Like many countries, Norway has been experiencing increasing bouts of extreme weather in recent years. This has created a number of stormwater management issues due to a backlog in water system maintenance requirements. To find a solution, the Kristiansand municipality has been testing stream inlet sensors and overflow meters from Pipelife Norway’s smart water service.
The smart water system works by triggering an alarm when an overflow in the pipeline network is detected. In periods of heavy rainfall, excess water infiltrates the sewer, and the risk of sewage overflow is increased as the pipes reach capacity. This also applies when blockages form as sewage can exceed the overflow edge and run into the sea, rivers or streams — significantly compromising local water quality.
Pipelife’s smart water solution has also helped the Kristiansand municipality to prevent unwanted items like leaves, waste and gravel from entering the pipe network. The alarm signals when the water level around the sewer inlets begins to rise, thus notifying the team that something might be blocking water entry points. Once notified, maintenance can be arranged to clear the grates and ensure the debris does not make its way into the pipe network and cause further problems.
Uno Burås Karlsen, a sewer network operator at the Kristiansand municipality’s water and sewage department, noted the importance of the smart water service in helping his team manage the problem:
“Pipelife’s smart service allows us to monitor stream grates by simply checking an application on our smartphones. We receive alarms when the water level in front of the stream inlet starts to rise. Sensors on either side of the grate help us to better understand whether something is blocking the entryway or if it’s just an overall high water level due to heavy rain.”
Looking forward to further solutions, Burås continued, “we are also testing the use of cameras on the stream grates to provide a remote picture of the situation as the water rises. This could potentially avoid the need for in-person maintenance of the inlets, saving us time to focus on areas that need critical attention during extreme weather.”
Ultimately, the integration of Pipelife Norway’s smart sensor into sewage networks aims to reduce the number of manual inspections required by local municipalities. Currently, Kristiansand’s water department employees drive out to check all the grates when the area is experiencing heavy rainfall. However, with the introduction of a smart system, they hope to carry out most of their checks remotely and save in-person maintenance for the physical removal of blockages to the stream inlets.
"We are extremely happy to be involved in the development and testing phase of this service,” concludes Burås Karlsen. “Our experience will help to perfect the solution for other municipalities in future. Pipelife Norway has been an innovative and solution-oriented partner, offering help and advice whenever we needed it. Our new levels of control have made stormwater and sewage management a lot easier!"
Kristiansand's smart water solution was installed in January 2021 and their collaboration with Pipelife Norway is ongoing.
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