Leeton Council future proofs its utilities with state-of-the-art water management system.

Located in the NSW Riverina almost equidistant to Sydney and Melbourne, Leeton is the second largest regional centre in the region outside of Griffith and plays an integral role in food production, value-added agricultural processing, education and research and transport for the state of NSW and throughout Australia.

Leeton is the birth place of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and was a purpose-built town designed to serve as a hub for the Irrigation Scheme which was launched immediately after the First World War. The Shire covers 1,167 square kilometres and includes the towns of Leeton, Yanco and Whitton and the villages of Murrami and Wamoon.

The Challenge

In 2016 there was a significant change in key personnel in the Engineering Team at Leeton Shire Council. Within a short period of time, the department manager, engineer and works superintendent all left the organisation which ultimately resulted in a comprehensive review of all existing systems.

The review resulted in a number of key findings:

  • The existing water and waste water monitoring system was no longer supported by the company that implemented it which had ceased trading in 2012.
  • Reliability was an issue – the existing system was using outdated technology and was suffering from significant breakdowns. On one weekend alone, the engineering team received 200 calls about breakdowns and performance issues.
  • Poor telemetry meant information collected regarding performance was sporadic and inaccurate.
  • There was no monitoring and no alarms, so Council was reliant on residents informing the support crews if there was a problem.

The Engineering Department decided that it must make changes to ensure a reliable and cost-effective supply of water to local homes, business, government bodies and service providers. They distributed an ‘Expression of Interest’ document that covered the scope of works for a solution to bring the water and water management system up to the required standard. 

“We received 16 submissions but the standout proposal was from the I2R Group,” explains Kai Attree, Water & Waste Water Engineer at Leeton Shire Council.

“They had a clear roadmap for how the project would look and each element of the process was detailed thoroughly. They were the only business to undertake an audit on our pump station sites and other electrical infrastructure as part of their submission which proved how engaged they were from the very start.

“The level of detail and the innovative solution they presented was impressive but, more importantly, they really impressed us with the collaborative approach they took to the entire process of scoping, planning, fine-tuning and then implementing the solution. The fact that they happened to be close by in Griffith was a bonus.

Leeton Shire Council Waste Water Network »
The Solution

The aim was to deliver a system that allowed the operators and maintenance staff to know exactly what was wrong with an asset before leaving the depot, reducing downtime and costly return trips.

I2R Group has delivered a solution that meets all of Leeton Shire Council’s needs.  By upgrading the electrical switchboards, I2R delivered the latest technology with the following functionality:

  • Remote resettable DOL Starters and VSDs, preventing the need for operators to attend the site to reset pumps during the night and on weekends.
  • Surge protection helps protect the board from power spikes and lightning strikes.
  • Remote resettable fuses for analog and digital signals.
  • SCADAPack with HMI Interface at the board providing detailed information and overviews for operators to fault find and monitor pump performance.  
  • The HMI has security access to allow for a hierarchy of control for different levels of the organisation and external contractors.
  • Intrusion monitoring on the panel doors, which can then be linked to CCTV cameras and overhead street lamps, that are also integrated into the ClearSCADA platform.
  • WIFI communications back to ClearSCADA allowing for high volume data transfer and control capability.
  • A solution for monitoring chemical dosing drum levels, eliminating the need to physically check the drums on a weekly basis and saving a round trip of over 100km per week.
  • Integrated generator input socket so that there is no need to engage a qualified electrician if the power drops out for any reason.
  • ClearSCADA reporting which monitors all aspects of the network, provides all pump levels up and down the network and can allow for different pumping strategies in off-peak times.
  • Compliance and EPA as well as operational reports have been created in ClearSCADA providing real time and historical reports at the touch of a button.
  • A dashboard was created in ClearSCADA providing high level KPI data to key stakeholders on their own console, available exactly when and where they need it.

“The core operating platform is essentially modular and completely scalable,” explains Mr Attree.

“We can add existing systems such as our weather station and sprinkler network to it as well as new systems that are being planned which include solar lighting and building security systems.

“This is a significant project and the roll-out will continue for another 12 months. We are completely replacing the old infrastructure at each site and feel it’s best to convert two or three sites each month to eliminate trip points and minimise any disruption to the network.”

To complement the technical aspects of the solution, I2R provided detailed budget forecasts and project managed the installation so that Leeton Shire Council could focus on day to day activities and the process of change management.  To ensure this part of the project was successful, I2R and Leeton Shire Council conducted monthly project management meetings to keep track of timelines and cost elements.

The system is integrated across all water and waste water infrastructure and the first four pumping stations have been cut across to the new platform.

The Result

Using the old system, the Engineering team had to log-in to the back end using a cumbersome portal and then make a decision about a plan of action based on rudimentary and often dated information. It could be a simple fix but invariably it took some time to even correctly diagnose the potential issue.

Frequently a staff member would attend a site, often after hours and on weekends and often in a relatively remote location, to perform the most basic fix or reset or worse, discover it was a false alarm. Each call out was a costly and demoralising exercise.

The new system allows the Council Engineering staff to monitor and control the system from any web-enabled device. They are alerted to any issues or scheduled activities in real time and can take action from the screen, often fixing any problems with the touch of a button.

Attree explains that the difference between the old and the new systems are worlds apart.

“We have already seen our call-out rates drop because of the increased visibility and functionality and we’re really only getting started,” he said.

“The detailed reporting functionality gives us deep analysis of all core operations, allowing us to map potential pain points and plan for the future. Once we have a stronger data set and we can generate even more efficiencies we will really reap the rewards of this system but, even in its infancy, it’s obvious that this has changed everything.

“We have been reactive for many years but now we have the technology that allows us to not only catch up but get in front of potential issues. It’s a massive shift.

“The truly collaborative approach taken by I2R Group has also been impressive. They have incredibly tight and detailed project management plans and frequent, detailed communications especially regarding scheduling and completing work. They have been extremely easy to deal with at all levels of the organisation.”

Leeton Shire Council Waste Water Network

August 15, 2023