California utility launches project to explore smart meter benefits

In the US, the Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) launched an automated metering infrastructure pilot to understand the benefits of smart water meters.

The smart meters pilot project is part of the utility’s efforts to reduce costs associated with manual meter reading as well as improve its accuracy in billing consumers.

Rollout of smart meters pilot project

Approximately 3,000 utility customers will be involved in the pilot.

The smart meter pilot is expected to help customers of IWVWD improve their water efficiency by having access to hourly, daily, weekly and monthly water usage records.

The system will enable the California-based water company to reduce its non-revenue water and increase the life span of its water infrastructure through quick identification of water leaks.

The decision by IWVWD to deploy the pilot is in line with recommendations set by the California state government, following an increase in the company’s technical water losses.

Don Zdeba, general manager at IWVWD, said the utility firm lost up to 6,735,740 gallons of treated water due to leaks in November 2016.

The utility’s total water lost to leaks in November 2016 was enough to supply 40 residential households for a year.

Water infrastructure upgrades

In related news, the City of Big Bear Lake secured two grants from the US Department of Interior and Agriculture to upgrade its water distribution system.

In a press statement, the city’s Department of Water (DWP) said it will use the funding from the Department of Interior and Agriculture to fund its on-going AMR meter deployment project.

The city launched its advanced meter reading (AMR) project in 2014, to replace existing analogue water meters with new radio-read water meters.

The introduction of the AMR meters in the city’s water distribution network has allowed DWP to record significant benefits including accuracy in billing and reductions in water leakages.

DWP reported that it used the new AMR system to identify over 400 customer leaks in the first six months of 2016.

The new meters provide DWP with actual data on how and when consumers use water.

The city will install 15,580 radio-read water meters in total.

The second grant is an additional $300,000, which  DWP will use to replace a 4,000-foot section of aging and leak prone main with a PVC pipeline.

The two projects fall under efforts by the city of Big Bear Lake to modernise its water distribution system as well as to enhance its water conservation following the California drought. [Texas city to enhance billing system with smart water meters].

The modernisation of the system will help the city to reduce technical faults and provide its customers with smart water with limited interruptions.

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.

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