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The SWIG event, “SMART Operation in Wastewater,” saw the continuation of ” A year of Smart Water,” and the programme was certainly not to be missed. The event was hosted by Oliver Grievson who joined the Board of Directors at SWIG in January this year and he kicked things off at the Deaf Blind Centre in Peterborough outlining the challenges that we all face within the water industry with the next Asset Management Period a little over a year away and a drive to Total Expenditure (TOTEX) and the need to reduce costs as well as the need to reduce costs.

SOWW -11Following this brief “frame for the day” Rob Whittaker of the Environment Agency took the stage to explain the position of the Environmental Regulator. Rob’s presentation neatly kicked off the first half of the day with discussions about the regulation of the Wastewater Industry and the forward thinking views of the Environment Agency and their willingness to look at different ways of regulating the discharges from wastewater treatment works and the potentially to look at not only things such as working on a holistic catchment based approach with the potential to combine the discharges from several works on the same stretch of river but also going much wider than the water companies and having a look at all the dischargers to the environment and look at the best environmental solution. This also didn’t do away with the potential for dynamic permitting at the treatment works scale. Something which was to come up later in the day.

To skip forward a presenter now we had Fanlin Meng of Exeter University who is studying for her PhD and is looking at the different ways that the Environmental Permits are worked out and calculated. We were to be treated to talk explaining RQP & SIMCAT in her presentation of “Incoporatig Cost Effectiveness into Effluent Permiting using a integrated urban modelling approach. Fanlin’s research at the moment is taking a static approach but basically takes what the Environment Agency do when setting an Environmental Permit and brings a cost effectiveness algorithm into the approach which effectively is taking a more holistic approach to the way things are permitted. An approach that the Agency has studied and if all indications are true certainly wish to investigate.

SOWW 12Taking the holistic approach using integrated urban system modelling instead of point source discharge permitting using a optimisation algorithm was not the optimised solution as this would basically result in a similar permitting system to now but the optimal system on a number of different variables.

Fanlin presented a theoretical based case study based on a catchment in Germany and a treatment works in the UK. What was the very interesting conclusion of Fanlin’s works and which certainly interested most of the people in the room that taking this approach to both permitting and operation actually meant a better water quality at a reduced costs.

In between the presentations by Rob and Fanlin was a presentation from Lorenzo Benedetti of Waterways SRL on the case study of the Kallisto Project that has been going on in the Dommel River Catchment again using demonstrating the actual reality of an integrated modelling approach for operation of a wastewater network. The Dommel Catchment suffered from poor river quality and by combining the network, treatment works and river models and integrating them into WEST the team on the Kallisto project were able to run a number of different scenarios very rapidly using the integrated approach and analysing what where the best solutions. Using a UPM approach and conducting a global sensitivity analysis the dynamics of the whole urban integrated catchment system could be studied and the costs and benefits of the various solutions under a number of different solutions could be examined and ranked highlighting the interactions, synergies and conflicts of the different approaches including real time control within the Dommell River Catchment.

SOWW -2Mark Davis of Flowline effectively finished off the section on SMART wastewater catchments by giving us a demonstration of two catchments which are monitored and in one case controlled hydraulically in real time by operators in the control room. The first was in the South Tyrol region of Italy where flow measurement using both non-contact and area velocity flow meters give real time control to the operators of the privately owned treatment works and also highlighting the unique methods of flow verification including a independent electro-magnetic flow meter for temporary insertion into sewers

The second example was from Belgium and really has to be seen but is a great example of seeing a network on-line and also a fantastic example of asset management, the website address is

What the first four presentations of the day concentrating on both regulation and the networks showed was the integrated catchment approach is vital to the global water industry in operating and regulating in a way that is better for the environment as a whole and actually better for the water company and its customers and also, at least in the UK, the regulator is open to this approach. The main barrier is of course that the environment must be protected and data gathered to prove the approach will work. A bit of a barrier but one that is certainly not unsurpassable especially with the willingness of the regulator willing to work with the operating companies.

The second half of the day very much focused on the treatment works itself and the potential future.

This was kicked off by a presentation from Eustina Musvoto of Trusense and looked at the case study from a UK Water & Sewerage company in putting in dynamic permitting of the final effluent ammonia of the plant but also the methodology of ammonia control in a real example. It used the case study of an un-named water company and showed the benefits of ammonia control and also the fact that it is not all about DO control but also operating the process correctly. Sludge Age control is just as important as controlling the DO when trying to control the effluent ammonia in the process. For those of you who know the wastewater industry very much will no how much energy is wasted and how any treatment works over treat the ammonia discharging almost pure water. What this example from the company showed that variable consenting depending upon season or conditions saved significant sums of operational cost even using direct DO (PID) loop control by installing cascade loop control even more money was saved.

