US Water Utilities Embark on Capital Improvement Projects

Improvements are being made to comply with regulations & replace obsolete infrastructure

The need to meet new environmental standards, the growing demand for water and the need to replace obsolete infrastructure are causing U.S. water utilities to embark on thousands of capital improvement projects. These projects are tracked in the McIlvaine "North American Public Water Plants and People" report.

Growing demand is why Bay City, Mich. is planning a $60 million regional treatment plant. Arkansas City, Kan., is planning a new $12 million plant. Annapolis, Md., is building a $35 million plant.

Some of the expenditures are to meet new regulations. Clay Center, Kan., which has about 4,300 residents, built a $10 million water treatment plant to clear the water of uranium that can occur naturally in underground aquifers.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) said of the five communities with excessive uranium in their drinking water, only two—Timken (population 75) and a Garden City subdivision with about 860 residents—have not taken any action to comply with the federal regulations. KDHE said enforcement action is under consideration for those two communities.

Among the many upgrades, controls have some of the fastest payback. Many utilities are looking at adding:

  • • Higher bandwidth (speed and polling rate) communications
  • • Redundancy
  • • Cyber security – DHS, NERC/CIP
  • • Disaster recovery control center
  • • Web reporting for internal and customer cities
  • • Hydraulic modeling and planning data interface

Three classifications of SCADA systems are available: commercial-off-the-shelf system, semi-customer large-scale system, and distributed control system (DCS).

East Palestine, Ohio is purchasing a system communication and data acquisition (SCADA) system to monitor the water plant's distribution equipment, including the two lift stations. The system will allow the department to respond more quickly in the event of a water leak or equipment malfunction.

Now, only water levels in one of the plant's two storage tanks are monitored through a landline telephone system. The current system is costing the village $400 to $450 a month in utility bills for that tank. The SCADA system would be completely web-based and cost roughly $200 a month in utility bills. The system will be cellular-based with seven cellular sites and three radio sites. It will cost about $61,000 and will monitor water levels and the overall operation of all water towers, each booster pump and the lift stations, and the information can be accessed online or through a smartphone. Currently, there is no way to monitor the stations except physically.

Suppliers are now offering improved systems with even faster ROI. Yokogawa Electric released CENTUM VP integrated production control system. Enhancements include a field control station (FCS), with four times the processing performance, twice the application storage capacity and five times the control network throughput of the previous control station.

For more information on the "North American Public Water Plants and People," click here.

 

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