It was just before noon on August 29, 2021, when Hurricane Ida made landfall on the Louisiana coast as a Category 4 hurricane. But for the Lafourche Parish Water District in Lockport, Louisiana, preparations had been underway for days. One of the tools the water district used to understand what was happening in its water system prior to and after the storm was the AMERICAN Flow Control SEMPER® Remote Pressure Monitor (RPM).
Prior to Ida’s landfall, the Lafourche Parish Water District placed the AFC SEMPER RPMs at two strategic locations in its distribution system where issues had been present in the past. “The AFC SEMPER RPMs gave us an understanding of when our system went down,” said Lafourche Parish Water District Technical Assistant Tory Hebert. “Once we were able to turn the water back on, the units gave us a better idea of what system pressure was and where we were having issues. We discovered we had about 20 leaks, and work began to open and close valves to get the entire water system up and running.”
Although not intended for submerged service, in a testament to the durability of the AFC SEMPER RPM, Hebert said one unit was placed in an area that had the potential for flooding and was difficult to get to after the storm. “We believe the unit may have been submerged, but it still works fine,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of data issues with storms, and in the past, it’s taken a couple of weeks to get the information in, as our SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system relies on electricity to relay information. During storms, we may not have electricity for up to a month,” Hebert continued. [SCADA is a computer system water utilities use to gather and analyze real-time data, and monitor and control operations or equipment.] “But the AFC SEMPER RPM and its software gave us access to the data much faster.”
The Lafourche Parish Water District initially purchased two AFC SEMPER RPMs more than a year ago to help create a more accurate hydraulic model of its system. The water district can now look at data and graphs provided by the AFC SEMPER RPM and Trimble Unity® software to see when pumps turn on and off and how that affects the system.
“The AFC SEMPER RPM helps you identify things that might be going on in your system,” Hebert said. “A lot of times what you assume is going on with the system is different than what the data shows. The AFC SEMPER RPM gives you facts you can rely on. It’s a portable and versatile tool that can be used in a number of situations.”
The Lafourche Parish Water District has so far used the units at 10 different sites across its system of more than 1,000 miles of pipes. It serves about 32,000 customers and delivers about 9 million gallons of water a day.
In addition to using the AFC SEMPER RPMs to create a more accurate hydraulic model and assist after storms, the water district has used the units to investigate low water pressure complaints from customers. “We had an issue at a water park where the customer complained of low water pressure,” Hebert said. “We put the AFC SEMPER RPM on a fire hydrant, and I was able to look at the data and see that we were able to maintain normal water pressure while the water park was in service. We then worked with the customer to resolve the issue on their end.”
Hebert said one difference he sees with the AFC SEMPER RPM and other pressure recorders is its use of the Trimble cloud-based software. “Every day I can look at the data and see what it shows,” he said. “That’s what sets it apart from others we’ve used in the past. It’s very straightforward and easy to use.”
The AFC SEMPER RPM was introduced in 2020 in partnership with Trimble Water. It is a wireless, battery-powered pressure recorder that provides utilities with the data needed to monitor water pressure throughout their systems, help identify transients and reduce non-revenue water. To learn more, visit https://american-usa.com/products/valves-and-hydrants/semper/.