Smart water management

author: Nadja Hvala, Odsek za sisteme in vodenje, Institut "Jožef Stefan"
published: Dec. 1, 2014,   recorded: September 2014,   views: 2250


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Depletion and pollution of water reserves in many regions, as well as uneven distribution of water around the globe has ranked water high on the list of societal challenges requiring optimized water use. In addition, running water utilities requires energy. Therefore, the water industry today is focusing efforts on minimizing water and energy consumption.

Water facilities, i.e. water distribution and wastewater collection systems fall into the category of distributed systems, which - like e.g. electricity distribution or heat distribution systems - are subjected to intensive development stimulated by ICT solutions to achieve the above-mentioned goals. Advanced information and communication technologies are the key to realizing a significant reduction in water consumption, environmental emissions and operating costs, and an improvement of water quality and control of installations.

The key concept behind is a smart water grid now being developed for the future operation of water systems. The idea is to integrate sub-systems within now highly segregated water sector, and improve their operation through integration of information and new functionalities enabled by different technologies.

The basis for the concept is smart water metering based on AMI systems (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). An AMI system consists of four major components, namely meter, in home portal/display provided by the gateway, a neighborhood data collection point (collector/access point) and the central unit. For the clients, the information on the water consumption could make an informed choice about their water usage thus stimulating minimal water use. On the other hand, using this data, utility companies are provided by more accurate and real-time information about water consumption and operational parameters within the water grid.

On-line information and increased data granularity enable more efficient monitoring and control of the supply and demands of water (Demand Side Management, accurate water demand predictions) and thus provide energy and cost efficient operation of the water distribution system (optimal pumping, control of hydraulic parameters in the network, etc.). As a result, it also manages optimal pressure control to minimize the effect of water leakage (typically being as high as 30 %), and provide real-time monitoring, detection and information of leakages.

For such functionalities different sub-systems need to be integrated as seen in Figure 1 (water supply system, water distribution system, clients) and different segments and technologies need to be implemented: - data acquisition and integration (sensor networks, smart pipes, smart meters, etc.) - hydraulic modelling and analytics, - data dissemination (e.g. radio transmitters, WIFI, Internet etc.), - data processing and storage (e.g. cloud computing), - management and control (e.g. SCADA, optimization tools), - monitoring and fault detection and - visualization and decision support (e.g. web-based communication tools).

Cloud computing can help collect and share the water information by converting the data to services for different players within the water grid.

Within smart specialization three project areas are proposed to provide solutions and services for smart water management, i.e. (i) advanced hydraulic optimization aimed at low energy consumption and leakage detection within water distribution system, (ii) optimization of biogas production and preventing reactor failure in biogas plants and wastewater treatment plants, (iii) advanced control of wastewater treatment plants for reduced energy consumption and improved quality control.

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