Automation in water treatment: Interview with Ruud Peeters

DARROW is not about replacing operators with AI tools; it is about enhancing their expertise, thereby improving the automation in water treatment. Team DARROW member Ruud Peeters emphasises the importance of operator-centric AI tools.

Ruud is an advisor for policy and innovation at Watershap De Dommel in the Netherlands. He holds a master’s degree in life cycle analysis.

In your words, what is the DARROW project about?

DARROW, for me, is a tool to help the plant operators do their task as best as possible. So, the project is the next level of process automation in water treatment.

How will DARROW suceeed?

I think it is a big leap for artificial intelligence to take over the wastewater treatment systems. I don’t believe in that, especially not in the Netherlands, where operators have pretty high capabilities and have a lot of experience with wastewater treatment plants. There first needs to be a base of trust. The operatros need to see the system doing it better than they would do it.

What do you hope for the DARROW project to accomplish?

I would love to see that we can get better results than we have now with the performance of our plant in Tilburg. Wastewater plant operators always have their history and  their knowledge on how things were before, and that’s what they use in their everyday work. But my hope is that with machine learning and also with the models that we create of the plant, that there are some strategies that they didn’t think of yet, and that they may have much better results in the end. My hope will be to think outside of the box and have a wastewater treatment plant that is even better than it is now.

Curious to learn more about automation in water treatment?