Power Sharing: Water Authority Integrates Neptune's R900 Data into Water Distribution Network

Sept. 9, 2014
After implementing Neptune premier enterprise partner IDModeling's Sedaru® software, Indio Water Authority in Indio, Calif., incorporated AMR data from its Neptune R900® System. It has since advanced beyond increased meter reading efficiencies to proactively sharing detailed water consumption data for individual accounts with all its departments.

Since implementing Neptune premier enterprise partner IDModeling's Sedaru® software in December 2011, Indio Water Authority in Indio, Calif., has been able to take data from different data centers -- including SCADA, GIS, backflow, and inspection, to name a few -- and coordinate it with communications and personnel in real time across its different departments.

A customer's high water bill complaint can now be addressed during the actual call rather than creating work orders and sending out crews to investigate.

According to Kevin Koshko, Sedaru product director at IDModeling, after first integrating work management and SCADA systems through Sedaru, IWA incorporated automatic meter reading (AMR) data from its Neptune R900® System. The Authority has since advanced beyond increased meter reading efficiencies to proactively sharing detailed water consumption data for individual accounts with all its departments. This includes providing management with integrated R900 consumption and SCADA data for analytics in Neptune's host software, N_SIGHT™ -- such as the comparison of water produced with water billed.

Interfacing with N_SIGHT has also enabled the Authority to extract and share quantified leak data and display it on a map for customer service dispatchers or other personnel. Before, dealing with a high water bill complaint meant answering the customer's call; creating and printing a work order; picking it up the next day; traveling to and from the office to collect the data; generating a report via customer service and filing it; and sharing that update with the caller upon their next call. This process could take up to two months.

Now, with Sedaru and the E-Coder®)R900i™, when a customer calls, IWA's customer service representative can type in the address and retrieve immediate information on continuous or intermittent leaks, providing the reason for the high bill in just a few minutes.

Consumption analysis through N_SIGHT and Sedaru has also helped identify over-usage of water, which is critical in a desert community. Now the Authority can immediately take consumption information from Neptune and chart it as a graph. If there's a discrepancy between a customer's usage and budget tier, the Authority can flag the account to investigate further or perform a water audit.

With real-time AMR information shared across departments, IWA can respond more proactively, as with reverse flow condition alerts. It can also more quickly see a problem at a meter for a specific account rather than having to look month to month for gradual flow variances. For instance, IWA can now detect invalid readings, upload that info from the R900 RF MIU into N_SIGHT, and have it displayed immediately by Sedaru, which prompts the creation of a work order so that the meter crew can be routed to the site in real-time -- all in less than a day.

Gaining New Leverage

Indio Water Authority will soon leverage Neptune's AMR data via real-time modeling, taking consumption information from E-Coder)R900i units and providing a true snapshot of events as they occur.

Koshko said the next major steps for IWA will involve the "complete integration of customer service into all work flows through Sedaru," including turning water services on or off at residences. As for Neptune's involvement, he added, "I envision IWA creating models in Sedaru based on consumption trends identified from R900 data -- helping make predictions based on customer history."

Instead of multiple truck rolls, a long paper trail and over a month-long process, utilities can now address invalid readings in less than a day.

With possible future adoption of N_SIGHT™ IQ intelligent data and analytics, customers could play an even bigger role in helping Indio conserve water while saving time and money. N_SIGHT IQ's web portal allows customers to monitor their own consumption, and the integration of system-wide data from Sedaru could show them what a change in consumption could mean if similar changes were made by the entire community.

Universal AMR/AMI Encoder Provides Freedom of Choice Between Meters and Systems

Master Meter's eLinx™ solves two important issues confronting many water utilities as they implement an efficient advanced metering reading (AMR) or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) program -- freedom of choice between meters and systems and the reduction of projected overall lifecycle ownership costs.

Master Meter's eLinx solution protects your meter system investment by providing continuous flexibility to pair together meter and system for the life of the product.

The eLinx technology is the bridge between what you have today and where you are headed tomorrow. It protects your meter system investment by providing continuous flexibility to pair together meter and system for the life of the product.

