Faced with persistent drought conditions and the ongoing desire to limit water loss and its costs, utilities need the ability to monitor and identify sources of excess water consumption. Once those sources are identified, having the ability to swiftly notify the responsible parties so they can take corrective action is essential.
BEACON AMA provides a wealth of powerful, yet easy-to-use water conservation tools to help, including:
- Leak analytics identify continuous flow conditions that represent potential leaks. When user-definable usage thresholds are crossed, the system can automatically notify you via email and text message. BEACON also lets you export contact information for notifying customers by phone, email, regular mail or door hanger.
- Reduction Goal filters provide one-click access to accounts that met or failed to meet mandated water use reduction goals.
- Parity filters for monitoring usage based on whether a premise has an odd or even numbered street address. Parity filters let you identify and notify customers who aren’t in compliance with watering (irrigation) restriction rules.
- High/Low Consumption filters for counting and selecting meters whose usage falls above or below utility-defined thresholds of normal water use.
- District Metering Area (DMA) support lets you monitor usage across your water distribution network. The ability to compare usage between supply meters and demand meters lets you spot and quantify non-revenue water at its source.
- EyeOnWater, iOS and Android smartphone apps along with a web portal, lets your customers monitor their water use and get notified of potential leaks via email and text messages.
In addition, BEACON Web Service APIs let you programmatically and securely export data. That data can be tailored to integrate with external water infringement report systems, meter data management systems and work order management systems.
This document provides the technical details on how to use BEACON water conservation tools.
BEACON Leak Detection and Analytics
Leaks account for an incredible amount of wasted water. For example, the EPA estimates that household leaks in the United States waste more than a trillion gallons annually. Leaks at commercial and industrial sites add to the toll.
Leak detection is crucial to conserving water lost to leaks.
The fight against leaks often starts with education. Make residents and businesses aware of the potential damage that leaks can cause. Teach people to visually identify signs of leaks. And make them aware of the importance of reporting suspected leaks as soon as they’re spotted.
But leaks, even catastrophically large water main breaks, don’t always happen in plain sight. Identifying leaks that don’t leave visible evidence of their existence requires a different approach.
That is where BEACON AMA comes into play.
BEACON supports two leak detection methods:
- Algorithmic detection that continually analyzes hourly and quarter-hourly interval read data sent to the system from AMI meters.
- AMR meter-based leak detection. For manually read meters that are read monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, flags set by the meters themselves tell BEACON that a leak was detected.
BEACON leak detection algorithms are constantly looking for potential leaks. We say “potential,” because one of the challenges of algorithmic leak detection is differentiating between water being used on purpose and water being used by accident.
BEACON leak detection algorithms solve that challenge by analyzing flow data from AMI sources (a water meter connected to a cellular or fixed network endpoint). When flow ≥ 1 gallon per hour is detected every hour in the 24 hours prior to the latest endpoint communication, a Leak Detected alert gets triggered.
BEACON also lets you use tags to exclude from leak reporting meters at locations where continuous water use is expected. Examples of such locations include hospitals, apartment complexes and manufacturing facilities. When a meter has a Continuous Use Expected tag, flow alerts can be configured to notify users when a maximum flow threshold has been exceeded or when flow drops below a minimum flow threshold.
In BEACON, any leak detected algorithmically that measures ≥ 1 gallon per hour gets:
- Added to the total leak count.
- Sorted by its base flow rate.
- Tracked by duration.
That information surfaces in multiple places in BEACON, making it easy and convenient to get the details you need to take the steps necessary to prioritize and mitigate leaks.
The At a Glance page Flow Health module gives you fast access to meters currently reporting flow anomalies including leaks. A single click lets you jump to the Monitor page, where meters with leaks are displayed on a map. Color-coded pins identify leaks by severity. Leak Filters display counts of and let you select meters with leaks based on their flow rate, duration and the method used to detect them.
Other Monitor page filters let you refine search results based on a wide range of criteria, including but not limited to:
- Meter size
- Billing Cycle
- Location zip/postal code
- Parity (odd, even addresses)
- Class Code (single-family, commercial, multifamily, etc.)
Leaks detected by AMR meters trigger a flag that simply tells BEACON the meter detected a leak, that is, continuously running water. BEACON Monitor page cards for manually read meters with leak flags display yellow alert banners like the one shown below.
The Leaks section of the Analytics page (shown below) gives you a dashboard view of leaks detected by networked meters (meters connected to cellular and fixed network endpoints).
Divided into quadrants, the dashboard lets you quickly see:
- The number of meters with leaks that do and do not have EyeOnWater accounts.
- A tally of leaks by flow rate color-coded to indicate new leaks and leaks that have persisted for more than seven days.
- Another view of leaks with color-coded to indicate the severity of the leak and how long it has persisted.
- A Take Action section gives you a View button to jump directly to the Monitor page, where all of the meters with leaks are pre-selected for quick access. In addition, an Export button lets you download a file that contains the contact information for all of your accounts with leaks. That information can then be used for contacting customers with leaks.
