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Curtailing Combined Sewer Overflows with Modern Technology

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Combined Sewer Overflows, commonly abbreviated as CSO, refer to sewers constructed to collect rainwater, stormwater, domestic water and more. It is this water that is collected that is collectively regarded as wastewater, which is treated for reuse.  The increased water collected could overflow pipes during heavy rainfall or snow melt. Consequently, combined sewers occasionally overflow, mixing wastewater which joins freshwater bodies in that area. This is a primary concern faced by countries worldwide as toxic substances may enter clean drinking water. In addition, not controlling the water levels released from a combined sewer could potentially put the public and public property at risk as floods could occur. Wastewater utility managers have therefore turned to adopt industry 4.0 technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), data analytics and more. This article will assess how modern technologies are helping public utility service providers to curtain combined sewer overflows.

Six Ways Modern Technologies Maintain Water Quality and Quantity in Combined Sewers

Trying to eliminate combined sewer overflows may be complicated. However, managers can control how water quality and quantity can be retained, ensuring that freshwater bodies are not contaminated. Alternatively, when water surfaces have toxic substances, technology can be utilised to detect them before they are used for human consumption. Here are six modern technologies that ensure safe water:

Accurately Predict When Heavy Rainfalls Will Occur

It is common knowledge that satellite technology is used for weather forecasts. This can be integrated into the operations of wastewater managers, who will be able to know in advance when heavy rainfalls are expected. Depending on the severity of the impending rains, ample time will be available for managers to take measures to ensure that the combined sewer does not overflow. For a country like Australia that suffers from water scarcity and has experienced significant periods of drought, this helps managers to get ready to collect as much rainwater as possible for treatment.

Monitor Combine Sewer Levels in Real-Time

IIoT sensors are an excellent way to monitor the health of combined sewers at all times. For 24 hours every day, the sensors can monitor how much water levels the combined sewer has collected and how fast the sewer will meet its maximum capacity. Having sensors also means that any other wear or tears in the combined sewer level can be detected in advance. When combined with the power of predictive and prescriptive digital tools, managers can guarantee that wastewater assets are performing in their best condition. Detect anomalies from the outset and take steps to curtail them before they occur, eliminating damages. Also, receive prompt notifications when routine maintenance is needed.

Detect Toxic Substances That Merges Into Fresh Water Bodies

The biggest threat of combined sewer overflows is that it pollutes clean water when it joins freshwater bodies. Sometimes this could lead to bacteria and algae blooming in the rivers and other water surfaces. This cannot easily be detected until it has already significantly spread to the entire surface. Once that occurs, it is almost impossible to reverse the process and bring back the water into a clean state. In this respect, incorporating satellite technology helps managers detect algae blooms from their initial stage. Satellite technology provides high-resolution images whereby the green shade indicates the amount of CO2 in the water. The darker the shade, the higher the possibility of algae taking root in the water, subsequently negatively impacting the marine life in the water body. 

Design Combine Sewers That Can Handle Any Amount of Water

One way to completely stop combined sewers from overflowing is by investing in a robust infrastructure that can contain higher water levels. Investing in digital twin technology is a way to test out various designs and prototypes cost-effectively. Digital twin allows engineers, manufacturers and others to be as innovative as possible with their designs and styles without taking any risks. Through the digital replica of the potential combined sewer, simulations of hypothetical situations can be tested. By finalising a feasible design and structure, wastewater asset managers can rely on the combined sewer to retail the water quality and quantity without overflowing. 

Receive Advanced Warnings of Natural Disasters

Similar to receiving weather forecasts, satellite technology and GIS can help the public utility sector to take measures against natural disasters. Since wastewater assets are mainly laid underground, any landslide, soil erosion, and floods can damage or affect wastewater treatments. Thus, by receiving information on impending natural disasters, which also put civilians’ lives at risk, such technologies provide a win-win situation. In Australia, this can estimate the duration and severity of upcoming seasons of drought.

A Satellite Map to Find Anomalies Invisible to the Naked Eye

Satellite and GIS maps have the possibility of capturing a mass of land spanning hundreds of kilometres in one shot. This allows managers to  monitor the condition of all combined sewers in one go. This not only automates the routine checkups teams have to execute but helps asset managers detect anomalies at their earliest stage. The detailed maps provided include intricate details which cannot be found any other way. This is a more practical method to categorise which assets require the highest priority. It removes the risk of errors made and can pinpoint the causes for such a breakdown to start appearing.

Meeting Your Wastewater Priorities on Time

There is no point in treating wastewater if half of it ends up overflowing from the combined sewer, gets mixed with non-treated wastewater and contaminates water surfaces. Wastewater asset managers can now easily prioritise their tasks by incorporating a compact solution that integrates various advanced and innovative technologies. Take appropriate measures to counter natural disasters, gain valuable insights on how to improve the combined sewer infrastructure and save overall finances by prolonging the life cycle of each asset.

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