What do taxes, water and wastewater services and automation system integration have in common?

Crumbling infrastructure is no joke: Water and wastewater, taxes and automation system integration are linked in five critical ways important for taxpayers and those involved in automation and controls.

By Duane Grob March 31, 2020

How does automation technology and system integration affect local taxes and municipal service bills? The poor state of some basic infrastructures has caused a large increase in the cost of amenities often taken for granted, such as water supplies and sewage services. So why might local bills be increasing? 

  1. Upgrades are needed:The water and wastewater industries have served people and businesses for many years and are desperately in need of upgrades and repairs to keep pace with population needs. 
  2. Safety:Ground contamination and other environmental issues, as well as the threat of terrorism, have caused concerns about the security and quality of existing systems. Safety regulations may require evaluating and upgrading current infrastructure to ensure clean water, free from contamination from the environment or from someone with a social, political or personal vendetta.  
  3. Dated systems:New means to detect water contamination, as well as storage and distribution improvements, are critical. They are needed to ensure water coming from faucets is safe. Most systems in place were built using 1950 to 1980 technology, which only ensured the water met clarity standards and maintained a specific antibacterial level using chlorine measurements. This water comes from reservoirs, lakes, streams and the aquifer or groundwater. These water sources are often open and unprotected.  
  4. Automation in the updates:Municipalities and private companies are tasked to meet the requirements and, as a result, are undergoing drastic upgrades in basic water storage and delivery systems as well as implementing sophisticated, intelligent automation systems at the core of related processes.  
  5. Investing in efficiency and compliance:Most work being done today in these sectors are wholesale replacements of older, noncompliant systems that cannot meet today’s demands, much less those requirements projected for the next 10 to 30 years. This results in higher initial capital costs with an end goal of lowering operating costs through more efficient operations. While the shortterm pain is real in taxes and fees, the long-term gain of efficiency and security will be worth the investments 

Automation providers and systems integrators have responsibilities to help educate those in the utility industries about automation and system and software security issues. System integrators craft solutions to address specific process and safety needs as well as implement designs, including remote telemetry, which provides real-time data and instant connection to municipal water facilities and remote locations. A well-planned and implemented system that provides potable water at the turn of a faucet is well-worth the expense of long overdue upgrades, even if taxes incur a temporary pinch.  

Duane Grob manages the industrial, regulatory and utilities business unit at Avanceon, a CFE Media content partner. This article originally appeared on Avanceon’s website. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, mhoske@cfemedia.com. 

KEYWORDSWater, wastewater, automation, system integration 

Water and wastewater utilities need upgrades. 

Safety and cybersecurity need improving. 

Automation system integrators can improve return on investments. 


Are your local utility services making needed upgrades? 

Author Bio: Duane Grob, principle engineer, Avanceon