SOWW 14Our penultimate presentation of the day was by Simon Mazier of Perceptive APC and it is an area of the business that I have certainly seen as the future for many years now and it was refreshing to see it gradually being adopted as standard practice within the water industry. Simon challenged us with a future vision with a number of “What If” Scenarios. The big reveal of course is that all of the “What If” scenarios were of course already available to the WASCs at the current time and it was merely a case of taking  the solutions and applying them to the different treatment works within the industry.

The results of course of all of this was that the ammonia control or plant control can be done in real time and can ultimately be controlled as long as the treatment works as a whole is controlled. This isn’t necessarily relying on controlling the works on the basis of one individual sensor or even a plethora of sensors embedded into a site but it is a case of looking at the system as a whole and from a process point of view looking at all the different elements and understanding the root cause of the problem and what needs to be done and where.

This neatly brought us onto our last speaker of the day, Lee Lewis of Siemens, who discussed the factory approach to the wastewater industry and the fact that we should be heading towards Industry 4.0 with an approach in line with cyber physical systems or in common terms nowadays “The Internet of Things. The approach is going to take a long time to develop with a time scale of 20 years floated. A time period in my opinion which is a sensible approach. This brought up the problems of legacy systems and how to deal with what is already existing and out in the industry but with time none of this is a show stopper.

What became ultimately very clear from the SWIG Smart Operation in Wastewater workshop was that yes the industry has challenges on both a small scale with problems within the industry with what we are installing and how, also how all of this is going to be integrated together but if we are going to deliver a more efficient system that is going to ensure that the environment is protected without undue costs then the development of integrated approach to operating the water industry, the so called flush to discharge approach then the whole holistic system approach needs to be taken. What was clear was that the technology to enable to take this approach, an approach that is only starting to be looked at by the UK water companies as something to do in the future is already here and available right now.

All of the presentations from the day will be available for the next month (up until 13th April 2014) on the SWIG website where people can find details about how to join SWIG and also look into attending the next event in Gateshead and is on Handheld Devices & Benchtop instruments.


This afternoon saw UKWRIP set a challenge to both the UK Water Industry and to the global water market with the launch of HtechO Tapping the Potential: A Fresh Vision for UK Water Technology

HtechO launched this afternoon at the Houses of Parliment

In the Churchill rooms of the House of Parliament Mark Lane acting as the UKWRIP Business & Economy Action Group Leader launched the HtechO report which challenges the UK to grab hold of a much larger share of the global water technology sector than the current 3% it has

The report has been prepared by some leading experts in the water industry and highlighted the value of the global water industry over the next few decades with the required expenditure prior to 2050 in the region of $8.6 trillion with $5.46 trillion in the wastewater market alone.

Detailed in the main report is quite clear definitions of what the UK Water Industry is good at and what it is not. Engineering consultants, financial consultancy , smart water, network & environmental monitoring , mobile data transmission and water/wastewater treatment are all highlighted as strengths amongst other things with weakness in the industry such as lack of alignment between research & commercial opportunities, a fragmented industry and a lack of overarching research or industrial strategy for water were cited.

What the report does highlight is UKWRIPs intention to turn the UK into a global powerhouse of innovation for the Water Industry and they have outlined their four essential steps to get the UK to a position where they are challenging the industry leading countries such as Singapore, Israel France, Spain & Netherlands.

Step 1 – Strenthen the Public-Private UKWRIP Partnership

By establishing a coherent unified voice capable of leading forward the UK water technology sector internationally  and providing a coordinated strategy

Step 2: Create a sharp focus on commercial opportunities and customer needs

Focusing the actual technology development and technological exploitation in the right areas

Step 3 – Provide independent national testing validation &demonstration facilities

Acceleration collaborative innovation and catalysing its comercialsation meaning that the suppliers won’t have to go to each and individual water company anymore shortening the typical extended time to market that the UK water industry suffers from

Step 4 – Implement a co-ordinate, focused international marketing strategy

Developing a strategic brand built on the UKs unique selling points and spearheaded by an annual international water congress

The report highlighted that all of this needs to start to quite well advanced within the next three years on UK Water PLC does not have a chance to catch up with the industry leaders.

