EDI, External Data Interface for Canal Automation and Training

WEST Consultants, Inc., was commissioned by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) to develop a training tool for their water delivery system.  The CAP operates a 336-mile long system of aqueducts, tunnels, pumping plants, and pipelines designed to bring about 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water per year to Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties in Arizona.  The entire CAP system is remotely monitored and controlled using Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software from CAP headquarters. 

To better equip the new SCADA operators at CAP, WEST worked with researchers at the U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center to develop a software package that replaces the real canal system with an unsteady hydraulic simulation model (HEC-RAS, developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) without making any changes to the SCADA software.  The link between the SCADA system and the hydraulic model is the EDI (External Data Interface) software package that WEST built and customized for implementation to the CAP system. WEST was able to develop the HEC-RAS unsteady hydraulic simulation for the canal as well, including custom gate calibrations developed by CAP for each gate. 

The CAP has gained the following benefits for training their SCADA operators using this tool:

  • EDI has enabled SCADA operators are to be trained to operate the CAP system under a much wider range of flow conditions than day-to-day conditions, including emergency situations, without endangering the actual canal system.
  • EDI has reduced the time required to train operators.
  • EDI has enabled the operators to route flow changes more efficiently through the CAP system.
  • EDI has enabled CAP to develop more robust operation criteria and guidelines.
  • Edi allows the operators are to train on the exact same SCADA system that is operating the actual canal