Water shortages in Northern California's Wine Country to be addressed by IBM project

June 25, 2010
ARMONK, NY and SONOMA, CA, June 25, 2010 -- IBM and the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), which supplies water to more than 600,000 people, have teamed up to address the pressing problem of water management in the heart of Northern California's wine country...

ARMONK, NY and SONOMA, CA, June 25, 2010 -- IBM and the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), which supplies water to more than 600,000 people, have teamed up to address the pressing problem of water management in the heart of Northern California's wine country.

From aging infrastructure to population growth to climate change, California's strained water supply faces a complex set of challenges and demands that threaten the future of the state's population, economy and environment. According to the California Department of Water Resources, the state has experienced below average precipitation and runoff since the fall of 2006, making this the fourth year of serious drought. Recently, California's governor set forth a statewide goal for all water agencies to reach a 20 percent reduction in water use by the year 2020.

By bringing together and analyzing data including water usage and quality, weather and climate, and environmental considerations, IBM's sophisticated water management system is helping SCWA make better decisions about resource allocation dynamically based on near real-time information. The system includes geographical and system map views so SCWA and its partner stakeholders can quickly identify and address specific issues such as low chlorine residual or low storage tank levels, in minutes rather than hours.

"The idea is to create a common operating picture - a collaboration platform - for SCWA and its retail water providers that provides a near real-time operating picture of the Russian River and the associated water transmission system," said IBM Big Green Innovations Vice President Sharon Nunes. "The ability to track and measure the water flow along with the diverse elements that impact the system at such a granular level arms SCWA and its stakeholders with a way to work together toward the common goal of ensuring adequate water for the region, now and for years to come."

In addition to integrating and analyzing information collected from SCWA and participating retail water providers, upgraded water meters, and external sources, such as the United States Geological Survey and the National Weather Service, the system provides collaboration tools that allow all stakeholders to share and access information to more efficiently and effectively manage the water supply in Northern California's wine country.

Central to SCWA's water infrastructure, which also includes the world's largest river bank filtration system, transmission pipelines and supplemental groundwater, is the Russian River. The river, a popular a tourist destination, provides the primary source of water in the region and is also used for water conveyance. The delicate ecosystem along the river - which includes endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead - combined with the seasonal irrigation requirements of agriculture and the recreation needs of kayakers, canoeists and anglers, add to the unique challenges for water management in the region.

The system consolidates and analyzes the data, which is then made available through a web portal. Dashboards provide a collective view and new levels of insight into the overall status of the system. In addition, it provides new analytic capabilities that enable users to slice and dice data as needed, rather than having to rely on pre-defined reports, supporting a more collaborative and proactive approach to managing water resources. This analysis can include historical trend studies to determine seasonal variations in flow and water quality, on which future decisions may be based.

"By effectively managing every drop of water in our system we can ensure that we can meet the needs of people, the environment and the community," said SCWA chief engineer Jay Jasperse. "By better utilizing our current resources we reduce the need for big, expensive infrastructure projects."

Using the system, SCWA and stakeholders can:

-- Balance urban, agricultural and environmental imperatives, including habitat improvement and species protection,
-- Enable system-wide responses to issues posed by climate change and other factors,
-- Provide information as required to each stakeholder to enable collaboration and cooperation based on information transparency,
-- Support system-wide, routine decision making for more efficient operations, with potential savings in energy usage and operating costs,
-- Increase water use efficiency and energy efficiency, and
-- Improve coordination between the agency and its customers (six cities and two water districts) in response to emergencies such as earthquakes.

IBM has developed a number of smarter water and energy management offerings under its Big Green Innovations initiative, part of a $100 million investment in 10 new businesses based on ideas generated during Innovation Jam, an IBM-led effort to gather ideas from thousands of clients, employees and thought leaders around the world.

IBM's collaboration with SCWA builds on its expanding portfolio of advanced water management solutions. Other clients include the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, the Lower Colorado River Authority and many more. IBM also works closely with the Beacon Institute on its River and Estuary Observation Network, providing the technology infrastructure for a sophisticated water monitoring system along the Hudson River, and with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia on advanced membrane technology for water filtration and desalination. In Ireland, IBM has created the world's first Smart Bay in Galway Bay, collecting and analyzing data on a wide range of parameters that impact the bay including water quality, weather conditions, pollution levels and more.

For more information about IBM, visit www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/water
For more information about SCWA, visit www.sonomacountywater.org