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Smart Water Project of the Year: Shortlist

For the project that most effectively harnessed digital solutions to achieve excellence in water or wastewater management in 2017.

Shortlisted Nominees


Christchurch Pressurised Sewer Project, New Zealand

What is it?

When a devastating earthquake hit Christchurch in 2011, the entire city’s infrastructure was catastrophically damaged. With wastewater overflowing from manholes and sewers leaking into rivers, Christchurch City council called on Iota services, which installed its ingenious OneBox and BlokAid technologies. OneBox monitors and controls sewer flows, while BlokAid monitors manholes and alerts operators to dangerous levels of wastewater, allowing timely intervention and spillage prevention.

Who is involved?

Iota Services – which is owned by South East Water, the second-largest utility in Melbourne, Australia – partnered with Christchurch City Council to deliver the project. The City Council commissioned New Zealand’s own pressurised sewer system specialist, Ecoflow, to supply its E/One power-efficient pumps.

What makes it special?

With significant repairs necessary to restore basic services in the city, Christchurch City Council’s infrastructure budget was spread thin. After installing 190 OneBox units to undertake peak flow management, the need for new pumping stations and pressure mains was negated, amounting to savings of NZ$8 million (US$5.5 million). This was the first time OneBox had been deployed outside of Australia.

After experiencing roaming issues with the OneBox modem, Iota Services developed a novel system where the OneBox controller can automatically select the telecommunications carrier with the best signal strength, ensuring constant connectivity without the need for manual intervention.


OneBox’s unique algorithmic approach dynamically smooths out peak flows to pump stations and treatment plants, diminishing the need for new treatment plants and storage. OneBox’s multi-functional nature means it can also provide data for detecting illegal plumbing connections and pinpointing the source of blockages.


Llanelli Water Project, Wales

What is it?

With ageing assets under pressure from population growth and climate change, the Welsh Water Alliance invested £100 million in the Llanelli Water Project, employing complex hydraulic modelling, retro-fitting green infrastructure for run-off management, and upgrading sewers to make them ‘smart’.

Who is involved?

Welsh Water, the drinking water supplier and wastewater utility for most of Wales, worked with its alliance partners and a host of water technology companies, including mechanical specialist Whitland Engineering and wastewater treatment plant designer Sweco. Arup acted as the lead designer for the project, whilst construction work was carried out by Morgan Sindall.

What makes it special?

Welsh Water deployed a multitude of sensors across ten major assets, including combined sewers and pumping stations. Data from the sensors has successfully been used to optimise network operations, negating the need for 50,000m3 of additional wastewater storage.

With 350 flow monitors and 80 rain gauges installed across the catchment, the project used hydraulic modelling technology to accomplish the largest green infrastructure retrofit in the world. The success of this project has achieved wider recognition, with the results being used to develop national guidelines on green infrastructure.


Complex analysis and algorithmic control of sewage pumping stations enabled advanced flow regulation to reduce the annual number of combined sewer overflows across the catchment from 414 to 140, and reduce their volume by 95%, bringing Llanelli into compliance with the National Environment Programme targets.


Mecca Smart Operations Project, Saudi Arabia

What is it?

Striving to contribute to the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company (NWC) implemented a SAR50 million ($13.3 million) Smart Operations Project in Mecca, switching from manual to automated operations. The project covered a 25.5km2 area, encompassing a colossal 996km pipe network and 28 reservoirs.

Who is involved?

National Water Company is the owner of the project, while International Aramoon Company, a local leak detection and sewer repair specialist, acted as the main contractor. The breadth and complexity of the solution is reflected in the broad range of partners, which include Xylem’s data analytics holding, Sensus, automated solutions provider ABB, and valve manufacturer VAG Valves.

What makes it special?

Mecca faces unique water consumption challenges, with over 2 million pilgrims descending on the Islamic holy site for a six-day period every year. Because of this, 90% of the region’s assets exist solely to support the water supply throughout this holy period. During Hajj, pilgrims must undertake physical activities under sweltering conditions, resulting in enormous peaks in water consumption at certain times of the day. The ensuing network pressure fluctuations make maintenance of a continuous water supply extremely challenging.

The installation of an advanced SCADA system and an army of online pressure sensors enables network pressure to be measured every second. The in-house development of a smart operations system that automatically operates control valves based on live pressure measurements ensures that water pressure is continuously maintained throughout the Hajj season.


The combined result of NWC’s pioneering innovations enabled the successful pumping of 30 million m3 of water into Mecca and the Al Mashaer region during the 2017 pilgrimage season, maintaining the quality of water services during peak flows and boosting customer satisfaction to new levels.


Oum Mazza Drinking Water Treatment Plant, Morocco

What is it?

This 432,000m3/d, one-of-a-kind, ‘digital’ drinking water treatment plant was designed and built using a vast range of digital technologies, including virtual modelling and simulation software. In a region with five million inhabitants and significant population growth, the potable water supply along the coast between Rabat and Casablanca was under growing pressure. Now completed, the plant is anticipated to satisfy the region’s water demand until 2030.

Who is involved?

Morocco’s National Water and Electricity Office (ONEE) is the owner and operator of the plant. Acciona Agua was responsible for the design, construction and commissioning processes.

What makes it special?

By combining its internally developed virtual modelling technology and process control simulation software, Acciona was able to leverage market-leading technology to fine-tune the engineering process prior to implementation, significantly shortening the construction period by preventing the need for last-minute adjustments.

Acciona’s plant simulator technology did not just help during the plant’s construction phase, but continues to be used to remotely model any new plant upgrades being considered. Assessing the impacts of modifications on the plant and predicting faults allows the company to more accurately evaluate the costs and benefits of making any changes – before the client invests.


Intelligent networking within the plant allows for remote graphical analysis and operational control, improving asset security, speeding up decision-making, and reducing the field commissioning time for plant maintenance by 60%. One day, all water treatment plants will function like this.


The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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