SA Water is undertaking a $5 million trial of advanced smart sewer technology in Gawler and Stonyfell which should lessen the impact of sewerage network fault on the communities.

Smells coming from the sewerage network in Gawler will be monitored by 88 new odour detection sensors and ten weather stations, to build a better understanding of odour behaviour and movement, and improve proactive management of the issue over time.

The focus in the township north of Adelaide will be improving the management of odours, where detectable levels have been consistently above average in some areas of the town.

SA Water is one of the first Australian water utilities to use the technology in a comprehensive whole of suburb approach.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Asset Management, Peter Seltsikas, said it’s normal and in some cases necessary to have some odour emission, but the aim is to limit how noticeable it is for nearby residents.

“Vent stacks deliberately draw in fresh air or release small amounts of foul air, which helps to extend the life of the pipes, but for the most part, these smells shouldn’t be detectable by people in the area,” Mr Seltsikas said.

“The underground sensors particularly – which can be remotely monitored – will become our eyes and ears.

“The weather stations will monitor climatic conditions like wind direction and air temperature, which can impact the way odours move and are experienced outside our network.

“Weather is usually the reason sewer odour is so intermittent, but if we can learn what it’s doing in near-real time, we could, for example, time our network ventilation for when the community will be least impacted.”

SA Water is also piloting its smart wastewater network in Stonyfell in the Adelaide foothills, where flow and level sensors will be monitoring the movement of sewage, to help detect pipe blockages and prevent overflows.

“As this is the first time we’ll be trialling the equipment, right now it’s all about increasing our knowledge of the network. We will then look at how we can use this information to make operational changes which benefit our customers,” Mr Seltsikas said.

These two pilots are in addition to an expansion of SA Water’s smart water network to four new locations across the state – Athelstone, North Adelaide, Penneshaw and Port Lincoln – after the success of a trial in the Adelaide CBD that has prevented 29 water main breaks since going live in July 2017.

“The success of the technology to date in the water space gives us confidence in achieving meaningful results in our wastewater operations,” Mr Seltsikas said.

“The combination of technology across both our water and wastewater networks, a world-leading analytics platform and the expertise of our smart network team will give us a more detailed view of our underground systems than ever before, and help us continually improve our customers’ experience.”

SA Water is investing approximately $9 million across the roll-out of its expanded smart water and wastewater networks.

Installation of all equipment is underway and planned to be transmitting near real-time information back to SA Water’s Operations Control Centre before the end of the year, with the full benefits expected to be realised by mid-2019.

Image provided by SA Water. The image shows SA Water Trade Waste Support Coordinator, Heath Georgeff, and Monitoring and Network Officer, Michael Hogan.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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