Storm-hardened communication network from Sensus helps utilities weather winter blast

Feb. 8, 2018
South Carolina water providers praise leak detection capabilities

RALEIGH, NC, FEB 8, 2018 -- The new year rang in with a bitter, two-week cold snap followed by snowy conditions throughout South Carolina. Chesterfield County experienced nine days in a row of frigid temperatures, with the daytime high never breaking 37 degrees, and a wintry mix that delivered more than five inches of snow to the southern part of the county. But the storm-hardened Sensus FlexNet® Communication Network from Sensus, a Xylem brand, stood up to Mother Nature and weathered the intense winter conditions.

"The Sensus FlexNet communication network worked flawlessly," said Chesterfield County Rural Water Company CEO Charlie Gray. "Our water system experienced very few weather-related operational issues.

In regions with moderate climates, such as South Carolina, many service lines are buried less than a foot deep. "An unprecedented number of customers suffered from frozen water lines," said Gray. "We used more water on Monday, January 8, than in the history of our system -- all due to customer leaks from thawing service lines that burst."

The FlexNet system is part of the utility's smart water network that allows them to remotely monitor water usage and pinpoint any problems. The network communicates via dedicated, FCC-licensed spectrum, ensuring secure and reliable data transmissions. Gray credits the system with allowing his team to identify, quantify and notify their customers of leaks from ruptured lines in a matter of hours.

"I firmly believe FlexNet helped us keep up with the intense customer demand," said Gray. "Thanks to this smart technology we caught the leaks and saved our customers from increased water bills at the end of the month. Without it, we would have run out of water."

Just three-and-a-half hours farther south, Mount Pleasant Waterworks, also in South Carolina, had a similar experience with the storm-hardened FlexNet system.

"The FlexNet system gives us a lot of options, especially in inclement weather situations," said Mount Pleasant Waterworks Meter Solutions Supervisor Terry Hughes. "We notified approximately 100 customers of possible leaks during our recent cold snap as we monitored thousands of meters."

Mount Pleasant has approximately 12,000 smart meters installed and counting. The FlexNet system provides the communications backbone to transmit data seamlessly between the utility and its meters. Using the system, the water provider's team analyzed data during the Lowcountry's frigid temperatures in January which pinpointed trouble spots and helped them proactively alert their customers.

"The ability to run the many reports is priceless," said Hughes. "We could easily see how our customers' water usage changed with the weather, especially the ones who failed to winterize their irrigation systems. Our system performed outstandingly."