Oliver Grievson: SWIG workshop “Smarter Operation in the Wastewater Industry”

July 29th, 2014

IWA Specialist Group on Instrumentation, Control and Automation, June 2014 Newsletter

SWIG Workshop “Smarter Operation in the Wastewater Industry” 12th March 2014

The Smart Operation in Wastewater event was a workshop hosted by the UK Sensors in Water Interest Group (SWIG). After a brief pre-amble on the importance of instrumentation in the wastewater industry, Rob Whittaker of the Environment Agency took the stage to explain the position of the Environmental Regulator. Rob’s presentation neatly kicked off the first half of the day with discussions about the regulation of the Wastewater Industry and the forward thinking views of the  Environment Agency and their willingness to look at different ways of regulating the discharges from wastewater treatment works and the potentially to look at not only things such as working on a holistic catchment based approach with the potential to combine the discharges from several works on the same stretch of river but also going much wider than the water companies and having a look at all the dischargers to the environment and look at the best environmental solution. This also didn’t do away
with the potential for dynamic permitting at the treatment works scale.

The workshop continued with presentations by Fanlin Meng & Lorenzo Benedetti. Fanlin looked at the different ways that the Environmental Permits are worked out and calculated. The presentation looked at the way the modelling to set Environmental Permits using SIMCAT. She proposed a different way of setting permits using a more holistic approach which would see the water companies lower costs with a better environmental standard. Fanlin’s research at the moment is taking a static approach but basically takes what the Environment Agency do when setting an Environmental Permit and brings a cost effectiveness algorithm into the approach which effectively is taking a more holistic approach to the way things are permitted.

Lorenzo Benedetti also presented on the Kallisto Project that has been going on in the Dommel River Catchment again demonstrating the actual reality of an integrated modelling approach for operation of a wastewater network. The Dommel Catchment suffered from poor river quality and by combining the network, treatment works and river models and integrating them into WEST the team on the Kallisto project were able to run a number of different scenarios very rapidly using the integrated approach and analysing what where the best solutions. Using a UPM approach and conducting a global
sensitivity analysis the dynamics of the whole urban integrated catchment system could be studied and the costs and benefits of the various solutions under a number of different solutions could be examined and ranked highlighting the interactions, synergies and conflicts of the different approaches including real time control within the Dommell River Catchment.
Mark Davis of Flowline effectively finished off the section on SMART wastewater catchments by giving us a demonstration of two catchments which are monitored and in one case controlled hydraulically in real time by operators in the control room. The first was in the South Tyrol region of Italy where flow measurement using both non-contact and area velocity flow meters give real time control to the operators of the privately owned treatment works and also highlighting the unique methods of flow verification including an independent electro-magnetic flow meter for temporary insertion into sewers. The second example was from Belgium and really has to be seen because it is a
great example of seeing a network on-line and also a fantastic example of asset management, the website address is http://www.flowbru.be.

The second half of the day very much focused on the treatment works itself and the potential future.

The workshop feature presentations from Eustina Mustvoto, Simon Mazier & Lee Lewis. The presentation by Eustina showed the potential of using simple PID loops for ammonia control but the benefits relied on keeping multiple parts of the process operating correctly. A more advanced approach was taken by Simon Mazier using Multivariate Process Control to control treatment works in real time. He used a futuristic “What If” approach showing theoretical ways of operation. The point
being was all the ideal theories are actually available now but only being adopted by the most forward looking water companies.

This neatly brought us onto our last speaker of the day, Lee Lewis of Siemens, who discussed the factory approach to the wastewater industry and the fact that we should be heading towards Industry 4.0 with an approach in line with cyber physical systems or in common terms nowadays “The Internet of Things.” The approach is going to take a long time to develop with a time scale of 20 years floated.

A time period in my opinion that is a sensible approach. This brought up the problems of legacy systems and how to deal with what is already existing and out in the industry but with time none of this is a show stopper.
What became ultimately very clear from the SWIG Smart Operation in Wastewater workshop was that yes the industry has challenges on both a small scale with problems within the industry with what we are installing and how, also how all of this is going to be integrated together but if we are going to deliver a more efficient system that is going to ensure that the environment is protected without undue costs then the development of integrated approach to operating the water industry, the so called flush
to discharge approach, then the whole holistic system approach needs to be taken. What was clear was that the technology to enable to take this approach, an approach is already here and available right now.
Oliver Grievson, SWIG Director

June 2014