Metasphere Launches New Sewer Monitoring Solution to Help Reduce Pollution and Restore Natural Waterways
Poorly treated or raw sewage is a persistent pollutant and mounting global challenge. The statistics are shocking – according to UN Water, some 80% of the world’s wastewater is dumped, largely untreated, back into the environment, polluting local waterways such as rivers, lakes, and oceans. While the world’s population grows, this pollution places further stresses on freshwater resources and ecosystems.
Even in cities where wastewater is collected and treated, the efficiency and quality depend on the system (and, increasingly, how the system responds to a changing climate). Most urban wastewater pipe networks are underground, where potential problems are not always easy to detect or control. “If we don’t know what’s happening in those pipes, we’re stuck reacting to environmental emergencies due to sewage spills or releases,” says Tim O’Brien, CEO of UK-based Metasphere.
Wastewater discharges can happen for several reasons, such as leaky, failing infrastructure, or blockages caused by wipes or “fatbergs” that don’t degrade. They’re also caused by overflows in combined sewer networks, a design that is outdated but common in cities all over the world. As stricter pollution control requirements come into effect, utilities are under public and regulatory pressure to improve system performance – or face increasingly large fines.
Metasphere is motivated to significantly improve the global statistics, says O’Brien. “We envision a world without sewage pollution, and this starts with making what is underground visible. If utilities have real-time knowledge of their assets’ condition and the circumstances, they can prevent accidents and actively contribute to the restored health of our waterways.”
Leveraging smart technology to deliver sustainable solutions
With more than 30 years of experience, leading UK-based telemetry company Metasphere is combining smart machine learning data analytics with IoT connected level monitors, a new innovation called ART Sewer – to provide wastewater utilities with a robust, reliable, and cost-effective way to monitor their networks. The result is expanded network visibility, which will allow utilities to forecast potential issues, make better decisions about how to manage them, and meaningfully improve performance.
“We built ART Sewer to provide utilities with a complete, end-to-end solution,” explains Chris Fryatt, the company’s Product Management Director. The solution uses contactless IoT sensors to collect and feed sewer-level data into a powerful data analytics platform. Combined with rainfall data, this information helps the platform detect potential issues, including partial blockages across the network and monitor and prevent flooding events.
With its central models and analytics, ART Sewer is also helping utilities manage networks more intelligently. “Instead of experiencing massive surges to wastewater treatment plants during heavy rain events, for example, we can assess network capacity, spread the load, and avoid overflows,” Fryatt explains. “Our models can also use water levels to detect and predict partial blockages, so utilities can send crews to clear them before the blockage forms or there’s a major health and safety issue, such as a sewer collapse.”
Furthermore, Metasphere thought carefully about how to integrate monitoring networks into utility operations. “When a utility rolls out tens of thousands of devices, they can start to receive too much information and too many alarms. We know utilities that simply shut off alarms during a storm and review them afterward – but that defeats the purpose,” says Fryatt. “Our system looks across all of these data points and singles out the ones that are actually cause for alarm, then alerts crews so they can manage issues.”
Improving and restoring ecosystems
To restore ecosystem health and water quality, we must first slow – or fully eliminate – the flow of sewage into natural waterways, says O’Brien. And for utilities, the ability to make better, more informed decisions about managing a wastewater network changes the game.
ART Sewer makes this possible, he says. “Utilities are already water stewards. By giving them these smart tools, we can support their role in our communities and help them do their jobs.”
The Metasphere team sees a bright future for its new offering and what it can help utilities achieve worldwide. “When we put an end to sewage pollution, we give our waterways and ecosystems a chance to heal,” says Fryatt. “By helping utilities gain greater visibility to their networks, ART Sewer can contribute to a cleaner, healthier future.”