There is a movement to make everything – from personal devices, to appliances to physical structures – smarter. Today, there are smart homes, smart buildings and smart cities. And each are designed to monitor things utilizing a network of sensors, provide data to key stakeholders and be monitored and managed remotely via the Internet or any connected smart device. So, it should come as no surprise that there’s also a smart water movement.
What is smart water? Based on the technologies on display and educational sessions at this year’s annual WEFTEC Conference, it’s the water quality and waste water industry’s embrace of new technologies that are giving them additional insight into their operations, better control of their equipment and even remote access to the data and status of important water treatment devices.
As a topic of discussion, smart water was one of the hottest subjects at WEFTEC, which is the premier conference and technology expo for the water quality industry and is sponsored each year by the Water Environment Federation (WEF). And there are some really good reasons for that.
Waste water and water quality utilities struggle with limited resources. They face challenges with recruitment and retention. And, despite all of that, they’re still responsible for one of the most important jobs in our community – delivering an essential resource into our homes.
Following this year’s WEFTEC, we had the opportunity to sit down with Cheryl Ades Anspach, the marketing manager at Badger Meter, a company that is at the forefront of innovative, smart water meters and other water quality products. During our discussion, Cheryl talked in-depth about the challenges facing water utilities, and how smart water solutions can help them overcome those with new, innovative technology.
Here is what she had to say:
Modern Equipment Manufacturer (MEM): Can you tell our readers a little bit about Badger Meter? What products and solutions does the company offer to the water quality and waste water industry?
Cheryl Ades Anspach: Badger Meter is an innovator in flow measurement, control products and communications solutions, serving water utilities, municipalities and commercial and industrial customers worldwide. Our company’s products measure water, oil, chemicals and other fluids, and are known for accuracy, long-lasting durability and for providing valuable and timely measurement data.
Badger Meter offers a wide variety of products for water and wastewater applications—ensuring our customers have the right solution to meet their unique requirements. The company offers solutions for water consumption metering, influent and effluent water monitoring, discharge quantity monitoring, chemical treatment dosing, municipal network load monitoring , water system sub-metering and ground water consumption.
Our ModMAG electromagnetic flow meters, Recordall disc meters and E-Series and Dynasonics ultrasonic flow meters are recognized names in the water quality and wastewater treatment industry.
MEM: What is “smart water?” Why is the wastewater and water quality industry trying to get “smarter?”
Cheryl Ades Anspach: It’s a fact in the water and wastewater industry: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Water and wastewater treatment plant operators are seeking to use smart water solutions to monitor and manage water consumption and wastewater collection and discharge, mitigate unnecessary water losses and optimize advanced asset management.
There are three key aspects of a smart water initiative: water use accountability, water empowerment and water delivery.
Today, it is a priority to measure water across all facets of residential, commercial and industrial usage. Accurate measurements help to reduce costs, identify losses and comply with water use restrictions, which is why smart water solutions are essential for water use accountability.
Water quality and wastewater treatment professionals need tools leveraging advancements like the Internet of Things (IoT) to empower them and their users to understand and manage water resources.
Finally, the water and wastewater industry requires equipment and services that make it easier to monitor water demand, isolate distribution network problems and bill water users.
MEM: What are the technologies driving this move towards smart water?
Cheryl Ades Anspach: Over the last decade, there has been steady progress in the water and wastewater industry’s adoption of smart water principles. Operators are starting to truly understand water consumption, commercial and industrial discharge and wastewater collection, by gathering data from meters on a more frequent basis.
The technology behind this development is known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which establishes an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and customers.
MEM: Many of the new technologies that we’ve seen in the marketplace involve water utilities being able to remotely monitor and manage their devices. Why is this important for utilities today? What benefits do they realize from monitoring/managing these devices remotely?
Cheryl Ades Anspach: Badger Meter has made a significant investment in smart water technologies to help optimize water- and wastewater-related applications. With our BEACON Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) solution, for example, utilities and other industry organizations can gather the actionable information they need to optimize operations. This allows them to focus on what they do best—managing operations and serving customers while protecting long-term system investments.
The BEACON solution can be seamlessly integrated with a host of key utility systems, including billing, work orders, inventory, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), among others.
Badger Meter believes smart water is about having choices. Utilities seeking to deploy metering equipment with remote reading capabilities need the flexibility to choose the best product for a given task.
Lastly, smart water requires a robust and reliable technology infrastructure. Water and wastewater plant operators are benefiting from advanced metering solutions, which are designed to help keep their operations safe and secure.
MEM: How can the ability to remotely monitor device data also benefit the OEM? What opportunity does this open up for the equipment manufacturer?
Cheryl Ades Anspach: Water and wastewater metering have become increasingly sophisticated and we will keep innovating to harness advancements in other connected technologies. The declining price of connectivity and the increasing value of metering data have improved the business case for original equipment manufacturers in this area.
There is significant growth in instrumentation that supports multiple networks simultaneously or can be easily upgraded to allow for smoother integration with a utility’s data systems.
According to a recent Water Online article, smart water solutions are expected to drive more than $35 billion of municipal spending over the next decade. The basis for this trend is continued financial pressure on utilities to do more with less.
MEM: At this year’s WEFTEC Conference, Badger Meter announced the release of its new Dynasonics TFX-5000 ultrasonic clamp-on flow and energy meters. What is new and interesting about this product? Why is it a good solution for today’s wastewater and water quality utilities?
Cheryl Ades Anspach: Water and wastewater treatment facilities have a critical mission: producing a safe supply of drinking water and ensuring the quality and condition of discharge water. These applications demand superior flow measurement accuracy and reliability, long-term stability and a low cost of ownership.
The new TFX-5000 ultrasonic clamp-on flow meter is a transit time metering device intended for measuring volumetric flow rates in clean liquids as well as those with small amounts of suspended solids or aeration, such as surface water or raw sewage. Typical applications include water mains, reclaimed water, lift stations, and booster pump stations in water and wastewater, and similar tasks in other industrial fields.
By clamping onto the outside of pipes, the TFX-5000 meter does not contact the internal liquid and has inherent advantages, such as reduced installation time and cost. With built-in data logging and real-time clock, the meter records flow rate, total and diagnostic information with a time/date stamp. It also has an 8 GB micro Secure Digital (microSD) card to store a large volume of backup data for troubleshooting or reporting purposes.
In addition, the TFX-5000 meter supports a variety of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks and provides an encoder output for use with cellular endpoints for connecting to Badger Meter AquaCUE or BEACON AMA cloud software. These systems collect water measurements at 15-minute intervals that are uploaded to the cloud on a regular schedule (up to twice per day) to help with tracking and analyzing water usage.