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Controlling Water Desalination in the Bahamas

Industrial automation plays a key role in the creation of fresh water through reverse osmosis desalination.

It’s easy to take fresh water for granted­­––unless you’re on an island. As tourists flock to sandy destinations, the resorts and other businesses there often struggle to keep pace with growing water demands, not only for drinking but also irrigation and commercial and industrial use. In many instances, they will end up turning to a reverse osmosis desalination system.

Although effective, reverse osmosis systems aren’t without their own challenges, including high expense and ongoing vulnerability to the corrosive nature of seawater. Such was the situation that Vermont-based ISI Water faced when updating a system for a resort in the Bahamas.

The existing desalination system had broken and been patched together so many times over the years that users finally had been forced to operate it manually, without the alarm system and safety interlocks. Adding to the challenge, the failing system had been poorly documented and was rewired with so many temporary workarounds, that it made the task of determining where each electrical connection started and ended almost impossible. Yet as dangerous as the situation was, time wouldn’t allow for demolishing the system and rebuilding new.

The solution? Engineers took a disciplined approach to revamping the desalination facility’s control system, ensuring not only high productivity but ongoing system security—and even remote control of operations.


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