News from Mission Communications for the Water and Wastewater Professional
Issue 14, Spring 2014
Simplifying Stormwater Management
Mission Addresses 2014 EPA Technology Needs
Banishing Backups with the Manhole Monitor
Web Portal Enhancements


Alarm acknowledgements via text message now include '10-4' as a recognized response. It was added to the list that contains "Yes", "Ack", "Got it", "Oui", and more.



March 26-27
Charleston, WV

 Texas Water
April 14-17
Dallas, TX

Arkansas AWWA/WEA
April 27-30
Hot Springs, AR

May 7-9
Eugene, OR 




March 26

Week 4: Web Portal II - 
Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics

Week 1: Survey of Features


April 9
 Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation   

April 16

 Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options

 April 23

Week 4: Web Portal II - 

Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics

 Week 5: Special Topics 


 May 7

Week 1: Survey of Features

May 14

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation


May 21


Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options  


June 4

Week 1: Survey of Features


June 18 

Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options  


June 25

   Week 4: Web Portal II -  Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics   



















































































































































































































New Option Board Simplifies Stormwater Management for Coastal City  

One versatile product is better than two single-purpose products. In this case, we combined two option boards into one multipurpose option board. It features two analog output channels and two pulse input channels. The analog outputs offer variable control for equipment such as gates, valves and chlorine dosers. Pulse counter inputs totalize events generated by rain gauges or flow meters.


The City of Palm Coast, Florida was one of the first utilities to adopt the new option board as a way to monitor and control freshwater canal levels. The stormwater utility maintains 31 water control structures to control water flow on 54 miles of freshwater canals. Several Mission RTUs monitor these canals that run through residential areas in this northeastern Florida city. Before the Mission system was installed, Palm Coast crews had to go out in hurricane weather to remove stop logs from the control structures. This drained the canals to accommodate rainfall from the inclement weather.  


The pulse inputs connected to the tipping bucket collect rainfall data, while the analog outputs control the canal gate.


Mike Brennan, Stormwater Manager for the City of Palm Coast says "Mission's SCADA system allows us to monitor canal water levels and control the gates before, during and after tropical storms and hurricanes without putting Palm Coast crews at risk." Brennan uses the option board to monitor rainfall and to operate the electrically-actuated gates. The analog outputs remotely control the gates, and the pulse inputs give Brennan rainfall data to compare with canal levels. Information collected from the rain tipping buckets notifies staff of changing conditions so they can take corrective action if a storm changes direction.


"There have been a few instances where a tropical storm threatens the area, but changes direction at the last minute," explains Brennan. "By that time, we have already removed the stop logs from the control structures to drain the canals in preparation for a storm that isn't going to hit the city. Then we're left with dry canals and residents complaining about the lack of water in the canals."


Rainfall data lets Brennan know when adjustments must be made. For example, he knows the gates need to be opened if two or three inches of rain falls. He is able to quickly close the gates to stop the flow of water if the storm changes direction.


"What used to take us three to four days now takes us a couple of minutes," Brennan explains. "We are able to control the water levels instantly without risking the safety of our employees."


The elevation change in Palm

Control structures with electrically-actuated gates regulate the flow in the canals.

Coast ranges from 35 feet to sea level. Their storm water system mimics the original water table by holding back water with the control structures. All the water would drain off without the structures. This would drain wetland areas and reduce the amount of water stored in the city's well fields. Ultimately, the hydraulic head on the ground water table would drop and allow salt water to leach underneath the fresh water, eventually overpowering it. The Mission system gives city officials the ability to closely monitor surface water levels within the canals and maintain a steady head pressure on the ground water table.


"If water levels get too low, we are notified. This allows us to be proactive, rather than reactive," explains Brennan. The new option boards and RTUs offer Palm Coast officials complete oversight, even in inclement weather. The system saves the city time, money and water. It also gives city crews the ability to efficiently prepare for a storm.  


"When I need to change a gate position, I log into our Mission web portal on my iPad. I make a few changes and that's it," Brennan explains. Brennan anticipates a substantial cost savings once every gate has an RTU. City officials plan to retrofit many more gates with the Mission SCADA system over the next few years.



