Old and in the Way: Shelby, Mont., Water Department upgrades aging SCADA system

Feb. 20, 2004
Old and in the Way: Shelby, Mont., Water Department upgrades aging SCADA system The city of Shelby (Mont.) Water Department needed help. Their existing SCADA system was antiquated and malfunctioning. Maintenance crews worked 24/7 to manually maintain the water level in the city’s main 1.5 million-gallon storage tank. Daily, operators traveled to the main tank and to physically turn the pumps on and off. Level transducers sometimes failed, causing the main tank to overflow and thousands of gallons of water to be lost. Furthermore, the local government issued regulations forcing municipalities to automate their water control systems. The city enlisted the Tetragenics Co., the integration division of Montana Power. Tetragenics sourced, programmed and installed an Opto 22 G4 Mistic remote monitoring and control equipment at the Shelby City Shop, automating the city’s water system wherein operators could set and view parameters as required. Programmed with Opto 22’s self-documenting, flowchart-based control software, OptoControl, the system has a display and keypad for operators to set alarm points, specify set points, and view the system’s status. The controller communicates with remote brain boards that indicate pump run, fail, and call conditions. If the level of the main tank changes, the system automatically adjusts the water flow coming from remote well field pumps. The system was programmed so the well pumps do not run concurrently, providing significant energy savings for the city. Additionally, it was programmed to automatically alert operators at the Shelby’s City Shop PC workstations if problems arose with the well field’s remote pumps. The installation of this new system allowed the city to meet the government’s requirement for an automated water control system.