AI Reduces Wastewater Overflows and Sewer Spills

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Remote telemetry specialist Metasphere has developed a new technology, combining cellular IoT and artificial intelligence (AI), to protect freshwater and marine ecosystems from water pollution.

of the metasphere ART (Remote Analytical Telemetry) Sewer Sewage and Wastewater Spill Monitoring Solution Combines Cellular IoT (Courtesy of Nordic nRF9160 multimode NB-IoT/LTE-M SiP) and AI/machine learning (ML) to reduce waste water overflows and waste water spills; in a way that Metasphere says was not commercially or technologically viable before.

Metasphere CEO Tim O’Brien said, “All of this combines to prevent flooding events with a speed and accuracy not possible until now.

Wastewater overflows and sewage spills are two of the most common types of water pollution in the world.

Freshwater and marine ecosystems are already struggling to cope with toxic runoff from multiple sources of pollution such as non-recycled urban waste, pesticides, fertilizers, animal manure from agriculture, black tides, etc.

ART Sewer takes an all-in-one, turnkey approach in which Metasphere has designed the solution to provide total network visibility, performance and forecasting to wastewater utilities worldwide.

Installation requires Metasphere’s battery-powered “Contactless Sense Level IoT” coffee cup-sized devices (12cm by 5cm diameter) to be bulk positioned under service hole covers in a network of waste water.

Once a room has been located, the installation process takes less than five minutes.

In operation, each sensor uses radar technology to take a measurement sample of wastewater levels, using radar every 15 minutes.

Data is sent to Metasphere’s data analysis servers once a day via cellular IoT NB-IoT or LTE-M wireless technology. The device will also signal with alarms if a high level is detected.

AI and machine learning create predictability

Mr O’Brien said the platform uses AI and ML to combine historical, current and forecast rainfall data, as well as soil saturation levels to proactively manage wastewater flow. in sewers, pumping stations, manholes and combined sewer outfalls (OSC).

“This allows sewage utilities to much more effectively prevent sewage spills from torrential rains, blockages, or collapsed or leaking pipes,” O’Brien said.

“It also allows maintenance teams to be planned and deployed in a much more optimized and less reactive way.”

Meet environmental standards with cellular IoT

ART Sewer is designed to have a positive impact on reducing wastewater pollution from spills that reach freshwater and seawater, and thus contaminate the natural environment.

O’brien said the technology will help wastewater utilities meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations around the world and avoid or minimize ever-increasing regulatory fines.

The United Kingdom as an example of application

As reported in The week magazine in August 2021, the environmental condition of rivers in the UK is poor.

The article reports that at the time of writing, only 14% of England’s rivers were classified as being in “good ecological health” according to the definition given by the EU’s Water Framework Directive.

The UK is a particularly difficult example as it has a combined sewage network where rainwater and domestic and industrial sewage end up in the same pipes.

This can cause the system to overflow and divert excess contaminated water to streams, fields, woods and other designated spill areas.

In addition to these capacity issues, humans create more problems with network blockages (largely caused by sanitary wipes and grease) which can cause further spills, sometimes reaching home property.

The fate of the UK’s natural waterways is increasingly in focus, with campaign groups highlighting the impact of these spills.

Open water swimmers, for example, directly experience environmental damage and health risks.

Tackling this has been a challenge as most of the vast sewage network (over 500,000km in the UK) is underground and existing solutions for monitoring sewage overflows are expensive and limited .

Improvements on the horizon

Metasphere hopes that with the large-scale deployment of its ART Sewer solution, this situation can be significantly improved in the years to come.

Field trials have proven that the ART Sewer monitoring solution is extremely effective in protecting freshwater and marine ecosystems from sewage spills.

As a result, Southern Water and Severn Trent Water, two of the largest water companies in the UK, are deploying ART Sewer.

For more details on how Nordic integrates sustainability into its business strategy, see the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) (page 97) section of the Annual report 2021.

This Sponsored Editorial is brought to you by Metasphere. For more information, visit

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