News from Mission Communications for the Water and Wastewater Professional
Issue 15, Summer 2014
Mission Sends
Mud Dauber Alert
WaterSMART Encourages Water Conservation
Portable Pump Monitoring Streamlines Temporary Pump Deployments
Cellular Managed SCADA Helps with Brain Drain


Mission added a new security feature which allows users to limit web portal access to their specified IP addresses. This increases security because individuals cannot gain access when trying to log in from an outside IP address.

Contact Mission Technical Support for assistance with this feature.


"Mission and VFC were very helpful in optimizing our cellular signal. Technical support means a lot to us in this rural area."

Jon Brown
Fremont County Sewer



June 22-25
Boyne Falls, MI

 KY/TN Water Pro Conference
July 20-23
Chattanooga, TN

Evergreen RWWA Conference
September 9-11
Vancouver, WA  




June 25

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

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation


July 16
 Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options   

July 23

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

 July 30

Week 5: Special Topics

Week 1: Survey of Features 


 August 13

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation

August 20

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


August 27

Week 4: Web Portal II -  Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced
 Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation


September 17

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

































































































































































































Mission Sends Mud Dauber Alert
Wildlife abound during the summer months. Reservoirs,
The reservoir monitoring station supports the Mission RTU, the solar panel and the transducers. Source: Carroll County Water Authority.
 pump and lift stations, tanks and other sites are often surrounded by heavy foliage. Bees, birds and rodents often seek shelter in or around control panels, enclosures, rain tipping buckets, and sun shields. Rats have been known to eat through float cables, wires, and antenna cables. A Mission customer in Wyoming even encountered a moose using a solar panel post as a scratching post. There is no way to prevent all unwelcome visitors. They typically do not cause problems, but every once in a while they can cause abnormal data reports.

Carroll County Water Authority (CCWA) officials began receiving erratic level readings from their ultrasonic transducer which alerted them to a group of unwanted tenants. The Georgia utility uses a solar-powered M800 RTU, submersible transducer and ultrasonic transducer to monitor the level of the 660-acre drinking water reservoir. Both transducers measure the depth of the reservoir. The Mission RTU, solar panel and transducers are mounted on a monitoring station, located in the middle of the 660 acre reservoir. The transducers are wired to the analog inputs on the RTU. Alarms notify personnel if the level gets too high or too low.

Both transducers measured the same level readings for months until the ultrasonic transducer started reporting erratic level information through the Mission system. Reservoir level alarms notified CCWA Field Support Superintendent Doug Griffin.

"The level readings from the transducers were completely different. The submersible agreed with our visuals, but the ultrasonic didn't," explained Griffin. "The Supergraph on the Mission web portal displayed drastic high and low level readings. The ultrasonic sensor would tell us that we instantaneously lost twenty feet of water depth from a four billion gallon reservoir and then it would miraculously reappear moments later. At first we thought there was a problem with the electronics, so Tom Crowder and I went out to the site to troubleshoot it."
Supergraph showed sporadic level readings until the mud dauber nest was removed.

Griffin and Crowder verified the Mission RTU was working properly and no issues were present. They then took a boat out to the monitoring station to inspect the ultrasonic transducer. "Sure enough, there was a mud dauber nest under the transducer's sun shade," Crowder explained.

Mud dauber activity caused the ultrasonic transducer to send intermittent signal readings. Crowder removed the nest and cleaned the transducer. The reservoir level readings then returned to normal. Griffin says he and his team are happy with the Mission system and recently installed Mission RTUs on their tanks to monitor the level.

In the Carroll County example, there was no way to prevent mud daubers from building a nest. However, CCWA personnel were able to solve the problem by analyzing the data and troubleshooting the site. Reliable monitoring equipment and site visits are essential - especially if you ever have to deal with a group of unruly mud daubers or a 1,200 pound moose.


WaterSMART Encourages Water Conservation

Water conservation is a requisite for utilities across the nation as population growth outpaces water  reserves. According to the EPA, approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used on a daily basis nationwide. Eighty-two percent of that total comes from fresh water reserves.   


