AC&TS Customer Solution

CASE STUDY: Creating a Pressurized Water System to Send Water Uphill

“This time, we learned the hard way that it’s crucial to hire the right consultant from the get-go..if Automated Control &Technical Services planned the initial solution for this neighborhood’s water supply, we wouldn’t have had to go back and fix mistakes that were initially made. We’re thankful, though, that they were able to create a long-lasting solution with built-in value.” J.W., Special Districts Supervisor.

The Challenge:

A county located in Central California was having trouble providing a sufficient pressurized water system for a housing developer’s new build, which was situated uphill from the existing water storage tank.

The Solution:

Replacing the old system as well as designing, developing and implementing a new solution that would keep water pressure consistently flowing uphill.

Technical Highlights:
  • Industry: Potable Water and Raw Land Development
  • Service: Engineering solutions for water supply
  • Technologies Used:
    • Allen Bradley Rockwell Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) hardware and software
    • Allen Bradley Human Machine Interface (HMI) software


In order to receive approval to develop raw land and ultimately build homes in California, developers are required to construct – among other improvements – a working water distribution system that will properly supply potable water to new homes as well as provide adequate pressure to a life safety fire hydrant water distribution system. Once the infrastructure has been completed and accepted by the County, the County then assumes responsibility and ongoing maintenance of the distribution system.

The County had been responsible for maintaining one particular site in California’s Central Valley for several years, but hadn’t run into any problems until the developer (who has been building homes in the area since 1977) began to plan a new expansion to build homes in a higher elevation. This posed a problem with the original water distribution solution right from the start: since this system was a “packaged” water distribution solution, it was unable to accommodate the new variables needed for proposed homes on the hill, such as maintaining pressure at elevations higher than the tanks. Once the County became aware that the developer could not get the current water system to work at a home they were building that was uphill from the water tank, they immediately called Automated Control &Technical Services (AC&TS), with whom they’ve had a history of reliable performance for over 18 years. AC&TS had solved numerous issues for the County in the past, and they felt confident that they would succeed once again.


The County explained that it needed a solution which would run the water pump at the required speed, maintain a constant pressure, then would automatically shut off when there was no flow, and AC&TS got to work right away. Upon initial analysis, the AC&TS team discovered that the water system’s hardware – installed about 7 years prior – was already obsolete: there was an existing Human Machine Interface (HMI) with two processors (one to fill the tank, and one to draw water out of the tank.) In order to upgrade the existing system as well as to make the new system work properly, the team implemented a state-of-the-art HMI and Allen Bradley Rockwell Automation PLC hardware platform. AC&TS cleverly set about writing new code that recognized the variables and challenges this project site presented, such as variable pump speeds to accommodate fluctuating pressure due to both high usage and gravity issues. Not only did this unique, creative solution stabilize water pressure for the uphill development expansion, it proved to be scalable as well, so it will be able to handle future add-ons and changes without additional automation hardware.


The County was pleased once again with AC&TS’ customized solution, and the housing developer was able to move forward with construction now that water was flowing freely to their hilltop homes.


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