All of this is quite a remarkable goal and a will undoubtedly lead to quite a shake up in the UK Water Industry it will mean that investment within the UK Water Industry will have to increase in order for the industry to take advantage of the market opportunities that are available. The setting up of a national steering group is going to be hard enough, identification of the industry needs is actually relatively simple but different people will of course have different opinions, I know that I do. The independent testing & evaluation centres actually exist to a certain extent, the WRC with its ETV scheme and facilities such as NEL are a good mechanism for this but engagement with groups such as the UK Water Company Instrumentation User Group and Evaluation International and SIRA are essential as is the need to actually test things live on treatment works and networks. In terms of the marketing and events strategy then this is an area where the UK certainly has some industry leading events but this will need sponsorship and backing from some industry leaders.

The challenge has certainly been set by UKRIP and the potential is there what is left to prove is the backing by the government and industry leaders as yes the potential is there but there needs to be the drive to realise that potential. It is something that the Water Industry Process Automation & Control Group has been trying to demonstrate and highlight from the start, just not from a UK centric position. Let’s see what happens and see if the report is backed by some serious heavyweights who are willing to see the Industry change. A copy of the report can be downladed at

WIPAC Monthly Update – November 2011

WIPAC was six months old yesterday, the group has grown and grown and continues to grow in strength with each member who joins. In order to celebrate the six month mark this special edition of the monthly update has been produced with the subject of advanced process control. Several members have worked hard in order to produce articles for this month’s special and my thank goes to them all.

The update is available by clicking here
Bruno Peeters has produced a follow on case study to the concepts that I mentioned around STOWA’s study looking intothe factory concept fro out wastewater treatment works. Bruno’s case study looks at a treatment works that was used for water reuse and the protocols that were put in place to ensure a good product. The concept that was recently floated by STOWA was delivered in 2002. You could arguably say that it was way ahead of its time, or is it that ideas in the industry like the water from the plant are recycling!

John Cook has give us a brace of articles this month, the first looking at Potable Water and Virtual Sensors to predict and control disinfection by-products, the second looking at the development of inferential sensors Using Principal Component Analysis for Real-time Quality Control of Water-level Data in the Everglades in Florida.
Olivier Hartel & Martijn Bakker have provided an article on the benefits of using model predictive flow control in the water supply systems in the Netherlands. Something that different water companies in the UK and Europe seemed to have developed separately over the years, seemingly in isolation. I am not sure how similar this is to the system that is beingdeveloped in a nearby water company to me but it looks like to be doing a similar function.

The final article of the special edition has been provided by Simon Mazier and was originally penned in partnership by a colleague of his, Marie O’Brien. This was the paper that formed the basis of the presentation that Simon gave at EWWM this year and looks at advanced process control for wastewater treatment. The article looks at instrumentation monitoring and principal component modelling for process control.
The spotlight is on ZAPS technology and their LiquIDTM monitoring station.

Overall, this special edition has only been made special by the members that have sent me their articles, my thanks go to them all for without them this special edition couldn’t have been put together.

This months update is out and available for everyone to read by clicking here

This month’s edition contains updates on the Questions of the week since the last update, a spotlight on a company called Multisensor and a new and approved conference section. The technically speaking column is written by my own hands and is based upon STOWA’s roadmap for the wastewater treatment works of 2030 and what it would take (in conceptual form) to control such a plant.

Last but not least a big thank you to all those that help me put this months update together and i hope you all enjoy it. To those attending WEFTEC in Los Angles i hope you enjoy it and remember to take notes for those not attending.

We already have some agreement on next month’s issue with a member of WIPAC going to produce a follow up article to the technically speaking column. I am also speaking to another person about a possible company and instrument spotlight.

Next month will be the 6 month “anniversary” of the month and as such i will be producing a quarterly group paper. This time it will examine the resistance to the use of instrumentation and control systems to their full potential. Something that the wastewater side of the business, i feel does not take advantage of when compared to the potable side of the business and the water industry fails to take advantage of when compared to other production based industries such as the food industry or the pharmaceutical industries (both of which are of course based on producing products  for consumption.

As always enjoy the issue and keep on enjoying the group


The European Water & Wastewater Management Conference run by Aqua Enivro Technology Transfer and sponsored by the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water took place at the Barbican Centre in London in the United Kingdom took place on the 26th and 27th September 2011.

