Articles & Case Studies

From the hills to homes, managing the flow of drinking water

Posted: Monday 18th February 2013

Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water is responsible for providing more than three million people in Wales and adjoining areas of England with a continuous, high quality supply of drinking water.

The primary responsibility of the utility is to operate, maintain and upgrade its large network of assets to ensure a safe and reliable drinking water supply and to deal effectively with waste water to protect the environment. The utility supplies an average 900 million litres of water every day through a network of water mains, pumping stations and service reservoirs. It also collects waste water (including surface water and highway drainage) which is treated at works located next to rivers and along the coast of Wales.


In 1994, Welsh Water purchased wireless specialist Wood & Douglasí Pacsnet 3000 system to provide a radio network for monitoring and control. This was used to reduce leakage of water from Herefordís clean water supply between the local reservoirs, river and the local water treatment works. The network connected multiple digital and analogue flow measurement points, monitored reservoir levels and controlled the opening and closing of reservoir valves.

The network encompassed the Broomy Hill water treatment works, which hosted a network base station, and a series of outstations, three located locally at Broomy Hill for the high lift pump, the low lift pumps and at the intake from the River Wye, two miles from the water works. Three additional outstations were sited at the service reservoirs at Dinmore, Bewdley Bank and Ridge Hill. These outstation nodes, located in the surrounding hills, are up to 10 miles from the treatment works.

After 18 years of reliable service Welsh Water decided the original system needed to be upgraded or replaced. The reservoir and pipework installation for Herefordís clean water supply would remain the same, so the challenge was to upgrade or replace the monitoring and control systems with the least disruption. Given the critical nature of the application, Welsh Water again turned to Wood & Douglas to provide a modern solution.


The company proposed the installation of its latest generation of wireless telemetry devices for data acquisition, process control and monitoring, OpenNET 6000. OpenNET offers Welsh Water a full range of programmable input and output interfaces for Low Power Radio and GSM/GPRS for telemetry operation.

The ability to manage analogue and digital inputs as well as digital outputs with physical signals, made OpenNET ideal for connecting the existing monitoring and control devices installed across Welsh Waterís Broomy Hill and satellite sites. The Low Power Radio interface supports a range of transceivers, transmitters and receivers, with power levels up to 5W; enough for the long-range operation required to communicate from and with the reservoir outstations.

OpenNET 6000 also provides Welsh Water with a future proofed system, offering a range of customisable functions, with simple access to internet protocols and GSM/GPRS functionality. This could provide remote access and control from any location as well as SMS alerts or data connections over carrier-switched or GPRS networks.

The other advantage of using the OpenNET 6000 system was that the new install, both analogue and digital, operates within the same physical footprint, so Welsh Water could refurbish and use existing enclosures. The electronic compatibility removed the need for new panel fittings and insulation work, which helped to speed up the technical install and deliver the project at a more cost effective price.

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