Smart water supply solves long-standing water problems of century-old Huanggang normal university

Located at the easternmost of Hubei Province in China, Huanggang is a city bounded by rivers and seas. The city was once named one of China’s most livable cities and today boasts a population of 7.5 million people. It is home to Huanggang Normal University, the city’s first higher education institution and a multi-disciplinary full-time undergraduate university. Made up of three campuses, Huanggang Normal University’s North Campus has nine academic buildings and 16 dormitories. It serves more than 8,000 faculty members and students.

The water supply in the north campus operates on the natural water pressure supplied by the municipal pipe network of Huanggang’s water company, which reached at most the fourth storey during the peak period
Jin Zhigang, Head of Infrastructure Construction and Logistics Support Department at the Huanggang Normal University.

University’s water supply situation today

With the growth of the university and its campuses, the reach of its water supply expands accordingly, bringing with it increased student and staff member demands on water pressure, quality and volumes. At the peak hours of water use in the mornings and evenings, water pressure on campus reaches an inadequate 2kg, adversely affecting the quality of water use. This affects nearly one third of the university’s staff and students.

“The water supply in the North Campus operates on the natural water pressure supplied by the municipal pipe network of Huanggang’s water company, which reached at most, the fourth storey during the peak period, " said Jin Zhigang, Head of Department for Infrastructure Construction and Logistics Support at Huanggang Normal University. “When the new semester starts in September and October every year, water is often cut off in student dormitories, teaching buildings and office buildings situated on the fourth floor and up. There is almost no water for the higher storeys, so students have to go downstairs for water or avoid peak hours, which brings a lot of inconvenience,” added Jin Zhigang.

The poor water supply could be attributed to the ageing pipe network, which had been in use for more than 15 years. Additionally, the original infrastructure design did not take into account the high demands for water placed by the current scale of use. To solve the water supply challenges and provide a satisfying, student-centric water use experience, the Huanggang Normal University kickstarted a pipe network upgrade project in 2019. This saw the upgrade of both pipelines and pumping stations. 

Convenient and intelligent solutions

Following a comprehensive assessment of the university’s needs and the local environment, Grundfos recommended an integrated smart pumping station solution to the university. Compared with the traditional underground pumping station and the mobile pumping station the university had been using, the prefabricated smart pumping station takes up less space on the ground, allows for convenient installation and facilitates intelligent ongoing management. All equipment is prefabricated in the Grundfos factory, shortening installation time on-site. Water supply can be reactivated just one day after installation, minimising any interruptions to a great extent.

“In addition to its compact design, the Grundfos prefabricated smart pumping station is also more hygienic and easier to manage. We use traditional water supply pumping stations in our South Campus and every year we have to arrange for regular quality and safety inspection. With the Grundfos system, we are able to leave the operations unattended and manage it all remotely, increasing our team’s effectiveness and efficiency, all while guaranteeing the security and stability of our water supply,” said Jin Zhigang.

The new smart pumping station is installed about 100 metres from the student dormitories, but the sound of its operations is only heard within a three metre radius, eradicating concerns that the sounds from the station would affect the students' rest at night.

"The pumping station is very quiet and well-integrated into the campus environment. It all looks harmonious and beautiful," Jin Zhigang added.

Energy-saving, stable and efficient water supply

The new pumping station in the North Campus of the Huanggang Normal University officially started operating in October 2019. Today, it is responsible for the daily water supply of 14 student dormitories, three teaching buildings, one office building, a library and a canteen in the North Campus. It is the first highly integrated intelligent pumping station of Grundfos and in the Hubei Province.

Lu Nianqiao, Director of the Infrastructure Construction and Logistics Support Department at Huanggang Normal University, said “The installation of the Grundfos prefabricated smart pumping station was extremely timely. The renovations were completed just when freshmen started their orientation, in the middle of sweltering heat. The station solved all problems with insufficient water pressure and lack of water on higher building levels, allowing students and staff to have access to safe water anytime, anywhere.”

The students at Huanggang Normal University are the true beneficiaries of the upgrade. One said, "My dormitory is on the sixth floor. The water pressure was very unstable and the water was often cut off after I came back from basketball. Nowadays, not only is the water pressure stable, but the water volume has become much larger and the quality is better. We don't have to run downstairs to get water anymore."

In addition to stable water supply, the energy-saving results of the prefabricated smart pumping station is also very prominent. The project uses pressure-superposed water supply mode as opposed to constant voltage variable frequency mode, which reduces the energy consumption of the pumping station. It is estimated that each operation now sees over 45% more energy savings.

“The results of the prefabricated smart pumping station have exceeded all our expectation to become the highlight and model of the broader renovation program in the North Campus. Grundfos has met our requirements with innovative solutions and solved the long-standing water problems of faculty staff and students. We’re seeing a truly revitalised Huanggang Normal University," said Lu Nianqiao.

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