COVID-19 Fast Tracks Digital Water Management

August 18, 2020

With COVID-19, many water management facilities made the decision to delay water shutoff due to delinquent payments. Facilities must also handle supply shortages, shifting water demands and staff shortages. In such a challenging time, IoT is helping facilities to maintain revenue by improving efficiency.

Managing Energy Usage & Reducing Costs

Energy is a large operational cost for water management facilities. Electric pumping systems collect and distribute water, pipes require monitoring for leaks and costly chemicals are used during water treatment. Sensors detect water properties, such as pH, chlorine and other chemical levels. This saves water facilities on costs from overtreatment.

Sensors monitor liquid flow across water management facilities, too. Slow flow could indicate a malfunctioning pump while too fast of a flow could indicate overpowered pumps. Knowledge of either situation allows for quick resolution and energy costs savings.

IoT monitors pipeline water pressure in real time, identifying leaks sooner than manual checks and resulting in significant cost savings. IoT enables the remote shut off of pipes, providing further savings until a technician is able to arrive on site.

IoT manages additional resources like the condition of pumps, motors and pipes and judge what can be repaired versus what needs replaced. Other management tools schedule and appoint tasks for available staffing and organize the facility budget.

Remote Monitoring & Operations

In the wake of staff shortages and the need for social distancing, remote monitoring streamlines operations while keeping personnel safe. Sensors and cameras record pressure gauge readings, eliminating the need for in-person inspections. IoT turns off pumps, heating, ventilation or lighting at facilities without any human interaction. Customer water meters can also be read remotely, with some applications sending data directly to mobile phones when technicians are in the area. These digital tools also improve operational efficiency and hold potential cost savings.

Customer management tools also aid staff. From mobile app notifications, web portals for online pay or a chatbot to answer questions, these tools readily assist customers with their requests and concerns. They also free up time for limited staff to perform other duties. IoT can even alert facilities of an outage before receiving a customer report, improving response and customer satisfaction.

Preventing Sewer Overflow

With COVID-19 came the increased use of household cleaning supplies and the flushing of undissolvable cleaning wipes. Houston’s sewer overflow cases doubled amidst COVID-19 with the flushing of wipes and paper towels. Fortunately, sewer water levels can be monitored by sensors placed underneath manhole covers. Alerts are sent when water rises to unusually high levels, allowing for quick action. Damage caused by sewer overflow can cost thousands of dollars, amounting to significant cost savings if they can be averted.

In the midst of COVID-19 and beyond, IoT tools can make water management safer, more efficient and cost effective.