News from Mission Communications for the Water and Wastewater Professional
Issue 13, Winter 2013
Utility Wins EPA Award
Enhancement: Pump Runtime Spreadsheet
EPA Regulatory Updates
Advanced Wiring and Tips


Customer Spotlight


"Mission SCADA is a great product at an affordable price. I no longer have to worry about the status of my lift stations. The units work as promised and the limited tech support I needed was exceptional."


Ryan Eggleton

Chatfield State Park



January 14-16
Pierre, SD

February 4-5
Lansing, MI

Colorado Rural Water Association Annual Conference
February 3-6
Colorado Springs, CO 




January 8

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation   

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


January 22

 Week 4: Web Portal II - 

Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics

January 29

 Week 5: Special Topics

 February 5

Week 1: Survey of Features 


February 12

 Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation 


 February 26

 Week 4: Web Portal II - 

Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics

March 5

Week 1: Survey of Features


March 12

 Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation


March 19

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










































































































































































































Utility Wins Sustainability Award

If you asked the members of Caryville-Jacksboro Utility Commission in Tennessee about sustainability 13 years ago they would have called it unattainable. In 2000, the utility faced a $13 million overhaul to fix a failing collection system infrastructure. Years of deterioration, inflow and infiltration (I and I) were challenging treatment plant capacity, equipment life and creating $18,000 in annual energy cost overruns.


A Mission RTU monitoring a CJUC lift station.

The utility spent 48 man hours per day repairing and overseeing 45 remote pump stations. There were not enough resources to accommodate the community or future generations. CJUC executive secretary Frank Wallace called these short-term solutions burdensome.


The utility had to find a more cost effective way to reduce I and I operations and oversight. Wallace researched every solution to meet the community's short and long-term needs. In 2000, he met with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss energy conservation and I and I reduction. He agreed to launch a system-wide evaluation to identify collection system problems. Wallace implemented a Capacity Management, Operations and Maintenance (CMOM) program. CJUC lacked a Supervisory Control and Data Aquisition (SCADA) system that could gather data in as part of the CMOM program. After evaluating options, Wallace sent a request to the directors of Caryville and Jacksboro to authorize a managed SCADA system from Mission Communications. He installed Mission's remote terminal units (RTUs) on the utility's most critical pump stations.


The Mission system proved its worth in several months. Personnel now spend 30 minutes per day reviewing site operations. They are kept apprised of pump station anomalies through real-time alarms generated by the new system. These notifications allow personnel to focus on preventive maintenance and other pressing issues. Cellular-to-Web data transmissions save employees time by giving them information that can be accessed from their Web-enabled devices. Reports and trending data created by the Mission system also help them identify pump I and I issues. The runtime variance report is emailed to Wallace if runtimes exceed the average.


"We know if we're having an I and I issue during a storm event because we have more runtimes and more starts," explained Wallace. "Not only does the system provide the data, but it tells us what we need to do with it. We're able to start thinking about possible solutions before we arrive on site."

Optimized pump starts and runtimes help CJUC reduce energy consumption.

CJUC's total investment to rehabilitate the existing CJUC system was $3.5 million. The municipality saved $9.5 million by opting for rehabilitation instead of a total system overhaul. The cost of the Mission system was a small part of the investment.   


"The decision was a no-brainer. I couldn't place that sort of burden on our community when I didn't have to," Wallace explained. "Instead, we sought out innovative products that would fulfill the collection system needs along with the needs of the community."


Since the system upgrade, CJUC has lowered operation and maintenance by an average of $98,000 per year. Annual pump station flow has been reduced by 36 million gallons. CJUC has also instituted a successful program to reduce energy usage. An initial energy management system installed at the wastewater treatment facility revealed multiple areas of high energy consumption. CJUC set six aerators to cycle on and off for optimal energy use. Pumps were optimized to consume less power. These sustainability measures saved $18,000 and 200,000 kWh of power in the first year of operation. CJUC now averages an annual $21,500 in energy savings. The overall savings are due to infrastructure rehabilitation, equipment efficiencies and improved oversight.  


