AI to reduce sewage overflows and spills


Long-distance telemetry specialist Metasphere has developed new technology combining cellular IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) to protect freshwater and marine ecosystems from water pollution.

metasphere ART (Remote Analytic Telemetry) Sewers Wastewater and wastewater monitoring solution combines cellular IoT (courtesy of Nordic nRF9160 Multimode NB-IoT/LTE-M SiP) and AI/Machine Learning (ML) to reduce wastewater overflow and wastewater pollution; in a way that Metasphere said was not previously commercially or technologically feasible.

Metasphere CEO Tim O’Brien said, “This all combines to prevent flooding with a speed and accuracy not previously possible.”

Sewage overflows and spills are two of the most common types of water pollution worldwide, exacerbated by aging sewage and sewer systems, growing urban populations, and increasing rainfall due to global warming.

Freshwater and marine ecosystems are already struggling to cope with toxic runoff from multiple pollution sources such as unrecycled municipal solid waste, pesticides, fertilizers, farm animal manure, oil spills and more.

ART sewer takes an all-in-one turnkey approach where Metasphere engineered the solution to provide wastewater utilities around the world with complete network visibility, performance and forecasting.

The installation requires that Metasphere’s coffee-cup-sized (12 cm x 5 cm diameter) battery-powered Contactless Sense Level IoT devices be positioned in a volume under covers of service openings in a sewage network.

Once a chamber has been located, the installation process takes less than five minutes.

In operation, each sensor uses radar technology to take a sample reading of the wastewater level every 15 minutes using radar.

Data is sent to Metasphere’s data analytics servers once a day via either NB-IoT or LTE-M cellular IoT wireless technology. The device also reports alarms when a high level is detected.

AI and machine learning create predictability

Mr O’Brien said the platform uses AI and ML to combine historical, current and forecast rainfall data and soil saturation values ​​to proactively control wastewater flow in sewers, pumping stations, manholes and combined sewer overflows (CSOs).

“This allows sewage companies to be much more effective in preventing sewage spillage due to heavy rain events, blockages or collapsed or leaking pipes,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Also, maintenance teams can be planned and deployed in a much more streamlined and less responsive manner.”

Meeting environmental standards with cellular IoT

ART Sewer is designed to have a positive impact on reducing wastewater pollution from spills that reach freshwater and marine water and thus contaminate the natural environment.

Mr O’brien said this technology will help wastewater utilities meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations around the world and avoid or minimize ever-increasing government fines.

Great Britain as an application example

As reported in The week Magazine in August 2021, the environmental status of rivers in the UK is poor.

The article reports that at the time of writing, only 14 per cent of England’s rivers have been classified as “in good ecological health” as defined by the EU Water Framework Directive.

The UK is a particularly challenging example, as it has a combined sewage network, with stormwater and domestic and industrial waste water ending in the same pipes.

This can result in network overload and excess contaminated water being diverted to waterways, fields, forests and other designated overflow areas.

In addition to these capacity issues, people cause other network blockage problems (mainly caused by sanitary towels and grease), which can lead to more spills sometimes reaching household items.

The plight of the UK’s natural waterways is increasingly coming into focus, with campaign groups highlighting the impact of these spills.

Open water swimmers, for example, experience environmental damage and health hazards up close.

Addressing this issue was challenging as most of the extensive sewage network (over 500,000 km in the UK) runs underground and existing sewage pollution monitoring solutions are expensive and limited.

improvements on the horizon

Metasphere hopes to dramatically improve this situation over the coming years with the large-scale deployment of its ART Sewer solution.

Field trials have proven ART Sewer’s monitoring solution to be extremely effective in protecting freshwater and marine ecosystems from wastewater spills.

That’s why Southern Water and Severn Trent Water, two of the UK’s largest water utilities, use ART Sewer.

For more details on how Nordic integrates sustainability into its business strategy, see the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) (page 97) section of the Annual Report 2021.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Metasphere. For more information visit


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