Article | August 22, 2013

The Good And Bad Of Wastewater Instrumentation: Pros, Cons, And Opportunities

Oliver Grievson

By Oliver Grievson


Instrumentation is heavily pushed to achieve efficiency, but it only works when you use it correctly – and many utilities don’t.

Wastewater instrumentation is set, especially in the U.K., to become more and more important moving forward. As the industry moves to a production mindset and the drive to reduce carbon and improve operational efficiency becomes more and more important, the water industry will be forced to adapt and keep an almost constant “eye” on what is going on. Moving forward, unless a structured approach is taken, there are a lot of pitfalls that the industry faces. This article will attempt to highlight at least a few of those pitfalls that exist.

The first question to ask when installing any instrumentation is “why?” There is always a case to install an instrument, and there is always a case not to. Any instrument has got to tell any wastewater operator something about the way the process is operating. The answer to the question could be regulatory, and it could be operational. In the U.K., the only instrument that is required by the Environmental Permit is a flow monitor, and yet a permitted plant has a lot more instruments than that. For example, dissolved oxygen monitors and power monitors (on efficiency grounds); ammonia and turbidity monitors (compliance grounds); and pressure, flow, and level monitors (operational grounds).