Three essential water district issues that come in varying orders of urgency, depending on local conditions include:
- Water quality
- Water loss mitigation
- Emergency response
However they may stand at any given time, these priorities are not fixed. They can and do change based on mitigating circumstances such as
- weather (short-term)
- climate (long-term)
- the needs of other agencies
- budgetary constraints
- other factors
Each of these issues can affect the others.
Water Quality, Now and in the future
Let’s take a look at just one of these aspects—water quality—which is arguably becoming the Holy Grail of “smart agency,” IOT potential. Imagine a water system in which, every week or even multiple times a week, you have to deploy people throughout your distribution system to sample water quality. Perhaps you want to make sure your chlorine residual is where it’s supposed to be, sample for coliform bacteria in a dead-end location, or just keep your eye on TDS or PH.
You have sensors deployed at the end of your system, and maybe at other locations. Each of these sensors has been designed to detect certain water quality issues that may be common to your type of water, such as groundwater or surface treated water.
Here’s the scenario with a traditional system:
- Schedule the technician’s sampling visit.
- Wait for the tech to arrive and complete the test.
- Get the sample to a lab.
- Positive sample? Oh, no! We need to respond!
- Flush the system, then test again.
- We may need to notify the public if we can’t get the counts down. Then it becomes a PR problem.
Here’s the same scenario with an IOT system:
- Install the system components for constant digital monitoring.
- Now we’ve got real-time data coming in, 24/7.
- If there’s even a little budge in one of our measuring determinants, we have the ability to get out ahead of it.
- Deploy resources before it ever reaches the stage where the health department would get involved and make you do something uncomfortable, like super-chlorinate, or issue a boil order.
- We’ve nipped the potential problem in the bud, and it never needed to go public.
If Flint, Michigan had had sensors in their system and been monitoring lead levels or the corrosive nature of their water—how much the pH had changed and what it was going to do to the pipes that created their lead problem—they could have caught and arrested the problem before it ever became a public health issue…and a public relations nightmare.
IoT solutions running on non-proprietary LoRaWAN networks have the potential to:
- change the way water systems operate
- safeguard public health
- better and more efficiently manage resources.
If you’re considering an AMI solution, take some time to investigate a more holistic approach that can address your operational demands, as well. Maybe start thinking outside of the meter box, when it comes to how to leverage your AMI program into an AMioT program.