Water consumption management system at SABESP


Conference: Metering, Billing, CRM/CIS Latin America 2005.
Location: Sao Paulo
Presenter: Ricardo Reis Chahin and Fabricio Mardegan

Considered as one of the best sanitation companies in the world, Sabesp spares no effort to maintain the high-quality service if offers to its clients. The primary water utility in Sao Paulo and one of the largest in the world is Sabesp with over 5.3m water services.  As one can imagine, it takes a lot of infrastructure to distribute water to over 25 million people in the City of Sao Paulo and surrounding area.  In addition to providing potable water service, the utility has the responsibility to provide extra services which support the wise use of this natural resource.  One of these services is water conservation programs.

To have an effective conservation program, there must be incentives to those using the product and a way to monitor and provide feedback as to how well the conservation program is working.  The incentive portion deals with not only being a good steward of a natural resource such as water, but also to save dollars and sense to only use what is needed for the task of using the water.  The feedback is needed to provide the water use information that indicates that an actual conservation program is indeed taking effect and that less of the resource is being consumed and/or wasted.

As part of a program to provide water conservation, Sabesp worked with some building owners to install water metering points in certain areas of a building’s plumbing where key intersections of water pipe were in place.  The meters were connected with a communications system that transported the meter data back to a local data collection point in the building.  From the building collection unit, the data was transferred via telephone communications to a central data host location where the meter reading information could be saved and analyzed. 

While the system is running well today, there were some items that needed to be addressed during the initial phases of the project.  While the meters operated to specification, the communications infrastructure did not handle all of the data provided by the reading system as well as expected.  The utility used the CDMA ONE technology which was not the best for telecom data services.  However, shortly after the project began, GSM/GPRS technology was introduced.  With this new communications technology available, Sabesp changed the modem at the local building site to a GPRS modem.  Because the type of technology is better able to handle data traffic, the system operated more efficiently.  And besides more efficiency, the telecom service was less expensive. 

The utility is now requesting upgrades to the meter data collection software and even better ways to collect the meter data.
As a result of the conservation program, Sabesp saw a __% reduction of water use for this building.  This equates to approximately $$XX savings for the building owner and tenants.