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As one of the early adopters of Taggle Systems’ innovative remote sensing technology, Townsville City Council (TCC) leads the way in collecting data from a wide variety of applications via Taggle’s Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) to identify and solve problems.

One of these applications is remotely monitoring water pressure to better understand pressure fluctuations, identify the cause of low pressure complaints, quickly identify leaks and breaks in the network, and assess water pressure and flow rates to better inform infrastructure upgrade decisions.

Regular pressure complaints from the coastal suburb of Pallarenda led to the installation of three pressure sensors on residential connections at the meter.

TCC already knew the suburb had mains pressure issues and suspected it was a combination of the existing water mains infrastructure and its operation. Pallarenda is fed by 2x150mm reticulation mains that are supplied by a 450mm bulk main.

The bulk main also feeds Magnetic Island and its flow is governed by a large butterfly valve which actuates when reservoir levels on Magnetic Island go below a set point.

TCC did not know the extent and scale of pressure drops and if the watering window in the afternoon also contributed to the problem.

The normal approach would be to engage a consultant to provide a recommendations report, which in this case recommended an upgrade to the infrastructure by separating Pallarenda from the bulk main feeding Magnetic Island.

This project was costed at approximately $4 million. The team decided leveraging its existing IoT network to gather data to better understand the problem might lead to a lower cost solution.

Until now, only short-term spot pressure checks had been completed and these mostly showed that the pressure was acceptable.

Using just three remote pressure sensors on the Taggle network, sending data every 15 minutes, painted a much clearer picture of what was happening.

TCC was able to detect and correlate sudden drops in pressure to SCADA data of the valve operations. Of interest was the fact that the pressure increases correlated closely with the valve operation.

Water hammer seemed to be an issue, and somewhat unexpectedly, recorded pressures exceeded the sensor detection limit of ten bar (1000kPa) on occasions. The data also showed that the pressure drop during the watering times was not as pronounced as first expected.

With this new information and the ability to monitor the pressure in near real time, TCC shelved the new reticulation main duplication project expected to cost $4 million.

The focus now is on updating the telemetry of the valve itself to remotely manage its opening and closing, thus allowing more control to avoid watering and peak consumption windows.

TCC is also looking at installing an updated actuator on the valve, allowing it to slow the opening and closing of the valve, and even have partial opening to lessen the impact of water hammer and reduce pressure changes.

The data provided to inform these decisions came from just three low-cost pressure sensors, attached to Taggle telemetry devices, sending readings via the Taggle LPWAN.

Data is processed and delivered within Taggle’s Aqualus software, making it a low-cost, easy turnkey solution.

The battery-powered sensors will last for four years in the field without any human intervention, after which the batteries can be replaced for continued use.

TCC now has 83 pressure sensors installed – with 30 more to be installed over the next two months – and has solved many pressure challenges with the technology.

Simon Igloi from TCC recently presented a webinar where he discusses a few of these pressure projects, which is available to view on the Taggle website.

This partner content is brought to you by Taggle Systems. Visit www.taggle.com.au for more information.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

©2020 utilitymagazine. All rights reserved

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