Software Suite Helps Utilities Manage Water System Data

Water and wastewater utilities rely on a growing amount of data to support regulatory reporting, improve decision making and help identify cost saving opportunities.

The Hach Water Information Management Solution™ (Hach WIMS™) provides a set of scalable products to collect, incorporate, and analyze data and communicate information easily. Suited for use by very small or very large, complex organizations, the products offer an affordable choice when compared to custom-developed applications and a reliable alternative to manual processes.

Hach recently acquired OPS Systems and its WIMS is based on OPS SQL products. Designed specifically for drinking water and wastewater systems, these products aggregate independent sources of data, such as laboratory data (from Laboratory Information Management Systems, commercial labs, or lab bench sheets), SCADA, and utility specific Excel spreadsheets. Data can be automatically collected or entered manually. Consolidation of this data into a single data repository ensures data integrity and data accuracy in a secure location with fully automated audit control.

The consolidated database can be used to provide streamlined reports, intelligent alerts, and enhanced graphing, charting and mapping. The database can be used to produce federal and state regulatory reports, with templates and electronic transfer built directly into the system for all states or regional governance boards. Analysis and optimization of key processes is simplified and more likely to occur because data is readily available.

Case Study

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) covers 525 square miles and encompasses all of the City of St. Louis and approximately 80% of St. Louis County. MSD serves a population of approximately 1.4 million and has approximately 519,000 single-family residential, multi-family residential and commercial/industrial accounts. Of these accounts, approximately 87,000 are for stormwater service only.

MSD currently operates seven wastewater treatment facilities, treating a combined average of 330 mgd. The district is responsible for operating and maintaining 9,649 miles of sewers.

Gathering data and producing regulatory reports was time consuming and potentially very error prone. MSD was completely dependent on a few key people with specific knowledge of how to gather and manipulate the required data. This was a major issue every month when regulatory reports were due.

Plant managers, operators, and engineers were becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of time it took to gather data. They found it difficult to perform analysis and optimization projects due to the complexity of identifying the true source of the data, resolving data discrepancies, correlating results across multiple parameters from laboratory and plant data, and generally having faith in the accuracy and integrity of the data. These difficulties resulted in data that was duplicated in multiple systems as users found ways to get their work done.

In 2002, MSD decided to replace its unsecure, unwieldy manual entry system for managing complicated and disconnected operations data. Staff wanted an automated and integrated system to collect data from all of the wastewater treatment plants, the associated SCADA and control systems, and their central Laboratory Information Management System.

MSD initially considered building its own data management system. However, after discussing development options with several consultants, MSD staff understood that not only would building their own product be an overwhelming task but it would also be time prohibitive. To resolve their most immediate concerns of easy data analysis, overall data integrity and easy report generation, they needed an automated system without the burden of long-term maintenance of software code.

Assessing the products in the marketplace, MSD started an extensive procurement process to select the product most suited to fit its needs. After numerous product demonstrations, the OPS SQL product was selected. Key to its selection was its substantial reporting capabilities, ability to interface with multiple systems, secure storage and accessibility of all the data.

Following selection, MSD staff were impressed with the ease of the OPS SQL implementation. The system delivery included full product configuration, end user training, acceptance testing, and system roll-out.

MSD staff continue to be happy with the choice. They believe the system has resolved their key issues of data consolidation, regulatory reporting and data integrity. Secured access makes it easy to allow the right people to get the data they need. The system is currently used by all treatment plant managers in their daily analysis of plant operations and produces all required federal and state regulatory reports.

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