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Portland Water Bureau

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1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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New Burlingame Tank’s Replacement and Upgraded RTU System

By Lindsay Wochnick

Instrumentation technician works on the new Burlingame Tank’s replacement and upgraded RTU system.

The Portland Water Bureau uses Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) to remotely control pumps, instruments, analyzers, security sensors, and other process controls within the water system. This programmable industrial electronic device allows system operators to remotely make adjustments to control operations such as how much water goes where and when within the distribution system, and the level of the gates atBull Rundam. As do most water utilities in the country, the Water Bureau uses Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) to monitor and control the water system.

Burlingame Tank’s replacement and upgraded RTU system.

There are 178 RTUs in use at sites throughout the system. The RTUs are maintained by Instrumentation Shop technicians who are part of the Operations Group. Since 1999, technicians have replaced 150 of the obsolete RTU models that were installed in the 1980s. These older RTU’s are no longer supported and replacement parts are no longer manufactured. The last of this model RTU (SAGE) located at the Burlingame Tank site was recently replaced, which is a significant milestone for the Instrument Shop. 

The Instrument Shop technicians continue to actively upgrade older RTUs when possible. These upgrades improve reliability, communications speed, standardization, and system security.

Terry Black
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