It’s Easy Being Green With OPC

March 12, 2012
With the help of Kepware’s LinkMaster Software with KEPServerEX to monitor more than 100,000 tags, the City of Orlando and Orange County water reuse project has become a benchmark for other communities.

The City of Orlando is the most populous community within Orange County, Florida.  With a population of more than 1.4 million and growing, Orange County is centrally located in the state and encompasses some of Florida’s most fertile agriculture areas and is home to the corporate headquarters of companies involved in entertainment, digital media and bio-medicine. 

The challenge

Faced with the need to expand wastewater treatment services and a state requirement to eliminate discharge of treated effluent to surface waters, Orange County and the City of Orlando were tasked with developing an innovative, integrated water reclamation program.

Working together the City and County created the Eastern Regional Reclaim Water Distribution System (ERRWDS). This distribution system circles Central Florida and provides reclaim water to many commercial and residential customers. Reclaim water is pumped into the system from both Orange County and the City of Orlando. It is one of the largest water reuse projects in the country, and the first reuse program permitted in Florida that involves irrigation of crops intended for human consumption. The project provides approximately 28 million gallons per day of reclaimed water and will ultimately deliver 50 million gallons per day. 

The major challenge to the project was recognized only after the formation of ERRWDS. The four different pump stations on the system were all vying to pump at the same time creating competition to put water into the system and causing problems with pressure maintenance. 

ERRWDS managers needed a way to collect data from all the different SCADA systems from each pumping station to display on a single Human Machine Interface (HMI) screen.  In this way operators could view pump status, valve positions, flows, tank levels and pressure from each of the pump stations so that they could make informed operational and maintenance decisions.

The solution

An initial meeting was held between the City and County to address the situation and discuss the creation of a physical connection. The City’s team was already familiar with Kepware Technologies as they had been using a Modbus to OPC server for years. The initial suggestion was to use Kepware’s LinkMaster Software as the application layer solution.  It was discovered that there was already a physical connection between the City and County networks for the police departments, which meant that the only tweaks consisted of changing some settings on existing firewalls and assigning NAT addresses. Both municipalities agreed to purchase the servers and software.

With a timeline that specified “get it done,” the team spent a few weeks working with the LinkMaster Software to create a virtual environment simulating the network technology. It consisted of a WinCC/Server from Siemens and a Kepware Server on one domain, and a mirror of the solution on the other. Due to DCOM limitations using OPC DA components, the implementation team exchanged the LinkMaster Software with KEPServerEX with both OPC DA and UA drivers, which created a successful exchange across the domains.  

Currently, the City’s Wastewater Systems team consists of eight members responsible for maintaining the Systems and Networks for the City of Orlando’s three wastewater treatment facilities and more than 200 lift stations. The team currently monitors more than 25 Windows 2003/2008 servers (physical and virtual) and over 200 workstations. It maintains approximately 30 Siemens PLCs, more than 216 Motorola MOSCAD RTUs, four independent and redundant WinCC HMI Systems. The team monitors 113,456 tags.  All facilities are monitored and controlled using only a Web interface via Siemens WinCC WebNavigator. 

The City’s first discussion with Orange County was in mid-May 2011. By mid-November 2011, the solution was validated and implementation complete.

The results

According to Guy Mecabe, Wastewater Systems Manager, the results were “exactly as expected.” Once communication was established, each entity created a read-only tag database from the other’s OPC data and the City and County were each able to build their respective HMIs, which now allow all operators to view pump status, valve positions, flows, tank levels and pressure from each of the pumps stations in order to make informed operational and maintenance decisions.

The ERRWDS is a critically important component of the City and County’s environmental mission. The reclaimed water is transported to the center of the agricultural community. The pump stations at each treatment plant pump the reclaimed water to a common transmission force main. The transmission main extends 21 miles to deliver the combined flows to the distribution center. From the distribution center, reclaimed water is pumped through the distribution system to citrus groves for irrigation and/or rapid infiltration basins for recharge of the aquifer. 

The project aids the agricultural community by giving growers a dependable water supply for irrigation and freeze protection, potential reduced fertilization due to nutrients in the reclaimed water, and reduced energy costs because the water is delivered under pressure.

An extensive reforestation program was designed to return the area to its pre-citrus, forest-like state. Between 500,000 and 600,000 seedlings and shrubs have been planted, including long-leaf pines, turkey oaks, pawpaws, gopher apples, and other native species. The reforested land attracts wildlife once common to the area.

The City of Orlando/Orange County water reuse project has become a benchmark for other communities faced with a water reclamation challenge. The program demonstrates how cooperative efforts between the urban and agricultural communities can result in water reuse projects that effectively satisfy the water-related needs of all.

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