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Case Study

Shelburne, Ontario Reaps Benefits of Smart Water Network

FlexNet® communications network and smart meters support continued growth

Background

Located Northwest of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, is the fast growing small town of Shelburne. As a municipal utility, Shelburne is committed to providing reliable, affordable water to its growing base of residents and visitors. As Shelburne planned for continued population growth, the city turned to smart water network technologies from Sensus to update its water meter reading processes and technologies, thereby ensuring readily available water for all citizens and guests.

The thriving community is a great alternative to living in the Greater Toronto Area and has been growing in popularity for commuters. Shelburne’s population is made up of 5,850 residents and the yearly visitors who come for their annual Canadian Championship Fiddling Contest.

Challenge

Shelburne has no surface water, therefore residents and businesses receive water from four wells. As the community grew, so did the need for water. With peak water usage becoming the norm, the town realized the need for a water infrastructure upgrade that would enable the municipality to reduce the amount of water used per capita, demonstrate good stewardship through water conservation, and provide fair, consistent billing to its growing customer base.

With its growing population and goals, Shelburne began evaluating their requirements and expectations for a new metering system for the town. Up to this point, Shelburne had not metered the majority of its residential customers and relied on a touch read meter reading system for commercial customers that required meter readers to visit every meter and manually record billing information. In addition to the costs and environmental impact of manual meter reads, commercial customers were billed on a bi-monthly basis, making it difficult to be proactive in looking for system leaks.

Shelburne immediately began accepting proposals for all types of metering systems, including walk-by, drive-by, fixed-base and hybrid systems. Shelburne ultimately sought a technology solution that would not increase overhead or burden the IT department or community.

Solution

Shelburne evaluated many different types of metering systems before ultimately selecting AquaSense™ from Sensus, an end-to-end smart water network that includes the FlexNet™ Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), residential meters and OMNI™ commercial meters. Sensus offered a turnkey solution with technologies that met the expectations of Shelburne and its citizens.

The Sensus FlexNet® system is a point-to-multipoint network that communicates via a dedicated, Industry Canada-licensed spectrum that guarantees an uncluttered, secure path for transmissions. This single network system allocates multiple channels of spectrum thereby supporting all of Shelburne’s current and future water metering needs. By serving as a single communications highway, FlexNet was able to meet Shelburne’s immediate needs while also protecting its investment with support for future expansion of the program. Due to Shelburne’s limited IT capacity, they also decided to outsource monitoring of the system, enabling a minimal burden to the resources of its IT department while still being able to reap the benefits of the information provided by the system.

Shelburne installed the AquaSense solution with one communications base station, 2,000 SmartPoints™ – the communication device affixed to current residential water meters—and several OMNI commercial water meters. With AquaSense, Shelburne has frequent billing information, leak detection capabilities and oversight into when and where the town’s water is being used. Through accurate billing information, Shelburne residents are encouraged to be smart consumers and to take an active role in ensuring their growing community has consistent access to water.

Results

The implementation of a smart water network has empowered Shelburne to better serve its current customer base and ensure water access for its growing population. Since installing the communications network and smart meters, Shelburne has achieved a significant decrease in water consumption by providing their customers with insight into their individual water usage and water bills that reflect this usage. Before selecting AquaSense, Shelburne had regularly been reaching peak water usage. By both empowering customers and billing them appropriately, Shelburne has made more water available and prepared itself to meet projected population growth.

Shelburne and its customers are also benefitting from the real-time meter reads that enable conservation through leak detection and the ability for Shelburne customer service representatives to quickly answer questions regarding water consumption. Because of this implementation, Shelburne is able to immediately detect leaks and alert customers, thereby saving time and money that once was spent fielding customer inquiries about water usage.

In addition to expectations set forth for the system and meters, Shelburne had expectations for the system’s implementation, including a turnkey solution that would ensure a rapid implementation to meet the obligations of the government infrastructure grant Shelburne received for the system. Sensus was able to provide all of this, including a complete supply and installation of the entire system and training for utility staff on the activation equipment. Shelburne also aimed for minimal customer inconvenience during implementation, which was achieved as Shelburne received inquiries from fewer than five percent of customers, most of which were rate related.

As its experience with the AquaSense smart water network matures, Shelburne looks forward to the continued benefits this technology will bring to the town. As Shelburne continues to reap the monetary benefits of the system, including lower operational costs, it is also considering leveraging the ability of the FlexNet communications network to connect with both water and lighting systems to enable street lighting control thus reducing costs longterm, which also falls under the utility’s purview. Through this and other applications, Shelburne will continue to explore the long term benefits this system can provide to the Southern Ontario town and its residents.

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