The Role of Real-Time Forecasting and Control in Water Quality Management

Beck, M.B. (1979). The Role of Real-Time Forecasting and Control in Water Quality Management. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-79-001

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The traditional view of water quality management in a river basin concerns itself with determining an optimal allocation of capital investment in facilities for storage and treatment of water and wastewater. If these investments do not permit the desired water quality standards to be achieved, it is usual to question, for example, whether the treatment plant configuration was correctly designed in the first place with the appropriate contaminant removal technologies. It is not common practice at the "design" stage of water quality management to consider how the system will perform at the "operational" stage of management. Neither is it customary, when standards are not met, to ask whether the design/operational requirements are incompatible, and to enquire whether standards could not in fact be achieved, if the system were to be operated more effectively.

About five or six years ago the first few articles on river water quality control began to appear in the literature of control theory. It has been a relatively easy exercise to show that, in principle, many aspects of river water quality -- better to say, river water quality models -- are amenable to the techniques of real-time control system synthesis. But that does not resolve the major practical issues of day-to-day operation in water quality management. Thus, more recently, it has been evident that on-line instrumentation and especially the use of the information so derived for management decisions, is receiving more detailed attention. Again, in principle, algorithms are available for real-time estimation, forecasting, and associated on-line data analysis. It has also been duly recognised, in view of the lack of operating flexibility in pollutant removal unit processes, that for river water quality control the storage and manipulation of flows, be they sewage discharges, stream discharges, or flows routed through treatment plants, is vitally important. But these considerations do not resolve the issues of whether real-time forecasting and control are desirable, inevitable, or necessary.

This paper takes another step backwards from the original control theoretic approaches to river water quality control. It is apparent, for instance, that laws, economics and institutions all partly determine the nature of technological innovation in the water and wastewater industries. That, then, is the more "macroscopic" environment in which the paper examines the relevance of real-time forecasting and control to river water quality management. It would be of great benefit to the author if the reader would be generous enough to offer his criticisms of the discussion. In this way the arguments will become clearer, more relevant and more coherent.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Resources and Environment Area (REN)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:46
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:09

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