Mission on Target with EPA Technology Needs

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials have identified 10 technology imperatives needed by United States water and wastewater utilities. The Mission Communications SCADA system provides assistance with three of those needs.

  1. Effective and Economical Monitoring
  2. The EPA encourages utilities to explore monitoring technologies that offer more data at a lower cost. Mission has been at the forefront of dependable, low cost monitoring with managed cellular SCADA. This is an efficient way to monitor, with a predictable cost of ownership and guaranteed price stability.

    • Mission transmits encrypted data through the most reliable cellular networks in North America.
    • The system is highly resilient during natural disasters.  
    • Mission handles all aspects of data management.


    Success Story:   

    Pebble Beach Community Services District in California had an unreliable landline SCADA system for its collection system. The zero-tolerance EPA district needed a reliable, low cost, backup SCADA monitoring system for redundancy. SCADA operating via private radios were too expensive. They chose Mission for its low entry cost and reliability. 


    Pebble Beach has transitioned from cellemetry to 2G and 3G cellular networks since they began using Mission in 2001. The initial trial unit was installed on a submersible duplex pump station. It monitored AC failure, level, pump runtimes and phase loss. As a result of the successful trial RTU, Pebble Beach installed RTUs on all of its lift stations. An RTU was also installed at the wastewater interceptor line to monitor flow and levels at the water storage tank. 

    Pebble Beach, CA. Source: 123rf.com.

    "We bought Mission as a backup to our existing SCADA. In many areas, it out performs the primary system. It is certainly a lot less expensive and easier to use," says Rose, District Maintenance Manager for the Pebble Beach Community Services District.



  3. Energy Reduction and Recovery of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants
  4. Mission helps utilities reduce energy and associated costs. Monitoring catches anomalies at pump stations and notifies personnel. Alerts and alarms can be set for maximum pump starts and runtimes. Mission also offers a nightly force-fill option for water tanks. The feature biases the fill cycle of tanks at night when electricity costs are lower.


    Success Story:

    Caryville-Jacksboro Utility Commission (CJUC) in Tennessee, had collection system inefficiencies and runaway energy costs. Inflow and Infiltration caused peak flows, which were taxing treatment plant capacity. Surge flow was shortening equipment life, raising treatment costs and the electricity bill. Mission's managed SCADA system helped the utility identify inefficiencies and reduced man hours. Additional benefits:   


    • CJUC sequenced pumps and aerators to consume less power
    • CJUC saves $21,500 in annual energy costs.
    • CJUC saves $98,000 annually in operation and maintenance.
    • Annual pump station flow has been reduced by 36 million gallons.


  5. Improving Reliability of Small Drinking Water Systems
  6. The EPA encourages less expensive controls for small water utilities. Here are examples of Mission's reliable, low cost options:  

    • The Tank and Well control option uses standard RTUs to monitor tank levels and remotely control well pumps for small to medium water utilities.
    • The Mission system provides real-time information on pump runtimes, pump start/stop, well flow, well head pressure, and chlorine residual.
      Bobby Brock manages MWC.

    Success Story:

    Marlboro Water Company (MWC) is a small utility serving 2,000 people in South Carolina. A functionally obsolete monitoring system failed to provide timely and accurate data, resulting in cost overruns.

    The utility's system consisted of simple pressure switches and expensive, dedicated phone lines which often failed. Leaks went undetected. Field
    personnel made daily site visits to the treatment plant and tanks. 


    MWC officials chose Mission to reduce operating costs and increase reliability. The tank/well control option with standard RTUs remotely monitors the tanks and control pumps in real-time. Each tank site is equipped with an M800 RTU and level transducers.

    The tank automatically fills when water drops to the minimum level.  



    "I was impressed with what Mission could do to help us and the price was affordable for a small water utility such as Marlboro Water Company," explains Bobby Brock, General Manager and President of MWC. "I can determine from the tank level graphs if equipment is performing at its best. We are immediately informed if any of the tanks are emptying rapidly or if wells are pumping more than normal."


Mission Communications was one of the first to offer managed cellular SCADA monitoring to the water and wastewater industries. The company plans to continue to lead the industry by helping utilities protect the nation's water supply with proactive monitoring and prepackaged solutions.

