EAST PALESTINE - Spending a little more money now to address problems at the water plant is the best move for the village, Village Manager Pete Monteleone said Monday.
Monteleone explained to council that purchasing a System Communication and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to monitor the plant's distribution equipment, including the two lift stations, will allow the department to respond more quickly in the event of a water leak or equipment malfunction.
Water and Wastewater Superintendent John Jurjavcic said the current monitoring system installed in the 1990s is antiquated and cannot be repaired if it fails.
Now, only water levels in one of the plant's two storage tanks are monitored through an AT&T land-line telephone system. Dante Fiorino, of MS Consultants, said the current system is costing the village $400 to $450 a month in utility bills for that tank. The SCADA system would be completely web-based and cost roughly $200 a month in utility bills.
"The best argument for this system is it's going to be cellular-based. There will be seven cellular sites and three radio sites," he said.
The system would cost about $61,000 and will monitor water levels and the overall operation of all water towers, each booster pump and the lift stations, and Jurjavcic can access that information online or through a Smartphone, he added.
"I can go on a Smartphone and take a look at the system and see what pumps are down. It will let us know right away if we've got a problem. It's something that should have been here for years," Jurjavcic said.
The booster pumps are not monitored through the current system.
"There is no way to monitor these stations unless we go out and see (them) physically," he said.
Booster pumps are located on Jimtown, McClure, and Hamilton roads and the Stacey and Howell roads intersection.
The pump on Stacey and Howell feeds the Covington Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility and the plant's two lift stations serve the Vineyards and Leslie Run Estates housing developments.
Fiorino said the web-based system will help the plant avoid "major, major breakdowns and issues."
According to Jurjavcic's year-end report provided to council, in 2012 the water department handled 80 reports of high consumption and repaired or replaced equipment 37 times.
He has previously said high consumption is sometimes caused by a leak in the system. In October and November combined the department was called upon to check five different leaks.
He and Fiorino began looking into the SCADA system while looking for a system to monitor the new tank at the Wheathill Reservoir.
Council approved hiring Gateway Tank in October for $478,669 to replace the in-ground, centuries-old tank at the reservoir after being told to do so by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Fiorino said $50,000 was already included in the project's budget for a monitoring system there, but he and Jurjavcic found a system could that could monitor the entire plant instead for only $11,000 more.
That cost would also be reduced since the system would be eligible for the 20 percent principal forgiveness already awarded for the reservoir project, he explained.
The village has 20 percent forgiveness on the project through the EPA's Water Supply Revolving Loan Fund.
Fiorino said the $61,000 includes the small fee for the storage of the information on servers owned by Mission Communications.
Jurjavcic said Mission is the company used by most government defense agencies and would protect the information from hackers and malware.
"All data is backed up continuously," he said.
He also said the plant's equipment cannot be controlled through the web-based system, meaning any planned shutdowns or restarts would be through manual means on site.
Monteleone said if council chooses not to proceed with the new system now they will not receive the 20 percent forgiveness and likely pay more money in the future.
"We are trying to be creative ... and use money that was already budgeted," he said.
Council then approved a motion to authorize submission of a change-order for the system.