Indiana Water Company Prevents Water Loss with Smart Tech

Silver Creek dashboard
The dashboard provides Silver Creek with accurate data on all meters and alerts when issues may arise. Meter specialists can communicate with customers without having to make multiple trips.

By Trey Overman

In an era when water conservation is paramount, Southern Indiana’s Silver Creek Water Corp. is a textbook example of how to use innovative technology to not only save resources, but also to improve customer service.

Serving a population of 20,000 in the hilly terrain of Sellersburg, Ind., gives little room for error. That’s why Silver Creek turned to smart technology to help deliver efficient water management services and more accurately track water usage for its customers. Leaning into a more than 40-year partnership with Sensus, a Xylem brand, bolstered this effort.

Water Management Redefined

In 2001, Silver Creek transitioned from traditional manual meter reading to the automated meter reading (AMR) system while navigating a growing customer base and high employee turnover. In 2015, Silver Creek took a leap forward by deploying the Sensus FlexNet communication network combined with iPERL residential water meters and Sensus Analytics. Now, the utility can manage and monitor meters remotely, leading to improved operational efficiencies.

“Using FlexNet, we don’t have to run crews from site to site, which saves us costs on fuel, truck maintenance, and labor,” explains Silver Creek Water Corp. Manager Scott Ham. “We are now able to scale back hundreds of hours of labor into about half a day’s work. And not only are we doing it faster, but the data that we are getting is more accurate than ever before.”

Moreover, Silver Creek’s service to its customers was transformed.

Next-level Service

wireless technology has given Silver Creek constant access to data
The use of wireless technology has given Silver Creek constant access to data and the ability to address customer needs promptly.

One of the benefits of technology upgrades is the speed and accuracy with which Silver Creek’s meter specialists can read and assess more than 8,000 meters by lunchtime – a feat that previously consumed nearly two weeks. Continuous access to real-time data not only allowed Silver Creek to improve prompt leak detection, but it also empowered them to provide more proactive customer service.

“We created a more open line of communication with our customers through the use of Sensus Analytics,” says Ham. “When questions arise, we simply open the application here in the office and pull up the dashboard that shows our customers exactly what their water usage looks like down to the gallons per minute.”

For example, a customer’s garden hose recently burst. Typically, this could result in an unnoticed loss of 400 to 500 gallons of water per hour. But an alert from the system allowed Silver Creek to determine a plan of action and notify the customer before they were even aware of the situation.

Commitment to a Better Tomorrow

Silver Creek’s dedication to continuous improvement is a game-changer for their operations. The water service provider is always searching for ways to boost efficiency – especially given Sellersburg’s challenging terrain. The rolling hills pose water pressure concerns that can lead to service interruptions. The utility tackled this concern by conducting a water-loss audit by pressure zone and implementing additional advanced technology solutions for improved pressure management using ally water meters from Sensus.

The utility’s proactive approach to water management ensures early warning signs of sudden pressure drops and gives them real-time data that helps pinpoint potential service issues and justifies compliance for boil orders. This proactivity bolsters resilience, ensuring a robust and dependable water management system for years to come.

“Success is not created with a ten-point plan,” said Ham. “It’s a continuous road to improvement. Advancements are always possible. Sometimes you just need a little help from technology.”

Silver Creek Water Corporation’s journey exemplifies the transformative impact of technology in water management. The utility achieved remarkable results with a forward-thinking approach that is shaping the future of its services. Innovative solutions have reduced operational costs, enhanced their customer service, and proactively detected and addressed potential water loss.

In addition to technology, Ham credits other utilities with exchanging ideas and helping him continually learn. Now, Silver Creek sets an example of how to proactively address customers’ needs.

Trey Overman

Trey Overman is the senior director of global water product management at Sensus, a Xylem brand. He has more than five years of experience in the water industry and holds undergraduate degrees from Appalachian State University and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

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