Reliable groundwater and surface water monitoring in Romania

Reliable groundwater and surface water monitoring in Romania

A seamless control system with alarm function is required to perform precise water level measurements and to make reliable forecasts on potable water supply, as well as to anticipate floods. Together with its partner MDS Electric Srl, STS has implemented a comprehensive system for groundwater and surface water management in Romania.

Romania draws a major part of its potable water from surface waters such as the Danube, as well as from groundwater resources. A sound management of these natural resources is therefore of huge importance.

To safeguard potable water supply and to protect from flooding, the nation has invested in a comprehensive hydrological measurement infrastructure.

Figure 1: Groundwater measurement point 

In collaboration with its Romanian partner, MDS Electric Srl, over 700 data loggers and more than 350 data transmission systems have thus been installed throughout the country in recent years – also including remote areas. For this reason, the primary investment was in battery-operated measuring instruments, which monitor the current situation on the rivers of the Danube region and also the groundwater resources across the country.

Requirements-specific measurement solutions 

This was a complex undertaking, since each of the submersible probes and data transmission systems deployed required a different assessment and intervention to comply with their respective conditions. An automatic alarm function was also indispensable in this case, should predefined limit values be exceeded.

The permanent monitoring of water levels at important nodes across the potable water supply, as well as the rivers of the Danube region, hinges upon a multitude of requirements:

  • An automated and dependable data transfer via M2M protocol
  • Automatic alarm function when limit value is exceeded
  • Monitoring of water level and temperature, as well as ambient temperature in some instances
  • A server solution with functions for visualizing, evaluating and processing the measured data, as well as the integrated database
  • Easy installation and maintenance
  • On-site support service

For the implementation of this large-scale project, STS opted in pressure and temperature measurements for the DL/N 70 and WMS/GPRS/R/SDI-12 data loggers, or – depending upon requirement – the DTM.OCS.S/N digital data transmitter with Modbus interface to ensure highly precise water level measurement to a 0.03 percent accuracy at critical points.

In association with our local partner MDS Electric Srl, STS was able to realize the entire water level monitoring system from a single source. Each installation point was evaluated on-site by experts from MDS Electric Srl and STS, in order to install a custom solution at each of those individual measurement points. The long-term stability of the pressure measurement technology deployed is also guaranteed. The Modbus transmitter DTM.OCS.S/N excels in this area with an excellent long-term stability of less than 0.1 percent total error per annum. Because of its low energy consumption and robust design, this sensor performs largely maintenance-free for years on end.

Further advantages of the DTM.OCS.S/N in brief:

  • Pressure range: 200mbar…25bar
  • Accuracy: ≤ ± 0.15 / 0.05 / 0.03 % FS
  • Operating temperature: -40… 85 °C
  • Media temperature: -5…80 °C
  • Interface: RS485 with Modbus RTU (standard protocol)
  • Simple implementation in existing Modbus systems
  • Easy adjustment of span and offset
Hydrostatic level monitoring of tanks on piezoresistive basis

Hydrostatic level monitoring of tanks on piezoresistive basis

Hydrostatic pressure measurement is one of the most reliable and simplest methods for fill level monitoring in liquid-carrying tanks. In the following, we explain how hydrostatic level monitoring works and what users should consider here.

In hydrostatic level measurement, the filling level of a liquid in a container is to be measured. In this case, the force of weight acting on the pressure transducer installed at the bottom of the container is measured. The weight force in this context is termed the liquid column. It increases in proportion to the filling level and acts as a hydrostatic pressure on the measuring instrument. The specific gravity of the fluid must always be considered in hydrostatic level monitoring. The filling height is thus calculated with the following formula:

h = p/sg

In this formula, h stands for the filling height, p for the hydrostatic pressure at the base of the tank and sg is the specific gravity of the liquid.

The actual quantity of fluid plays no role in hydrostatic level monitoring, since only the filling height is decisive. This means that the hydrostatic pressure is identical in a 200 liter tank narrowing towards its base and in a straight sided tank containing 150 liters of liquid, as long as the liquid and the fill height are identical (3 meters, for example).

