The Instrumentation, Control and Automation (ICA) specialist group provides an international forum to exchange knowledge, methodologies and experience on all aspects of instrumentation, control and automation for water and wastewater systems. Practical experience, case studies, management problems, operator challenges and integrated solutions of these systems are important parts of the activities.
ICA is a technology often considered as an afterthought, but an area that is changing rapidly with the Internet of Everything (IOT) revolution. Installation and use in existing plants is a frequent challenge, despite being essential to a modern and sustainable water industry. Indeed, monitoring and control of the whole water cycle, including drinking water production and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, and water reuse is fundamental to maintain current living standard to accommodate increasing populations, while taking care to minimize negative impacts to the natural environment.
Potable water treatment & distribution systems have historically been well monitored and yet there are still challenges with tightening standards on persistent organics as well as advanced monitoring & control of the distribution network using flow, pressure, & potentially quality monitoring. There have been significant advances in the integration of new sensors and the collection, integration & analysis of this data, using advanced data analytics. There still remain a number of future challenges in the adoption of new technologies and how the industry can engage in a more meaningful way with the customer.
Wastewater collection and treatment also hold unique challenges with a harsh environment of dynamic nature subjected to numerous interferences and the fact that the system needs to accept all flows. ICA can assist operations in delivering the best service to the customer in the best and most efficient manner. Furthermore, the 21st century promises a growing shift from treating sewage as a waste stream to using it as a resource for added-value products, including energy, nutrients, specialty chemical products, and a new sustainable water resource. ICA will be fundamental for controlling the quality and consistency of these new products.
Many developments are transforming the field of ICA: development of cheaper on-line sensors and advanced controllers; big data analytics and visualization tools to make a better cost-benefit analysis; large urban water systems being integrated into centralized decision systems; increased demand of decentralized systems; available data is increasing almost exponentially and it should be transformed into valuable information for operator support and to improve control systems; integrated planning and operation as well as plant-wide control will use ICA methodology to coordinate the systems for better energy efficiency and robustness to disturbances; and resource recovery will require tight control of product qualities. Hence, ICA will have a key role in the continuing evolution of water/wastewater systems and has to bring together several specialisms to deal with these important challenges.