1997 Water/Wastewater Study Highlights Developments in Automation

1997 Water/Wastewater Study Highlights Developments in Automation

By Shannon Parsons, PennWell Research

Water and wastewater utilities in the United States and Canada are planning 469 SCADA and/or process control system projects over the next three years. The projects are valued at more than $270 million; 61 projects have budgets of $1 million or greater. These projects and others are described in a series of detailed reports published by PennWell Research. In addition to the two control system reports for water and wastewater, PennWell Research has completed the water/wastewater utility AM/FM/GIS report as well as the second water utility AMR report. These reports were published in January 1997.

The focus group for these studies includes 1,047 water and wastewater utilities. The nation`s largest utilities were contacted. PennWell Research analysts interviewed plant managers, engineers and other key decision makers to uncover specific plans for new SCADA and/or process control, add-on RTUs and PLCs, AM/FM/GIS systems, map conversion and AMR systems. These specific plans include type of system, operating platform and number of system components (RTUs, PLCs, CRTs), as well as planned communication, consultant, mapboard and preferred system vendors.

Control Systems

Water utilities are budgeting more than $44.8 million for 279 system projects and more than $17.3 million for 79 RTU/PLC add-on projects over the next three years. Figure 1 illustrates the value of planned water system projects by utility size (in meters). Compared to the 1996 study, the total dollar value for systems has dropped sharply from $170.5 million for 289 system projects (just about the same number of projects), while the total dollar value for add-ons has increased from $15.7 million for 91 RTU/PLC projects (the dollar value increased while the total number decreased). The 13 most costly projects, or 5 percent of the planned projects, represent $23 million or 17 percent of the budgeted system dollars. This graph illustrates an interesting finding because the majority of the project dollars are being budgeted for projects that have between 100,000 and 299,999 meters or customers.

This size category holds $37 million in budgeted system dollars while comprising 10 percent of the planned number of projects or 28 percent of the budgeted system dollars. Interestingly, utilities in the 10,000 to 19,999 meter range make up the second largest group in terms of planned water system project value. Seventy projects comprise the 10,000 to 19,999 category. Results of this study also indicate that wastewater utilities having between 10,000 to 29,999 meters plan to spend the most for SCADA and process control system projects, as shown in Figure 2. The 100,000 to 299,999 meters category plans 27 percent of the total $136,208 to be spent on wastewater SCADA and/or process control projects. Furthermore, utilities with less than 5,000 meters make up the third largest group in terms of planned wastewater system project value. Wastewater utilities plan to spend more than $136.2 million on 190 system projects and more than $10.9 million on 42 RTU/PLC add-on projects over the next two years as documented in PennWell Research`s “1997 Wastewater Utility Control System Market Data Report.”


In addition to the technology of computerized control systems, water and wastewater utilities benefit from ever-changing AM/FM/GIS systems. PennWell Research analysts identified 170 AM/FM/GIS system projects valued at more than $29.1 million as listed in PennWell Research`s “1997 Water and Wastewater Automated Mapping/Facilities Management/Geographic Information System Market Data Report.” This study also uncovered add-on, conversion and consultant projects. The AM/FM/GIS planned system projects are illustrated in Figure 3 according to geographic location throughout the United States. Canadian projects are not listed on this map. The majority of the planned system projects are represented along the eastern half of the United States, possibly due to large populations. Also, a few clusters are represented in California and Washington.


A total of 207 meter reading projects valued at approximately $61,110,000 comprise this year`s study of water utilities. Figure 4 shows the breakdown of meter reading projects according to technology level. The average dollar value for these meter reading projects amounted to $295,217. RMR (remote meter reading) projects make up the majority of the total, with 45 percent of all meter reading projects. It should be noted that several of these are RMR pilot projects because many water utilities are opting to test various systems before making large initial investments on RMR or AMR. Approximately one out of every three projects discovered was for electronic meter reading devices.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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