Prevention is Better than Cure: Manage Water Quality Strategically

Effective water quality risk management relies heavily on monitoring and collation of data, with numerous parameters and high data volumes requiring storage, processing, review and interpretation.
Prevention is Better than Cure: Manage Water Quality Strategically

Everyone knows the old saying - "prevention is better than cure." But - what does it mean in the context of managing water quality? It actually means "prevention is a lower risk option and invariably less expensive than emergency response"

Quite simply, if we have enough understanding of our water system, we can make strategic decisions which will prevent problems, thereby having a lasting beneficial effect on water quality. If we don't, then we will be doomed to addressing the problem in a reactive way every time it occurs.

Making strategic water quality management decisions is no different to making any other management decisions. We need to have a detailed knowledge of our water systems, from source to endpoint. We need to have high quality data from the water system and in sufficient density to be useful. We also need to have the technical expertise and experience to interpret and extract meaning from the data.

While these requirements seem obvious, water systems are complex and dynamic. Water quality is subject to all kinds of influences, both natural and anthropogenic, however we must always deliver safe drinking water to our customers. Safe drinking water is generally defined by tightly specified water quality regulations. Our industry therefore must constantly battle the diametrically opposed demands of keeping costs down while responding to the ever-tightening demands of regulators charged with protecting both public health and the environment.

If that were not enough, we also must manage the demands of increasing population and the reducing quantity and quality of traditional water sources.

QualitEye®: QualitEye® is a family of application-specific remote water quality monitoring systems. While covering applications from source water, treatment, distribution, sewage collection, wastewater treatment and recycling, all QualitEye® systems share the common features of configurability, flexibility, high quality sensors sourced from several leading international suppliers, cyber secure remote data transmission and seamless connection to Information Engine.™

Information Engine™: Information Engine™ is a data source agnostic, Cloud based software solution providing data management and visualisation using our attractive and intuitive user interface. Data presentation is based on a hierarchical series of real-time dashboards and displays, that immediately identify, prioritise and predict water quality issues which need attention and then allow the user to drill into the detail of any particular issue with minimal site navigation.

The real power is in its ability to go "beyond the data," by extracting meaning from the data through complex data analytics, and then presenting it to the user in a simple and meaningful way. "Beyond the data" modules of Information include;

1. Risk Factors - a series of predictive algorithms which alert the user to the potential onset of unwanted water quality events. Examples of Risk Factors that are currently operating or are under development are,

  • Opportunistic Pathogen Potential™, which shows the likelihood of a water body being able to support a proliferation of opportunistic pathogens,

  • Algaerithm™, which predicts the likelihood of an algal bloom developing days or even weeks in advance

2. Performance Indicators (PIs) - the real time analysis of the management performance covering simple or compound water quality parameters against targets, both historically and across a customer's dispersed assets. Examples of PIs include,

  • Residual Chlorine PI (simple indicator)

  • Disinfection Efficacy PI (compound indicator)

3. CCP Watch™ - specifically designed for Critical Control Point (CCP) oversight, reporting and prediction, incorporates statistical analysis and presentation of exception data (target, alert and critical) in a ‘water quality accounting’, visually appealing format,

4. Water quality performance reports - a series of standard and customisable periodic performance reports, formatted to meet management and regulatory reporting requirements,

5. Audit Watch™ - a new tool for water security that provides peace of mind. It is an online platform that facilitates simpler planning, tracking and documenting of water quality auditing for Audit Managers, Water Quality Compliance Managers, Water Quality Auditors, and Water Quality Regulators. As a result, Audit Watch delivers a much more robust process from start to finish.

Bathurst - New South Wales
Bathurst - New South Wales

Case Study

Bathurst Regional Council (BRC) in New South Wales (NSW), Australia agreed to share information about their experience using CCP Watch™ over a period of several months.

Bathurst Regional Council (BRC) is responsible for urban water management for 43,000 residents. As with many regional areas, BRC faces significant water supply challenges, including drought and algal blooms. BRC is constantly evaluating how it can continue to deliver a safe, secure water supply for its customers.

Effective water quality risk management relies heavily on monitoring and collation of data, with numerous parameters and high data volumes requiring storage, processing, review and interpretation.

With so much at stake, BRC wanted to better leverage its water quality data. BRC had long been using SCADA as a vehicle for data collation and process control, but felt it needed increased ‘eyes’ on the process results, as well as help to go beyond the monumental amounts of collected data, to information generation and ultimately, prediction.

Reduced access to the water treatment plant due to remote working necessitated by COVID-19 also created an element of ‘flying blind’ for process oversight. As a first priority, BRC wanted to target how it reviewed and managed its critical control points (CCPs), as these are fundamental to meeting its statutory public health obligations and customer value for money obligations (cost of production efficiency).

BRC’s Water Quality team members wanted something that would generate meaningful information from their water quality data, did not burden staff, would provide an extra level of process oversight, help them understand if CCPs were in control, and was readily accessible when key staff members were not on duty.

The team chose to implement CCP Watch®, a specialist information product developed by Australian water quality risk management and information company D2K Information. One of a family of water quality intelligence modules within the Information Engine suite, CCP Watch is specifically designed for CCP oversight, reporting and prediction.

The tool incorporates statistical analysis and presentation of exception data (target, alert and critical) in a ‘water quality accounting’, visually appealing format.

The CCP Watch outputs are accessible to all levels, from ‘corporate to coalface’, meaning anyone in the management chain can digest and readily understand the information. ‘Traffic light’ colours are supplemented with symbols to ensure accessibility of information for those with colour-blindness.

Before implementing CCP Watch, BRC performed its weekly CCP reviews by manual interrogation and review of SCADA results and trends. The preparation of reports and the review process required significant amounts of Water Quality Compliance Officer Caro Wiggins’ time, leaving her to shoehorn her other duties into the time left over.

Wiggins said she now finds that she can scan CCPs less intensively before looking into more detail where there is a noted exception. “The CCP logs help me to see exactly where the exceptions are, allowing me to confirm against the exact SCADA trace for that period,” she said. “CCP Watch gives us an instant look at the current CCP status. This is something we haven’t had in the past and is a useful monitoring tool.”

CCP Watch has allowed BRC Manager – Water and Waste Russell Deans to ‘see’ CCP performance, even while remote from the plant. Device and web app CCP Watch® login and user-set alerts keep Deans informed, so he doesn’t just rely on SCADA; he now has many levels of public health assurance in place.

It has also delivered benefits to Water Filtration Plant Supervisor Dave Cashen, who said it helps keep customers safe. “Scrutiny of the CCP exception results from CCP Watch, with support from D2K Information’s water quality experts, has helped us better focus on CCP performance, helped us identify monitoring point improvements and provided usable information for our regular water quality meetings,” Cashen said.

By embracing the implementation of new water quality information tools, BRC continues to improve on delivery of its drinking water and customer service obligations, quietly leading a water quality information revolution.

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