How remote monitoring can improve rural water provision and management

5th March 2024

How remote monitoring can improve rural water provision and management

Peter Marumong

By Peter Marumong, Cluster WWW Segment Leader at Schneider Electric

It is widely accepted that rural areas in South Africa are more difficult to manage and monitor assets and treatment plants due to geographical limitations or in some instances non-existent, infrastructure.

Fortunately, a lot of strides have also been made in the digitisation of the water and wastewater (WWW) segment and its ability to provide current, accurate data to water utilities, water authorities and water boards.  It is also these advancements that have the potential to improve rural and remote water management.

Remote water monitoring is one of the major benefits of a digitised environment, enabling utilities to proactively monitor assets, ensuring availability and the production of high-quality water, thus driving efficiency. In areas where repairs are difficult, and resources are scarce, remote monitoring can go a long way in ensuring communities have consistent water supply through proactive maintenance of critical monitored asset.

Additionally, limited resources in rural areas demand careful allocation.  Here, real-time data can provide stakeholders with critical data from remote sites, facilitating faster response to issues and better coordination of efforts. 

Furthermore, these systems are scalable, allowing for the expansion of monitoring and control capabilities (as needed) to meet the evolving demands of underserved areas. This adaptability ensures that communities can continue to benefit from these technologies as they grow and develop.

Importantly, remote monitoring enables continuous oversight, ensuring that drinking water remains safe and wastewater treatment meets environmental standards. By controlling and monitoring treatment processes effectively, these systems also minimise the environmental impact, preserving local ecosystems and advancing sustainability goals.

In addition to the immediate benefits, remote data can pave the way for broader digital transformation in water management:

Predictive maintenance: Integrating real-time data into predictive algorithms enables early detection of potential equipment failures, reducing unplanned downtimes and optimising maintenance schedules.

Optimised energy management: Accurate energy consumption data forms the basis of effective energy management strategies, leading to increased efficiency and reduced carbon footprints.

Water resource management: Leveraging real-time data can minimise leakages and optimise water usage, making significant strides in water conservation efforts and ensuring sustainable water resources for future generations.

At Schneider Electric, our EcoStruxure Geo SCADA Expert telemetry integrated sensor-to-enterprise solution goes beyond addressing the most challenging remote monitoring and control applications, helping utilities and operators manage and run secure and reliable water infrastructure.

The distributed network protocol which forms part of as SCADA solution coupled with a smart remote terminal unit (RTU) allows for changes in the system to be detected, stored and time-stamped, while the RTU can even report critical data to the cloud-based SCADA.

Telemetry forms part of numerous remote monitoring solutions that create robust, fully configurable water solutions with standardised controls that allow for the optimisation and visibility of rural water networks whilst reducing physical manpower.