Flushing & Pressure Monitoring: New Solutions Add Increased Intelligence for Water Utilities

editor’s note: The following was adapted from an article that appeared in a 2020 eBook developed by Water Finance & Management and sponsored by Mueller. Click here to download the complete eBook.

As a matter of public health, the quality of drinking water and the condition of the infrastructure used to deliver it, has been under the microscope due to hot button issues like lead pipelines, PFAS and other emerg­ing contaminants. With these issues facing even greater public scrutiny thanks to high-profile situations like the lead contamination crises where people who contracted Legionnaires’ disease or Legionella in the last decade. Legionella is six times more prevalent today than it was in 1976 and 10 percent of people who contract the disease will die. Monitoring and protecting water quality is more important than ever.

Water main flushing has long been considered an ef­fective method to remove unwanted tastes, odors or dis­colorations of the water, and to improve chlorine residual. Most water distribution systems have areas where there are water lines that may not have sufficient demands to keep the detention time short enough to maintain mini­mum disinfectant residuals. Flushing is key to maintaining water quality and protecting against dangerous biofilm-related diseases.

Mueller’s Hydro-Guard® suite of solutions, which we’ll briefly examine here, include flushing, water sampling and pressure monitoring capabilities that are making each of these tasks easier for water utilities.

Automatic Flushing

As part of Hydro-Guard, Mueller offers automatic flushing systems. The Hydro-Guard automated S.M.A.R.T. flushing system monitors water quality conditions such as chlorine (total, free or combined), temperature, pH, turbidity, flow, pressure, and other conditions.

These devices monitor water quality conditions in real time and automatically initiate flushing as necessary to maintain disinfectant residuals as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state and local health agencies. The system allows the user to the set thresholds at which the device activates and improves the water quality at the installation point and areas served by the water lines adjoining the line being monitored. Ad­ditionally, the S.M.A.R.T. Flushing System can send event alerts when quality conditions warrant.

“The Hydro-Guard S.M.A.R.T. Flushing System is an ac­tive monitoring and mitigation system that also provides effective management of non-revenue water associated with flushing,” says Harold Mosley product brand man­ager for Hydro-Guard, adding that the S.M.A.R.T. system prevents over-flushing by only purging the optimal water necessary for the improvement of water quality condi­tions in the water line.

Sampling Stations

Water sampling is another area that the Hydro-Guard solution addresses. Hydro-Guard includes water qual­ity sampling stations, for both above and below-ground applications. These sampling stations are strategically placed in utility easements at sampling points so that water quality collection crews can sample for chlorine levels, disinfectant biproducts or general monitoring for contaminants in the distribution system without the need to access a customer’s home or business. These devices are an effective alternative to sampling from hose bibs, which during the pandemic is essential, as more and more utilities retreat from allowing crews to enter the homes and businesses of clients.

The sampling stations can also be upgraded to include technology such as a built-in pressure monitoring system (see Durham, N.C. case study in sidebar). This unique Mueller advancement allows utility crews to obtain water quality samples while also having an easy installation point for system-wide pressure monitoring of water lines. The pressure monitoring-equipped sample station allows for water distribution lines located approximately one mile from the installation to be observed in near-time.

Pressure Monitoring

Pressure monitoring has also been an area of in­creased emphasis for utility managers in recent years, as a reduction or increase in pressure can have a consider­able impact on the condition of pipelines and can signify potential problems in the system, as well as impact water quality conditions.

“We’re taking technology and blending it into our core infrastructure products”

The Mueller Hydro-Guard pressure monitoring solu­tion is an advanced, cellular-based, monitoring system that can measure water pressure at critical distribution points around the clock. The system offers near-time event notification. When a logged data point is outside of a utility’s normal operating threshold (as defined by the utility), a warning message is transmitted via both email and SMS text messaging. Text message alerts are typically received within minutes of the event occur­rence. It is able to monitor standard state pressure at a rate of one reading every 15 seconds or measuring transient pressure at a rate of 256 reading per second. Additionally, utilities and engineering firms are utilizing the Sampling mode offered by this product to develop advanced, dynamic, near-time pressure models which they incorporate into hydraulic models. In Sam­pling, the device records water pressure at frequencies of once per 30 seconds or 60 seconds, and the data is logged in a raw state with no filtering.

Hydro-Guard pressure monitoring systems can be installed a few ways. They can be installed via a service saddle on a distribution line in a roadway or sidewalk; in a meter box or vault on pressure reducing valves or other control valves; or on a water tank (measured in foot/head). They can also be installed on a Jones® wet barrel fire hydrant, not unlike the installation of an EchoShore®-DX solution, or incorporated into the stem and bonnet of the Mueller Super Centurion® dry barrel fire hydrant.

While Hydro-Guard pressure monitoring data can be integrated with a utility’s SCADA system, Mueller is currently in the process of transitioning the pressure monitoring solutions to integrate with the Sentryx Water Intelligence Platform. When fully available it will allow utilities to view pressure information in Sentryx and make strategic decisions more seamlessly.

“I think the beauty of all this technology for Mueller, is that because Mueller is so diverse, everything works together very well,” explains Mosley. “For example, you can have a fire hydrant, either wet or dry barrel, that has pressure monitoring and leak detection on it. You could also have a Singer® control valve and equip it with a pres­sure monitoring system to allow for both monitoring and pressure management from a single point in the distribu­tion network where knowing and maintaining pressure is critical. You can also incorporate pressure monitoring into an automatic flushing system, thus giving you peace of mind that the flushing system started flushing and stopped when you expected it to do so.

“We’re taking technology and blending it into our core infrastructure products. Our core products now become highly intelligent. The data collected is deliv­ered to the utility so they can further their water quality improvement initiatives and have more accurate data, in near-time, to remove the guess work out of the decision-making process,” concluded Mosley.

Andrew Farr is the managing editor of Water Finance & Management, published by Benjamin Media in the greater Cleveland, Ohio, area. He has covered the water sector in North America for nine years and also covers the North American trenchless construction industry for sister publication Trenchless Technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *