Q&A: Data-Driven Operational Process Controls for Water Quality

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Meena Sankaran (KETOS, Founder & CEO) and Kevin Fisher (WaterStart, CTO) recently discussed how water operators are leveraging instrumentation and water quality data to measure, track, and control acute limits for critical contaminants in real-time. They covered a variety of topics including how to:

  • Monitor water quality remotely and make informed sampling and operational decisions
  • Implement controls for critical elements like acid and disinfection by-products
  • Increase efficiency and reduce the number of grab samples needed and avoid superfluous sampling

A recording of the webinar is below along with several follow-up questions that, due to time constraints, were not able to be addressed during the webinar.

 

How are regulatory agencies using this technology as opposed to standardized analytical testing methods? Does KETOS comply?

The KETOS Shield solution is EPA compliant and has integrated methodologies that are equivalent to or a modified version of EPA recommended methods. Currently, the data has been validated over the last 3 years.

What is the difference between implementing an instrument for compliance purposes, and making sure that compliance is achieved? And how can we justify the budget to invest in non-compliance projects?

In short, using additional instrumentation to monitor the process in lieu of simply monitoring the final product quality can be a means to remedy a problem before it reaches our customers.  An additional instrument could prevent a situation where the compliance sample reveals a violation.  Corrections in the process are made prior to there being a violation or operational mishap.  

What is the role of IoT in the KETOS Solution?

The patented KETOS IoT Sensor System autonomously monitors water efficiency and water quality. The KETOS WAVE monitors flow, pressure, volume, and other efficiency data points. The KETOS SHIELD provides lab-accurate water quality data in real-time across more than 20 parameters.

 

Any recommendations or strategies to help water providers get funding for additional sensors (e.g. get public buy-in without inducing public anxiety)?

I suggest that improvements in water quality and asset management be brought into the picture.  Many of the new technologies (when proved via a pilot project can be proven to be financially worthwhile.  Proving a technology via a less expensive pilot can de-risk a sensor investment.  Once the technology is proven then a full scale deployment can be considered.

 

Does the KETOS solution do ortho monitoring?

KETOS Shield currently does Orthophosphate monitoring and is implemented with customers in the US. 

 

Can you talk about using this monitoring to add chemicals to the system? For example, in Canada, we add fluoride to the drinking water.

The KETOS Shield can monitor the water post-addition of chemicals and understand the composition pre/post-treatment.

Using sensors to control chemical feed has been a proven technique for many years.  Using new innovative sensors (other than free chlorine or chloramines) can be an efficient way to dose chemicals. It’s simply a different sensor that can be used to flow pace chemical feed.

 

Where are you planning to find the trained operators with new younger staff that is hard to find or not interested?

It is a real problem with over half of the operations staff retiring in the next five years!  I suggest a two-fold process. First, look to provide training to internal staff who may be interested in migrating to operations.  The American Water College offers excellent online training as does AWWA.  Second, there are several colleges and junior colleges that offer Operations degrees in Water Treatment, Waste Water Treatment, and Distribution/Transmission operations.   

With the business model of KETOS doing the maintenance and managing the equipment, the water operators can remain the experts that they are intended to be while technologists can play the role that they are supposed to as trusted advisors.