Water Quality Is Quality of Life

In 2003, Watercare installed a vacuum sewer system to address septic tank pollution in Kawakawa Bay, eventually restoring its safe-for-swimming status. Now, with N2P’s help, they’re doing it bigger and better in Clevedon, proactively planning for the area’s future growth.

Watercare is New Zealand’s largest water and wastewater company, supplying more than 400 million litres of water to 1.7 million Aucklanders daily. Watercare also works on upgrading and building infrastructure to provide capacity for the rapidly growing population beyond Auckland.

A wastewater operations engineer for Watercare, Woo Kwon is an integral part of their latest project in Clevedon, a community that has until now relied on septic tanks, being previously unconnected to the municipal sewerage line. Clevedon’s newly built network includes a vacuum system, reservoir, and wastewater pump station on Airfield Road, adjacent to the Ardmore Airport. Woo and his team will be looking after the pump station on a day-to-day basis once the project, which broke ground in 2018, is complete.

In that time, more than 27 kilometres of water and wastewater mains have been built to pipe drinking water into Clevedon from Ardmore and take wastewater away to Mãngere for treatment. Currently in the testing phase, the network will help address environmental pollution from failing septic tanks while catering for growth in Clevedon. Clevedon Village residents can now apply to connect to mains water and wastewater services, and Woo is pleased to report that they already have 27 paid applications and expect many more in the coming months as lockdown restrictions ease.


N2P to the rescue

Having worked on Watercare’s FloVac pump stations in Clevedon and Hunua Views, N2P was already familiar with their standard requirements for control systems development. After experiencing software snags at the Airfield Road pump station, the work of their previous contractor, Brian Perry Contractors, Watercare Projects Team’s contractor, brought N2P Controls in to troubleshoot and provide engineering support.

“They have a really good rapport with our computer systems engineers and worked closely with them to improve the design visuals, which are now a lot clearer,” says Woo. “N2P got heavily involved with the software updates for the Clevedon vacuum pump station as well, which involved a lot of commissioning and pre-testing.”

With COVID-induced delays threatening to derail the project’s August 2021 go-live date, they were literally under the pump and had to push this phase faster than normal. “We had N2P on site along with our own IT team in the Watercare nerve centre while we manually ran all the pumps and tested the pump station’s functionality.”

This involved running a full simulation to test all the system’s alarms and recording and cross-referencing data to ensure that the correct information was being safely stored in Watercare’s database. “N2P managed to get that check list done really quickly as they were on site the whole day. They were on site at Airfields as well, from 8:00 the morning.”


Smart system ensures smooth operation

An interlocking control system designed by N2P regulates pump operation between Clevedon and Ardmore so that when one is running at full capacity, the other stops to compensate for the reduced water flow. N2P’s senior automation engineer installed the system then tested it extensively to check that the pumps were running and stopping in the correct sequence.

“The sequence testing is really important for Watercare because it pretty much puts all the systems on automation so we don’t have to do anything manually,” says Woo. Not only that, but a single missed sequence could shut the pump station down entirely.

To design a compatible system that would ensure trouble-free operation and a smooth handover, N2P took the time to understand Watercare’s existing systems, including standard requirements and any changes they’d made over the years. “Avinash has worked at a lot of our wastewater pump stations, so N2P know the standards as good as any, and they know how to troubleshoot the systems properly as well.”

Woo was impressed not only by Avinash’s dedication but also his know-how and creative problem solving: “He actually comes up with his own troubleshooting methods to make sure that everything is running as it should. He’s quite precise when it comes down to it because he knows how critical these alarms are,” explains Woo. “Some of them might seem minuscule, but in operations, we do our reactive works based on what these alarms are showing us.”

A keen eye for detail

Clevedon and Airfield are both network pump stations, which Avinash and the N2P team are intimately familiar with. “He knows the requirements for these alarms to show up, when, and what the delay times are,” says Woo. And because of N2P’s history of working on Watercare projects, he’s highly attuned to the components and processes involved and therefore able to spot inconsistencies and flag anything that needs follow-up or remediation: “He picks up some of the smallest details which is quite useful.”

Woo really appreciates Avinash’s willingness to raise any concerns and, if needed, address the elephant in the room. He describes the N2P team as knowledgeable, proactive, and has this to say about Avinash in particular: “He’s just really onto it.”

Do you have a process engineering project you want us to get onto? N2P Controls are New Zealand’s leading experts in wastewater, pump station, and asphalt controls and have the capacity to design custom solutions for virtually any industrial application. Contact N2P to explore what we can do for you.