ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A team from the Great Lakes Water Authority and the University of Michigan won the first-ever Intelligent Water Systems Challenge for using data analytics to develop a tool to maximize the use of existing collection systems and minimize combined sewer overflows in Detroit.

The winning project, titled Open-Storm Detroit Dynamics, was announced at WEFTEC, the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference, in New Orleans and earned the team a $25,000 prize from Xylem, Inc.

The Intelligent Water Systems Challenge is hosted by the Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT), a joint effort of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Water Research Foundation. The competition challenged students, professionals, and technology experts to use innovation and data to help solve some of the most difficult issues facing water and wastewater utilities. The challenge began in April and required the 19 participating teams to address real-world problems.

“As we continue to support and promote innovation in the water sector, we are also looking for ways to integrate practical applications,” WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill said. “Our hope is that the Intelligent Water Challenge will demonstrate the value of intelligent water systems to utilities and help foster the adoption of smart water technologies.”

The Great Lakes Water Authority team predicted that their solution can enable Detroit’s system to handle an additional 100 million gallons with no new construction. Based on Detroit’s costs for building new storage, this translates to savings of about $500 million. The research grant underlying this tool was less than $200,000.

The second prize of $15,000 went to the team from the Metropolitan Water Resources District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) for the project, Developing Intelligent Advanced Warning Systems for Odors at Thornton-Composite-Reservoir. The team included members from MWRDGC, Ensaras Inc., and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The third prize of $5,000 went to the team from Clean Water Services (CWS) in Hillsboro, Ore., for the project, Influential Pump Station Optimization. All six team members came from CWS and reached across both wastewater treatment within the facility as well as field operations.

The $2,500 prize for the Most Elegant Solution went to the team from Pima County, Ariz., for the creation of integrated data reporting tools for capturing data across multiple formats and databases to produce fewer and more refined reports for facility-wide use.

The Intelligent Water Systems Challenge is also supported by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN), the International Society of Automation’s (ISA) Water and Wastewater Division, Cleveland Water Alliance, The International Society of Automation, The Water Council, Water Technology Acceleration Project (WaterTAP), and BlueTech Research. Xylem provided $50,000 and Hach provided $10,000 as sponsors.

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