How SCADA Works for Water Utilities and Rural Water Districts

Water utility operators and districts utilize SCADA systems to remotely control and monitor equipment and various metrics in the field.

Water is essential for life but managing it can be challenging. Water districts and utilities need to monitor and control various aspects of their water systems, such as water quality, pressure, flow, level, temperature, and more. They also need to ensure the security and reliability of their water supply and distribution networks.

One way to achieve these goals is by using a SCADA system. SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition, and it is a system that allows plant operators to control processes and provides meaningful, automatic data. It combines hardware components with computer software to collect, monitor, and analyze real-time data. Water facility operators can leverage SCADA systems to keep records of key events and to remotely control many of their industrial processes.

How Does a SCADA System Work?

A typical SCADA system consists of four main components:

  • Sensors are devices that measure physical parameters, such as pressure, flow, level, temperature, etc. Sensors send signals to the next component.
  • Controllers are devices that receive signals from sensors and execute commands based on predefined logic. They can be programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or remote terminal units (RTUs). They send data and receive commands from the next communication component.
  • Communication network is the medium that connects controllers with the next component. It can be wired or wireless, depending on the distance and bandwidth requirements. It can also use different protocols, such as Modbus, DNP3, OPC UA, etc.
  • Human-machine interface (HMI) is the software application that runs on a computer or a mobile device. It displays graphical representations of the water system and allows operators to viewdata, generate reports, set alarms, and send commands to controllers.
SCADA systems used for water utilities and rural water districts have features that are unique to the water and waste water management industry. The human-machine interface (HMI) of the software is used to display dashboards and graphical representations of the water system.

What Are the Benefits of a SCADA System?

A SCADA system can provide many benefits for water districts and utilities, such as:

  • Improved efficiency by optimizing water usage, reducing energy consumption, and minimizing waste.
  • Enhanced quality by ensuring compliance with water standards, detecting leaks and contamination, and maintaining optimal water conditions.
  • Increased reliability by preventing downtime, reducing maintenance costs, and improving asset management.
  • Better security by protecting against cyberattacks, vandalism, and sabotage.

What Are the Challenges of a SCADA System?

A SCADA system can also pose some challenges for water districts and utilities, such as:

  • High cost of installing and maintaining hardware and software components.
  • Complexity of integrating different devices, protocols, and platforms.
  • Scalability of adapting to changing needs and expanding networks.
  • Sustainability of ensuring long-term performance and compatibility.

How to Overcome These Challenges?

To overcome these challenges, water districts and utilities need to adopt a modern SCADA system that is:

  • Hardware-independent by using standard PLCs and edge devices that can communicate with any HMI software.
  • Server-centric by using a central server that stores all data and logic and distributes them to clients on demand.
  • Cross-platform by using a web-based HMI that can run on any device and browser without installation or configuration.
  • Web-launched by using a secure URL that launches the HMI application without downloading or updating anything.
  • Template-based by using user-defined types (UDTs) that simplify the creation and modification of graphical elements.
  • Remote-enabled by using alarm notifications that alert operators via email or SMS when something goes wrong.
  • Automatic-reporting by using built-in tools that generate reports based on historical data.

One example of such a modern SCADA system is eLynx Water Solutions.


SCADA is a system that allows water districts and utilities to monitor and control their water systems remotely. It can provide many benefits in terms of efficiency, quality, reliability, and security. However, it can also pose some challenges in terms of cost, complexity, scalability, and sustainability. To overcome these challenges, water districts and utilities need to adopt a modern SCADA system that is hardware-independent, server-centric, cross-platform, web-launched, template-based, remote-enabled, and automatic-reporting.


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