A data-driven decision making tool to monitor critical sewerage infrastructures
F Bressan, S Zhong, N Turich
Publication Date (Web): 7 November 2016

The electronic age – or as some term it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution1 – has propelled the amount of available data being recorded. This is no different for a water utility such as the South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water). In isolation, there are specific regulatory or operating reasons why particular data is collected. It is, however, when strategic links are made between the varying data streams that simple yet powerful benefits are realised. This paper bridges the gap between anecdotal information of Sewage Pump Station (SPS) operation and developing priority lists for SPS asset upgrade programs.

In the past, the identification of wastewater assets – particularly Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) and SPSs – for capacity upgrades was a mix of local knowledge and experience. The Treatment and Network Planning team at SA Water latched onto the idea of using existing data sources to produce a priority list of SPSs that require an upgrade prior to reaching their capacity. This lead to the development of an Automated sewage Discharge Analysis Tool (ADAT). ADAT measures the relationship between pump duties and theoretical catchment discharges as a theoretical indicator of capacity performance of these systems. ADAT enables a relatively quick process to estimate how SPS sub-catchments are behaving. Figure 1 is an example of a recent SPS upgrade – an ideal candidate to have been identified through the ADAT process.

ADAT is a simple data interrogation tool to rank SPS performance that utilises a mix of Geographical Information System (GIS) data, Microsoft Excel macro-based tools and pump station asset performance records. ADAT uses existing and future connection growth derived from sewage discharge rates against theoretical SPS pump duties, a process that is performed using Microsoft Excel macro programming. A single batch process is run to generate sewage flow projection charts and their corresponding summary tables for every pumping catchment. Figure 2 illustrates the various data inputs and how they are used in ADAT.

Where information exists, ADAT has been able to produce tabular and graphic representations of historic and projected sewage discharges for each individual pump sub-catchment. ADAT has also provided SA Water with a simple and effective way to identify SPS sub-catchments that have reached their theoretical design pump duty (1-pump mode) and those that are estimated to reach it sometime over the next 25 or more years. Reviewing some 500 SPS catchments, ADAT generated more than 1,000 figures, consisting of maps, tables and charts.

Through the development of ADAT, there have been several benefits achieved and discovered including:

  • identifying data gaps in SPS pump duty records
  • a relatively quick and inexpensive process to identify sewage pump stations running at or close to their theoretical limits
  • a simple means of comparing industry-supplied planning projections against actual sewage connection growth rates
  • a method to verify anecdotal operational information
  • a method to compare metered water consumption with sewage discharge rates
  • the ability to generate a broad understanding of growth statistics at different spatial scales at WWTP, SPS and suburb levels. 

Several opportunities to further improve ADAT have also been identified, including extending ADAT to consider 2-pump operating conditions, the addition of Septic Treatment Effluent Discharge Scheme (STEDs or also now known as Community Wastewater Management Systems) connections (which are not presently accounted for), and analysis of data at smaller time scales, which allowsfor the measurement of the impact of higher and lower rainfall years on the sewage return rate ratio.

Through the development of ADAT, SA Water’s Treatment and Network Planning team has gathered business intelligence in a relatively simple process and has avoided a highly repetitive manual task. ADAT’s strength is that it applies a systematic approach to analysing every sewer pump station through a single batch run.1 How will the Fourth Industrial Revolution affect us? , 26 May 2016, Reb Brick,, viewed 18/09/16.                 

“The electronic age – or as some term it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution1 – has propelled the amount of available data being recorded. This is no different for a water utility such as the South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water).”


Figure 1: One of SAWC’s sewage pump stations recently upgraded
Figure 2: Flow chart of the key inputs to ADAT

Figure 3: Examples of the various outputs generated from ADAT


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