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SEMF completes Tarago automation project in record time

Consulting engineer and environmental solutions company, SEMF, has finished the automation of Victoria’s Tarago Reservoir water treatment plant in just five months, which the company said is impressive considering the complex nature of the project.

According to SEMF managing director, Allan Waitzer, the ability to turn around the project in such a tight time-frame places the consulting engineer as a serious contender for future major water infrastructure projects in Australia.

Located near the small township of Neerim South, the Tarago Reservoir is the first of three major Victorian State Government infrastructure projects designed to increase Melbourne’s drinking water supplies by 240 billion litres a year by 2011.

The reservoir was constructed in 1969 to supply several nearby townships and the Mornington Peninsula and Westernport regions but supply was stopped 1994 when the water became unsuitable for drinking purposes.

However, water shortages have forced the Victorian State Government to consider all options – Tarago being one.

Central to reconnecting the reservoir (which will supply Melbourne with an additional extra 15 billion litres of water) was the development of a new water treatment plant and several major initiatives to improve water quality in the reservoir.

Specialist supplier of new capital works projects to Melbourne Water, SEMF was awarded the contract to design and commission software for the $1 million treatment plant control system.

SEMF’s Melbourne-based automation group was responsible for designing and commissioning the PLC and HMI software programs (including various interfaces for SCADA and third party plant and equipment).

The complex nature of the automation project stems from the quality of the water in the reservoir which requires several different treatment processes — UV, chlorine, separation and settlement — all of which need to happen simultaneously in real time, says SEMF. In addition, large volumes of water need to be treated at any given time.

In addition to communicating with the equipment that drives, operates and monitors the treatment plant, the control system is also required to communicate with the SCADA system which manages the entire operation of Melbourne Water’s water systems across Victoria.

The end product is a clever water treatment control system which is capable of monitoring and controlling the status of more than 50 drives and in excess of 80 valves simultaneously, says SEMF. It also interfaces with a diverse range of vendor packages, such as dosing systems, centrifuges, clarifiers, UV reactors and sampling/analysis systems.

“While the complexity and size of the project was a challenge in itself, the biggest single challenge was the incredibly short time frame for delivery. Despite this, we succeeded in completing the project on-time and on-budget,” said Waitzer.

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