Although I didn’t get to all of the sessions the focus that I picked up was there was a strong need to take energy, carbon footprint and the utilisation of using wastewater and sludge treatment as a resource rather than a waste to be treated. Sensors and automation were of course a very valuable part of this.

There is in the UK there is the carbon reduction commitment (CRC) giving us tough targets to achieve, with ever tightening consents and a need to drastically reduce energy consumption there is a real drive to make drastic savings in the industry. This was highlighted by Thames Water who shower a graph of targets with laggers, achievers and leader zones depending upon how they were doing on their long term goals to reduce energy by 80%.

The solution, or a possible one, was given in a broad brush by STOWA foundation and Paul Roeveld who have produced the Dutch Roadmap for the WwTP of 2030. Explained as a broad brush approach it described the wastewater treatment plant of the future being a factory for nutrients, energy and water, a report is available in English should you wish to read it. It was a good concept that I am sure that we will come to fruition in the future and this will need all of the instrumentation and process control as well as procedures such as HACCP I am sure.

There were other workshops including discussions on MCERTS for flow (a certification scheme for flow monitoring, the HYBACS process by Bluewater Bio and Gary Hoyland and the use of the Blue Pro process for phosphorus removal.

The main focus was the need to drive down the energy and carbon use and this will see a growth in instruments and automation of our wastewater treatment facilities and force us (willingly or unwillingly) towards the use of automation as a tool to achieve the targets that have been set for us by outside parties who will force tightening consents and tightening energy targets. This brings us to the Sensors and Process Control Session.

Sensors & Process Control session

The Sensors and Process Control session was of particular interest to me this year as I was charing it. We had four very interesting presentations at this years conference.

The four speakers were Simon Mazier (Perceptive Enigneering), Andrew Thornton (Hach Lange), John Cleary (Dublin City

University) and Kevin Woodward (United Utilities) all pictured in the picture on the right.

The session started with Simon Mazier ( a regular contributor to WIPAC) talking about Advanced Process Monitoring for wastewater treatment. His talk was about the sweating of the assets that we have installed at our treatment plants by using advanced control, the increasing cost of ownership and how advanced control can give us significant gains. In order to do this we need good accurate instrumentation to help us as water utilities to take a step further and take the data that we produce and then apply data filters to this once the data is in our historians (keeping the raw data of course). This can then be used to run our plants, filter out false alarms (due to data noise), give us accurate data and monitor the performance of our sensors via the use of soft sensors. This is surely the future applying advanced monitoring of our instruments and processes to give us advanced monitoring and control of our processes.

John Cleary of Dublin City University was up next talking about autonomous nutrient detection equipment that they have been developing at the Clarity Centre. They have been developing a number of instruments that utilise wet chemical methods combined with micro cuvettes and modern technology to develop nutrient monitors for the wastewater or surface water environments and transmit results back to base. The presentation particular focused on phosphorus sensors but nitrite and ammonia monitors were in development.

Kevin Woodward from United Utilities presented a proof of the concept of an online pump scheduling and control system that in conjunction with Tynemarch they have developed to minimise pumping in the potable water treatment distribution system to minimises costs associated with the peak tariffs. The system used a combination of site monitoring & control, the UU SCADA/Historian/Watchdog system and a optimisation systemto produce a demand forecaster & scheduler to pump to minimise costs. The first trials are very successful and they are looking at ways to expand the first trials and role it out, potentially across the business.

Last but not least was Andrew Thornton from Hach Lange who have developed a number of control systems to provide a real time control Water Treatment & Optimisation Systems (WTOS) of the treatment plant in order to save costs, carbon and energy. The system combines Hach (Lange) instruments, their Prognosysis monitor diagnostic tool and real time control modules for plant optimisation. Case studies from the UK were presented namely at Southampton, Bournemouth, Chichester, Stockport and Leigh and also from Paris. Some of the case studies utilised a standalone system and some the Hach Lange Enterprise System

September Monthly Update from WIPAC

WIPAC Monthly Update September 2011

This month’s update can be accessed by clicking the link above. It includes all of the usual news, summaries of Questions of the Week, conference update and a technically speaking section on respirometry.

WIPAC -White Paper – August 2011

Another chance to access the Group Paper on the first 3 months of discussions from the Water Industry Process Automation & Control LinkedIn discussion group

WIPAC to go to EWWM

WIPAC group manager, Oliver Grievson has been invited to chair the Innovation & Process Control session at the European Water and Wastewater Management Conference hosted by Aqua Enviro. The conference is to be held at the Barbican Centre on the 27th and 28th September 2011..

