Pickerington Times-Sun

Technology keeps water plant running efficiently


Pickerington's Wastewater Treatment plant is going high-tech with the recent implementation of an innovative remote computer-controlled application called "SCADA."

City Water Reclamation Superintendent David Jackson said the acronym stands for "supervisory control and data acquisition" system and is part of the plant's HMI, or "human machine interface."

Jackson said the system enables critical plant operations to be conducted from remote locations.

"This allows for communications between various computers in the plant and lift stations (remote pumping stations) and the operators who care for them," Jackson said.

"The SCADA system provides remote telemetry from lift stations and portions of the treatment plant," Jackson said.

"The new system is certainly state-of-the-art, in fact, some of this has never been done before, and code had to be written for the new interfaces," Jackson said.

He said the system works by sending alarms to apps on the plant operator's smart phones as well as through a cellular enabled iPad.

"The apps on the operator smart phones display detailed information about incoming alarms," Jackson said.

"Using the iPad, the operator who is on call is able to connect to the main computer at the treatment plant, through a proprietary virtual private network, and view the screens and alarms and status as if they were sitting right in front of the main computer," he said.

The advanced technology allows operators to reset alarms, engage different systems, and verify alarms and conditions from off-site, which can prevent operators from making a special trip down to the treatment plant.

It saves the operators inconveniences and the city overtime, said Jackson, who appeared before Pickerington City Council's Service Committee Dec. 18 to give a presentation about the SCADA system.

Jackson said the treatment plant has one SCADA unit, which is currently being evaluated on a trial basis.

"This is Phase 1 of a multiphase project, which will enhance communications with the treatment plant, both locally and remotely," Jackson said.

"Phase 2 of the project involves adding electronic valve actuators to some frequently adjusted valves in the treatment plant.

"Control of these valves will be turned over to the computer system."

He said as the treatment plant continues to grow, the SCADA technology should also allow the wastewater treatment plant to keep staffing at current levels.

"This, of course, reduces costs to the citizens of Pickerington," Jackson said.