Water Conservation Is a Natural Outgrowth Of Our Technology

As supplies of clean, potable water are becoming increasingly scarce, the water industry has been stepping up its pace and engaging in a similar commitment to customer usage efficiency.

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by Bruce A. Bharat

As supplies of clean, potable water are becoming increasingly scarce, the water industry has been stepping up its pace and engaging in a similar commitment to customer usage efficiency. Elster AMCO Water's evolution AMI provides water utilities a comprehensive system solution through innovative advanced metering technology.

Elster AMCO Water parlayed the best features of the existing wireless communications options to create evolution, its revolutionary solutions-based AMI systems. Elster AMCO's evolution AMI provides the benefits of a mesh network that includes self installation and self healing, extended radio coverage, non-mandatory line-of site operation, easy system scalability, long range for hard-to-reach environments, an operating life of 20 years, two-way communications directly to the Radio Transceiver Module (RTM), secure and reliable transmissions using FHSS in the ISM 900MHz band, several connectivity options to WANs for data backhaul and remote network monitoring.

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evolution represents true AMI in every technological aspect. A web-based network management application running on the water utility server handles two-way end-to-end communications throughout the entire network from a central location to each RTM. Two-way communications not only allows the utility to acquire on demand readings, but also provides the medium to receive information about various events from the RTM as they occur including residual or extreme leaks, tampering, low battery or backflow. This information is automatically transmitted back to the head end, and/or to an email address of the utility's choice.

To promote conservation, utilities can leverage evolution's ability to generate usage based on a particular time period, known as time-based rates or Time of Use (TOU). TOU rate structures in the water industry can promote conservation by creating monetary incentives for utility customers to shift usage to off peaks hours for watering lawns, washing cars, etc. During drought or extreme temperature conditions, water utilities can provide customers with better rates for these functions if they engage in these activities during cooler portions or the day, ensuring the water is used more effectively as it is not evaporated as rapidly. This can be done while concurrently empowering the utility to effectively enforce water restrictions.

Conservation efforts can now extend beyond the utility and to the end user. Consumers are generally not aware of their water consumption or water usage costs for several reasons. The cost of water in North America is less expensive than the rest of the world (approximately $2.50 per 1,000 gallons on average). Several studies on consumer behavior and habits have revealed an increase in conservation when consumers are made aware of their spending/usage habits. This has been proven in the personal banking or credit card industry, where user who can regularly received updates on their accounts, have greater awareness of their spending habits, allowing them the ability to curb, budget, or maintain their spending. Additionally, the companies offering these services are generally viewed more favorably in terms of customer satisfaction. Elster AMCO Water has applied these same principles in the development of evolution AMI. Provide water utility customers with the ability to receive a "snapshot" of their water usage/consumption, and the result would be an increase in consumer conservation.

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The evoTrak, an in-home display, offers on demand, daily, monthly or yearly consumption intervals to the end user. Two-way communications capability with evolution AMI, not only allows the user to obtain usage on demand but it also alerts the user of possible leaks within their home, in real time. Utilizing evolution's Smart Leak algorithm, the end user, as well as the utility can be made aware of residual or burst leaks, within a home. The information can be deployed to the end user via an in home display, email, or SMS message for the ultimate in convenience and awareness.

evolution goes even one step further to empower the water utility with remote valve actuation, simply and easily allowing the utility to shut off or decrease water pressure to a particular end user from the head end, and saving on the cost of sending personnel into the field to perform the operation.

The evolution AMI system serves as the cornerstone for any water utility that not only requires the traditional benefits of AMR, but also seeks the benefits of time-based rates, in-home consumption monitoring for end users, remote valve actuation, on-demand consumption readings, and immediate notification of leaks, tampering, or backflow. evolution AMI is the only advanced meter reading technology that offers a complete end-to-end AMI solution with the capability to migrate from mobile AMR to fixed network AMI without system change out. Competitively priced for high and low volume deployments, evolution AMI provides low infrastructure and administrative costs, while supporting true utility-wide conservations efforts. The evolution AMI system enables water utilities to have a complete water metering solution that reduces expenditures, increases profits, enhances customer service and drives conservation efforts in their service areas.

About the Author:

Bruce A. Bharat is Director of Marketing, Elster AMCO WaterBruce.Bharat@us.elster.comwww.elster-evolution.com

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