The Sensors & Process Control Session at the conference includes presentations from a number of different supliers and utility companies including Perceptive Engineering, Hach Lange, United Utilities and Clarity Centre for Sensor Web Technologies. The full list of presentations are

The conference itself is set over two days and includes other sessions on:

  • Sustainability & Greenhouse Gas Reduction
  • Inlet Works
  • Water Treatment
  • Innovation & Novel Processes
  • SWAN Smart water networks forum

In its fifth year the conference aims to provide a discussion forum that brings together  experts and practitioners  from the industry to share experiences,  discuss best practice and review innovations that might potentially make a major impact.

For those of you who want more information then go to EWWM Conference, where you can register for the conference, alternatively contact Clare Hunter at Aqua Enviro who are arranging the conference. Clare can be e-mailed at

The discussion this week has been particularly frenzied this week around the first in a series of two Questions of the Week. On the potable side this week and the wastewater side next I have asked (and will ask) the question of “ Is there a reluctance to use Instrumentation to its full benefit and if so, why?” This has prompted reaction from many a quarter including some to my LinkedIn Mail box (and they are always welcome by the way). The question was centred around the question that was instrumentation seen as a threat to people’s jobs and roles within an organisation. I am particularly interested to see if there is a difference between the potable and wastewater side of the business.

Reading through the responses that have been posted has been fascinating. Right at the start of the discussion the key point was made that instrumentation are the eyes and memory of the treatment works and are there as a tool. This was (and is) a hard sell to operational staff but is crucial to the success of instrumentation and process automation & control. The discussion developed into some very good examples where correct instrumentation & control have been used to make savings on the plant although of course the operators and engineers often have a tough time in selling this concept to the business managers.

Up steps Nicandro’s Champion, which was a wonderful point well made. It often takes, especially in large organisations (such as we have in the UK water companies), some individual to step up and take responsibility and say, “we have a problem and this is how I am going to solve it”

So how is it solved and how is there a buy in from operations that this is actually a tool to help them do their job rather than a long term plant to replace? Taking the details from this thread and other threads

(a) Early involvement of operations, its all very well for engineers to specify the instruments that are needed. This avoids the over-complication that can happen in designs, plus if someone has had a say in what has fitted then the concept of ownership is more likely
(b) Return of Investment
(c) A good data management system – Its all very well having instruments but they produce data. Asking the question of what you are going to do with the data and how its going to become information is crucial
(d) A good training and maintenance plan – Train the operators in the instrument and systems. The operators can’t cope with all eventualities as a specialist instrumentation engineer is often needed eventually however keeping on top of things will help the instrument to maintain reliability and garner trust from the operator in the instrument and the system.
(e) Finally, not using instrumentation, automation & control as a way to decrease operational staff and if numbers need to be reduced doing by not replacing those who leave. Is there a perceived threat, yes, do operations need to know that threat doesn’t exist, most certainly

This thread is going to go on for a little while yet and I hope to concentrate on the wastewater side of the business with the wastewater question of the week next week. I am sure to develop this into a group paper which I will publish in the group boxnet file on my profile. It seems to be at least part of the main issue to the resistance to process control & automation and is one that needs to be resolved before the industry can move on. Please feel free to join the thread

Outside of the Question of the Week, I am planning to publish the monthly update next week so if there is anything that anyone wants mentioned then please don’t hesitate to send it to me. I have discussed various aspects of the update with group members and it is coming together nicely, despite me having problems with my computer!

In the meantime enjoy the discussions

Welcome to Water Industry Process Automation & Control

This Blog is for the LinkedIn discussion Group Water Industry Process Automation & Control. The group was set up on 16th May 2011 to discuss various issues around instrumentation, automation and control in the water industry. The group itself discusses a series of water and wastewater industry subjects all centred arounf the reqirements of the industry to automate its processes whilst maintain a balance with manual operation.

The group is updated on a weekly basis via a weekly update on LinkedIn and a more detailed monthly update which is published on or around 16th of the month.

The group has been set up by its group manger, Oliver Grievson, to openly discuss the issues that exist from technical issues over instrumentation, to data management systems, to contamination warning systems to the most recent topic on how there is resistance to change from operational staff and why this resistance exists.

The group is open to anyone and everyone interested in the industry who wants to openly discuss the subject, feel free to come and join in the discussions, the link is provided below

 WIPAC Group Page







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