Simplifying Crisis Communications

The Laguna Madre Water District (LMWD) is located in the Rio Grande Valley along the coast of southern Texas. As a municipal water district, Laguna Madre serves approximately 11,000 customers across four different communities: South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Laguna Heights, and Laguna Vista. Laguna Madre, not unlike many other water utilities, faces the troublesome challenge of effectively targeting communication within their widespread customer base.

THE CHALLENGE

Due to LMWD’s geographically dispersed service area, it is not particularly effective to rely on local news and media coverage to communicate with customers when neighborhood-specific events occur. Customers across all four communities see headlines that may not be relevant to them, creating widespread confusion and concern across the entire service area.

To better serve their customers, LMWD created an emergency notification email service, which customers are able to opt-in to from the LMWD website. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the opt-in … see more

Digitizing Manual Staff Processes

The Village of Glenview is a mid-sized community with a publicly owned water utility in Chicago’s northern suburbs, serving a residential population of 46,740 people. In 2015, Glenview began installing automated metering infrastructure (AMI) throughout the village. One of the primary motivations for this meter implementation was to improve data-driven customer communication, including leak detection and alerting.

THE CHALLENGE

After completing their AMI installation, Glenview began communicating with their customers about leaks detected through the AMI data. Leaks can be detected through automated meters by analyzing hourly interval data to identify irregular usage patterns. Glenview developed an internal process for alerting customers of data irregularities using the reports of likely leaks provided by their meter vendor. Utility staff identified likely leaks and then printed and mailed leak notification letters to their customers on a weekly basis. If the staff at Glenview noticed that the leak appeared to continue after one … see more

Enhancing Engagement Digitally

Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) is the second largest retail water agency located in Orange County, California. It serves 165,000 customers across the cities of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita, and unincorporated parts of Orange County that include Coto de Caza, Las Flores, Ladera Ranch, Rancho Mission Viejo and Talega. SMWD, like many other water utilities, is continually improving its strategies for communicating with a diverse customer base.

THE CHALLENGE

Situated between Los Angeles and San Diego, SMWD has no local media market. No single news channel, radio station, or print newspaper adequately covers the service area, and overlapping service areas can result in customer confusion in cities like Mission Viejo that are served by numerous water utilities. As a result, SMWD’s challenge is to develop effective strategies to engage with their customers.

case-study-smwd-2Bill inserts often seem to be a tried-and-true approach, but they are far from perfect. “We … see more

Building a Bridge to AMI

One of Utah’s fastest growing cities, West Jordan blossomed from a population of 4,221 in 1970 to over 111,000—and is still growing. West Jordan’s water system is operated by the Public Works Department. Public Works maintains over 23,000 water meters, of which 3,000 are commercial accounts. West Jordan purchases wholesale water as a primary source, with some of their own wells for backup.

THE CHALLENGE

Like most cities in the western United States, West Jordan has been especially concerned about the critical issue of water conservation. “We’re really aware of how we use our water, and conservation is at the forefront of everybody’s mind in Utah,” stated Craig Frisbee, West Jordan’s Utility Director. “We’re basically a high desert. The last few years we’ve had a reduction in our snowpack, so that makes us more anxious about our conservation efforts.”

West Jordan’s wholesale provider set a goal of 25% reduction for … see more

Right-Sizing Budgets with Analytics

The City of Greeley, Colorado is located in a semi-arid climate, receiving 12-14 inches of precipitation per year. During the drought of 2002, Ruth Quade, Greeley’s Water Conservation Coordinator, needed to come up with the right solution to stimulate greater drought awareness and conservation actions on the part of ratepayers. After exploring several options, Ruth and her Greeley colleagues decided to implement a water budget system.

THE CHALLENGE: COMMUNICATE EFFICIENCY

Water budgets are a calculated amount of water a household will require each month, based on the size of the family, number and types of fixtures, and landscape needs. When facing supply constraints, water budgets are an increasingly popular tool for utilities interested in sending conservation messages to their customers. As Ruth explained, “Metering tells us, and the customer, how much they are using. Budgets tell how much they should be using.”

Setting budgets and deciding how to implement them … see more

Park City Powering Leak Alerts with AMI

In 2009 Park City Water began replacing their old analog water meters with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology to be able to view and track water usage in real time. AMI offers cost savings from automated meter reading and, when paired with the right analytic tools, the ability to identify residential water leaks as they occur. Once the AMI deployment was complete, the water department quickly realized cost savings and increased convenience of remote data collection.

THE CHALLENGE: EFFECTIVELY LEVERAGING AMI

The newly purchased AMI data platform offered basic leak alert abilities, but the Park City water team had some challenges getting it to work effectively. Deployment of AMI was a considerable expenditure for the City, and the promise of leak detection was a significant reason for the investment. Understandably, customers became frustrated when these benefits were not quickly realized. When Jason Christensen joined the Park City team as Water … see more