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Residential water leaks were often hard to detect in a timely manner at the Cucamonga Valley Water District (CVWD), causing both customers and the utility to lose money, and more importantly, wasting precious drinking water in a region where conservation is an increasingly important objective.
CVWD, located about 45 miles east of Los Angeles, bills customers on a 60-day cycle. Leaks occurring at the front end of the billing cycle often go undetected by the customer and the utility, until the bill is sent. The typical result—an unhappy customer and a revenue compromise by the utility.
This summer, CVWD began implementing Itron’s advanced Fixed Network meter reading technology, which enables water meters to be read automatically, accurately and much more frequently via radio signal. CVWD is also one of the first municipalities in the country to use Itron’s patent-pending leak detection software, which analyzes detailed consumption data gathered by the Itron Fixed Network to quickly identify suspected water leaks at customer sites.
As a result, the Cucamonga Valley Water District is pioneering an innovative solution to an economic and environmental problem that plagues water utilities, businesses and consumers nationwide.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) estimates that about 81 billion gallons of water is lost from municipal systems in the state annually — a loss of more than $800 million per year. The American Water Works Association estimates that nationwide, approximately 22 gallons of water per person is lost to leakage each day. A single running toilet can account for up to 300 gallons of lost water per day or more than 100,000 gallons of water per year.
“Until we had Itron’s Water Fixed Network technology in place, we had nothing that warned us of a leak or unusual usage patterns,” said Darron Poulsen, Cucamonga’s customer service officer for the district. “We were reactive, rather than proactive, which created tension for our customer service representatives who took angry customer calls about their bills. It was also frustrating our water conservation efforts.”
Results thus far have been impressive, Poulsen said. In one example, CVWD detected a significant leak in a residence using Itron’s Water Fixed Network and dispatched a field service representative to investigate. The leak was measured at just under two gallons lost per minute, which translates into 86,000 gallons of water (about $200) per month that went undetected until CVWD implemented Itron’s Fixed Network technology.
“The leak detection capabilities of Itron’s Water Fixed Network allow us to review all of the connected accounts daily,” Poulsen said. “Customers who have the new fixed network are praising the technology as more leaks are discovered and customers who don’t have the solution are asking for it. We are evaluating expansion of the network to cover more of our territory because this is appealing to us on many levels—customer satisfaction, financial savings for us and the customer, and a boost for our conservation efforts.”
LeRoy Nosbaum, Itron chairman and CEO, said Cucamonga Valley Water District’s innovative use of metering technology provides a great model for other water utilities municipalities to follow.
“When you combine energy and water usage data with smart, analytical software applications, it opens up an entirely new frontier of innovation and opportunity,” Nosbaum said. “Cucamonga Valley Water District is improving revenue assurance, increasing customer satisfaction and conserving our most important natural resource—clean drinking water. Our thanks go out to Cucamonga for their partnership and support on this important project.”