You’re in Hot Water –How Analytics is Helping Water Conservation Efforts

Sep 23, 2019

Water is one of our most precious resources and the topic of many discussions around conservation and preservation. The United States’ highest drought percentage was at 40% in May of 2014, and in 2018, it reduced to only 38.4%. There are nearly 87 million Americans living in a location where drought is present. Many states struggle with a shortage of this natural resource, and with continued drought, the problem has data scientists evaluating how historical data, current predictions in weather and temperature, and other key indicators can be used to help mitigate this problem.

Researchers, local governments, and businesses are using big data for drought prediction and resource allocation. After researches identified a drought crisis in California, legislation was enacted that mandated a 30% reduction in commercial water use and 10% in agricultural use, after the state entered its fourth year of drought. The Rancho California Water District (RCWD), in Southern California, worked to meet these requirements. The RCWD leveraged data to automate meter readings and more proactively address water leaks. In addition, the integration of an app, MyWaterTracker, provides Rancho California citizens insights into current water usage compared to the suggested individual household budget. After one month of use, RCWD saw a 22% water reduction compared to the same month the prior year. This reduction in water use continued over the next few months. According to Jason Martin, information technology and customer service manager at Rancho California Water District, “Without data we could speak in blanket terms about conservation, but that does not apply to everyone, and our customers know that. Now we can look at actual data and say to some, ‘you’ve already done a good job, we only need to cut back 10 percent’.” Being able to see personal data of one’s water usage played a key role in water reduction for this area of California.

Water conservation solutions may be easier to implement than some think. As data management and Internet of Things (IoT) companies move into the energy management marketplace, with tools to help business managers and large utility companies with their electricity use and potential for energy efficiencies, we are beginning to see IoT strategies for analyzing water infrastructure. Most utility companies have an array of data available for analysis from the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, but struggle to obtain meaningful analytic insights. Enterprise Decision Analytics (EDA) tools provide opportunity for better monitoring of infrastructures, such as the condition of sewer lines. Predictive analytics allow utility companies the chance to get ahead of faulty equipment and possible leakage, before water loss occurs. Data analytics can help improve efficiency, optimize solutions, and help build a framework that will help utility companies deal with imminent issues, such as weak infrastructure, blockage analysis, and pinpointing and optimizing utilities for water conservation and lower consumer prices. The CA case study demonstrated that with easy access, citizens were able to save on water and be aware of how much they used once water conservation analytics were implemented. This method may provide interest for companies to implement water conservation analytics, which could help conserve water and save the company money.

From local governments to large corporations, there is no shortage of data. But for data to be impactful, organizations need advanced analytics to surface deep and impactful insights that can help educate consumers and drive down water usage.

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