City of Turlock Leverages Managed Services to Improve Operations and Conserve Water

In 2008, the City of Turlock chose to deploy Itron’s ChoiceConnect Fixed Network solution to automate its distribution system and improve operational efficiency. The solution, which includes 18,500 Itron water communication modules, provides the city with a more granular level of water usage details in addition to providing daily reads for customer billings and interval and on-demand reads as needed. The network now exports daily read files for billing and helps city staff monitor field activities utilizing network administration application software.

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Based in Northern California, the City of Turlock has a population of more than 70,000 across a 17-square-mile service territory. Similar to other water providers in the state, Turlock recognized changing water conditions and the need to take action to address impacts from California's drought to ensure future availability of water for residents. Additionally, the city was interested in automating its meter reading and leak detection processes in support of conservation measures.

In 2008, the City of Turlock chose to deploy Itron's ChoiceConnect® Fixed Network solution to automate its distribution system and improve operational efficiency.

In 2008, the City of Turlock chose to deploy Itron's ChoiceConnect® Fixed Network solution to automate its distribution system and improve operational efficiency. The solution, which includes 18,500 Itron water communication modules, provides the city with a more granular level of water usage details in addition to providing daily reads for customer billings and interval and on-demand reads as needed. Then, in 2011, the utility elected to have Itron host and manage the system, enabling Turlock's staff to focus on its core business and drive additional value from its system.

The network now exports daily read files for billing and helps city staff monitor field activities utilizing network administration application software. Turlock is able to monitor hardware through this application and run reports for activities such as leak detection and non-use on accounts. This has helped staff troubleshoot and get ahead of potential problems in the field, even before having to send out a field service technician.

With the Itron solution in place, the City of Turlock is able to rest assured that reads will be gathered reliably and accurately.

"Our meter read rates are phenomenal," said Michael Cooke, municipal services director. "Itron routinely exceeds their commitment -- we find that less than 1 percent of meters require us to visit the field to obtain a read."

Choosing Managed Services

A number of factors contributed to the City of Turlock's decision to take advantage of Itron's managed services expertise. With Itron leading system upgrades and maintenance, the utility experiences minimal impact to city staff -- including an IT team of only four -- and no hidden costs. Known contract fees for managed services, compared with unknown hardware ownership costs, appealed to the city as well.

In the years that have followed, Itron has exceeded the City of Turlock's expectations by adhering to the fixed contract, which helps the city avoid unknown costs and associated budgeting headaches.

"Itron maintains and updates the system phenomenally," said Cooke. "Rarely is there an impact to city staff. There truly are no hidden costs."

Itron has delivered proactive, around-the-clock system monitoring, which the utility could not have accomplished alone. This helps ensure system reliability and the avoidance of operational issues. Access to seasoned Itron technical experts and customer support has also helped the city avoid operational headaches.

"Itron's technical experts are first class. We have truly shifted the burden of managing this system, which they can take care of much better than we ever could," added Cooke.

Looking Ahead

While the City of Turlock has already realized a number of operational and customer-facing benefits, it understands that further conservation is necessary, especially as the city operates in the midst of California's fourth consecutive year of drought. Turlock is also looking into migrating customer usage data collected across the network into Itron Analytics -- extending data to the city's customers, allowing them to take action on their own usage data to conserve.

To learn more, visit www.itron.com/water.

Itron is exhibiting at AWWA's ACE15 expo in Booth 401.

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