CabWater achieves efficiencies

Friday, 03 June, 2005

Caboolture Shire is located in south-east Queensland between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. The shire is home to 115,000 people and has one of the fastest-growing communities in Australia, with 3000 new residents moving there each year.

Due to the size of the shire and the terrain, CabWater, a business unit of Caboolture Shire Council, has more than 200 pump stations and lift stations across its water and wastewater network.

The sewerage system consists of 700 km of sewerage mains, over 160 sewage pump stations and over 55 sewage lift stations, four treatment plants and a water reclamation plant, spreading 80 km from one end of the shire to the other.

In 1998, CabWater went to tender for a wastewater SCADA system with control and monitoring software and RTUs for the sewer pump stations and communications network. The system was basically an early warning system with some control in the pump stations. However, the system did not live up to expectations. There were reliability problems with the RTUs and communications network. The system was also expensive to run because of the need for continual support from system integrators both on site and over the phone.

Added to this was the need to expand the telemetry system to effectively address Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licensing requirements. These consist of an automatic alarm notification system for all pump stations to protect the environment. CabWater found itself in the position of having to find another more reliable system in order to safeguard the public and environment from spills.

The previous system was only running on 39 sites and reliability was already a major issue. CabWater had to find another more reliable system before expanding to all 160 sites.

CabWater needed some telemetry to continuously monitor and control all the pump stations in the system. Accordingly, it began a trial of the MultiTrode Outpost pump station management system and MultiTrode field hardware. The trial showed excellent results. Alarms were believable and condition monitoring of pumps and motors reduced the number of callouts.

In 2003, CabWater went to tender again, this time for some intelligent field hardware and an integrated SCADA package to meet EPA requirements and MultiTrode was awarded the contract.

The tender specification required the new system to operate without specialist integration and use pre-configured wizards to allow straightforward expansion with low integration costs. The system was required to include remote system monitoring and reporting and be able to measure the flow rates of pumps. It also had to be extendable to the water network with no additional development. To date, 160 sites have been complet-ed and telemetry for critical sections of the water supply system has been implemented using the same radio da-ta network.

CabWater intends to have every sewage pump station monitored. Once the network is fully monitored, trends and other reports will allow design engineers to look at the demands of the whole network.

As a management tool, SCADA can reduce staff overtime and wasted callouts and help provide information for preventative maintenance scheduling and planning for future upgrades and expansion. It allows water authorities to monitor and adjust conditions to prevent problems occurring and also to track trends to predict and plan effectively for the future.

SCADA is no longer something that only large water authorities can afford to implement and many smaller authorities are now investigating the technology.

The MultiTrode system allows engineers or other personnel to fix many problems remotely. Being able to diagnose and restore a pump station from the office or even from home takes much of the stress and cost out of the job, to everybody's advantage.

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