Case Studies: Flow Control and Monitoring

Case Studies: Flow Control and Monitoring

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Remote station monitoring helps protect trout

Problem: Herbert Holt Park is the home of Gatlinburg’s Trout Rearing Facility, which is Tennessee’s only municipal trout farm. The biggest problem they have are leaves clogging the intake, which causes the wet well to get too low. When this happens their airburst system cleans the intake screen before the pumps come back on. Sometimes the air burst cannot keep up and the system gets into a cycle of pumping then stopping to clean to a point that the compressor runs out of air completely and the fish have extended periods without freshwater.

Solution: Southern Sales suggested the AccuDose AccuWatch RMC-2000 remote monitoring system. The system provides low cost, real-time data with free cellular internet connection. It provides seven digital and four analog 4-20 ma inputs. Each analog can be configured for monitoring wet well levels, tank levels, pressure, flow, current, etc. It is a cloud-based IIoT system. There is no installed or purchased software required. It is a solution that is not only inexpensive but also easy to install and maintain.

Result: The facility now has the ability to monitor any four analog values as well as seven digital inputs with an eighth digital monitoring power fail. They also have the option of installing a 4-20 mA output module or an RS485 MODBUS module. The cost is a fraction of what they and others have paid for their SCADA sites with less security and functionality. “With the RMC-2000 I can remotely monitor the water level as well as the pump runtimes, which I use together to time the cleaning cycles and have someone on scene before an emergency call takes place, which greatly reduces our risk of fish loss,” says Travis Williams, facility manager. 866-310-1055;

Integrated data improves stormwater management 

Problem: With unpredictable weather on the rise, the city of Raleigh, North Carolina, stormwater division had seen an increase in resident-submitted service requests for sinkholes and flooding. These stormwater backups and weather-induced issues can have a major impact on infrastructure health, shortening asset lifespans and requiring more frequent maintenance. 

Solution: Using WinCan’s sewer inspection integration with Trimble Cityworks Asset Management software, Raleigh CCTV transportation analyst Don Hickman simplified and automated work order creation and data ingestion, resulting in shorter customer response times and improved safety of public assets. “Miskeying of facility IDs on pipe segment references is normally a huge problem that’s hard to catch, but by having data come directly out of GIS, through Cityworks, and into WinCan, we prevent those mistakes from happening,” Hickman says.

Result: As workflow efficiencies increase, customers experience shortened response times and automated prioritization processes. “When we started this process, only 0.5% of our assets had been inspected,” Hickman says. “Since then, with our pole camera and crawler, we’ve gone from 0.5% to 5.5% in just two years. And with the related maintenance work to address the defects we found, we moved from 75 to 80% fives in our grading system to much lower condition grades.” Hickman added that the first basin inspected with this workflow was the city’s oldest, and its grade went from 4.3 to 3.3, which he expressed is “huge on a scale of 1 [best] to 5 [worst], especially in an area where pipes are over 100 years old.” 877-626-8386;

Radar measures municipal water in Puerto Rico

Problem: Hurricane Maria walloped Puerto Rico in 2017. The island’s water system, with 114 water treatment plants, was damaged, leaving half the island without water. Between 2017 and 2023, Puerto Rico experienced five more hurricanes and three tropical storms making water repairs a challenge.

Solution: The country wants to repair and modernize with technology like water level storage sensors and software by BinMaster Level Controls to help monitor inventory. At one plant, 12 CNCR 210 liquid radar sensors were installed. A stainless steel wall-mounting bracket designed to accommodate the 1.5-inch NPT threading is bolted to the cement structure of each holding tank. Wiring, completed via the 0.5-inch NPT wiring connection, sends a 4-20 mA signal to BinCloud software. The compact radar level reliably measures excessive humidity, steam, vapor and is unaffected by noise. The 80 GHz technology accurately measures up to 26 feet. It features a two-wire 4-20 mA output and with either a 1.5-inch threaded or straight NPT connection. It can measure liquid levels through a plastic storage tank wall or an IBC container. 

