In 2004, Maroochy Shire Council on Australia’s Sunshine Coast was wrestling with the problem of how to smooth water and energy demands on two water treatment plants and maximize network asset utilisation.
The operators of the Landers Shute and Image Flat water treatment plants in the former Maroochy Shire, believed that smoothed flow profiles were essential to improving the operability, efficiency and water quality of their respective plants.
Unitywater’s Engineering Operations Manager, Michael Doherty, was the Network Operations Manager at the time. As the technical lead of the project, he says the challenge was to remove the demand peaks from the water treatment plant supply and to achieve linear flow requirements across the 24-hour day, while maintaining water pressure standards of service and minimum storage levels throughout the reticulation system.
With two treatment plants, 22 reservoirs, four pump stations and 13 flow control valve sites of significant demand and supply, the challenge was beyond the ability of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system’s automatic control, Michael Doherty recalls. The team turned to AQUADVANCED Energy.
“SUEZ’s team started from scratch in solving the problem. They went through a three-month data gathering phase, developed schematics of the network and the network interactions. They engaged our operators and all staff involved in existing processes, including the SCADA staff, and a hydraulic model was developed,” Michael explained.
“Once they had all the data, they then optimized and implemented the AQUADVANCED Energy software. SUEZ had their Systems Engineer onsite for the first three months following the go-live. We were very impressed with the ability of the team to get to know us and our business and to work with us as a single team to implement the solution.
“The results exceeded our expectations. Not only did AQUADVANCED Energy solve the problem of smoothing demand on the water treatment plants, but it also played a wider role in providing economical, reliable, proven distribution of water within Maroochy Shire. The installation was the first in Australia and we have given many demonstrations of its operation to interested visitors from other water utilities around the country,” Michael Doherty says.
The AQUADVANCED Energy solution schedules pump run and flow control valve set point predictions for the following 48 hours. This is achieved by using historical data, seasonal demands and current reservoir levels to calculate a predicted demand profile for each of the controlled reservoirs.
AQUADVANCED Energy displays the predicted demands over a 24-hour period with site and total predicted demand and actual volumes provided live on screen. A daily report is emailed to system operators and support personnel, for a summary of the system’s operation.
The system reads reservoir level and system flow rates from the SCADA outstations every 10 minutes and performs a ‘solution’ calculation every 30 minutes, resulting in a control set point command being sent to each pump and control valve under AQUADVANCED Energy control. The 30-minute solutions fine tune the predicted values and quickly adapt to demand fluctuations for each site. This compensation takes into account events, such as a sudden rainstorm, where demand can quickly reduce by up to 30 percent.
Using the predictive and modelling capabilities of AQUADVANCED Energy, maintenance throughout the network could now be scheduled ‘intelligently’. By being able to accurately predict demand, operators could use the system to schedule maintenance in such a way as to maintain pressure and later quality throughout the system. In day-to-day operations, AQUADVANCED Energy has reduced dependence on individual operators, often with differing ideas on how to manage the system for best efficiency.
AQUADVANCED Energy’s algorithm-based calculation of factors such as system pressures and pump curves not only reduces the demands on operators but also makes it much easier to train new operators and to ensure highly consistent and highly efficient operational decision making. Water quality has also improved with AQUADVANCED Energy taking into account water storage and water age by automatically turning over water in the reservoirs. Along with sophisticated operational optimisation comes real-time operational support from the SUEZ team. As part of an annual service agreement, SUEZ’s technical experts receive emailed status messages and can monitor the system in a remote connection, ensuring the system runs according to specification at all times.