Spotting Wastewater Problems Before They Happen

Reign RMC release valve monitors help protect sensitive Florida Keys waterways.

Spotting Wastewater Problems Before They Happen

The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority addressed leaks caused by debris getting into air release valve floats with the installation of ReignAir release valve monitors at bridge crossings over sensitive waterways.

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Supplying the residents and visitors of the Florida Keys with water and wastewater services has its own unique set of challenges, and air release valves mounted on the numerous bridge crossings make valve monitoring a time-consuming and difficult process for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.

“We have issues, especially in sewage, with our air release valves from debris getting into the floats causing leaks, which is obviously a big concern for our waterways and the environment,” says Mike Pullis, wastewater mechanical supervisor for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.

An alarming solution

Lucky for Pullis, Reign RMC recently reached out to the Aqueduct Authority offering to test its air release valve monitoring system on one of the bridge crossings. The monitor is designed to help municipalities improve efficiency and get a leg up on increased pump run times, pump failure, valve leaks, pipe breaks or other possible problems by notifying them of issues before or precisely as they happen.

Within a few weeks after installation, Pullis says it alerted him to a potential issue and he was able to rectify the situation before it became serious. After that incident, he purchased another unit. “They came out with a new model, battery operated instead of solar, something you could put down somewhere like in a manhole, which I thought was a good idea.” Pullis ordered that new model and made sure he included the pressure sensor option so he could monitor pressures on the force mains.

The new model has been installed and operating on an ARV at a different bridge crossing for around eight months. “It’s saved me on a few leaks, issues where we were going to have sewage going into the waterways,” he says. “I was able to get a call out and get our mechanic to shut that valve and clean that ARV.”

Since then, Pullis has budgeted for roughly 20 more ReignAir ARV monitors (Reign RMC) in next year’s budget to allow for one at every bridge crossing in his service area.

Data made simple

If the float that seals the valve in an ARV is damaged in any way, it triggers a leak. That can come from garbage or debris getting lodged in the float or if the diaphragm itself gets a hole or tear. If that happens and water or effluent leaks into the vent tube where the ReignAir leak sensor is mounted, the proximity sensor will detect even a trickle of fluid and send the signal that a leak has started.

The second monitor Pullis purchased detects leaks as well as monitors air pressure. The air pressure sensor is fully programmable to whatever specifications the operator chooses. “Let’s say at one part of the pipe 25 psi is normal and at another part 75 psi is normal. We would set that up to notify if pressure ever got above 75 psi,” says Marty Pitzen, vice president of sales and marketing at Reign RMC. “As soon as it hits 75.1 psi, it immediately sends all of its information and alerts the operator. They will also get alerted of a zero-pressure reading signaling that the valve is dead.”

The monitoring units feature a mapping function to provide a wide status of all active sensors at a glance, and pinpoint GPS logging helps keep track of remote or hard-to-reach valves and allows operators to go directly to the exact location of a failing valve.

“I have it set up to email and text message me,” Pullis says. “I can also program it to send the alert to multiple phone numbers so it can email me, my foreman, a standby, whoever it takes to get a rapid response.”

The ReignAir release valve monitor not only illustrates live pressure readings, but logs and displays historical data through a cloud-based and cellular system allowing recorded information to be accessed from any phone, tablet or PC from anywhere in the world at any time. “Because we are storing all this data, subscribers can go back at any time and pull all these readings, dump them into an Excel file and make graphs, compare or do whatever they want with the data,” Pitzen says.

Changing the game

The addition of more monitoring systems will change the way Pullis and his team operate. “We are doing our ARV monitoring every two months. We are sending crews out to check on them and clean them,” Pullis says. “Other than that, we have no telemetry other than if someone drives by and visibly notices something leaking.”

This creates problems, including response time, if valves are leaking or other issues are occurring within the line, making more work for the team. “Some of my ARVs are in inconspicuous areas where people aren’t around too often. Some of these valves could be leaking for days or weeks without anyone noticing, so this product is going to save us.”

A leaking release valve that goes unnoticed requires more than just a simple fix, adding time to an already full schedule from filling out paperwork and dealing with the potential environmental impacts. “You never really know how long it’s leaking, so then you have to report it to the Department of Environmental Protection,” he says. “With these I’ll know right away if something is leaking so I can get out there right away and shut it down.”

The addition of leak detection and pressure monitoring units allows Pullis and his team to prioritize maintenance and tackle problematic valves before they get out of hand. “It’s a lot better for paperwork, for me and my crews, and most important, the environment.” 


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