Result: “The plant manager said he’s very happy with the radars,” says Luis Anton, BinMaster International sales manager. “They plan to upgrade more plants as they rebuild.” 800-278-4241;

AMR system leads to faster meter readings

Problem: West Slope Water District in Portland, Oregon, has an integrated water meter and radio, resulting in the radio having to transmit from 12 to 36 inches underground. Two of the variables that affect radio propagation are metal and water. West Slope gets a lot of rain, making it common for meter boxes to have water inside much of the year. The integrated radio, when combined with water in the meter box, forced crews to drive every street slowly and even stop to wait for meter reads to come into the reading software. This made monthly meter reading more time-consuming than it needed to be. 

Solution: West Slope has been replacing old meters when they fail with the Mueller Systems modular AMR System. The AMR migratable radio antenna is separate from the register, connected via an industry-standard inline Nicor connector. It is installed high in the meter pit, above most, if not all, water that may be in the meter box. This placement ensures a stronger signal for meter reads. These new radios provide efficient, long-range two-way communication. LoRa — short for long range — is resistant to most interference in the 900 MHz band, ensuring readings are reliable. This allows utilities to drive every other street and at the speed limit. 

Result: The new modular AMR system is over three times faster than the older meters, a significant time saving that enables crews to attend to other tasks. The new radios are also easier to install, and are easier to maintain due to their modularity. 800-423-1323;

Wet gas flowmeter solves biogas moisture, corrosion and accuracy issues 

Problem: The engineers at a Midwestern wastewater treatment plant found that wet, sticky biogas was causing a corrosion issue affecting the flow sensors of their existing gas flowmeters, leading to over-range and poor accuracy measurement issues. They believed a mixture of carbon dioxide, water and trace amounts of hydrogen sulfide were corroding the 316 stainless steel sensors. 

Solution: The applications team at FCI - Fluid Components International suggested that its ST100A Wet Gas MASSter Flow Meter with corrosion-resistant Hastelloy C-276 sensor tips would solve both problems. The shielded mechanical design of FCI’s wet gas sensor shunts water vapor away before it reaches the sensor and prevents any water vapor from collecting on the sensor head to avoid corrosion and any measurement accuracy or consistency issues. By shunting moisture, condensation and water droplets away from the ST100A’s thermal mass flow sensor, accurate gas flow measurement is maintained while minimizing errors that could occur from a cooling effect on the sensor that might cause a spike or false high reading. 

Result: The flowmeters were installed in 2021 at the plant and have performed without issue since then. This meter can be calibrated to measure virtually any wet gas composition, and mixed, dirty and specialty gas. 800-854-1993;

Phosphate monitoring keeps costs down and levels in check

Problem: When the wastewater treatment plant for the city of Madison, Indiana, received a new phosphorus limit of 1.0 ppm, the staff of 12 assessed the plant’s treatment processes and determined that biological reduction alone wouldn’t be enough to meet the new limit. 

Solution: The decision was made to add a chemical-feed program to the process. Since frequent rain events increase flow but dilute the concentration of phosphorus entering the plant, plant leadership ruled out flow-based feeds. They instead selected a ChemScan mini oP Analyzer from In-Situ for its large, blockage-resistant sample tubing, internal self-cleaning features and low cost of ownership. Installed at the point of effluent, it measures phosphorus levels leaving the plant in 15-minute increments and adjusts the chemical feed accordingly.  

Result: The analyzer allows the plant to confirm compliance in real time. Its low-maintenance operation also enables the plant’s small staff to use their resources efficiently and direct labor where needed. The plant uses polyaluminum chloride to precipitate influent phosphorus, which binds to phosphorus and adds to the sludge layer. Better chemical control also helps reduce cost by minimizing sludge production. 800-446-7488;


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