The PI System helps White House Utility District save millions in water and money
- Deferred a capital expansion of $15 million to $20 million for 11 years
- Recovered $900,000 worth of water
- Reduced costs by $1 million and recovered $30,000 in employee time
More than half of all municipal water leaks in the United States go unnoticed, leading to 6 million gallons lost every day and $3 billion in lost revenue each year. In 2007, the White House Utility District (WHUD), a water utility serving approximately 90,000 consumers and businesses in Tennessee, faced a dilemma: how to meet a projected growing demand for water within the budget and capital constraints that municipal and midsize utilities face everywhere. Thanks to the PI System, WHUD identified a leak costing 147 million gallons of water and more than $1 million each year. Repairing that leak provided the capacity it needed to serve those customers and postpone a capital expansion until 2028.
Expanding capacity without breaking the bank
WHUD worked with Matchpoint Water Asset Management to assess its efficiency and both water and financial losses. Early projections indicated that WHUD might need to invest up to $15 million to $20 million in transmission upgrades and treatment-plant expansions to meet its service commitments. Expanded capacity would also mean higher expenses in terms of energy—electricity is approximately 30% of the cost of producing water—employees, chemicals, and maintenance.
Rather than launch a major infrastructure overhaul, WHUD looked at the challenge through a digital lens: could it wring more performance and productivity from its existing assets with software and smart hardware? Delivering water by plugging leaks can cost one-third the expense of new facilities. To that end, WHUD segmented its service territory into 33 district metered areas (DMAs) with Hydreka’s Hydrins2 insertion meters, a product distributed through Matchpoint. Data from this network of meters was then delivered to the PI System.
Saving water, time, and money
By combining data streams from the network of HydrINS 2 meters and other assets such as pumps and valves already tracked by the PI System, WHUD determined that it was losing approximately 32% of its water through water-main leaks. PI System data was then streamed into Esri’s ArcGIS mapping software to precisely pinpoint the location of the leaks. In less than four days, WHUD found a leak spilling about 147 million gallons a year, or enough for 2,239 homes, which cost WHUD over $300,000 annually.
Because it was in a rural part of the district, local residents mistook the leak for a stream—highlighting just how much water was being wasted every day. In two years, WHUD has recovered $900,000 worth of water. The smart-meter approach also allowed the district to avoid $200,000 worth of SCADA upgrades and recover $30,000 in employee time and productivity. Instead of waiting six hours or more for data, repair technicians and others received, within minutes, an immediate status report detailing equipment health, energy consumption, and maintenance issues, plus other information.
Perhaps most important, WHUD avoided a $15 million to $20 million capital expansion, which is a game changer when municipal budgets are tight. Interest payments on the bond payments alone would have come to $600,000 per year, the utility estimates. WHUD predicts it will not need a major capital expansion until 2028, or 11 years after it implemented the PI System. WHUD is reducing water loss at a greater pace than the sum total of the water coming through the treatment plant for customer usage.
Watch the full presentation for more information about the White House Utility District and the PI System.