Addressing the Rural Water Industry’s SOS Signal
Smart metering technology offers benefits for rural water districts
Water supply and sewer systems are nearing the end of their useful lives and projected cost for replacement is astronomical. It is always best to prevent a problem than to scramble to fix it. The need to replace American infrastructure is evident, but where do we begin? One way municipalities are being proactive is by installing an intelligent water metering system built to detect various common problems within their district.
The need for identifying deteriorating infrastructure issues has never been greater, especially in rural America. A growing number of ranches and farms are required to meter their water usage. Most rural districts do not even consider advanced metering infrastructure because it is extremely costly to build and maintain a wireless infrastructure (proprietary or not). The best they can hope for is a “drive-by” solution. But what if a fundamental, cost-effective solution were available?
Adding cellular capabilities to every meter bypasses the need for building a wireless infrastructure to provide two-way communication. As data is transmitted quickly, problems can be addressed and solved in a timely manner without the need for drive-by or manual reads, thus reducing energy, cost, time and money. This is first made possible through Verizon Wireless and Capstone Metering.
By providing critical data, Capstone’s smart meter, the IntelliH2O, gives water providers a total water management solution directly from the meter, not a third-party software program. Furthermore, Capstone Municipal Services allows a seamless infrastructure migration by offering a funding mechanism. Rural communities can benefit from this type of technology.
In extreme weather conditions, when the water reaches freezing temperatures and expands the pressure causes pipes to burst. With temperature sensing and alerts included in the meter, the utility would be notified as the temperatures began to drop. Having pressure sensing data and alerts available would improve this scenario, saving livestock and crops and omitting the cost of replacing equipment.
What about non-payment? Think about the energy in fuel and the man-hours spent driving by to turn the meters on and off, not to mention the risk to personnel. If a proper meter system is installed that can remotely turn on and off from the office, it would reduce energy and cost and afford additional time to focus on improving infrastructure or the customer. Researching the cause for customer distress calls could be as easy as a few clicks. Customer service could also improve, with the added ability to quickly respond to majority of the issues, such as finding and repairing leaks.
We must know where the problem lies before we can address it. With more data available, the water industry is better equipped to determine the starting point in improvements. Although we cannot solve the country’s failing infrastructure problem all at once, we can start by laying a 21st century foundation.