Solving the Water Industry’s challenges through innovation is vital if the water industry is to achieve OFWAT’s tough targets to improve the quality of drinking water and reduce the number of customer complaints.
As the emphasis on reducing turbidity in potable water increases and customers become less tolerant of discolouration, water professionals have become more motivated to look for new, reliable and effective methods to address water quality as a priority.
What is Turbidity?
The definition of Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by suspended solids that are usually invisible to the naked eye. The measurement of Turbidity is an important test when trying to determine the quality of water.
Customer Complaint Targets
The UK water industry has been targeted over the quality of drinking water supplied to the public, with 27 measures, including turbidity, put into place to improve water quality. With more customer complaints being about water discolouration than anything else, OFWAT has applied high financial penalties to water companies who fail to keep complaints of discolouration to a set limit – a fine of up to £1,000 per complaint if water companies exceed their target. Based on the number of complaints water companies received last year, this could see expected fines reaching between £2-3 million if they do not meet their targets
Continuous, On-line Measurement
To protect against contamination risks, turbidity must be measured continuously, as the value can change very rapidly, with values going from 0.05NTU to >20NTU in a matter of seconds. The key to a successful water quality system in today’s environment is using the latest in monitoring technologies, which immediately detect abnormal conditions, so water companies can act to reduce the risk to customers.
Access to this newly acquired continuous, accurate data has ‘opened the eyes’ of water companies, who have previously struggled to understand the overall condition of their networks. Now that changes in water quality can be identified and tracked via new technology, action can be taken and crucially, warnings can be sent out to customers to prevent complaints. If this new technology is permanently deployed in multiple locations, it can also allow water companies to manage their networks in a predictive rather than a reactive fashion for the first time.
Network Monitoring Solutions
Many water companies are now starting to invest in the latest cutting-edge technology, which has seen them permanently deploying ground-breaking multiparameter monitors. One example of such on-line turbidity monitoring systems is Analytical Technology’s new state-of-the-art MetriNet, which is a brand-new approach to smart sensor technology that helps to improve compliance, reduce complaints and increase their SIM scores. This patented technology provides a flexible method for delivering information from remote locations, is designed specifically for applications in water distribution networks and allows ‘no compromise’ continuous measurement of all the main water quality parameters, including turbidity, residual chlorine, pH, Conductivity, Dissolved oxygen, temperature and many more.
At the heart of the new MetriNet system are a series of smart digital sensors, the industry-leading M-Nodes that come complete with all the communications protocols needed and expected in today’s digital age, as well as traditional analogue output. The M-Nodes are connected to the water supply using a ‘click-connect’ flow cell arrangement, connected in series to minimise water usage and can run at pressures up to 6 bar. This means that ATi’s MetriNet system can be used in closed bypass arrangement to completely eliminate water loss. The M-Nodes are ultra-low powered and run autonomously for years at a time on small batteries. Alternatively, they can be powered from a local plc or telemetry system.
For those looking for a complete solution, M-Nodes can be connected to the MetriNet User Interface (MUI), which connects to up to 8 M-Node sensors and links to the outside world via any ‘ftp’ based system. The MUI also has on board data-logging with massive data storage capabilities.
Innovation plays a vital part in providing solutions to the challenges faced by the Water Industry. Advances in robust, high-precision and reliable network monitors are revolutionising water quality management in water distribution systems.
Understanding network behaviour by using these smart monitors allows operators to condition mains for resilience purposes, or long-term maintenance to reduce customer complaints and safeguard against water quality failures.
It is imperative that water companies choose a turbidity monitor that offers a sustainable solution, like the MetriNet, to meet the complex challenges currently facing the industry. It will ultimately help drive down complaints, increase credit ratings and result in pro-active network management to safeguard water quality for customer use.