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Reducing apparent water loss and recovering lost revenue through intelligent meter management

Clayton County, GA, USA
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Goverment Champion

Clayton County Water Authority Meter Services

Project Status

Operational since 2016

Challenges Addressed

Water Supply & Drought
Essential Services
Customer Service

Motivation

Smart city
Sustainable city

Funding / Financing

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Type

Technology
Service

At a Glance

Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) worked with Xylem to institute a program that would harness the power of data analytics to achieve benefits such as increased revenue, better customer care, and wiser capital spending — all by targeting an invisible source of system leakage: apparent water loss.

Problem Addressed

Located in a state with some of the strictest efficiency and water conservation regulations in the country and a growing population, CCWA has been addressing water loss across its entire system. Apparent water loss (defined as water that is consumed, but not properly measured, accounted for or paid for) is a significant source of revenue leakage for many utilities. On average, about 5 percent of retail water is not registered at the meter, or unbilled for, representing approximately 2 percent of a utility’s top-line revenue. In looking for an innovative solution to address these issues, CCWA partnered with Xylem to develop a meter management program to quantify its ongoing state of apparent water loss. Traditional approaches to meter replacement focus on factors such as random

testing, age, and water loss balance reviews, usually conducted annually. This approach is inappropriate because meter degradation is not strongly correlated to any of these factors, and replacement strategies based on sampling techniques leave bad meters in the field while throwing perfectly good ones away, making it hard to tackle apparent loss in a capital-efficient way. CCWA was open to exploring new solutions using intelligent monitoring and management tools that allow them to undertake a prioritized, economically-justified meter replacement program. They refused to follow the status quo of random or time-based meter replacement and instead were driven to identify customer metering accuracies, quantify the apparent water loss and improve operational efficiencies — all without raising rates.

Clayton County Water Authority used/is using Xylem's Hidden Revenue Locator solution to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

CCWA embraced a data-driven approach to quantify their water balance and gain a better understanding of apparent losses. Once they identified their non-revenue water issues, they could make intelligent decisions on rates and capital expenditures. As part of a two-phase program, CCWA analyzed its entire metering operation with the help of Xylem’s Hidden Revenue Locator solution. The online cloud-based analytics solution helps identify and rank customer meters within their system that are losing revenue due to meter degradation. This information would allow CCWA to prioritize a meter testing and replacement program, maximize revenue recovery and realize operational efficiencies. With this intelligent solution, potential issues are identified at the meter-level on an ongoing basis, and an online dashboard would allow CCWA to view prioritized issues, ranked by the total volume and revenue discrepancy per meter. For CCWA, the data successfully demonstrated which meters were under-registering, in addition to revealing that meter under-registration was their biggest source of apparent water loss. Armed with this information, CCWA was able to focus their resources on addressing this issue, prioritizing action and capitalizing on recouped revenue losses.

Outcomes

  1. CCWA is receiving powerful data on apparent water loss issues, enabling them to prioritize action, capitalize on revenue enhancement, and enhance process efficiency and customer care.
  2. Over $1 million of recoverable revenue identified through meter inaccuracies over a four-year period.
  3. Identified average revenue loss of $6 (residential) to $67 (non-residential) per meter per year.
  4. Meter under-registration identified as the largest contributor to apparent water loss.
  5. Realized that short-term gains were possible by concentrating on non-residential meters.

Who Should Consider?

Independent of size, this kind of solution is suited for utilities who want or need to have a better understanding of their water loss situation, and have a willingness to act to improve it.