Managing water pressure with remote sensors throughout the water reticulation network can provide valuable insights to inform decision making and improve network management. Benefits include prolonging asset life, identifying breaks in the network, addressing water pressure issues and reducing customer complaints.
Monitoring water pressure helps to:
- Identify fluctuations and pressure surges (water hammer) which put extra strain on pipework and can affect the physical integrity of pipes ageing the infrastructure quickly and causing cracks and breaks
- Reduce customer complaints regarding pressure issues as the underlying cause can be found and addressed
- Identify and locate mains leaks quickly with sudden pressure drops
- Quantify consistently high water pressure which puts pipes under too much stress and may lead to a burst, or that power savings can be made by reducing the network pressure
- Quantify low water pressure areas which can result in contamination from ground water or cause customer complaints
- Quantify fluctuations in pressure during peak times and water restriction outdoor watering times
- Monitor water supply and flow do determine pipe sizes required
The data collected is processed in the Aqualus Water IoT Platform and hosted on AWS infrastructure. The valuable insights are delivered via the Aqualus Vision software platform, where the network of devices can be viewed, and alerts managed.
Alternatively the data can be sent to existing SCADA or other data delivery services as Taggle’s solution is open and interoperable.
Solve problems with pressure monitoring
Examples from the field
Water pressure complaints in the coastal suburb of Pallarenda in Townsville lead the council to investigate the cause using remote pressure sensors.
Pallarenda is supplied by 2x 150mm reticulation mains, fed off a 450mm bulk main which supplies Magnetic Island. The flow of which is governed by a large butterfly valve which actuates when reservoir levels on Magnetic Island go below a set point.
It was clear the issue was connected to the valve operation and the bulk main feeding Magnetic Island, further detail, such as the impact of the distinct watering window during water restrictions was not known.
Only short-term spot pressure checks had been completed, these mostly showed that the pressure was fine. Using just three remote pressure sensors on the Taggle network, sending data every 15 minutes painted a much clearer picture of what was happening.
TCC were able to detect and correlate sudden drops in pressure to SCADA data of the valve operations. What was very interesting was the pressure rises that seemed to correlate with the valve operation as well. Water hammer seemed to be a significant issue, with pressures exceeding the sensor detection limit of 10 bar (1000kPa).
With the new information and the ability to monitor the pressure in near-real time, TCC have shelved the new reticulation main project costed at $4 Million and instead have updated the telemetry on the valve itself to better manage the timings of the opening and closing on the valve remotely rather than manually, which will allow them to avoid watering and peak consumption windows. TCC are also looking at installing an actuator on the valve, allowing them to slow the opening and closing of the valve and even have partial opening to lessen the impact of water hammer and reduce pressure changes.
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Leak detection on mains supply
A large 600mm bulk main located on a riverbed crossing, was damaged during a significant flood. Data from a pressure sensor located in the reticulation network alerted the council to the break.
It took 11 days to find where the break had occured and to isolate the main. Had more pressure sensors been installed throughout the network, this time could have been reduced as the additional data would have helped to narrow down the location.
Had this leak gone undetected it could have continued for quite some time, wasting large amounts of water as it was located underwater and difficult to identify.
The largest wastewater treatment plant (by capacity) in Townsville is supplied by aging potable water infrastructure and the renewal of the 100mm reticulation main has been on the cards for a while.
This issue has become more pressing as a new water recycling plant is being installed at the location to enable TCC to produce A+ recycled water for large users.
This recycled water treatment plant requires a potable water supply as backup and for operational reasons.
The question posed is, what additional load can we expect and how can the pressure data inform the pipe size for the potential replacement of the reticulation main.
To assess the water pressures and flow rates over a larger time window than data loggers and pressure test equipment allowed, TCC installed 4 pressure sensors and have fitted the plants main water meters with Automated Meter Reading Devices.
TCC are currently analysing the data to show what the actual current use of the plant is (demand, peak demand etc.) and if the current main can supply the expected increase of potable water. (NB: the recycled water plant requires some potable backup supply in case of plant failure).
The high resolution and long term (3 months) data set will give TCC an accurate picture of works required.
Pressure at elevation
Houses keep getting build on higher and higher areas (despite the concern water utilities may have for pressure, at development application time).
Some residences have been built at the maximum extent our current network can supply TCC’s service standard (220kPa and 30L/min).
Ongoing complaints have led to the planning department investigating a large scale reticulation upgrade in the area, a multi-year project which would run into the millions.
Deploying pressure sensors in the area can give us an understanding of the extent of the issue.
TCC have already identified that the pressure in the street with the highest elevation is at the lowest end of the service standard (as expected) and 2 storey dwellings will indeed experience low pressures. This is not new; however, TCC now have the data to quantify the issue.
A possible outcome could be a smallish booster pump to raise the pressure in a distinct area.