Pressure Management Goes Digital

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s customer service and operations center
A shot of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s customer service and operations center.

How New Mexico’s Largest Water Utility Is Enhancing Its Distribution System with Pressure Monitoring Tech

By Joseph Dryer

The dry desert heat of Albuquerque is relentless. However, the largest water utility in New Mexico provides relief with continuous water service. considering options beyond fixed communication networks.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) proactively manages its water distribution system to avoid service interruptions with the help of smart digital solutions. “The goal is to install 20,000 to 25,000 endpoints each year so that our entire system will rely fully on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) within three to four years,” said Joel Berman, chief engineer at the water authority.

In 2011, the authority began utilizing smart water technology from Sensus, a Xylem brand. Most recently it has added water pressure monitoring that is remotely managed from ABCWUA’s offices.

Optimization Made Easy

“When it comes to water pressure management, proactivity is key,” said Berman. “We keep our customers happy by remotely monitoring their water consumption and pressure to ensure any potential issues are identified before they experience them.”

The water provider’s Sensus ally residential water meters report pressure data into the easily accessible, cloud-hosted Sensus Analytics Pressure Profile software application.

“This technology has taken many steps out of our typical pressure management process, including administrative tasks and truck rolls,” said Patrick Bayardo, an operations and maintenance superintendent at the water authority. “Now, we simply log into the website in the morning and the data is right at our fingertips. It’s a big time-saver for us.”

The application works with the FlexNet communication network to provide seamless data collection from residential meters in the service territory. The data is then presented in easy-to-understand map-based graphs that show pressure zones and levels within the community at any given time. Utility personnel receive automated alerts when pressure deviations occur.

“A customer noticed his new irrigation system was experiencing lower pressure than usual and just stopped working,” said Berman. “Using Pressure Profile, we were able to identify, resolve and restore
the system pressure quickly—in only a matter of hours. The customer was grateful, and it was a positive experience for everyone involved.”

“These days, if we don’t identify an issue before the customer, something is wrong. It’s not just about monitoring the pressure, it’s about changing the way we do business.”


Joel Berman, ABCWUA chief engineer

Enhanced System = Enhanced Performance

The water authority also added Sensus’ battery-powered Smart Gateway Sensor Interface at pressure-reducing valve sites to monitor water distribution system performance. The sensors, ally meters and pressure management software work within the FlexNet system to locate the cause of ongoing pressure spikes.

“We discovered an open valve—not mapped on our system—that was overpressurizing pressure from one zone to another,” said Bayardo. “Pressure Profile brings us the data we need in the timeframe we need it to troubleshoot and optimize each pressure zone for optimal performance.”

Berman added, “The application is really a plug-and-play system. It’s a seamless solution that our technicians have adopted, installed and programmed without third-party assistance.”

ABCWUA can view the latest data from smart meters and sensors on a map-based interface
ABCWUA can view the latest data from smart meters and sensors on a map-based interface to monitor and manage pressure anomalies.

Workflow Efficiency

The efficiency and convenience of smart water solutions have enhanced the Water Authority’s workflow. According to Bayardo, shifting from a “boots-on-the-ground” approach to digital technology where the data is readily available on their computers has saved the utility service calls and routine maintenance.

“Now we can pinpoint areas and resolve potential water pressure issues within hours in what used to take weeks,” said Bayardo.

The utility was an early adopter of smart water technology and hopes to continuously improve operations.

“I’m proud to say that in the last decade we’ve collectively transitioned from being reactive to highly proactive with regards to water distribution pressures,” said Berman. “These days, if we don’t identify an issue before the customer, something is wrong. It’s not just about monitoring the pressure, it’s about changing the way we do business.”

Not Finished Yet

The largest water service provider in New Mexico strives for continuous improvement of its water distribution system. The authority said it has plans to use advanced pressure management data for hydraulic model verification to further improve both water loss and quality.


Joseph Dryer is a technical solutions manager with Sensus, a Xylem brand. He has been in the water industry for seven years and is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a major in mechanical engineering and holds a master’s in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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