment systems.

If you work in the water and wastewater industry or are involved in stormwater treatments, you may want to further investigate the many ways that a SCADA system can be used to optimize the stormwater treatment process. Stormwater monitoring is a rapidly growing market in the expanding SCADA marketplace.

High Tide Technologies offers a complete cloud-based SCADA solution that provides advanced monitoring and control of stormwater, wastewater and water systems.