The Main Stream

Nov 28, 2012 10:18 AM by Ryan Haarer

An IBM grant will help improve efficiency at Tucson Water

TUCSON- Tucson Water and the City of Tucson have been selected by IBM to receive the "Smarter Cities Challenge Grant."

It's going to make utilities run more efficiently and Tucson Water customers will be able to monitor their usage in real time.

Part of the $400,000 dollar consulting grant goes towards updating their water meter system. Tucson Water replaces 300 old meters with new electronic ones every week.

"This metering system will allow Tucson water customers to log on to a website, perhaps download through their Smartphone and perhaps even just have a unit mounted in their home that will allow them to monitor water use on a daily basis," said Fernando Molina with Tucson Water.

The new Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) will give consumers real time usage information, giving them insight into how much they spend on water.

"We are asking our customers to be very careful on how they use their water and the metering system will help that. The SCADA system will help us to do the exact same thing," said Molina.

SCADA, is the computer system that controls utilities and their levels, flows and pressures. The last update was in 2001 and the IBM grant will make that system more efficient. By integrating the SCADA and the AMI systems, operators can more efficiently determine where water needs to go.

"When we talk about a $14 million budget just for energy costs, to move water throughout the community, if we can shave two to three percent off of that by being more efficient in how we use, how we move water around, that's a huge savings to our customer," said Molina.

Tucson water says new electronic meters will detect problems like leaks. The system will alert the customer as soon as it reads an irregularity in their usage, often eliminating the need to test a meter for accuracy.

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