KETOS- Continuous Advanced Water Monitoring for Arsenic

The Issue

The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) manages the water treatment and distribution system for the small community of Searchlight, Nevada. This system is over 50 miles away from the main operations center in Las Vegas.  The wells in Searchlight produce water that contains arsenic and therefore require an arsenic-removing ion exchange process to assure that only high-quality, potable water is being served to the Searchlight community.  The system is made up for two arsenic canister contactors.  These canisters must be monitored for arsenic breakthrough so that regeneration of the media can be scheduled and performed.  This is a timely process requiring an operator to travel the fifty miles to the remote location, collect a water sample, and return to the laboratory for analysis to determine if adjustments are required.

The Solution

SNWA, through WaterStart, discovered the KETOS Fabric Shield, now referred to as the KETOS Smart Water Intelligence Platform.   KETOS Shield Fabric delivers actionable insights and early warnings with predictive intelligence through real-time and on-demand monitoring of several ionic, environmental, water health parameters, amongst other contaminants at lab precision levels of accuracy on a continuous basis.  KETOS solution offering of proprietary, patented hardware with a secure connectivity framework and a robust interactive platform allows customers to have mission-critical water metrics proactively at their fingertips to drive a significant impact in their core-business and public health.

The Pilot

Recognizing that this technology had the potential to significantly reduce the required number of grab samples and yield operational intelligence for both SNWA and the Las Vegas Valley Water District in addressing rapid water quality changes at multiple organizational assets, the pilot was divided into two stages. WaterStart and the Southern Nevada Water Authority each funded $27,700 (USD) to KETOS for the piloting of two KETOS Shield units, one for each phase of the pilot. The pilot began in July 2019.

The primary stage was to install a KETOS Shield unit within the STAR Laboratory at the Alfred Merritt Smith Water Treatment Facility (AMS) located at Lake Mead. The KETOS Unit was tested with grab

sample comparisons for basic water quality parameters made between the compliance laboratory and the KETOS Shield unit.

The second stage was to install a KETOS Shield unit at the arsenic ion exchange facility in Searchlight for comparison between the unit and the compliance laboratory for arsenic measurements.

The Results

The system in the lab was monitored for several physical parameters like pH, EC, TDS, Salinity, DO and temperature at a 60sec level continuously while Nitrates was measured on an hourly basis as a scheduled test. Several other inorganics and heavy metals were also measured as desired. The arsenic levels at the Searchlight facility remain below or near the designed detection limit of the KETOS unit of 2ppb, so to date, at no fault of KETOS, there has been minimal arsenic to measure.  It has been determined by the SNWA research staff that the testing should continue to a point where partial arsenic breakthrough occurs in the contactor.  At that point, it will be determined whether the technology is useful in this type of operational environment.  Further, more testing is required to validate other heavy metal detection capabilities.

“Southern Nevada Water Authority is one of the foresighted utilities leveraging real-time intelligence for improving process controls and using KETOS advanced analytics towards their journey of digital transformation. Utilities around the country have a great model to replicate, learn and customize from to serve their needs in this new era of labor-free, cost efficient and CapEx free driven business models of accurate and affordable real-time monitoring”, Meena Sankaran, CEO, KETOS Inc.

“KETOS staff have been very proactive and responsive in ensuring their technology is able to meet the value propositions we’ve identified as an agency we’ve identified as an agency. It’s too bad that we did not see arsenic breakthrough align with historical trends but sometimes that’s how these pilots play out.  We look forward to continuing the work with KETOS and helping to prove out their technology. The benefits of a successful pilot outweigh the delay,” says Eric Dickenson, PhD, Water Quality Research & Development and Project Manager for SNWA.

Check out this video for more in-depth details on the Ketos project at SNWA.

Further Development

The system is capable of measuring 26 parameters autonomously that are remote controlled and offered as a fully integrated solution with the heavy metals, inorganics and nutrients of most interest compared to the other offerings in the Industry: lead, copper, cadmium, manganese, arsenic, chromium, nitrates, orthophosphates, calcium, hardness, free and residual chlorine, boron, silica, iron, and selenium. Mercury and Zinc will be available by end of Q1-2021. SNWA has signed up for another year’s subscription to continue the validation and use of this technology.  Even though the field application data is not complete, SNWA staff felt that this technology should be tested further at SWNA’s cost. Hence, adoption of this technology as a business-as-usual solution is under consideration.

About Ketos

KETOS, a water intelligence company was founded by Meena Sankaran in 2015.  KETOS delivers smarter, safer, and more sustainable water solutions to change the way the world thinks about water. This is done through a comprehensive offering of industrial-grade patented hardware, an IoT communication framework, and a robust software platform to address global water management issues. Real-time monitoring and understanding of water, both quantitatively and qualitatively, helps address both water efficiency (leak-detection & usage) and water quality (safety), ultimately increasing water availability. With the power of actionable and predictive water intelligence on a global scale, KETOS seeks to solve a number of the world’s water challenges with the goal of preserving this quintessential resource for generations to come. Learn more at