Sardinia Region: Monitoring the water transport and distribution network remotely with satcom

The Water Authority of Sardinia

ENAS (Ente Acque della Sardegna) is in charge of developing, operating and maintaining the water infrastructure and facilities for the Italian Sardinia Region. The Sardinia raw water reserve is stored in 32 large dams spread over the territory, from which it is transported for the supply of the industrial, agricultural and civil sectors. Moreover, ENAS designs, builds and operates renewable energy plants in the region.

The challenge

From its decentralised headquarters, ENAS manages installations spread over a large area of 24,090 km², characterised by a varied orography and a low population density. In addition to the time and workforce needed to visit the water installations, the region’s landscape features mean that terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure is unavailable or unreliable outside urban and industrial areas. Therefore, it was difficult to connect to the installations remotely and receive data about their functioning. ENAS was hence looking for solutions to control the infrastructure from its headquarters, through adequate IT systems that could be used both for routine activities and emergencies.

The satellite solution

In 2005, ENAS deployed a satellite communication network to monitor water quality of the Sardinian reservoirs located in valleys not easily accessible. In 2008, it was decided to further develop such network also to monitor the operation of the whole water distribution network. Thanks to the satcom receivers installed near dams, hydroelectric power stations, pumping stations (which transfer the resource throughout the water system) and  aqueducts, ENAS is able to receive information about and control flow rates, volumes, levels and status of  pumps in real time and remotely.

The result

In the last few years the network was extended from 10 to 62 nodes, to which were also added nodes with a peer-to-peer connection, enabling better communication between the staff in the outskirts and the central offices. The choice of using a scalable, simple and easily manageable system has proved successful, allowing ENAS to have an overview of the whole water distribution system irrespective of the distance of the employees scattered on the territory. The current network for communication and data transmission between the periphery and the central office ensures the continuity and quality of the service, while reducing the costs and efforts necessary for monitoring the water infrastructure.

“The satcom system enables us to control the entire distribution system in real time and remotely, saving us time and money we can invest in making the service better for our users.” Maurizio Bonetti, Ente Acque della Sardegna