As the drought in their state continues and worsens, millions of Southern Californians have had to prepare for new emergency water restrictions beginning on June 1. Among the measures: limiting outdoor water use, including irrigating lawns and filling pools.
In April 2022, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California issued an urgent call to conserve water. The MWD imports water from the State Water Project and the Colorado River, whose flow has declined nearly 20% since 2000. The utility serves 26 public water agencies across six counties, reaching about half of the state’s population.
In response to MWD’s policy recommendations, many of its agencies have set specific times and days of the week when outdoor watering is permitted. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, for example, is limiting customers to watering on two days per week, down from the current limit of three.
While imposing limits is sure to have some impact, for utilities, enforcing new restrictions can be a costly exercise. “To measure outdoor water use with the traditional equipment, most utilities would have to add new meters for each customer. The cost is prohibitive,” says Matt Laird, CEO of Colorado-based Metron-Farnier.
Accurately measuring and monitoring water use
With WaterScope, Metron-Farnier’s powerful cloud-based analytics platform, the company is helping utilities, ratepayers, and other users precisely pinpoint and identify water use at the source. Achieving a first for the industry, WaterScope collects water use data in one-minute intervals, making it possible for its users to act on precise, actionable insights.
Laird says WaterScope makes it easy and affordable for utilities determine where, how, and when customers are using water. “With a simple retrofit to an existing meter, we can provide analytics to utilities – and their customers – about water use in real time.”
WaterScope includes tools to set limits and restrictions, which utilities can use to monitor compliance. “Using powerful analytics, we can determine when people are watering their lawns, or if they have a leak issue,” Laird says. “Whatever does not comply appears on a compliance report. Utilities can then choose to take action. They can issue warnings, update their communications to customers, or enforce fines.”
Reporting water use
As part of a series of urban water efficiency measures, starting in 2023, every California urban retail water supplier must submit an Annual Water Use Report to the State Water Board that assesses actual water use in comparison to its urban water use objective, which is based on water efficiency standards that include indoor residential, outdoor residential, and water loss.
“Again, it’s going to be challenging for these suppliers to meet the requirements without a cost-effective solution to measure that water use,” Laird says. “With our solution, we can give them up-to-the-minute data that will help them make decisions about how to restrict and manage water use. Giving the customer the tools to make their own decisions will also help move the needle on state-wide conservation efforts.”
For regions facing water scarcity and related measures, Metron-Farnier’s solution can help move the needle on conservation efforts through monitoring at the utility level. Utilities can also choose to share a customer-facing app with residents, which allows them to monitor their water use and make decisions about how to use water, detect leaks or other problems, and comply with restrictions. During times of drought and scarcity, conserving water is critical, he adds. “To do our part, we need to understand water use and resolve issues. Water is a precious resource. We can’t afford to lose it.