Stormwater is the number one cause of water pollution in urban areas. For example, in the Seattle area, for every 1 acre of paved surface, 1 million gallons of polluted stormwater enters the Puget Sound every year.
Stormwater pollution causes high concentrations of bacteria, nutrients, and loads of sediment that results in no-swim zones, fish kills, and very expensive drinking water, and climate change causes heavier rainfall and stronger storms, which means that systems designed for 50- or 100-year flood events are forced to deal with these events at a much higher frequency than anticipated.
As a result, federal, state, and local governments have developed ever more stringent regulations requiring stricter compliance with monitoring and reporting stormwater quality, as well as maintaining stormwater infrastructure.
Right now, this is a highly manual process, and resources are limited in terms of both people and equipment available to tackle the problem. We want to automate as much of the process as possible, from data acquisition and entry, project tracking, reporting, and notifications of problems.
While we have developed the software to automate the in-office workflow, we are in the process of developing the hardware to automate the field efforts as well.
The hardware consists of several sensor units that use ultrasonic and Doppler to measure temperature and flow of water through above- and belowground pipes. The sensor units, which are individually called Scutes, communicate to each other using radio via a self-healing mesh network, as well as to the main communication hub, which uploads the data to our users' apps. Data acquisition can be completed in real time, or in set time increments. Scutes go to sleep when no moving water is present, unless, of course, all other Scutes within the Terrapin are measuring flow, in which case the user is notified of the anomaly.
Uploaded data will be presented graphically and/or on a map designed to visually interpret the operational effectiveness of the storm sewer system. As we accumulate more data on a larger scale, we will be able to (1) use predictive analytics to predict pollutant loading and ultimately prevent it from happening in the first place, and (2) optimize our existing stormwater infrastructure by quickly identifying and fixing key problem areas.
We anticipate having three Scutes (i.e., a very small Terrapin) operating in the field later this spring. This field pilot will validate our solution and provide the data necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness of the devices for use by our customers.
Applications for Terrapin in the stormwater space include flood control, flow control, pollution distribution, source identification, system maintenance, infrastructure optimization, evaluation of the success of GSI/LID, among others. Potential applications abound in other industries, including waste water, green buildings, agriculture, etc. We'll focus on that after we have the stormwater market nailed down.
Demand for Terrapin is high; all we need now, or at least once the field pilot is complete, is to figure out how to pay for it!