Washington city, Sensus tackle water loss with smart utility network

The name Walla Walla means “many waters.” Unfortunately, the city was losing more than 30 percent of its water annually due to failing pipes and aging meters. That’s when they began their journey toward long-term improvement by transitioning to a smart utility network from Sensus, a Xylem brand.

“We’re one of the oldest cities in the state, so water loss and aging infrastructure are complex issues that are linked,” said City of Walla Walla Water Distribution Supervisor Adrian Sutor.

The initial smart network deployment combined iPERL residential water meters and OMNI commercial meters with Sensus’ two-way FlexNet communication network. The system allowed the city to transition from monthly to hourly usage data with remote meter monitoring capabilities that improved leak detection.

“The system has helped us quickly detect everything from large water main breaks right down to running toilets or leaky faucets and work proactively with customers to address them,” said Sutor. “The number of leak forgiveness applications we receive from customers has dropped by 75 percent as a result.”

As water loss improved and dipped below 30 percent, the utility team brainstormed the next phase of their smart water journey. City employees identified pressure monitoring as another effective avenue to reduce water loss and streamline customer service.

Walla Walla’s next move was to roll out Sensus ally water meters coupled with the Sensus Smart Gateway Sensor Interface for advanced pressure monitoring and management. This combination allows remote oversight of pressure and temperature. The wider view quickly paid off when technicians investigated customer calls regarding low pressure.

“We analyzed the data and determined that pressure was underperforming in one region during a specific time period,” said Sutor. “It turned out to be a demand issue caused by a large irrigation customer and we were able to adjust our pressure settings to get the issues quickly resolved.”

Comparing near real-time data with the utility’s hydraulic model allows the utility team to deliver a high level of customer service around pressure monitoring. It also provides more detailed views into background leakage that’s not visible and underground.

“Whether it’s a leaky pipe or a failing pressure reducing valve, the technology lets us know if something is off with our system,” said Sutor. “These data insights allow us to take action before any issues become costly problems.”

Read the full case study to learn how Walla Walla is using data to its advantage with applications like creek-level monitoring to enhance public safety.

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