Houston Water, Wastewater Operations earned Project of the Year award from the American Public Works Association. The project, “Leveraging Automated Meter Reading for SSO Monitoring,” was selected as the APWA Texas Chapter Project of the Year. The award was presented at the Texas Public Works Association annual conference in Forth Worth on June 28.
Details about the project:
Executive Summary: The City of Houston Wastewater Collection System and Houston Water is responsible for the maintenance and operation of over 6,950 miles of sewer pipelines ranging in sizes from 6 inches to 144 inches in diameter and includes approximately 123,000 manholes. Identification and mitigation of Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) is part of our operations, maintenance, and management plan. To mitigate potential SSO as well as decrease the time it requires to resolve incidents involving overflows, Houston Water, Utility Systems Science & Software (US3) and iTron developed a technology-based vision and strategy to address these critical issues. Leveraging the existing wireless iTron network built by the City of Houston’s Public Works Department for remote monitoring and management of water meters, traffic signals, and other devices. This will significantly reduce the total cost of ownership by eliminating recurring communications costs and improving real-time monitoring capabilities. We identified innovative ways to solve the problem by designing and developing equipment responsible for automatically collecting and monitoring sewer pipeline water levels and performing real-time alerting, via 311, when specified thresholds have been exceeded.
Technical Solution: The result was the development of the Automated Infrastructure Monitoring (AIM). It is an SSO Alerting and 311 Self-Reporting Monitoring system. This innovative solution leverages the existing wireless broadband network as well as the City’s Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) iTron System already in operation. By working across different engineering disciplines and service lines, the Wastewater Organization can identify ways to leverage investments made by this technical solution. We can determine modifications to the existing AMR system that provide the system functionality required to deliver the expected results for the SSO Monitoring and Alerting System. The City of Houston will save over $5M each year once SSO monitoring and alerting system is fully implemented by leveraging the existing wireless AMR network and Wastewater SCADA system as well as significantly reducing or eliminating sewer pipeline overflows. Finally, the biggest benefit will be realized by the residents of the City of Houston because sewer pipeline issues will be resolved quickly and eliminated, resulting in improved transit, reduced risks to citizens, and an improvement to the environment. Just to name a few, this type of application could also be utilized for applications such as Flood Monitoring, Pumping Systems, Storm Water Monitoring, and School Zone lighting. These devices work together to potentially result in savings of $80,000 per avoided sewage spill along with improved public health and safety.