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Statesboro upgrading water system remote control
Estimated cost nearly $200,000
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The city of Statesboro is moving forward with an upgrade of software and networking for its water and sewer control system after City Council recently approved spending up to $250,000 for this purpose.

With the upgrade, the city is sticking with Revere Control Systems as the main vendor for its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA, system. Water and Wastewater Department officials said Revere has been its software supplier since the SCADA system was installed in 1995.

“It’s written specifically for our system and the way we operate it, so if you changed your software vendor and all that, you’d wind up spending 2 or 3 million dollars to completely rewrite everything that we’ve done over the last 15 or 20 years,” Water and Wastewater Director Wayne Johnson said in an interview.

The system monitors the city’s six wells, indicating not only whether the pumps are working, but things such as the amount of chlorine used. It also shows water levels in the five elevated water tanks and monitors the 25 sewage pump stations, as well as equipment at the wastewater treatment plant, noted Van Collins, the department’s assistant director.

With wireless links, the system can signal power failures and other emergency conditions. The information can be accessed and the system remotely controlled from a central location.

When fire destroyed the Goldkist cotton seed warehouse in February 2013, the system allowed a rapid shift of water resources.

“When the Fire Department called and said we’ve got to have more water, through this system within seven minutes we were able to increase the flow of water by over 6,000 gallons a minute,” Johnson said.

Remote capabilities, he said, are becoming more important as the city’s water and sewer system grow. One continuing project, in cooperation with the county, is extending pipelines south along U.S. Highway 301 and installing a new elevated tank to serve the property around the Interstate 16 interchange.

“Especially with the expansion out I-16 to 301, it cuts down a lot on unnecessary manpower if we can remotely monitor and control equipment from the treatment plant or the water and sewer superintendent’s office in town,” Johnson said.

Although the application is custom designed, the operating system is a well known and outdated one, Bryant Tatum, the city’s information technology director, told the mayor and council at their April 1 meeting.

“The system that we have now, it runs off of Windows XP,” Tatum said. “It will not upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Also, it is the only server operating system that we have, two levels back, and that’s a security risk.”

Besides the software work from the main vendor, the upgrade will include some separate purchases of hardware to be installed by city personnel, he said.

With money already in the budget, the council unanimously approved the upgrade “not to exceed $250,000” as indicated on their agenda. But members asked Tatum how much it will actually cost, and he put the estimate closer to $200,000.

The upgrade, expected to be complete this summer, is dwarfed by an ongoing project to install equipment allowing all of Statesboro’s water meters to be read from City Hall. This work, now at the start of its second year, will cost about $2.5 million over three years, Johnson said. The council approved $1.86 million in March 2013 for the Sensus Flexnet meter system. A further phase will enable customers to access their own water use data online or receive smartphone or email alerts for unusual usage that could signal a leak or other problems, Johnson said.

Although the projects are separate, he said the control system upgrade will allow the two systems to interact.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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