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Posted on: September 20, 2020

Las Cruces Utilities Uses High-End Tech to Keep Infrastructure Secure

LCU SCADA Tech

By Cassie McClure

Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 9/20/20.

A new pressure reducing valve was installed on Well 117 and it was time to connect it into the Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) monitoring system. That system, known as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), not only oversees the security at different LCU locations, but also gives LCU staff a vast amounts of data regarding the operation of various LCU Gas, Water, and Wastewater systems.

Nick Rios, LCU SCADA senior system technician, helps program these systems. He was on the phone with another LCU associate who was at Well 117, physically connecting the valve monitoring equipment into the system. With signals sent via radio signal to receivers at various locations throughout the valley, the receivers relay the information back to the Utilities Administration building at 660 N. Motel Boulevard. Once the valve is fully connected, Rios will be able to open and close the value with a click of the mouse from his computer – a small part of the control he has.

LCU’s SCADA is monitored 24/7 and it shows every LCU water well, tank, booster station, and their real time activity. It’ll ping back data if a door opens at a well site or if pressure changes at a gas regulator station. It can tell the level of waste at a lift station and if the pumps are on or off.

“It’s also a fantastic way to get history that engineers at Utilities can utilize when analyzing the Gas, Water, or Wastewater systems,” Rios said.

Rios has 16 years of experience working with SCADA and he’s seen the technology jump from one peak to the next. “We upgrade software about every six months,” he said. “The hardware changes quickly too. Some of the next networks upgrades will likely change our speed that could be compared to going from a landline to a cell phone,” he said. “The growth of SCADA will help LCU best manage its resources or identify specific needs for the growing population.”

LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.

CAPTION:

PHOTO 1: Nick Rios, LCU SCADA senior system technician, is monitoring the installation of a valve at a well on the other side of town. LCU receives critical data to manage its operations through its monitoring system.

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