This editorial letter originally appeared in Water & Wastes Digest March 2020 issue as "Data Nerd’s Dream?"
I’ve heard plenty of lectures, attended plenty of sessions and received more story pitches than I can count regarding smart water, but most of those have been focused primarily on drinking water applications through metering.
But what about wastewater applications? There are so many interesting ways to make a wastewater system smarter, especially considering how many elements already are measured throughout a facility.
When it comes to biological treatment, what better way to ensure the microorganisms are healthy than understanding the wastewater they are consuming? I’m positive most places are using several sensors and a control room to manage the plant, but that data could be taken further.
For example, by charting a year’s worth of data and trends one could create a maintenance plan for pumps and motors. That data also can inform reasons for changes in influent based on seasonality or local events and festivals, and can be compared to year-over-year for additional analysis. In fact, influent can be highly variable even without larger public events.
All of this creates a springboard for predictive analysis and system changes, that could be a data analyst’s dream. Finding patterns in numbers and graphs across myriad data points that fluctuate on a day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month basis is an endless puzzle.
So I’m curious as to why there isn’t as much talk of smart wastewater in comparison to smart water. In what ways are you using smart sensors and data analytics to create a smarter system? Why do you think it doesn’t get as much play as smart drinking water?