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ABB energy efficient pumping solutions help Auckland tackle its worst-ever drought

  • ABB energy efficient pumping solutions help Auckland tackle its worst-ever drought
  • Waikato 50 project can produce an extra 50 million liters of water per day for New Zealand’s largest city.

  • Taking water from the Waikato river offers a more resilient approach to tackling the region’s drought than relying on existing reservoirs.

  • ABB drives and motors provide energy-efficient solutions for the extension to the water treatment plant at Tuakau and new pumping station at Papakura.

About the entity

ABB, technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and re-source-efficient future. The ABB’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered and operated.

ABB drives and motors play a vital role in the Waikato 50 project that is helping Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, recover from its 2020 drought, the worst on record. The US$103 million project, comprising an extension to the Tuakau water treatment plant and a new pumping station at Papakura, can produce up to an extra 50 million liters of water per day from the Waikato River. This makes Auckland’s water supply more resilient by meeting around one eighth of the city’s daily demand.

The Waikato 50 project was developed by Watercare Services, the water and wastewater utility for the Auckland Region. The Waikato River was selected as a drought-resilient source due to its large catchment spanning more than 14,000 square kilometers. Approximately two percent of the 18 billion liters of water that flows past the plant every day will be drawn and treated.  The new pump station enables the Waikato pipeline, around 60 km in length, to deliver the increased amount of treated water to Auckland.

Together with partners Beca, Fletcher Construction, and Fulton Hogan, ABB collaborated with Watercare to provide motor and drive solutions for energy-efficient pumping of water at the Tuakau and Papakura sites. Using ABB’s variable speed drives (VSDs) enables the speed of the pumps to be controlled precisely to match demand, with projected energy savings of around 25 percent compared with solutions that use valves and throttling to regulate flow. This ensures the water treatment facility can draw water efficiently from the river and transport the treated water to reservoirs for distribution across the region.

The Waikato River was selected as a drought-resilient source due to its large catchment spanning more than 14,000 square kilometers

The ABB equipment is supported by ABB’s comprehensive service offering enabled by digital solutions, providing insights into the performance of the motors and drives to help Watercare make fully informed decisions to improve the performance, reliability and efficiency of its pumping systems.

“The project is relieving pressure on Auckland’s dams, which are below historic levels,” said Steve Webster, Watercare’s chief of infrastructure. “ABB has played a crucial role in making it a success. Their technology support was exceptional to ensure efficient and reliable pumping, and we will continue to rely on ABB for ongoing service and support."

For the Waikato 50 pumping systems, ABB has supplied two ACS2000i medium voltage drives with integrated transformer, seven ACS880 ultra low harmonic cabinet-built VSDs, 29 ACQ580 water dedicated VSDs, two NMI 6.6 kilovolt (kV) induction motors and three NMI 690 volt (V) induction motors. For reliable power distribution, ABB has delivered compact medium-voltage switchgear SafePlus, equipped with Relion® 615 series relays for feeder protection and control.

 “Our drives and motors provide the flexibility to help Watercare optimize their process and control systems, resulting in increased capacity and efficiency,” said Aran Ferranti Silverio, ABB Motion’s New Zealand business manager.  “The local team provided high-level service and expertise during design, timely and fast delivery, and installation. We are proud to play a part in a project that will help ease Auckland’s water crisis”.

To learn more about ABB’s capability in the water industry:

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