Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) is a wastewater treatment agency in Greenville, South Carolina that serves Greenville and parts of Laurens, Anderson, Pickens, and Spartanburg counties in the upstate area. The utility infrastructure includes eight water resource recovery facilities that are serviced by 343 miles of interceptor lines and 60 pump stations. Effectively managing such a large network is challenging at best. Reliable communication is imperative to head off emergencies in remote locations. When an old dial-up phone system at a pump station failed due to a power outage, facility managers began to search for a more reliable way to monitor equipment.
|Renewable Water Resources, South Carolina. Photo Credit: Nickie Soleimanzadeh.
Blake Visin, Information System Director with ReWa said the turning point was when a tree took out the phone and power lines at their largest pump station at Rocky Creek several years ago. A third-party contractor had failed to do regular maintenance at the site. The station went one week without power, and the outage was not reported which caused ReWa to lose over 1.5 million gallons of water.
"That was one of the indications that we needed to bring service back in-house," explained Visin.
ReWa officials tried a temporary fix before pursuing a permanent solution. "We set up a workstation with Trihedral client/ server SCADA that did nothing but poll the CB4s," said Visin. "If that work station failed to communicate or connect within 15 minutes, it set off an alarm.
was a band-aid
approach to a failsafe checker."
Customized Monitoring for Essential Operations
ReWa managers soon realized land-based phone lines were neither an economical nor reliable solution. Their temporary fix was spotty and limited the information they could obtain from equipment in their large service area. They needed something to reliably detect and track emergency events in real-time and provide regular reports which could be reviewed. Visin consulted with managers at the nearby Laurens CPW to learn
how they were monitoring critical assets. They were using the Mission system in a large geographic area for dual water and wastewater monitoring, and control of water tanks, water towers, and pumps. After seeing the CPW set up, Visin said the decision to switch to Mission was a 'no-brainer' and has been a life-saver when trouble-shooting remote locations.
"It (the Mission system) has saved our hides two to three times a month," explained Visin.
He said Mission has given utility workers the ability to designate areas that are the most mission-critical. They have been able to segregate collections systems and operations into two sectors on the Mission portal. Monitoring and reporting functionality are tailored to each department. Personnel from both departments see only data that pertains to their job on the real-time viewer when they log in.
"This allows us to have a central site that IT can view and manage, but the assets of each group are separate. For us, this is beautiful," explained Visin.
Visin said critical elements like power at a plant, inflow at pump stations, or issues with pumps can be managed more efficiently and in more detail with Mission. He said he likes the fact that personnel can securely access the Mission site from anywhere and no confidential information is at risk because it is isolated from their network.
Reliable Service a Big Selling Point
Visin said his staff is very happy that Mission intervenes quickly when they have an issue. He recalled an instance when some RTUs were having trouble connecting. Mission staff contacted the cell carrier, got the proper answers, and the problem was solved. His staff quickly received brand new radios to replace the ones that were out of date.
"You guys are probably at the top of the list as far as customer service goes," said Visin. "It is not a matter of being put on hold. Usually, the person we talk to is the person who can solve the problem. That is huge, and the follow-up has been phenomenal. We almost would like to take Mission and hold it up to vendors and say that is the standard you need to have."
Renewable Water Resources is investigating other uses for the Mission units. Future plans at ReWa include an expansion at the water resources recovery facilities with the potential for remote control.
"The demonstrated performance of these devices, coupled with Mission's service level, has sold us on their products. We consider them a business partner that has helped us succeed," Visin concluded.