Connecting Waterpeople

Xylem aids water loss reduction for Montana utility

  • Xylem aids water loss reduction for Montana utility
  • Big Sky Water & Sewer District uses a smart utility network to gain visibility into water usage trends
  • The network’s near-real-time data allows the utility to provide enhanced leak detection and prompt customer service.
  • The District’s virtual metering program combined with advanced pressure monitoring pinpoints service area leaks or other potential challenges.

About the entity

Xylem Inc.
Xylem is a leading global water technology provider, enabling customers to transport, treat, test and efficiently use water in a variety of settings.

Themes

Big Sky, Montana is a hot spot for seasonal residents and visitors who want breathtaking views and outdoor recreation. The local water utility, Big Sky Water & Sewer District, aims to deliver a five-star experience for their 2,800 customers on par with any major resort town in the country.

“We might be a small community, but that doesn’t mean we’re not expected to provide service worthy of the name ‘Big Sky’,” said Big Sky Water & Sewer District General Manager Ron Edwards.

Monitoring water systems can be difficult in a community like Big Sky with a large seasonal population, extreme weather and elevation changes. Leaks and other issues may occur in residences when no one is there to notice.

With a drive for excellence and enthusiasm for innovative technology, Big Sky envisioned a virtual metering program that would allow the utility to aggregate meter data and better pinpoint where water is flowing. They deployed a smart utility network from Sensus, a Xylem brand, to provide remote system monitoring that yields advanced leak detection and quick response to customer needs. The technology investment combined Sensus iPERL® residential water meters with the two-way FlexNet® communication network and Sensus Analytics to bring in reliable, near-real-time data from across their service area.

The system promptly validated its potential when it helped technicians spot a pumped sewer service line backup that caused a 170-gallons-per-hour leak at one home.

“We connected with the customer and resolved the issue within a day,” said Edwards. “Of course the homeowner was thankful to avoid the cost and potential damage that could have come with a prolonged leak.”

As an extension of their technology-driven system, the utility deployed the Sensus® Smart Gateway Sensor Interface to monitor distribution across the District’s ten pressure reducing valve (PRV) sites.

 

The battery-powered Sensus Smart Gateway Sensor Interface connects a variety of applications in locations where no power or land-based communications are available.

“The ability to see the volume of water coming through these sites allows us to better understand where we may have service area leaks,” said Edwards. “The Sensus network and software also allow us to virtually group meters to quickly see daily water demand below our PRV vaults. The difference between the PRV meter flow against the virtual meter for the service area gives us the ability to narrow our leak detection efforts.”

Big Sky Water & Sewer District understands the role they play in preserving resources as a utility governed by Western water rights law. Whether the District is overseeing meter data or consulting with customers, the technology investment will continue to be instrumental in their smart water journey.

“We call the Xylem system our Swiss Army knife,” said Edwards. “It gives us a full range of tools with many purposes to help us best serve our customers.”

Read the case study to learn how smart technology helps Big Sky deliver customer service worthy of their name.

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