The simplest application of hydrostatic pressure measurement is when the liquid concerned is water, since the specific gravity can be disregarded altogether here. When a fluid other than water is involved, the pressure transmitter has to be correspondingly scaled to compensate for the specific gravity of that liquid. Once this has been done, the fill level can be determined, as with water, via the hydrostatic pressure on the bottom of the tank. It becomes more complicated when different liquids are used in a single tank. In this case, not only the hydrostatic pressure at the bottom of the tank must be measured, but at the same time the specific gravity of the respective fluid also. We will leave aside the latter case at this point and instead consider hydrostatic pressure measurement in both closed and open tanks.

Hydrostatic pressure measurement in open and closed tanks

With open tanks, it does not matter whether they are above ground or set within it, as long as they have an opening that provides for a balanced air pressure inside and outside the tank. The measurement of the hydrostatic pressure can be carried out without further adjustments at the bottom of the tank. If measurement at the bottom of the tank is not possible, the filling level can also be found by means of a submersible probe, which is fed into the tank with a cable from above.

In closed tanks, higher gas pressures often prevail than in the atmosphere surrounding the tank. This gas layer above the liquid increases the pressure on the liquid itself. As a result, the liquid can flow off more quickly and there is also less loss due to evaporation. Tanks sealed from the ambient air are therefore frequently used in the oil and chemicals industries. The gas layer pushing down on the liquid also acts indirectly on the pressure transducer at the bottom of the tank and must therefore be taken into account in order to determine the correct filling level (a higher filling level than the actual would be indicated through this increased pressure). In closed containers, two pressures would therefore have to be measured: The gas pressure and the pressure at the bottom of the tank. The hydrostatic pressure of the fluid results from the difference between the measured gas pressure and the pressure measured at the base. This difference can then be converted into an indication of the fill level of the tank. For this type of application, a differential pressure sensor is generally used.

Concluding remarks

In hydrostatic level monitoring of tanks, two factors must always be considered: The type of fluid and the type of tank. The simplest application would be the monitoring of water levels in open tanks, since no adjustments have to be made for this constellation. If, however, a different liquid is involved, then the specific gravity of that liquid must also be taken into account. In addition, a measuring instrument is to be selected that can withstand the properties of the medium concerned. Whereas for most liquids stainless steel is sufficient as a housing material, highly corrosive media may also require different materials.

Level monitoring for pump control in rainwater and wastewater tanks

Level monitoring for pump control in rainwater and wastewater tanks

Water supply and wastewater disposal vary according to local conditions. In Belgian buildings, many cellars are situated deeper than the sewage system. Wastewater disposal here must therefore be regulated by pumps.

The Belgian company Pumptech provides home owners and caretakers with powerful industrial pumps, through which water circulation within the buildings is partly regulated. This is essential in various regions of Belgium, because the cellars in the buildings there are often located beneath the sewage system.

Since this wastewater cannot flow directly into the sewage system, however, it is temporarily stored inside tanks. Rainwater is also often collected in these buildings and then used for sanitary facilities. The rainwater hitting the roof is fed into underground tanks where it remains available for further use. As wastewater, it finally flows into the separate wastewater tanks, from where it is then pumped into the sewage system.

Whether in these wastewater or rainwater tanks, monitoring of the levels is essential for a regulated operation of the pumps. For this purpose, Pumptech has been using ATM.ECO/N submersible probes for 15 years now. Originally, level monitoring was performed here by float switches. As it turned out over time, this was an unsatisfactory solution – especially in regards the wastewater tanks. The big disadvantage of float switches in comparison to immersion probes is that they quickly become dirty due to impurities floating on the water surface and will then no longer work properly. This can have far-reaching consequences, since the pumps themselves are controlled by measurement of the filling level. Usually there are two to three pumps inside the tanks. When a predetermined level is exceeded, the first pump starts operation, with the second pump cutting in at the next fixed level. Alarms can also be triggered should certain limits be reached

Submersible probes, which are usually installed at the bottom of the tank, are not particularly susceptible to waterborne contamination. Once Pumptech had tested various suppliers, their choice eventually fell on the analogue level probe ATM.ECO/N from STS, since these best met their requirements when compared to competitors in regards their required long-term stability. Since then, these pump controls have been working away without incident.

The ATM.ECO/N immersion probes boast a fully sealed membrane made of high-quality stainless steel. A moisture filter on the pressure connection cable also prevents water or other contaminants from entering its measuring cell. A further advantage is the far better reaction time when compared to the previous float switch solution, which now allows users to see immediately what is happening inside the tanks.

You can find the data sheet for the ATM.ECO/N level probe here.