Ariz. master-planned community's water/wastewater service grows and changes

DL Engineering & Controls' design for the master-planned community of Anthem, AZ -- 30 miles north of downtown Phoenix -- incorporates a number of cost- and water-conserving "firsts" for Arizona, such as a membrane filtration system and wastewater reuse for non-potable applications. DLEC design and programming reduces data collection time, improves flow rates...

DLEC Inc. design and programming reduces data collection time, improves flow rates.

PHOENIX, June 28, 2006 -- Exponential growth in the Phoenix metropolitan area has resulted in the need for public and private utilities alike to expand and upgrade their water and wastewater infrastructure. When Arizona American Water Company realized a need to upgrade its water and wastewater service at the master-planned community of Anthem, AZ, 30 miles north of downtown Phoenix, it turned to DL Engineering & Controls to design the plant expansion's electrical work and program it with state-of-the-art software.

The Situation
Arizona American Water Company (AAWC), a subsidiary of American Water, provides water, wastewater, and irrigation service to the award-winning master-planned community of Anthem, Arizona. The Anthem water campus incorporates a number of cost and water conserving "firsts" for Arizona, such as a membrane filtration system and wastewater reuse for non-potable applications. As build-out of the community proceeded through its planned construction phases, the campus's modular design allowed for easy expansion to required treatment capacity.

During one expansion phase, it became apparent AAWC would have to upgrade its system or convert to new software. The goal was to have new software that could communicate with the existing Allen Bradley Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) hardware and be more intuitive for the operators. These operators needed to be able to learn the software quickly, even when coming from other districts. AAWC also wanted to achieve a more automated, or "hands-off," control strategy. Furthermore, operator efficiency would be significantly improved, and overtime significantly reduced, by the ability to access the plant from remote locations (including the on-call operator's home) 24/7, when necessary. AAWC contracted with DL Engineering & Controls, Inc. (DLEC) to perform the system replacement.

The Solution
In addition to the electrical design work for the plant expansion, DLEC procured and programmed the new Wonderware InTouch Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems. DLEC also integrated the new HMI stations into the existing SCADA system, and integrated all the hardware and set-up screens necessary to operate the system. The system was then tested and debugged to ensure smooth operation. Subsequently, additional Allen Bradley PLCs have been procured and integrated into the system by DLEC to provide additional control capabilities. These changes have freed the operators from making constant changes in the process, thereby giving the water campus a consistent, predictable and traceable result.

The Advantages
The new Wonderware InTouch HMI system provides an efficient and intuitive interface between the operators and the PLCs controlling plant operations. Since the conversion, AAWC operators from any district can be assigned to Anthem with only minimal additional training needed. Remote monitoring and control is now utilized enabling operators to respond immediately to critical system issues.

Further system programming by DLEC has resulted in additional operations benefits. For example, the time required for polling remote sites to collect data has been reduced from about 15 minutes to about 7 seconds, resulting in significant efficiency gains.

The management of influent wastewater diurnal flow rates has also been significantly improved. The original daily wastewater influent surge cycles actually reduced filtering capacity and consumed unnecessary power because the entire process was having to ramp up and ramp back down to respond to the surges. Efficiency was improved by programming the system to monitor storage levels and maximize equalization utilizing full storage capacity, while equalizing influent flow into the treatment process trains. So, for example, while typical influent flow may dip to just less than 500 gallons per minute (GPM) and peak at 2,000 GPM in a given day, the flow from the equalization basin into the treatment process holds steady at about 1,200 to 1,400 GPM. Consequently treatment capacity has increased, while energy consumption in the treatment processes has decreased.

This has also allowed operators to fine-tune the treatment process and maximize filtration. Where other developments that utilize reclaimed water for irrigation of landscaping and golf courses often have to mix it with precious groundwater to maintain a quality standard, the Anthem facility is able to use 100% of the reclaimed water for its irrigation, only supplementing it when irrigation demand exceeds the supply of reclaimed water. This conserves our groundwater supply and saves money.

According to American Water (AAWC's parent company) Western Region Client Executive Jes Merrell, "The selection of an automation engineering partner is of long-term and critical importance to Arizona's largest private water utility. Arizona American Water Company made the correct choice in selecting DLEC to design and support our many water and wastewater facilities across the state."

Arizona American Water Company ( provides water and wastewater services to more than 350,000 people throughout Arizona. A subsidiary of American Water, which services nearly 20 million people in 29 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, AAWC is renowned for technological innovations in its water and wastewater treatment plants.

DL Engineering & Controls Inc. ( specializes in industrial facility electrical design, construction management services, and integration and support services, with a major focus in the water and wastewater industry. With headquarters in Phoenix, DLEC provides solutions for municipalities, private water companies, developers, civil engineering firms and general contractors throughout the U.S. Southwest.


Also see: "Software integration at North America's largest membrane water treatment plant falls to DLEC"


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