News from Mission Communications for the Water and Wastewater Professional
Issue 23, Summer 2016
Prevent Pump Failures with Runtime Variance Report
USDA Celebrates Earth Day by Funding Rural Water and Wastewater Projects
New Feature Allows Configuration of Service Mode Duration
Five Takeaways from the Flint Water Crisis


The Mission Notification system transmitted over


voice call alarms within the past 30 days.


ACE 2016
June 20-22  
Chicago, IL 

KY/TN Water Professionals Conference

July 17-20  
Knoxville, TN
RWAU Fall Conference
 August 29-September 1  
Layton, UT

 RMSAWWA/RMWEA Joint Annual Conference  
September 11-14  
Keystone, CO

Spring Conference
September 12-15  
Virginia Beach, VA

Atlantic Canadian Water and Wastewater Association Annual Conference
September 18-21  
Moncton, NB   

September 24-28  
New Orleans, LA 

 Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options
Week 5: Special Topics
Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation  
 Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options
Week 4: Web Portal II -  Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics
Week 1: Survey of Features 
 Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation
 August 17
Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options

August 24
Week 4: Web Portal II -  Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics

August 31
Week 5: Special Topics 

September 14
Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation

September 21
Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options  


Prevent Pump Failures with
Runtime Variance Report
Pump runtime monitoring helps identify potential problems and avoid costly repairs. Collecting and manually analyzing this data can be very time-consuming. Mission offers the Runtime Variance Report which distinguishes pumps running outside of the normal variance range. The Mission system can send an email alert to staff when a noticeable deviation occurs on the previous day.

The Runtime Variance report applies a statistical algorithm to a rolling 30-day history of runtimes and indicates the average high and low runtimes (refer to the blue and red plotted lines in the graph below). This is known as standard deviation. Runtimes outside of the standard deviation are worth investigating. The information may be viewed in table or graph format on your web portal.

Pump 1 runtimes spiked higher than the 30-day average on June 12.

Variances are generally caused by stuck check valves, "ragged up" pumps, blockages, malfunctioning pump alternators or pumps left in "Manual On" or "Manual Off" mode. Sometimes variances can be explained by a sudden increase in system demand by a public event like a weekend festival. Identifying and resolving the root cause of a runtime variance saves time and money by reducing wear on pumps, catching a pump before it fails, or reducing electrical usage.

Veolia Water staff uses the Mission system to monitor remote pump stations for Taunton, Massachusetts. David Salvador is the Production Manager for Veolia Water. He uses the Runtime Variance Report when preparing for site visits. Stations with extreme pump runtime variances are given the highest service priority.

A Mission RTU monitors pump runtimes at one of the City of Taunton, MA pump stations. Photo credit: David Salvador.
"The guys know they need to allow for more time at sites that are having problems," explains Salvador. "Increased runtimes on the report usually mean there is a blockage that reduced the flow. If we see no runtimes, we know that the pump has been tripped due to a blockage." Staff uses the detailed alarm callouts and reports on the web portal to determine what they are going to be servicing at the pump station.

"Prior to using Mission, we had autodialer units that would call out non-specific alarm codes which didn't tell us much," says Salvador. "Now we have more information which makes troubleshooting easier and helps us cut down on time spent at the site."

Pump runtime variances are calculated separately for each pump at each station. This is helpful for problem identification and analysis because every pump station functions uniquely. Typical runtimes from one station to another can vary greatly because of inlet flow, pump size, and other factors.

"Some pump station flows are so low that "ragged pumps" can still do the job, but they run twice as long as they should, making them less efficient," explains Salvador.  "Once we get the variance notification, we make it a top priority to pull the pump to find out what's going on." Advanced notifications help Veolia Water employees maximize pump lifespans and reduce electricity consumption.

"We have 40 pump stations, so having the ability to know what the problem is before we leave the facility has been vital for us," says Salvador. "Having detailed information and notifications have really helped us streamline operations with better time management. That's why I love the system so much. It's made my life easier."

USDA Celebrates Earth Day by Funding Rural Water and Wastewater Projects

On Earth Day this year, the USDA Rural Development team announced $183 million in funding for 60 rural water and wastewater projects across the nation. The money is earmarked for building and upgrading water and
wastewater systems in communities with fewer than 10,000 residents. 

Photo credit: 123RF.com
Funding will help rural areas prevent environmental contamination, improve drinking water and provide better overall public health safety. USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack underscored the importance of maintaining safe water and wastewater systems in a recent press release.

"Safe drinking water and sanitary waste disposal systems are vital not only to public health but also to the economic vitality of small communities," said Vilsack. "Helping rural communities build and upgrade their water infrastructure is one more way the USDA strengthens rural areas. Building and maintaining water infrastructure creates jobs, boosts the economy, and provides rural families with safe, reliable water and wastewater facilities that improve the environment."

USDA funding and technical assistance will help:

  • Build and upgrade wastewater treatment plants
  • Construct and restore pump stations
  • Rehabilitate water distribution systems
  • Extend water and sewer service lines
  • Replace deteriorating pipes
  • Prepare environmental and engineering reports for facility upgrades
Data and reports from the Mission system can be useful in grant applications by pinpointing areas that qualify for improvement funding. The Flow vs. Runtime report can be used to show inflow and infiltration issues. The SSO/CSO report for the Manhole Monitor can illustrate high level and surcharge events as they compare to rainfall documented by local National Weather Service stations.

The USDA Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program is open year-round to communities in need that meet funding requirements. Applications for the program are accepted through local state offices.

