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More frequent and extreme weather events are putting additional pressure on water utilities to manage water assets and deliver critical water supply during a crisis. Floods, bush fires, and extremely dry conditions can damage infrastructure, which is remote, not visible or is in inaccessible locations. Smart water meters and IoT sensors can provide rich data and insights informing support crews via alerts, enabling them to react quickly, addressing situations before they become a problem.

Take, for example, when a mains break occurs causing a significant leak, having district metered areas (DMAs) set up within Taggle’s Aqualus Water software can highlight these network losses.

Action can then be taken quickly to isolate the issue and reduce further water losses. Pressure sensors within the network can help pinpoint the location of the break, as the pressure change is sudden and more pronounced closer to the break.

Pipe Burst Townsville Flood
Pressure sensors can help in identifying mains breaks during a flood event with more pronounced drops closer to the break. This graph shows a mains break during an extreme weather event in which the pipe was under water and it took 10 days before it could be safely fixed putting additional pressure on water supplies during the crisis.

Flood, bushfire and drought events

During a flood event it may be unsafe to carry out repairs for some time, putting a strain on water supplies. Commercial and industrial customers with high water consumption can easily be identified with the Aqualus Water software.

This enables the utility to proactively contact these customers requesting an emergency reduction in water use, saving scarce water for residential and emergency services.

Sewer overflows can also be easily avoided when early alerts from level sensors notify of potential blockages and problems within the network. Dispatching teams quickly to clear blockages can make all the difference in preventing a costly overflow and EPA notification.

In the case of bush fires, pipes and other water infrastructure on rural properties can experience high breakage rates leading to significant water losses, particularly when residents have been evacuated.

If utilities can remotely identify large leaks and manage work orders in a tactical fashion to shut off the water, then large savings can be made. Similarly, during drought, significant water losses can go unnoticed as the hot dry ground quickly absorbs the additional water.

Visualisation of the water network provides the opportunity to contact property owners with potential leaks to inform them of a hidden water loss issue.

Great visibility of usage

If property owners are given access to their water usage data via the Aqualus Water Customer Portal, they can better self-administer their water usage with hourly water consumption data, and leak and high consumption alerts and reports delivered straight to their email.

During drought, the Aqualus Water Customer Portal is an extremely valuable tool in driving consumer behavioural changes, as high-water consumption activities are easily identified.

That leaky tap which doesn’t look too bad can now be quantified, often with shocked responses to the scale of the leak, resulting in repairs getting done much faster.

Empower the community to make informed decisions about how and when they use water during a drought with smart water metering.

There are many use cases for IoT sensors when discussing extreme weather events. Some of the sensors already in use by Taggle customers include compact weather stations, rain gauges, H2S gas, and level sensors on rivers and within the sewer network. These sensors are relatively cheap and easy to deploy on Taggle’s communication networks (Taggle Byron LPWAN and Myriota Satellite).

In a crisis there is much to be considered, and the ability to monitor assets and their performance can make all the difference in making informed decisions. As climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, it is important to have tools at the ready to make better informed decisions quickly to manage water assets.

Taggle is able to provide the full end-to-end sensor to software turnkey solution or a portion of it depending on your utility’s requirements.

This article was first published in Utility Magazine

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