In 2011, the CJUC joined the Tennessee Water and Wastewater Energy Efficiency Partnership to continue sustainability efforts. The partnership included EPA Region 4, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and seven neighboring utilities. Joint participants achieved a combined annual carbon dioxide emission savings of 6,696 tons. The CJUC was awarded the EPA Outstanding Leadership and Successful Organizational Achievements award for its role in sustainability.


"The decisions we made throughout the past several years helped us create a more sustainable system," explained Wallace. "The Mission Communications system is incredible. The data that it provides was a vital part of helping us to identify our inefficiencies within the system."


CJUC could have chosen another and ultimately more expensive solution. Instead, they chose to rehabilitate. This decision has made the CJUC an award-winning utility that will continue to serve its community for future generations.


Click here to read the full case study. 

Pump Runtime Spreadsheet Enhanced

The monthly pump runtime spreadsheet is a report that is sent via email on the first of every month to Mission users who request it. It includes runtime and start/stop data on each pump for the previous month. Prior to the enhancement, the email included one spreadsheet for each station. That means if you have 200 stations, you previously received 200 files. The engineers of Mission improved this feature by merging all the stations into one spreadsheet with separate tabs. This makes the report more user-friendly. The spreadsheet also contains a summary tab which includes the total number of runtime hours, pump starts and average minutes per start for each pump at each station.  


The spreadsheet tabs (highlighted in red) organize the monthly pump runtime data for each station.

The monthly pump runtime spreadsheet is useful for a variety of reasons. You can reduce wear and tear on your equipment and energy usage by comparing the runtimes of the pumps at each station. You don't want one pump doing all of the work. This information, along with pump start and pump runtime alerts makes it easy to catch anomalies and short cycling. You can also create reports for management. Excel is a popular commercial spreadsheet application that can further manipulate the data. Data can be displayed in graphs and pie charts to make information more visually appealing. Open Office is a free spreadsheet application that can also be used.  


This is a pie chart created from the data in the spreadsheet above to further illustrate the information: 


We created this chart by highlighting the specific data we wanted to include. In this case, we highlighted the total runtime data from five lift stations (highlighted in yellow). We then selected the Insert tab at the top of the Excel screen and the type of chart we wanted in the chart section of the drop down menu.  


To receive this spreadsheet on the first of every month, go to Setup > Reports and enter your email in the appropriate field.

EPA Regulatory Updates


Municipalities Spared Expense of Replacing Fire Hydrants

Congress has blocked a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

regulation  that would have banned lead in all fire hydrants. The EPA provision in the Clean Water Act of 2011 would have forced municipalities and water utilities to replace all fire hydrants which contained lead. The U.S. House voted unilaterally this month to add fire hydrants to a list of water fixtures such as shower heads and bathtubs that are exempt from the 2011 law. The Senate unanimously agreed to approve the House-passed bill this week. The decision will save municipalities, water authorities and fire departments millions of dollars in attempts to comply with the EPA regulation that will take effect January 4, 2014.


Democratic Senator Charles Schumer partnered with Republican Senator Pat Toomey in sponsoring the Senate bill. Schumer called the EPA provision "one of the most absurd decisions issued in a very long time." Municipalities would have faced significant fiscal hardships in hydrant replacements if the restrictive EPA regulation hadn't been rolled back. In New York City alone, an estimated 1,300 spare hydrants and hydrant parts valued at more than $1 million would have been rendered useless, according to Schumer.


Clean Water Act Changes Pending Review

The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has sent a draft rule of the Clean Water Act to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If approved, the draft rule will expand the definition of water resources regulated by the Clean Water Act to include lakes, ponds and wetlands on private property. It is an attempt to clarify what water resources fall under the protection of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers.


