by HANNAH BROADBENT
Wastewater, water, gas pipelines, wind farms and more – function properly due to one system. The supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). Now, Watertown’s SCADA is being updated in the water treatment and distribution systems, thanks to the 2017 Utilities Capital Fund which budgeted $105,000 for the project.
SCADA is a computer system for gathering and analyzing real time data. SCADA systems are used to used to control infrastructure processes, facility-based processes and industrial processes (production, manufacturing, refining, power generation, etc).
Currently, the communication with these systems are phone line modem based. The update will make communication through radio based systems.
“If you recall the end of last year where we had some hair raising moments where we were losing communication,” said city administrator Shane Fineran. “We’ve been having issues with reliable communication through those phones, we sometimes pick up a Vietnamese radio station.”
The city adopted the resolution to approve development of plans, including the city’s engineering consulting firm, Bolten and Menk proposed scope of services related to the development of plans and specifications for the SCADA communications project.
This project will also add a control a the wastewater treatment plant.
Bolten and Menk’s services cost $25,000. City staff said they will be able to finish the project with the remaining $80,000.
Councilwoman Deborah Everson asked staff what the benefit is to having Bolten and Menk design the plans as opposed to staff.
“There’s no ways it would be apples to apples, there’d be all kinds of fruit,” said the utilities superintendent, Doug Krammer. “We’re not familiar with SCADA, they know it better.”
The city engineer Andrew Budde, said SCADA is a very complex item. He said Bolten and Menk can get very specific with radio controls so the city is getting what they want with this.
“It will align with existing infrastructure and can be set up for wastewater treatment facility,l” Budde said.
The council unanimously approved the plan. Councilors agreed now is the time to start this project.
“This is the type of thing we need to invest to make sure our water is flowing the way it needs to be flowing,” said councilman Michael Walters. “When it comes to the water you just need to do what it takes to get the service provided.”
Staff said they couldn’t give a date in which the project will be completed. They said it won’t be completed by the end of 2016. Staff did say the system should be fine it waiting about 6-9 months to complete the project.