How many data points do you look at when you receive your water bill every month?
My guess is just one: the cost.
You might track that cost month over month to get a better idea of what you’re paying long-term. You might even notice a slight jump that may or may not be attributed to any number of factors: seasonal changes, a new, thirstier grass type in your landscape, a hygiene-obsessed tenant that takes 60-minute showers or, worse yet, an incremental increase that you simply don’t have an answer for.
My point is that the majority of enterprise-level decision-makers and the people who report to them usually have no earthly clue what might cause a spike in water usage. It’s not their fault either, it’s simply the way the water management system is currently built. Under the status quo, the lack of visibility into water usage—whether on a single property or throughout an entire portfolio—simply means decision-makers have to guess at the cause.
If they’re smart, the first—and worst—scenario to address is a water leak. Leaks are nefarious. Leaks kill property profitability. They can often go undetected for months at a time, and smaller leaks may just get written off as outliers until it’s too late. The smaller the leak, the smaller the likelihood that it’s detected, whereas a large leak can do irreparable damage to a property in just the few weeks between water bills.
Monitoring and optimizing water usage with real-time data analysis is quickly moving from nice-to-have to business-critical
Your monthly water bill can’t be the only touch point facility and portfolio managers have with their water systems. Infrastructure is too old and water rates are too high to assume that level of risk.
Earlier this year, my company, Banyan Water, analyzed nearly 550 detected leaks across our client properties that have IoT and total water management software installed to analyze and optimize both indoor and outdoor water usage in real time. Here are a couple of quick takeaways:
- The average leak size was 11.6 gallons per minute.
- The average time to identify and stop a leak without real-time notification was 45 days.
Let’s take a leak detection scenario to its full conclusion. Imagine you’re a property manager of a sprawling tech campus in San Antonio with numerous outdoor features like a courtyard, garden, and a couple of water fountains as well as several buildings. In San Antonio, commercial entities pay three different rates: the utility rate, the water usage rate and the Edwards Aquifer rate. Combined, you’re easily paying $11 per kilogallon for your water usage. When skimming your October water bill, you notice a large spike in your monthly cost. There has to be a leak somewhere on the property, but where exactly?
Forty-five days have passed since you noticed and repaired the leak. In those 45 days, your system leaked 20 gallons of water per minute. After crunching the numbers, you realize the cost of the leak alone exceeds $14,000. Now imagine the same scenario at scale across an entire portfolio of properties. This is the level of risk every business assumes under the status quo of water management.
As water rates continue to rise across the U.S., monitoring and optimizing water usage with real-time data analysis is quickly moving from nice-to-have to business-critical. The dent even one undetected leak can make in profitability can be astronomical if facility managers and others don’t have the tools to read past their water bills and find new ways to track water usage across a property or portfolio. Aging infrastructure and growing water scarcity will only compound the issue, and businesses will assume more and more risk by doing nothing.