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SD1 receives Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology award for collaborative effort

NKyTribune staff

Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1) has received a Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT) Intelligent Water Systems Challenge Award from the Water Environment Federation and Water Research Foundation.

The award was given for innovative excellence in intelligent water system practices and promoting meaningful opportunities for fostering the adoption of smart water technologies.

Chet Watkins, Chris Kaeff, and Donald Isaacs from SD1 participated in a collaboration that earned the WEF/WRF LIFT Intelligent Water Systems Award (provided photo).

It was the result of an international research competition in which SD1 partnered with APTIM, Covington-based technology firm Global Quality Corp. (GQC), the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC) and Northern Kentucky University (NKU).

“This award recognizes the power of collaboration,” said SD1 Regulatory Reporting and Wet Weather Manager Chris Kaeff. “By partnering with experts across our region, we have been able to explore smart water technologies in new and exciting ways, and that couldn’t have happened without so many talented people at the table.”

The team was led by GQC President Dr. Sudhir Kshirsagar.

It evaluated how next-generation telemetry communications, 3-D printing and sensors found in household appliances can be combined with cloud computing to provide wastewater utilities with low-cost remote sensing alternatives to monitoring sewer overflows and water quality conditions during wet weather events.

Dr. Kristine Hopfensperger, director of NKU’s Environmental Science Program, provided an academic review of how the research may be applicable to citizen science efforts, and NKU environmental science student Christian Heck contributed by fabricating waterproof housing for the sensors utilizing 3-D printers.

Reese Johnson, P.E., from MSDGC Watershed Operations, and Radha Krishnan from APTIM, were other key contributors to the team.

Kaeff provided guidance on the applicability of the sensors for regulatory purposes and made design recommendations to meet sensor installation best practices for common configurations of sewer infrastructure.

SD1’s Wet Weather Team maintains a large inventory of flow monitoring and remote-sensing devices used to understand the impacts of wet weather on the Northern Kentucky public sewer systems. These devices are routinely calibrated and maintained in a flow monitoring lab to ensure accuracy and precision.

SD1 Wet Weather Specialist Donald Isaacs and Wet Weather Technician Chet Watkins supported the team by testing the prototype sensors in SD1’s flow monitoring lab.

Although the team did not receive the top prize in the LIFT Intelligent Water Systems Challenge, its innovative research was acknowledged with this WEF/WRF award for the potential of delivering new tools that can lower monitoring costs and provide greater operational awareness for wastewater utilities.

The prototype sensors developed by the team are being refined by GQC based upon the team’s initial findings and will be tested in real sewer conditions in the near future by SD1. The research will be presented by Dr. Kshirsagar at the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in May 2020.


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