InSchuKa 4.0 – Combined infrastructure and environmental protection through AI-based sewer network management

© Quellenangabe

Brief describtion

Floods as a result of heavy rainfall events are occurring more and more frequently in Germany and, in conjunction with severe storms, often cause great damage and considerable environmental pollution due to the uncontrolled discharge of untreated wastewater into water bodies. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the sewer pipes can no longer store the accumulating water masses, although there is still existing storage capacity in the sewer system itself and in the connected stormwater basins. Moreover, observations indicate that more extreme dry periods are to be expected in the future. The location and timing of such events are difficult to predict, so sewer operators are confronted with partly contrary conflicting challenges for which they must be prepared.

The envisaged solution therefore focuses on the implementation of a dynamic, flexible sewer network management based on intelligent data collection, evaluation and monitoring in order to optimally use the existing sewer network volume during heavy rainfall and to counteract possible negative effects also during dry periods, such as increased sedimentation, odor formation and corrosion or uncontrolled discharge of pollutants into water bodies during short-term heavy rainfall events after a longer dry period.


The project focuses on an integrated and transdisciplinary management (in terms of risks) of conflicting hydrological and urban water-related events in urban water supply infrastructures using digital tools for monitoring, analysis, forecasting and communication.

Building on this, the project will develop an artificial intelligence-based sewer network management solution that incorporates innovative sewer sensor technology, cyberphysical equipment elements for water level and quantity control and historical and forecast data from operations and weather events. 

In addition, the newly developed system is intended to meet the need of municipalities/cities to enable automatic preventive flushing of sewer sections and to prevent uncontrolled overflow of pollutants during short, heavy rain showers by improving retention in the sewer system.

Working packages (WP)

On the basis of the framework conditions of the urban wastewater infrastructure of Jena, which are to be determined in detail, the general and special requirements for a dynamic sewer network management for a resilient handling of extreme water events are determined, taking into account the state of the art in technology and science. In doing so, the tasks specific to Jena will be defined, as well as an initial derivation of tasks that can be formulated in general terms.

In order to determine the critical junctions/structures/sewer sections for a dynamic sewer network management in Jena, both a hydraulic and a pollutant load simulation of the sewer system sections defined in WP 1 are carried out.

With the help of a combined flow and AFS measuring device, missing data on actual sediment properties have to be determined in order to obtain calculation results that can be used for sewer network management to estimate the sedimentation characteristics and sulfide development during extreme weather events or long residence times of the wastewater.

Determination of requirements for necessary technical equipment in the pilot section. Dimensioning and design of the machine and electrical, measurement and control engineering related components and services. 

In this WP the software for the planned dynamic sewer network management is developed with the help of the AI-based methodology of CBR  Cased Based Reasoning) and the combined flow and AFS measuring device, taking into account and evaluating all results from previous WPs.

In WP 6 the real testing of the dynamic sewer network management system, of the technical equipment used according to WP 4 as well as of the combined flow and AFS measuring device in the critical junctions/structures/sewer sections of the Jena sewer system identified in WP 2 will be carried out. 

On the basis of a literature review, the acceptance and transfer research will follow with a survey of the associated partners and of  decision-makers in selected medium-sized and large cities. The aim is to find out which technical, organizational-cultural and decision-psychological criteria have to be fulfilled that municipal decision-makers are interested in dynamic sewer network management and also implement it in reality. 

Project management ensures the progress of the project through internal communication, external coordination, preparation, moderation and evaluation of regular project network meetings and reporting, controlling of the use of funds and communication with the funder.