Raw water operations: Remote supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)

A picture named scada.jpg

Here’s a look at a SCADA installation down in Texas from Peter Polson writing for Water World. From the article:

To eliminate the site visits, LCRA leveraged a cellular data solution with broad coverage that can reach across its water distribution network. At critical junctions in the water network, LCRA has installed automated data loggers that dynamically track water flow. LCRA uses a cellular gateway, connected to each data logger via a serial connection, to access meter data. The data is sent to a central office to be analyzed for water flow tracking and predictive analysis to identify potential issues.

With no wireline power to most of the remote locations, LCRA relies on a small solar panel to run each site. The cellular gateway requires approximately 50mA while idle and no more than 200mA for transmissions. The data logger has similar power requirements. A power budget spreadsheet has helped LCRA calculate that a typical deployment can run reliably with a 20-watt solar panel. To ensure 24 hour monitoring, the authority uses a 20-amp battery for nighttime power.

Most water network deployments covering large geographic areas include a mix of multiple cellular carriers, enabling IT managers to ensure sufficient network coverage at every remote location. LCRA, however, was able to select one national carrier with a network large enough to provide adequate coverage. Knowing that each data logger generated logs every 15 minutes, totaling 10KB each day, they purchased a cost-effective metered data plan that met their monthly needs.

“The intelligent cellular gateways that we have deployed are incredibly reliable,” said Andy Verrett, senior systems technician at LCRA. “We have had no connectivity problems to speak of. Although we experience occasional outages due to the data logger, the cellular equipment is rock solid.”

Each cellular gateway is equipped with a static IP address from the cellular carrier, allowing managers and engineers in the central office to query the data logger or cellular gateway at any time for status reports or to change configuration parameters.

LCRA has not needed special cellular antennas or amplifiers to ensure reliability connectivity. However, remote locations with a weak signal that is unreliable for cell phone calls can often still provide cellular data dependably by using a higher-gain antenna or, in some cases, an inexpensive cellular amplifier. Experienced systems integrators can help customers identify the proper accessories for a particular deployment scenario.

Overall, LCRA has found the solution to be effective and dependable, with no connectivity problems to date.

The data logger, intelligent cellular gateway, battery, and solar panel are mounted on a pole with an unobstructed view of the sun in the southern sky. The logger and gateway are then secured inside a plastic enclosure built to NEMA 4 standards for protection from moisture and dust. Mounted out of reach on the pole, the enclosure is protected from vandalism. Because all of the equipment is designed to withstand broad temperature ranges, no heating or cooling systems are needed. Even on a hot Texas day, the equipment performs consistently.

More infrastructure coverage here.

State to provide $900,000 for mitigation of damage to public water system infrastructure from Fourmile Canyon fire

A picture named fourmilecanyonfire.jpg

From the Boulder Daily Camera:

The money comes from the Water Quality Improvement Fund, which is supported by the collection of civil penalties for violations of the Water Quality Control Act. The grant funds are available for repairing public water system infrastructure damaged or destroyed by wildfire, assisting public water systems experiencing operational difficulties due to runoff from storms in burned watersheds, and for watershed restoration and protection projects in burned areas. Any government agency or non-profit group working on behalf of a government agency can apply for a share of the money through Oct. 15.

The city of Boulder, however, issued a statement Sept. 17 saying Boulder’s water reservoirs and pipeline intakes in the Boulder Creek Basin are located west of the Fourmile Fire burn area are at a higher elevation. Any ash and sediment washing into Boulder Creek from the wildfire area would be below the major water sources that run into Barker Reservoir and the Silver Lake Watershed reservoirs. The drainage basins affected by the Fourmile Fire do not drain into Boulder Reservoir.

More Boulder Creek coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: Proposition 101, Amendment 60 and Amendment 61

A picture named smithreservoir.jpg

From the Boulder Daily Camera (Heath Urie):

Combined, the effects of Amendments 60 and 61, along with Proposition 101, could mean the need for between $26 million and $54 million in cuts to Boulder’s budget within the next four years. Brautigam is working on creating a detailed plan for exactly where those cuts would come from, but in general, they would likely mean reduced hours of city services and more layoffs.

Amendment 60 would amend the state constitution to impose restrictions on the collection of property taxes, require government entities to pay property taxes and make other tax-related changes. Boulder’s finance office believes that, if the measure is approved, the city budget could be hit with an additional $7.6 million to $32.2 million deficit. To make up the difference, the city could be forced to increase water rates by up to 104 percent, according to city estimates.

Amendment 61 would change the way that Colorado governments are allowed to take on debt. State borrowing would be prohibited, and local governments would require voter approval to borrow any money. Boulder’s finance officials estimate that measure could have the biggest impact on the city’s open-space fund. Based on current projections, the fund would face a reduction of about $2.5 million in 2012 when several large leases pay off. Open space would probably have to take on additional cuts over six years, ranging from $1 million to $1.7 million a year. Because Amendment 61 would limit debt repayment to 10 years, the city would need to pay about $445,000 more per year, per $10 million worth of debt, officials estimate.

Proposition 101 is a statutory change that would reduce vehicle taxes and fees, telecommunication service taxes and the state income tax. Boulder officials estimate that measure would reduce the city’s annual budget by $6.2 million in 2011 and $7.9 million by 2014.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Brush: City council approves wastewater fee hike

A picture named stormwateroutlet.jpg

From the Brush News-Tribune (Jesse Chaney):

Approved during a regular council meeting Monday evening, the resolution amending the fees will raise the city’s base wastewater rate from $4.20 to $5 and the price per ET unit from $27 to $37. An ET unit is equal to 20,000 gallons of water used per quarter. Brush Finance Officer Joanne Gosselink said any customers that use a significant amount of water will see an increase of more than $10.80 per month. She can be reached at 970-842-5001 to calculate the impact of the increase on individual customers, she said. The new rates will take effect Nov. 1. “I sure wish there was a way to avoid this, but I don’t see any other solutions,” said Councilman Chuck Schonberger.

Brush Administrator Monty Torres said the council had raised wastewater fees in the past, and the new fee hike was anticipated. With the funds collected from the past fee increase, he said, the city was able to make a down payment of $1.6 million on the new wastewater plant.

More wastewater coverage here.

Fountain Creek: The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board hears flood study pitch from the USGS

A picture named fountaincreekwatershed.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A proposal for the $570,000 study was presented to the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board last week, and will build on previous studies to develop strategies for managing flows on Fountain Creek. “These models would evaluate the volume of water and the timing,” [David Mau, of the Pueblo U.S. Geological Survey office] said. “We’ll look at what’s needed to avoid overtopping the levees through Pueblo…It’s not the type of consulting engineering report that’s going to tell you how to design and build structures. It doesn’t deal with water rights. It just tells you what the hydrologic model looks like.” That most likely would mean studying diversions into side detention ponds and projects on tributaries, Mau said.

But the model would be capable of looking at a dam on the mainstem of Fountain Creek, part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ original recommendation to protect Pueblo after the 1965 flood. It also could look at alternatives such as diversion structures that could move part of the peak flow into Chico basin to the east. “Once we get it calibrated, the model is capable of doing that,” Mau said.

The Fountain Creek board is deliberating whether to partner with USGS in the study, using money from Colorado Springs Utilities under the 1041 agreement with Pueblo County.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.