The modified mandate has been decried by opponents as bureaucratic overreach. Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith has called the regulatory changes a massive power grab of private property. "If the draft rule is approved, it would allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States, including private and public lakes, ponds and streams," said Smith.

Environmentalists argue regulatory changes are necessary to protect water quality across the U.S. They insist even small water sources on private property eventually impact the quality of larger water sources. EPA officials say the revised regulation frees regulators and industry from the legal "quagmire" that has been created by disparate Supreme Court rulings on the Clean Water Act in 2001 and 2006.


"The [Clean Water Act] does not distinguish among programs as to what constitutes waters of the United States" said EPA officials. "As a result, these decisions affect the geographic scope of all [Clean Water Act] programs."

EPA officials say the changes will reduce costs, minimize delays in the permit process and protect water resources vital to the public. The OMB interagency review will examine the draft rule to make sure it does provide greater consistency, certainty and predictability in regulatory enforcement nationwide.



Click here for water sources that are protected under the proposed act. 

Wiring Best Practices and Tips 

Good wiring practices improves ease of troubleshooting and reliability.  A proper installation can greatly impact the performance of your stations.


Tangled wires in a control panel can cause problems with the performance of the equipment.

Drawings and good terminal labels should be a contract requirement on new installations.  Wires should be labeled at their termination points to clearly identify their purpose. Mission provides a diagram of the main printed circuit board with space to record input names for both digital and analog inputs. Keep these documents current so other staff members will not have to spend time tracing wires to discover where an input is wired.


Good lead dress dramatically increases the chances that readings from instrumentation will be "clean." Induced voltages are imposed when high amperage wires run parallel to low voltage signal wires.    


While many variables go into the physics of induced voltages, best practices are rather simple:

  1. Run control wires in a separate chase or conduit when possible.
  2. When control and load wires must cross, make sure they cross at a right angle.
  3. Choose the appropriate cable. 18-22 gauge twisted pair cable is typical for controls. Shielded twisted pair wire is better for longer runs, particularly if it is adjacent to AC wires. The twists help cancel out electromagnetic interference (EMI) from external sources. The shielding should be grounded on one end only. This is typically done at the Mission RTU.


Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV) divert voltage spikes away from sensitive equipment.

Voltage spikes can cause wire faults, erroneous analog readings and in extreme cases, reboots of PLCs and RTUs. Studies cited by WaterWorld magazine show that 75 to 90 percent of all reported failures are attributed to electrical overstress. Sources of overstress range from lightning to normal operation of "noisy" equipment. The stored energy inherent in an energized electromagnetic coil relay or contactor is the common cause of voltage spikes. The physics of voltage spikes are complex. They vary with coil voltage, coil turns and the phase angle of the AC voltage on termination of power to the coil. Many modern relays and motor starters have mechanisms to address voltage spikes.  


An easy retrofit for AC coils is the installation of Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV) across the coil terminals. MOVs divert the energy stored in the coil away from sensitive components when the voltage is excessive. Stored energy is converted to heat by way of the "variable resistor." MOVs do wear out. Replace them if voltage spikes return. For DC coil relays, install a rectifier diode across the coil terminals. The cathode should be attached to the positive coil terminal.


Transducers are available in several configurations. 4-20 mA transducers are generally preferred and appropriate to use when wiring a long distance because they are more immune to noise. 0-5 V transducers are ideal to use with a solar RTU because they are more tolerant to low voltage. They also consume less power, yielding a longer battery life. The Mission main board has a jumper that must be placed on the top pins for 4-20 mA transducer and the bottom pins for a 0-5 V transducer. This is located near the analog inputs. 


The main board has an auxiliary output that generates enough power to supply three to four transducers with AC power. If AC power is lost, the auxiliary output and battery will not be able to support that many transducers. A voltage booster or an outside power source can be used to power multiple transducers without voltage starvation occurring due to loss of AC power.  


Contact Mission Technical Support for more information about wiring best practices.  

"A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself." ~ Laura Gilpin
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