Real Tech and WRAIN have partnered to launch a real-time monitoring pilot project that will save money and keep municipal drinking water safe.
Last week, Whitby, Ontario-based water technology company Real Tech Inc. installed its first pilot project in partnership with the Water Research and Innovation Network (WRAIN), an organization established by the City of Kawartha Lakes to accelerate market adoption of new water technologies through collaboration and facilitating access to demonstration sites.
The installation at the Lindsay Water Treatment Plant will address challenges arising from the naturally high level of organics in the region’s water supply, the Scugog River.
Traditionally, turbidity samples have determined coagulant dosages that can remove these organics at drinking water treatment plants. However, says Real Tech’s vice president of operations, Drew Evans, turbidity doesn’t necessarily provide a clear picture of the organics level.
“Sometimes turbidity can give a false positive, for lack of a better word,” he says. “It’s possible to have a sample with high turbidity but low organics and vice versa. When you’re adding a coagulant dosage based on this type of measurement, you very well could be wasting money and/or not meeting your water quality goals.”
Real Tech’s aim is to help treatment plants optimize that dosage. “Our instrument provides additional real-time data to help operators make informed decisions and adjust dosages accordingly,” he explains. Many of the company’s customers have reported savings associated with switching from scheduled to real-time dosing. For example, a customer in Puerto Rico saw a return on their system within the first month of installation. The cost savings for this customer averaged more than $9,000 per month in the first eight months of using the tool.
Entering the cloud
For the City of Kawartha Lakes installation, the company has optimized more than the dosage.
“This project has an interesting twist,” says Kirk Wong, WRAIN’s project manager, who was present for the installation. “Usually, Real Tech’s instrument is connected directly to the plant’s control systems. Instead, Real Tech has applied a cell-based transmission system that provides access to trending data from its monitors in real time via the cloud.”
Rather than re-routing the existing plant operating system, providing access to the data through the cloud allows greater flexibility in monitoring and analysis. Potential savings can also be realized against costs for data transmission and the quality of the analysis.
Project partners will have access to the cloud system, allowing the plant operators, public works, and Real Tech to monitor the results.
As another bonus, Real Tech’s monitors have a bias toward detecting aromatic organics that, when combined with chlorine, form disinfection byproducts. “That bias adds value to our technology,” Evans says.
The benefits of real-world pilots
Wong believes brokering partnerships with real-world pilot sites is part of WRAIN’s appeal to companies. “Working with their technologies in operating facilities allows companies to overcome challenges and improve their products,” he says. “You may not always get that opportunity in controlled environments.”
When this pilot is complete, Wong adds, the municipality will have an opportunity to purchase the technology, provided the technology proves to be a cost effective measure to the facility.
Evans explains that while Real Tech’s products are sold in more than 40 countries, the company doesn’t always get to monitor installations and progress. “The project in the City of Kawartha Lakes gives us a local reference site. We can easily invite operators from nearby plants to visit the installation.”
“Working with WRAIN allows our company to demonstrate and improve our technology in, essentially, our own backyard,” he says. “It’s a short drive from our office in Whitby to the plant in Lindsay.”
Real Tech and WRAIN plan to commence another project with a site in the City of Kawartha Lakes in the coming months.