Research Will Enhance Industry Understanding of Costs and Benefits of Complete Water Treatment Plant Automation
Black & Veatch, a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company, announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF) to identify and evaluate the costs, benefits and risks of complete water treatment plant automation. The 22-month research project will yield a methodology that incorporates both traditional economic and strategic-impact analyses for utilities’ use in evaluating potential automation programs.
"Automation can increase treatment plant efficiency and improve productivity, enhance safety, contribute to regulatory compliance, optimize treatment processes to improved finished water quality and reduce certain operations costs," said AwwaRF Project Manager Jason Allen. "Although we have the communications and computer technologies for complete water treatment plant automation, concerns about automation reliability and cost require closer scrutiny. The water industry needs more information on the costs, benefits, challenges and risks of fully automating all types of treatment processes."
Principal investigator David Roberts, national practice leader for instrumentation and control services for the Water Americas division of Black & Veatch, will lead AwwaRF Project No. 3019: Costs & Benefits of Complete Water Treatment Plant Automation. The project budget includes $298,500 from AwwaRF as well as non-cash, in-kind contributions from research-team members Black & Veatch, Westin, Transdyn Controls, Cucamonga County Water District, Irvine Ranch Water District, Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy, Modesto Irrigation District, Placer County Water Agency, California-American Water Company and the City of Austin Water and Wastewater Utility. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a collaborative partner in the research project.
The research team will compile life-cycle costs and benefits associated with water treatment automation; develop a cost-benefit analysis methodology that incorporates both financial and strategic impacts; perform a risk-and-barriers analysis; and conduct case studies that will serve to refine the methodology as well as provide examples for utility decision makers. Water utility involvement will be an integral element of this research.