Federal Incentives Help Water Utilities

Many utilities face dwindling tax bases, making water conservation and equipment upgrades difficult  to achieve. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) implemented the WaterSMART program in 2010 to combat this problem. The DOI works with state and local governments in establishing efficient water usage, water integration and energy policies that support sustainability and water conservation. WaterSMART helps utilities solve current and future water supply challenges such as water quality degradation, land use, declining ground water levels, aging water infrastructures and population growth. Since its inception, WaterSMART has awarded over $200 million in grants and Title XVI dollars to water districts, municipalities, universities and tribal nations.  


WaterSMART offers utilities helpful information, research and financial support in key areas to achieve water conservation. They include:

  • Water and energy efficiency
  • System optimization
  • Advanced water treatment techniques
  • Watershed management
  • Landscape conservation
  • Basin studies
  • Feasibility studies   
  • Water recycling and reuse   


Mission Proactive in Sustainability and Water Conservation

The Mission system offers several reports and features that assist with sustainability and water conservation initiatives. These include pump variance reports, runtime versus rainfall reports, data downloads and spreadsheets for comparative studies, the Tank and Well control system and analog inputs for level monitoring and flow reports.


Mission also assists in water reservoir monitoring. This type of monitoring allows utilities to better manage valuable water resources. By connecting a level transducer to an on-board analog input,

users receive real-time alarms and trending analog data. Alarms notify personnel if the level of a reservoir crosses the low or high alarm set point. Analog data can be viewed via the web portal in tabular, graph or chart recorder formats. Analog data is also available on Supergraph. Historical information helps personnel identify problem areas.   


Corbett Water District in Oregon received a low level alarm on one of their reservoirs. The water

A Mission RTU monitors the level of a Corbett Water District Reservoir. Source:www.corbettwaterdistrict.com.

district manager logged into the web portal and viewed Supergraph to better understand the problem. Supergraph displayed a dramatic decrease in the reservoir level. It was determined that a water main break had occurred. The alarm allowed personnel to respond quickly and replace 20 feet of cracked PVC pipe. Without the Mission system, the water loss could have been much worse.


The latest WaterSMART grants target states that have the greatest need for water conservation and reclamation. Click here for more information on conservation-related government grants, resources and information.  


Portable Pump Monitoring Streamlines
Temporary Pump Deployments
Jim Gorman, Chairman Gorman-Rupp once said, "People tend to overlook the importance of  pumps, except when they're in trouble." Pump monitoring greatly reduces the chance of "trouble" because alarms and trending data keep personnel aware of anomalies before a problem occurs. Monitoring is especially important for portable pumps.

Portable pumps are primarily
A Georgia utility uses the Mission system to monitor a bypass pump while a new lift station is being built.
used in the water and wastewater industry to bypass stations undergoing maintenance or for natural disaster remediation. The Mission system prolongs equipment life for both short or long term deployments by sending alerts to specified personnel when starts/stops or runtimes exceed the user-selected maximum.

Variables to Monitor
Portable pumps generally have more equipment variables than permanent pumps because of the generator or diesel engine needed to power them. Additional variables include:
  • Engine temperature: If an engine over temperature event occurs, trending data can be analyzed via Supergraph to identify the severity of the problem. High temperature alarms can also be set up to avoid equipment damage.
  • Voltages: Most portable pumps rely on a large 12V starter battery. Since the AC power input will not be used, you can hook up the large 12V battery to it and receive a voltage report. Contact Mission Technical Support for configuration before connecting the large battery. Technical Support can also assist you in using an analog input to monitor voltages readings from a generator.
  • Fuel level: Receive low fuel level alarms by wiring intrinsically safe analog fuel gauges or low fuel level floats to the Mission RTU.
  • Runtimes: Tracking pump, engine or generator runtimes can be used for billing purposes or to schedule routine maintenance such as oil changes. The Mission system can also send runtime alarms if runtimes exceed the user-selected maximum per hour or day.
Creating and Changing Callout Schedules
Because portable pumps are used at various job sites with a different group of employees at each site, the alarm callout list may frequently change. It is best practice to name each alarm group with your company's pump inventory asset I.D., instead of the job name. This makes it easy to maintain a concise list of alarm groups for each portable pump. After the initial setup is complete, it is easy to add and modify destination callouts when the pump is deployed to a new job site. Consider adding a responsible party at the rental company to the list. For example, designate the person who must be contacted if a high engine temperature condition occurs.

