Repository logo

The myth of a "turnkey" SCADA system and other lessons learned




Norman, Robert E., author
Khalsa, Ram Dhan, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


The Bureau of Reclamation's Western Colorado Area Office has been working on a canal modernization project on the Grand Valley Project for roughly 11 years. During that period we have built seven new check structures, a pumping plant, made several modifications to structures along the canal and, finally installed a SCADA system to accompany automation of check structures and pumps. The cast of characters in implementing our SCADA system was the water user organization, the Cal Poly Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC), the SCADA "integrator," and the Bureau of Reclamation. The concept of a turnkey SCADA system is that you outline what you want your SCADA system to be able to do, write technical specifications to achieve that objective, and then hire a SCADA integrator to make it happen. Is it plausible that the technical specifications can explain the existing system to the extent an integrator can accurately estimate the cost of the SCADA system? Did the person writing the technical specifications understand what SCADA can and cannot do? Did that person understand what the water users wanted the system to be able to do? There are many steps to implementing a SCADA system. The next step of often guided by what happened on the last step. We would like to share our experience for having this cast produce a final product and what steps we took along the way. Hopefully, your path to a final product will be more direct than ours. This paper will discuss the process used to implement a canal modernization program, which included a SCADA system, and more importantly some of the lessons learned. But before discussing "turnkey" SCADA it is important to provide a brief background.


Presented at SCADA and related technologies for irrigation district modernization: a USCID water management conference on October 26-29, 2005 in Vancouver, Washington.

Rights Access



Associated Publications