Smart Sewers: 3 Ways to Improve Sewer Management

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August 19, 2020

Smart sewers are sewer systems that use real-time data and modeling techniques to improve the performance of municipal wastewater networks. A smart sewer uses field sensors and telemetry data as inputs for a hydraulic sewer model, and an analytics or AI system to improve operations and decisionmaking. 

In most of the developed world, sewer systems have deteriorated over the years, resulting in lower service levels and eventual degradation of the environment.

Several factors have contributed to this deterioration of the sewer systems, including:

  • Aging underground networks,
  • Increased usage/demand of the systems and;
  • Uncontrollable inflow and infiltration (I/I).

These issues can lead to increased spills, overflows, and ultimately fines from regulating authorities.

Many utilities are deploying smart sewers to enable smart collection and treatment of wastewater so they are successful in protecting public health and the environment. Smart sewers use data collection, modeling, and machine learning / AI to reduce unwanted overflows, pollution, and sewer deterioration.

So, how do smart sewers help to overcome the challenges affecting sewer systems around the world and what is needed to get there? Let’s discuss.

How Do Smart Sewers Help and What Are The 3 Key Ways To Get There?

A significant percentage of our urban sewer networks operate as integrated systems that hold both wastewater and groundwater discharge from impassable hard-standing areas such as car parks, roads, roofs of buildings, pavements etc.

Surplus groundwater discharge combines with wastewater during times of heavy rain, and this can lead to spills directly into waterways via combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Such spills can cause severe contamination from sporadic wastewater discharges. Additionally, high levels of I/I can lead to wet weather overflows or sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

The challenge is to understand how these systems work and then plan and enforce effective measures to minimize the environmental effects of spills. This is smart sewer management and the following are the 3 keys to get there.

1. Building a Model of Your System

Having a 1D hydraulic model of your sewer system will allow you to simulate network performance as it relates to capacity planning, water quality, and more. It can also help to understand sources of I/I, and proactively develop overflow mitigation plans. An integrated 1D/2D model will even use hydrologic simulation so that you can see the impact of overland flows on your underground network.

This type of model will provide those overseeing wastewater systems with a point of reference to understand and test the efficacy of their system. If there is a need to increase capacity, then smart sewers will allow you to know exactly where the additional capacity is needed.

2. Understanding Sensor/Field Telemetry/SCADA Inputs

A smart sewer is enabled by telemetry and field sensors that are integrated into the sewer/wastewater system. This helps to detect overflow events in near-real-time and can also help to understand how forecasted rainfall may impact sewer performance by providing intelligent operational level support.

This step requires gaining an understanding of sensor, field telemetry, or SCADA inputs as they can be used as dynamic data inputs to your model. It is critical that these systems automatically receive and send data about a sewer system to a central database, instead of collecting and recording them manually.

3. Using the Digital Twins: AI and Real-Time Modeling/Forecasting To Resolve the Core Problems Listed Above

AI and real-time modeling/forecasting can help to resolve the core problems listed above by powering a Digital Twin – a virtual replication of the physical sewer asset network.   

Digital Twin analytics collects all the information on the position and condition of assets, simulates output under a variety of conditions, and explicitly analyzes the most critical points of action. Digital Twins can even utilize machine learning to forecast outcomes and provide prescriptive advice for sewer treatment plants – including effluence control and energy optimization.

At Innoyvze, we offer smart sewer management solutions to refine wastewater operations and boost sanitary network efficiency in order to provide citizens with safe sanitation while keeping receiving water bodies clean from contamination.

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Tags: Smart sewers, Sewer management solutions, Sewer Management, InfoWorks ICM