Sofia, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Milano with a common project for innovations in the WSS network

Five European cities have joined efforts to design new digital solutions intended to improve the operation of water and wastewater infrastructure of the continent.

Through the Digital Water City project, the water companies operating in Sofia, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Milano create and implement various intelligent digital technologies to strengthen the integrated water system management.

For the development of the innovations they cooperate with municipalities, software companies and research institutions like Sorbonne University, University of Milan, etc.   

Two innovations under the project are implemented in Sofia – temperature sensors for monitoring overflowing in the sewer system and video nozzle for sewer cleaning. The former will be tested also in Berlin. 

Why is it important to monitor overflowing?

The sewer network in Sofia has been designed as combined, i.e. it drains both storm water and municipal wastewater. Part of this type of networks are the combined sewer overflows which discharge the system during rainfalls in order to prevent flooding in the customers’ properties. During rainfalls the water is diluted enough and there is no threat for the rivers to be seriously polluted. However, overflowing in case of dry weather should not be allowed because the wastewater is highly polluted and is a real environmental threat to the rivers. 

Sofiyska Voda operated by Veolia has already installed 10 of the low-cost temperature sensor for overflow monitoring that function offline.

Even now they are collecting data that would afterwards be uploaded on a web platform developed within the project. The working principle is to install two sensors in the combined sewer overflow – one of them is submerged into the water and the other one is placed at the lowest part of the overflow crest.

The sensors collect data about the temperature and the difference between the readings of the two sensor shows that there is overflowing. 40 sensors in total are about to be installed at key points.

Thus, the WSS operators will have real-time data and will be able to react quickly in case of wastewater overflowing in the rivers. 

A smart combination of HD camera, sewer cleaning nozzle and wireless communication is the other digital solution. The technology allows the simultaneous cleaning of sections from the sewer network, monitoring of the quality of the cleaning process and if there are any structural damages along the network. 

Vasil Trenev, Executive Director of Sofiyska Voda operated by Veolia comments: “Our participation in the project not only ranked Sofia next to the digital water cities of Europe, but gives us the opportunity to exchange experience, develop technologies and implement practical solutions for modernized management of the WSS network with a team of world-class specialist. Together we are creating the future better and smarter management of the water systems”.

He adds that in particular the devices that are being installed in the capital allow real-time monitoring for overflowing from the sewer network to the riverbeds, inspecting the sewer network, cleaning the system and respectively taking measures, where required. 

The water and sewer infrastructure in European is subject to extremely high operational load.

Annually Euro 45 billion is invested in the water and sewer network in the European Union. The tendency is that the sum would double in the coming decade so that the overall infrastructure can be modernized and the cities can rise to the challenges of the climate change.

Digital technologies are a key factor for achieving this modernization and it is precisely for this purpose that Digital Water City project was created.

15 digital solutions have already been developed within the project, which are currently being tested.

They cover the full range of innovative digital technologies, such as augmented reality, mobile technologies, cloud computing, sensors, real-time monitoring, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, modeling and open-source software. It is a 3-year project that is implemented in the urban and suburban areas of Sofia, Berlin, Copenhagen, Milan and Paris and serves 30 million European citizens.

The project is funded under Horizon 2020 program of the European Union -

You can see exactly how the project is actually implemented in Sofia in the video here: