In 2017, Mission Springs Water District (MSWD) in California’s Coachella Valley received a grant to install the first-of-its-kind Smart Water Grid.
According to Hank McCarrick, CEO and founder of Seco Sys (now Subeca), the system’s manufacturer, this new technology “allows water agencies, customers, and water-related services to concurrently engage in water conservation at all water use endpoints.”
The development of the technology happened under the auspices of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership’s (CVEP) iHub initiative to encourage and enable specific technology development.
Current and Future Concerns
CVEP’s CEO and Chief Innovation Officer, Joe Wallace, was instrumental in the Mission Springs project. He immediately saw the value of helping the Subeca company and the water management system evolve. Both had undeniable advantages in any water management grid, but especially in the Coachella Valley, a collection of desert communities where water conservation and smart management isn’t a distant future concern, but one of immediate applicability. And of course, there are always budget issues to consider.
“All city budgets are strapped. People don’t like paying taxes, even when they get value for it. If you can implement technological solutions that save you money that you were budgeted to spend, that’s just like raising a tax…but you didn’t have to tax your citizens.”
Arden Wallum, MSWD’s General Manager and Chief Engineer, concurred. “This technology that Subeca has come up with will provide more information, thus reducing the cost of our customer service. That could translate into major, major savings for any district.
Savings on Internal and Customer-Facing Processes
MSWD’s Customer Service Manager, April Scott, sees internal advantages in the Subeca Smart Water Management System. “There’s a lot of opportunity for savings in different ways; the ability for our staff to have a phone call, instead of dispatching a technician to the property. You’re saving money and truck rolls, expenses of staff personnel having to go to the property directly.”
Wallace expounds on the external money-saving opportunities: “(Subeca has) come up with an IoT-based water meter that will allow water districts like Mission Springs to save money, by identifying leakage. When you identify leakage and get that fixed, you save electricity. 20% of all electricity is used to move water from one place to the other. Imagine if you could get rid of half of that!”
Subeca representative John Soulliere gets a little more granular: “For agencies trying to control costs—including capital and investment costs—and especially agencies where the meter is 10 years old or less, this is an option that you can’t compete with. Frankly, it’s a no-brainer. You’ve got to bring in Subeca AMioT over AMI, any day!”
Wallace also finds a more human—and undeniably hopeful—advantage to the Subeca System. “The less water we use, the less we have to extract from the Earth, the less we have to process. And who knows? Here’s a good dream: Maybe smart cities will make smarter people.”