In addition, a pull-down menu lets you access customizable sets of meters, stored as “Saved Filters.” These Saved Filters let you quickly pin-point the meters you are most interested in reviewing. Because these filters are stored on a per-user basis, they can be recalled at any time.
While BEACON serves as the command center for monitoring leaks throughout your water system, EyeOnWater smartphone apps for iOS and Android along with the EyeOnWater web portal make the same leak detection technology used by BEACON available to your customers on a self-serve basis.
To help detect the most common sources of household leaks, EyeOnWater solutions let users set leak alerts with any threshold above 0 gallons per hour.
As you can see from the image on the right, the iOS and Android apps even provide three pre-defined leak detection levels. These alerts automatically take meter resolution into account, and take the guesswork out of setting alert thresholds.
Filters for Conservation
Located along the left side of the BEACON Monitor page, filters let you select and count meters based on values provided in data exchange files or parameters entered on the Assets>Utility Settings page. The following filters are designed specifically to facilitate water conservation initiatives.
Leak detection is great, but one of two things needs to occur for someone to be notified of a leak:
- A Customer Service Rep can add a customer’s email to a leak alert in BEACON.
- The customer can create an EyeOnWater account and configure their own alert notification.
In other words, the filter counts and selects meters for which alerts have been set, have been turned off and have never been set.
In addition, each Monitor page card includes a Set Alert button for leak alerts that have not yet been configured. And if the alert is configured, the button label will be pink and labeled Edit Alert.
Clicking the button lets you review the leak alert configuration whether it was set up by a CSR or by a customer using one of the EyeOnWater apps or on EyeOnWater.com.
In mathematics, “parity” refers to a number being odd or even. Hence, the Parity filter lets you select meters at odd or even addresses.
We created the Parity filter for utilities that limit residential outdoor watering to certain days of the week based on whether a premise has an odd or even-numbered street address.
Parity filters give you one-click access to consumption data for whichever set of meters you are interested in. A second click of the Weekly timeframe in the consumption graph shows you aggregated usage for whichever meters are currently selected.
The consumption graph above shows daily usage for two meters during the week of May 9. Had watering for odd numbered residences been restricted to Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, based on usage well over 100 gallons per day by account 1733 in light blue, it is likely that they were watering their lawn on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Reduction Goal Filter
For utilities with municipal or state mandated water use reduction goals, the Reduction Goal filter lets you quickly count and select meters that met or failed to meet that reduction goal.
The reduction goal affects all meters in your system and defaults to 20%. BEACON users with the appropriate permissions can easily modify the default by entering a different value on the Utility Settings page.
High/Low Consumption Filters
Originally designed to help water companies spot unusually high or low water usage before it becomes a customer service billing headache, the High/Low Consumption filters can also be used to identify and contact accounts that are using more water than usual.
The filters track annual, monthly and weekly percentage changes in usage. Like the Reduction Goal filter, you can set the high and low percentages to any value. The default percentage is 50%.
For water conservation purposes the High Consumption filter lets you quickly spot users that are not adhering to conservation guidelines.
Use District Metering Areas to Identify Distribution Level Water Loss
BEACON lets you model your water distribution infrastructure using a straightforward process to tag meters. These tags differentiate:
- Supply meters – meters that supply water to other meters.
- Demand meters – meters that consume water come supply meters.
- Sewer meters – meters that do not measure billable water use.
About District Metering Areas or DMAs
DMAs let you monitor and compare usage throughout water distribution networks. Such networks are defined by zones—groups of supply meters that provide water to other meters called demand meters. By comparing usage between supply and demand meters, you can quickly see whether you have water loss (non-revenue water or NRW) or mis-sized meters.
The former can be easily seen when the total usage of your supply meters is greater than the total usage of your demand meters. When supply meter consumption is less than that of demand meter consumption, some of your meters are not properly measuring water consumption and are therefore mis-sized.
In this DMA zone consumption graph, one supply meter feeds 28 demand meters. The light blue line shows that the demand meters consumed more water than the supply meter measured, which is a clear indication of mis-sized meters in the distribution network.
Complete instructions for configuring DMA zones in BEACON can be found here.
BEACON Web Service APIs
A detailed discussion of our Export Data Service (EDS) APIs is beyond the scope of this document. But at a high level, our restful APIs provide the means to programmatically export data. Exports can be in either CVS or JSON format for integration with third party systems for meter data management, work order management and infringement reporting.
The EDS Leaks API will be of particular interest to those interested in conservation. The Leak API can be used to get a list of meters with leaks. The list also includes leak start dates and the current leak rate (the lowest volume of flow in the previous 24 hours for the latest endpoint communication and for endpoints that capture 15-minute interval data, the lowest flow recorded by a single 15-minute flow segment multiplied by 4).
Other APIs support exporting detailed information, including location parity and timestamped flow data.
See BEACON Help for detailed information on using BEACON Web Service and Export Data Service APIs.