Too often utilities are confronted with a decision to replace a large portion of their existing meter assets when advancing towards new communication technology. Meters may only be a few years in service, yet their accuracy profiles are in accordance with American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards. The perceived need to replace meters may be driven by the AMR or AMI vendor or simply because a more cost-effective alternative has not been presented.

The eLinx register system is built on the Frost & Sullivan award-winning Interpreter Universal Encoder Platform.

Master Meter's eLinx allows any meter to connect and communicate with any advanced metering system using the universal protocol UI-1203 standard. This revolutionary register system is built on the Frost & Sullivan award-winning Interpreter™ Universal Encoder Platform. Initially presented to North American utilities in 2003, this highly reliable encoder technology now has an installed base of millions across all geographic and environmental conditions.

However, unlike the Interpreter RF equipped register, which features an integral AMR transceiver, eLinx instead provides a secured epoxy-protected, 3-wire cable output. This allows for a quick connection to the endpoint of any modern AMR or AMI network platform.

Universal applicability is ensured through the use of special adaptor rings designed for each meter manufacturer's specific bayonet mounting pattern. One register when used with the correctly-corresponding ring can work on any meter and can be reprogrammed repeatedly as required to work on different meter brands at a later time.

What makes eLinx unique is a solid-state sensor that precisely detects movement from the meter measuring chamber's magnet. Meters of all brands, models and sizes have a distinct rotational signature. Using a proprietary algorithm and advanced software, eLinx is programmed to precisely and accurately mimic the original manufacturer's register. The product is completely solid state without any moving parts and is guaranteed for 10 years.

The eLinx technology is more than just a flexible, programmable communication bridge between meter and system. It visually notifies the utility of leaks, flow direction and battery statuses to ensure proactive battery management practices. Instantaneous rate of flow information is a beneficial feature for ratepayers as well, enabling them to understand precisely how much water they are using in real-time.

Master Meter's eLinx solution offers additional programming flexibility by presenting data in USG, CF, cubic meters, or acre feet. The large-format, 9-digit display and 9-digit encoder makes the communication of measurement information suitable for every utility and application.

AMI Analytics for Water Utilities

By Larry Murphy

Each year, U.S. water utilities lose an estimated $2.6 billion in revenue. Consequently, water administrators must overcome a number of obstacles to successfully manage their water distribution networks. It's not always easy to determine exactly where revenue loss occurs, making it difficult to determine when and where to allocate the necessary resources. Even more challenging is identifying what could be a number of contributing factors, such as inaccurate meters, unauthorized consumption, leaks, or a complex combination of all of the above.

Aclara's STAR_prestige platform provides a hosted software solution that leverages the information -- and investment -- of a water company's AMI.

Water Balancing

Non-revenue water (NRW) is the difference between the volume of water supplied to a system and the volume of water billed to customers. Put another way, it's the water loss for which a utility receives no revenue.

The American Water Works Association's (AWWA) benchmark for NRW is between 10 and 15 percent of total supply. Unfortunately, some systems routinely experience NRW losses as high as 50 percent. The good news: utilities employing an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) communications network may already have the tools to mitigate water and revenue loss.

So where is the problem? Is a shutoff meter still recording flow from a constant leak or intermittent but unauthorized consumption? Or, is more water being pumped into a neighborhood than is being metered? Recovering NRW loss doesn't have to be a delicate balancing act. By collecting hourly data at multiple metering points along the
network -- from production points like wells or bulk water supplies to key points along the distribution line and end-user meters -- water utility operations teams can easily answer these questions by pinpointing problems at a single meter or identifying trends across thousands of units.

Meter Trending

Another challenge for utility managers is predicting the useful life of a meter. Some meters last longer than expected, while others die prematurely. One thing is certain: using random sample projections to decide on replacement schedules is not only time-consuming and costly but also unreliable for determining real-time conditions or performance.

Dedicated meter trending services offer active visibility across an entire meter network. Additionally, geospatial mapping allows for new and powerful analyses that detect anomalies in a single meter or a group of meters highlighted on a geospatial map. By utilizing the power of big data -- in essence, the hourly reads of thousands of meters over an extended period of time -- the right AMI analytics tools can isolate seemingly minor deviations of certain meters and flag them for repair or replacement.