Installation and Mounting Tips
Trailer-mounted portable pumps are prone to significant vibration. Constant shaking can loosen the mounting screws and connections. Here are two solutions to prevent loose screws and connections:
  • Install rubber shock mounts between the RTU and the trailer. This isolates the hardware from the vibration.  
  • Use thread-locking fluid on the printed circuit board, radio and enclosure screws to lock them in place. This adhesive is used on screws and bolts to prevent loosening, leakage and corrosion.
Problems can arise if hydraulic equipment is not used regularly. If a portable pump will not be deployed for a long period of time, the on-board relays can be used to remotely exercise the equipment.
The Mission RTU, mounted in the wooden box, monitored the trailer-mounted portable pump.
Remediation Application
Hailstone Lake near Billings, MT was a manmade reservoir built in the late 1930s. Over time, alkali metals and minerals leached into the water. Regulatory officials mandated the lake be restored to a dry prairie. On-site disposal of water was necessary due to liability concerns from ranchers living downstream.

For two summers, a contractor pumped water out of the lake and into flood irrigation lines so the water would evaporate. A trailer mounted portable pump, a flow meter and a Mission RTU were deployed at the remediation site to slowly drain the lake and track the progress. The Grasslands Manager used the Mission system to monitor engine runtimes and gallons pumped from her office located four hours away. Alarms and reports kept her informed of the remediation site status.


Cellular Managed SCADA

Retirement Stopgap  

About a third of water and wastewater utility workers will retire by 2018, according to the 2008 Water Environment Federation report. Over 79 million baby boomers will be reaching retirement age in the next 10 years. According to a study authored by Jones and Henry Engineers for a WEFTEC presentation, funding deficits, heightened federal security and mounting regulations under the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts are making matters worse.


Many municipalities have addressed the skilled worker shortage by adopting field automation and mobile computing tools like wireless SCADA. Wireless SCADA has proven highly effective at increasing worker productivity in the field by broadening access to operational information and diagnostics. This remote integration has helped utilities incorporate data and analysis into planning and maintenance. Furthermore, young employees are attracted to modern technology, especially smart phones and cloud-based services.  


Cellular SCADA Helps Utilities Do More With Less

Mary Mason, senior control systems specialist with Jones and Henry Engineers says utilities must do more with less today. According to Mason, managed cellular SCADA can provide a viable stopgap by offering better real-time, anywhere access to key data, information and maintenance records for field technicians and administrators. "It enables fewer people to manage and control an entire system - even at home if needed," says Mason. This is especially helpful to small and medium-sized utilities that sometimes lack the funding to implement expensive strategies. Mason says remote access provided by managed SCADA and monitoring benefits these utilities the most. 


Mission Communications offers a cost-effective managed SCADA system that helps utilities maintain and monitor remote sites and equipment with fewer resources. The intuitive web portal, real-time alarms and purpose-built reports simplify system management. Simplification is especially helpful at a time when many workers are retiring. Mission offers free ongoing training that keeps operators and managers abreast of industry trends and technical knowledge. Weekly webinars help new utility staff members learn about the system.


Bypassing the Experience Gap

Although apprenticeships are common in many trades, mentoring is needed in the water/wastewater industry to guarantee a qualified workforce. Many utilities are unable to offer this service. In a number of cases, mentoring has been addressed at the state level.


The Colorado Wastewater Utility Council (CWUC) was proactive in 2005 when it successfully created the Colorado Water and Wastewater Mentoring Program. The free program matches mentees with mentors by area of interest and need. New workers obtain technical and managerial training from experienced personnel on topics like wastewater problem-solving, regulatory compliance, watershed activities and standards-related issues. Mentees can post questions on the program website and obtain government certifications. Colorado utilities also collaborate in mutual problem solving.


The Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) in California runs a pilot training program that serves small rural utilities that cannot provide ongoing water operator education. The program is designed for younger adults pursuing a water/wastewater career. Students earn continuing education units and are prepared for the State of California Level 2 (D2) water operator certification test. Training lasts one to two years and is condensed into two or three week segments with hands-on activities. Students can interact with experienced operators in the field and receive job search and placement support.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also offers a central database for training, internships, mentoring and certifications in partnership with state and industry organizations. Federal, state, foundation and university funding are available for ongoing education and certification of incoming employees. Information is available by geographic area or area of interest. A list of the training programs and resources are available here.

"A river is the report card for its watershed." ~ Alan Levere
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