A full list of the EPA's Top 10 technologies can be reviewed in the
"Blueprint for Integrating Technology Innovation into the National Water Program."



Waterford, WI Banishes Backups

Sewer backups are an ongoing problem for municipalities in the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, up to 75,000 annual backups and sewer overflows account for 10 billion gallons of untreated wastewater discharge. The Village of Waterford in Southern Wisconsin is a community surrounded by several rivers. For years utility personnel have struggled to prevent recurring backups in an environmentally responsible manner. James Bergles is the Assistant Director of Public Utilities for the Village of Waterford. Bergles and his team spend many hours addressing and resolving sewer backup issues. One of these problem areas was an unmonitored siphon well.


The River Street gravity siphon well is located 15 feet away from one of the rivers in town. It is near many houses, restaurants and a high school. A gravity siphon well uses no power to move the sewage. Instead, it relies on gravity and atmospheric pressure. The sewage travels under the river to a manhole on the opposite side of the river. Grease and oil buildup from nearby restaurants frequently inhibit the flow. During heavy rain, the well is also overwhelmed with surge flows. There was no monitoring equipment to catch these issues in a timely manner.


"We haven't had any SSOs, but we have experienced basement backups with a nearby resident," Bergles explains. "The homeowner is quick to call when there is a backup in their basement."


The Manhole Monitor in the siphon well notifies utility crews if well levels get too high.


The remote location of the well made it difficult to provide A/C power for a monitoring device. Bergles said he knew it was going to take a specialized product to monitor this area. He explained that the first and only product he considered was the Manhole Monitor designed and manufactured by Mission Communications. "We like that it's plug and play and no external power is required," says Bergles. "Other than the preemptive alarms, we wanted the monitoring device to blend in with the aesthetics of the natural environment. The well is actually located in the middle of a flowerbed and we were able to make the in-ground antenna blend in with it."


The Manhole Monitor sends notifications when the level in the well tips the float. This gives utility workers a chance to tend to the well before a backup occurs. The monitoring device has helped the village utility prevent 100 percent of the basement backups. Workers raised the floats about two inches to keep heavy rain events from triggering early alarms. "Most of the time the level drops back down because it's still flowing," explains Bergles. "When the float is triggered and we receive an alarm, we know there is a problem."


The Village of Waterford serves 5,000 customers with average flows of 500,000 gallons per day. With the oldest part of the village collection system being from the 1900s, it is easy to see why manhole monitoring is necessary. "The Manhole Monitor is great - we're sold on it," Bergles says. "We are definitely planning on placing them in more wells and manholes."


Bergles says he is also impressed with the reports he can obtain on the Mission web portal. When the utility installs additional Manhole Monitors, personnel will be able to compare historical data. Reports show high level and surcharge events in comparison to the rainfall documented by the local NOAA station. The village continues to update its equipment and its infrastructure. With the success of the River Street well, preemptive measures will likely include more Manhole Monitors to prevent unwanted SSOs. 



Acknowledge Multiple Alarms and
View All Login Attempts

The needs of Mission customers strongly influence the addition of new features and enhancements on the web portals. Mission engineers work behind the scenes to bring these improvements to life. Here are two of the most recent web portal enhancements:  


Acknowledge Selected Alarms Button

Mission engineers recently added an "Acknowledge Selected Alarms" button to the Current Status Detail page on your web portal. Mission users often receive multiple alarms within minutes of each other. These alarms can be the result of a large scale power outage or a big storm. The new feature allows the customer to accept all alarms by clicking one button, instead of individually acknowledging each alarm.


Check each box next to the alarms you would like to acknowledge, and then click the "Acknowledge Selected Alarms" button.

Login Report Enhancement 

The Login Report displays the username, time stamp and IP address for each web portal login. Prior to the enhancement, the Login Report only displayed the last 25 login attempts. The report now includes every login since a customer's web portal was created. You can also click on a username to view the entire login history for that user.   

Use the page links near the bottom of the screen to navigate the login report. 

Stay current with web portal enhancements by viewing the System Revision Log located in your web portal. 

"The mind is like an iceberg. It floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water." ~ Sigmund Freud
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