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San Francisco turns to smart water meters during drought

Submitted by scc staff on May 28, 2014

Reprinted with permission from Smart Grid News...

It sometimes takes a crisis to get people thinking seriously about smart water networks. And California certainly has a crisis on its hands in terms of its historic drought. See below how San Francisco is moving forward with smart water meters. Will other California towns follow suit? And will California become the pacesetter that encourages other regions to get on board? -- Jesse Berst

The state of California is suffering severe to exceptional drought conditions. Many farmers have let fields lie fallow because there isn’t enough water to irrigate. Communities heavily reliant on agriculture are experiencing record high unemployment. And that all boils down to serious concerns about the country’s food supply.

But asking people to cut back on their water use is hard to do when they have no idea how much they’re using or saving. As a result, San Francisco will become one of the first major U.S. cities to deploy technology that gives residents online access to their water accounts and the information they need to see how much water they use and how much they’re saving, according to an article in SFGate.

The program is part of the city’s $56 million program that has installed smart water meters in 180,000 homes and businesses. The expectation is that it will help residents achieve a 10% voluntary reduction in water use.

The article quotes state water officials as saying less than 10% of the state has the technology, but that more agencies are signing despite the cost in what has been the third consecutive year of dry conditions.

In any event, it’s not going to happen overnight. Some water utilities are starting to test smart water meters, and a  few that have never had meters before are introducing the technology, too.

But as Peter Brostrom, water efficiency manager for the state Department of Water Resources, was quoted as saying, “ It’s an emerging technology. It’s not widespread.” He did add that he expected that in time every water district will adopt the technology. “There’s a lot of conservation benefit.”

More smart water resources...

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Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to learn about the benefits you receive when you join the Council for free. Follow @Jesse_Berst and connect on LinkedIn.