Abstract

This study aims to identify barriers and needs for the application of data analytics in municipal wastewater treatment. The study was conducted through a series of interviews with stakeholders involved in instrumentation, control, and automation of wastewater treatment plants. Opportunities and limitations observed by different stakeholders were assessed with a thematic analysis. Thematic analysis enabled a broader consideration of social and organizational aspects related to process control, operation, and maintenance. Identified key barriers for applying data analytics included laborious instrumentation maintenance, unstable control loops, and deficient customization of digital tools for users at wastewater treatment plants. Development needs include easier data processing tools, quality assurance of instrumentation, and controller tuning. Results indicate that the perceived potential of data analytics is highly dependent on the performance of underlying physical and digital systems, as well as the control strategies and operating environment of the plant. Despite the barriers, users and developers see many potential applications for data analytics and expect them to have a central role in the control and operation of wastewater treatment plants in the future.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
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