New Feature Allows Configuration of
Service Mode Duration
Service Mode suppresses alarm callouts on stations undergoing site maintenance. This feature allows you to complete testing and repairs on the system without receiving unwanted notifications. Service Mode can be initiated by the electronic keys supplied with the Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) or through the web portal. When the RTU is in Service Mode, it will continue to transmit data and record alarm events on the web portal.

Service Mode Expiration Can Be Configured
At the request of a customer, Mission software engineers recently enhanced the Service Mode feature with the ability to configure the length of time an RTU remains in Service Mode. Prior to the improvements, Service Mode automatically expired after 60 minutes. The duration can now be set to any value up to 1,440 minutes (24 hours).  

You can access the Service Mode duration feature by logging into your web portal and going to Setup / Unit Maintenance. The time period can be changed for all RTUs with the SM button. You can also change the time for each individual RTU by selecting the wrench icon adjacent to the device. Click Edit next to Service Mode Timeout on the Edit Device Parameter page.

Service Mode Duration
Visit the Unit Maintenance page and click on the SM button to change the service mode duration for all devices.
Feature Helps Kentucky Utility
Employees at Regional Water Resource Agency (RWRA) in Owensboro, Kentucky took advantage of the new enhancement by changing the Service Mode duration to two hours on 16 pump station RTUs. RWRA Maintenance Operations Manager Carroll Hill supervises rehabilitation and upgrades at each pump station. He changed the Service Mode expiration time because electrical projects at the stations typically last longer than one hour.

Hill is pleased with the new enhancement to Service Mode. He says the Mission system gives him in-depth information on how each station is operating.

"The Mission M800 units help us get to know our stations better," Hill explains. "We are able to see if a pump is running in real-time and how many hours per day a pump has run. We can also identify if two pumps ran at the same time, the highest and lowest number of gallons pumped each day, and whether a pump was non-functional for part of the day - which has happened. It gives us a more intimate view of what the station is actually doing, rather than just hoping everything is okay."

RWRA also uses the Service Mode Relay light indicator feature on the RTUs that was added as a system enhancement in 2014. "Having this feature has been a huge help and allows my staff to quickly identify whether or not the unit is in service mode while on-site," Hill explains.

  Five Takeaways From the Flint Water Crisis

Flint, Michigan has become a classic example of what not to do when managing a municipal water supply. Much can be learned from the alleged actions and inactions of state and municipal officials during 21 months of lead contamination that led to class action lawsuits and criminal charges against Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) officials and the utility administrator.

Flint drinking water pipes exhibit different kinds of corrosion and rust. Photo credit: Min Tang and Kelsey Pieper.

In 2011, Michigan assumed emergency management of Flint in an attempt to reverse a $24 million deficit. After a series of cost-cutting measures in 2014, state officials decided to switch the municipal water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. This change went into effect despite a history of industrial contamination in the Flint watershed. A Virginia Tech study later confirmed Flint River water to be 19 times more corrosive than Lake Huron. The water was so acidic it caused a reaction that dissolved the mineral layer on the inside of the lead service pipes. Drinking water then came in contact with the lead pipes. Thousands of children registered blood lead levels seven times higher than the 5 micrograms the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies as "elevated."

What we can learn from Flint:
  1. Conduct thorough testing and risk evaluation when assessing major changes or improvements. Michigan officials failed to conduct proper testing and evaluations to ensure water quality before the switchover. The only concern was money. MDEQ and Flint officials did not add anti-corrosive agents to bring drinking water up to federal standards after lead began leaching from aging water supply lines.

  2. Create a strategy to rehabilitate aging infrastructure and equipment. Identify and plan to replace aging service lines and infrastructure most at risk for lead exposure. Consider all sources of contamination. Third-party consultants offer unbiased investigative assessments that can detail problem areas when seeking government grants or special millage assessments.

  3. Implement standard monitoring, testing, and reporting procedures to simplify compliance with federal and state regulations. Responsible reporting and proper water sampling methods allegedly did not exist in Flint. Corruption was reportedly rampant and federal laws were broken. Enforce best practices to ensure accurate reporting of MORs, chemical, and microbiological sampling. The EPA finalized the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule in September of 2015 to replace paper-based reporting with electronic submissions. This new standard saves time and resources while increasing transparency and accuracy for utilities and state regulatory offices. Mission offers the Safe Drinking Water Act Report and a chlorine residual report which are useful in preparing state regulatory reports. This article offers an example of how Mission simplifies compliance mandates for utilities.

  4. Be transparent with the community. Report contamination to the public and announce a solution. Fecal coliform bacteria and trihalomethanes (TTHM) were detected in Flint River water four months after the changeover in 2014. At the same time, significant blood lead levels (BLL) spikes were discovered in tests of area children. State officials never notified residents of the lead danger and reportedly refused to revert to Lake Huron after bacteria was found. Lead remediation did not occur for months after an area resident called the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in July 2015.

  5. Implement controls for management accountability and whistle-blowing. MDEQ officials allegedly falsified BLL reports to show no spikes in lead levels. There was no effective way to report corruption. Management was unaccountable and a cover-up ensued for over a year. Standard operating practices should include safeguards against mismanagement and blatant corruption.
What municipalities can do:
  • Utilities should adhere to state and federal water quality requirements including the Federal Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Water Quality Association standards.
  • Ensure management accountability with policies that sanction corruption.
  • Engage outside consultants to conduct testing and collection systems analysis. Be proactive in maintaining and replacing aging infrastructure.
  • Seek funding alternatives. The EPA offers funding guidance.

Mission streamlines reporting compliance with comprehensive data that assists in reporting submissions. Contact Mission Technical Support at (877) 993-1911, option 2 to find out more about reporting options.

"Water is the lifeblood of our bodies, our economy, our nation, and our well-being."
~Stephen Johnson
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