Central Arkansas Water, a metropolitan water utility system located in Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA has partnered with Rezatec, a world-leading data analytics company, to conduct a deployment to identify and monitor sources of contaminants entering one of its primary drinking water sources, Lake Maumelle.
Lake Maumelle is a 13.9 square mile man-made reservoir that provides approximately 65 percent of all drinking water to the Arkansas state capital city of Little Rock, and the surrounding area with a population of 450,000 people.
The reservoir’s watershed is comprised of a variety of different land uses, both agricultural and forestry related. Central Arkansas Water suspects that these activities may have been contributing to increased levels of sediment and in turn nitrogen and phosphorous entering the reservoir.
Rezatec’s watershed management tool uses satellite data, hydrological analysis, and machine learning to map land use and create soil erosion risk models to deliver a comprehensive watershed risk analysis – a solution already successfully deployed for several other utility companies in Europe and Asia.
The aim of the deployment is to provide a retrospective analysis that can be used in conjunction with more traditional methods of monitoring to help identify source locations where pollutants (derived from herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers, metals, etc.) are at risk of flowing into the reservoir.
This data can then be used by Central Arkansas Water to enable positive engagement with key landowners to target reduction in diffuse pollution levels in the catchment areas and manage the impact to water quality caused by farming practices and soil erosion associated with forestry operations.
By adopting a watershed-based approach to water quality and preventing pollution from entering into raw water sources, Central Arkansas Water hopes to protect the abundance and quality of drinking water for its customers and reduce water treatment costs.
Randy Easley, Water Resources Scientist, Central Arkansas Water commented: “It is increasingly important for water utility companies to explore new and innovative methods of watershed management to address the challenges of budgetary restraint, stricter regulatory compliance requirements, and increased environmental pressures.”
Philip Briscoe, Chief Operating Officer, Rezatec stated “Water utilities are looking for more comprehensive and cost-effective ways to map and monitor land use/land cover to predict change across landscapes within watersheds, in order to better understand the relationship between land use and water quality. Satellite data can provide innovative and efficient solutions which are being adopted by an increasing number of organisations around the world”.
The applications for satellite data and machine learning within the water industry are not restricted to watershed management. Rezatec also provides solutions for assessing pipeline failure risk in water distribution networks and monitoring dams for signs of potential weakness.