Meter Right-Sizing

One size does not fit all. Contractors occasionally install a standard-size meter in commercial locations, but the plumbing design for a residential dwelling may not factor in the future water use of a new sprinkler system, swimming pool or growing family. Likewise, a 3-inch displacement meter may not log low flow associated with toilets or sinks. These and other influences could point to a meter being over- or under-specified for the location. Many meter manufacturers certify their meters to operate between +95 and 102 percent of actual flow when operated within the AWWA standards. A 5-percent under registration when meters operate outside of the AWWA standards can result in a significant NRW loss.

The ultimate challenge for water managers is putting AMI data to work -- at the right time, on the right level and in sync with their utility's infrastructure planning.

Based on FATHOM's™ meter data management and analytics software, Aclara's STAR_prestige™ platform provides a hosted software solution that leverages the information -- and investment -- of a water company's AMI. With complete web-based visibility across the entire distribution system, utility managers have a new level of information and control over their resources, assets and revenue. WW

About the Author: Larry Murphy is senior director of Customer Systems Engineering at Aclara. He has more than 15 years of knowledge using data analytics to drive results.

Containerized Treatment Units Help Municipalities Meet Modular Treatment Needs

WaterPOD containerized treatment units from AdEdge Water Technologies have been developed to meet the growing U.S. and international demand for small-footprint, cost-effective modular water treatment solutions. From the middle of the desert to an industrial park, the WaterPOD is versatile enough to travel wherever improved water quality is needed. These water treatment solutions are customizable systems designed to treat a variety of contaminants, including arsenic, iron and manganese, uranium, radium, and nitrates for drinking water, remediation or industrial applications.

Since the WaterPOD is pre-wired, pre-designed and pre-piped, the installation is easy compared to traditional water treatment systems. Provided in 20-foot, 40-foot or 50-foot lengths, the units can be used in a single-, double- or multiple-
unit array to accommodate design flows up to 2,000 gallons per minute (GPM) or more. The plug-and-play system and simple design allow for easy access to a well or water source hookup.

The treatment systems are designed, custom-built and delivered inside the pre-manufactured and customized watertight enclosure. The unit is constructed of painted carbon steel and can include multiple customizable options including insulation, lighting, ventilation, pedestrian doors, windows, and HVAC units to meet site-specific and water requirements.

The WaterPOD allows AdEdge to incorporate multiple treatment technologies such as reverse osmosis (RO), oxidation/filtration, coagulation/filtration, ion exchange, ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, and adsorption into single or multiple units. In addition to the treatment approaches that can be included in the WaterPOD, control panels and chemical feed systems can be added for a complete packaged unit.

In 2013, for example, AdEdge designed, manufactured and started up an arsenic removal solution consisting of four WaterPOD containerized systems for a well in Quilicura, a municipality located in the Santiago Metropolitan Region in the country of Chile. Well #3 has a flow of 1,600 GPM (100 liters per second) and a high concentration of arsenic that fluctuates between 0.040 mg/L and 0.060 mg/L -- well above the World Health Organization's standard of 0.010 mg/L. The site also has challenges with pH that range from 7.0 to 9.5.

The WaterPOD systems are rated for a combined total of 1,600 GPM (100 liters per second), and each of them contains six 48-inch carbon steel vessels in a parallel configuration. The vessels are loaded with AdEdge Bayoxide E33 granular ferric oxide media, which binds the arsenic to the media structure and doesn't loosen during backwash. Further, the system has an ADIN chemical feed dosing system that is mounted outside the WaterPODs.

The chemical feed dosing system consists of a sodium hypochlorite module that oxidizes the arsenic from trivalent to pentavalent. A second chemical feed module uses hydrochloric acid to lower the pH and improve media life.

Backwashing of the treatment vessels occurs every 45 to 60 days to prevent hydraulic channeling and to remove any suspended solids that may have accumulated in the bed. Backwash operations are automatically controlled by an AdEdge InGenius control panel with PLC and HMI. The source of the water is treated from the outlet of the distribution pumps.

The WaterPODs were shipped in September 2013 to Quilicura, and startup of the system took place in November 2013. Since being installed, the WaterPOD units have been consistently removing arsenic below the treatment goal of 10 mg/L.

For more information, contact [email protected].

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