Helping utility customers become water conservation heroes

Statistics reveal that periods of severe drought are increasing in numerous states and throughout entire regions. This illustrates the urgent need for water conservation measures to avoid costly investments in additional infrastructure.
To optimize those conservation initiatives, utilities are exploring how to streamline their processes and implement automated insights.

US Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. Drought categories show experts’ assessments of conditions related to dryness and drought including observations of how much water is available in streams, lakes, and soils compared to usual for the same time of year.

In arid regions it is common to use an irrigation system to maintain a healthy green lawn, but not all irrigation systems are programmed correctly, and excessive water usage can be the result (up to 250 gallons/hour and higher). This creates challenges when making decisions on how to meet peak water usage demands and avoid stress on water infrastructure.

To lower peak demand and combat excessive or over-irrigation, water suppliers have drought contingency plans that, in many cases, restrict irrigation to a specific day of the week and window of time, in some cases mandatory and in some cases voluntary. Communicating to customers the current restrictions and raising awareness of potential penalties to incentivize compliance can be an overwhelming task for your conservation and compliance teams.

Detection and follow up - manual work

The detection and follow-up on these restrictions are in many cases a very manual and labor-intensive task:

  • Your compliance and conservation officers look up the data in the smart meter data system,
  • They analyze that data visually using a baseline of reoccurring irrigation patterns,
  • They draw up courtesy and violation letters to communicate about the policy,
  • They follow up with customers who have not adjusted their behavior while also supporting customers asking questions or raising complaints on previous letters.

Most water suppliers don’t have enough staff to verify smart meter information, raise awareness about restrictions, communicate wrong-day irrigation violations, and charge associated penalties. Fortunately, there is a solution.

Automatically detect wrong-day irrigation

In partnership with the City of Georgetown, Itineris developed and implemented a solution, as a proof of concept project, designed to thoroughly automate the aforementioned process. During the pilot, Itineris analyzed a subset of residential smart meters based on wrong-day irrigation parameters and determined that nearly 40 percent of residential customers in the pilot were not following the restricted watering schedule. These households consumed about 200 million gallons of water on the wrong day, the equivalent of nearly 600 Olympic-size swimming pools!

Most violators were not aware that their automatic irrigation system’s program schedule violated water restrictions and accepted the offer of help to correct schedule settings. Other violators either ignored the communications or deliberately violated irrigation restrictions and paid the penalties. Ultimately, the introduction of automated, targeted communications significantly lowered consumption rates.

Itineris Water Inisghts Solution

Outcome of the pilot at Georgetwon

of residential customers did not follow the restricted watering schedule
Olympic-size swimming pools were consumed on the wrong day
Water Insights Solution

Before the next watering season starts, Itineris will fully implement this solution at the City of Georgetown to ensure:

  • Wrong-day irrigation violators are detected automatically when new smart meter data is received by the city
  • The appropriate communications are delivered to their customers,
  • Detailed information is provided to all customers through their self-service portal or via a comprehensive report
  • A case is created to audit and follow the flow of activities and customer interactions
  • When violators do not change their behavior within the imposed timeframe, violation penalties are charged automatically by the billing system

Our solution includes the following features:

  • Wrong-day irrigation detection as a first analytics use case (other possible use cases: overconsumption detection, leak notification, neighborhood comparison, consumption disaggregation).
  • A customer portal enabling your utility to engage with and inform your customers using actionable insights, an alert manager, and tips and tricks on how to save water.
  • A back office portal enabling you to manage any time series data source (smart meters, DMA flow meters, market pricing, weather data), analyze detailed consumption and production (end consumer and grid), and report on compliance with water conservation legislation.
  • A design built on our Utility Data Hub technology. The flexibility of the Data Hub enables the simple addition of new use cases to our solution.
Water Analytics Platform

With our wrong-day irrigation solution you get a clear overview of your customers’ water consumption and you can personalize the communication with your customers in case of a violation.

This solution is part of our data intelligence solutions. It works seamlessly with UMAX, Itineris’ CIS solution for utilities, but can also be easily integrated with other CIS solutions.

Our experts are happy to share best practices and help you improve your processes.

Want to learn more about our solutions?
Let’s talk!

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