Queensland water services firm Turbid is preparing to use networked sensors connected to the cloud to monitor water runoff at construction sites.
Turbid provides passive treatment technology that can remove pollutants in water runoff from construction sites, landfill and mine sites. Unlike conventional runoff treatment, which relies on gathering water in a basin then treating it with chemicals, Turbid has a three-part system with constant treatment and release of cleaned runoff water.
"Dirty water flows in, it's treated, it settles out, then it decants cleanly and passively out the end of the basin," said Turbid director Ben Starr.
The system relies on the 'ifod' (intelligent flocculating operational device); a device that automatically releases coagulants when it's raining at a site, instead of workers having to manually dose a runoff basement with a coagulant.
"You don't need someone to go and put the coagulant in, you don't have to mix it. It's dosing as soon it's raining, it's dosing on weekends, it's dosing at night time – all the times when the construction guys aren't out there," Starr said.
However, because the system is unconventional and doesn't used the more common batch treatment method for water, Turbid has been researching remote monitoring solutions that can provide assurances to customers and regulatory bodies that the system is working.
"We're trying to wire these basins up to gather data on basin height and on turbidity, which is the cloudiness of the water at the intake and the outtake," Starr said.
The company has integrated sensors with a SCADA system used by one of its clients, but the process was "hugely expensive" Starr said and integration was painful. Moving forward, however, the company plans to use Xively: A cloud-based Internet of Things platform produced by LogMeIn.
LogMeIn released Xively earlier this year. The system is underpinned by Gravity, the same connectivity platform that drives the company's remote access applications.
Remote access, control and data collection can substantially reduce the cost of monitoring basins, Starr said.
"I can see potential for integrating this into some of our water quality monitoring that we do in some of our other companies that we own as part of the group," he said
"It costs a large amount to send somebody out to the Northern Territory to take a water sample and bring it back.
"A water sample can cost thousands of dollars, and if I'm running a program taking samples over 12 months it's going to be so much cheaper for everyone, and better value for our clients, to have an in-situ probe if possible and collect that data and stick it in the cloud."