Leaking pipes and leaking data mean that water utilities cannot recover revenue from the critical services they provide to their customers every day. The end result? Billions of revenue dollars are lost every year to Non-Revenue Water, or the difference between the volume of water sent into the distribution system and the amount of water actually billed.
The good news is the data leaks can be stopped and used to find lost revenue.
A case for best-in-class data management
One first step to stem the loss of data in water systems, and by proxy water and revenue, is to undertake a sophisticated audit of revenue streams. For example, FATHOM was selected by a city in California to conduct a Revenue Assurance Audit in 2011. $1.63 million in incremental revenue was found (7.8% increase year-over-year) for the city, and this ultimately led to a 19.8% increase in found revenue and decrease by 54% of bad debt.
Lost meters, lost revenue
Where did that revenue come from? Missing meters, misidentified meters, and inaccurate billing for other services. Our proprietary data analysis tool was able to pinpoint the errors.
One critical outcome of this project was that the city’s annual revenue increases outpaced rate increases year after year. Put another way, because of the found revenue, the city did not have to raise rates as fast as it would have had to otherwise.
Audits are useful, but real-time analysis is better
At the end of the day, we rely on meters, manual or otherwise, to understand where, when and why water is being used. Manual meters simply don’t register the volume of water as accurately as modern automated meters. On top of that, as seen in the case mentioned above, sometimes meters are simply missing. These inaccurate meter readings directly impact how much of the water delivered is registered and ultimately billed to customers.
Even if old meters are replaced with automated meters, like manual meters, they too can degrade over time and lead to problems in water volume registration accuracy.
So, how do you know when a meter is failing? To get into the nuts and bolts of how we determine this, and find lost revenue for our customers in the process, download our white paper: Converting Non-Revenue Water to Found Revenue Water: Controlling Leaks of Data, Drops, and Dollars.
Significantly offset costs with your found revenue
To achieve lasting revenue recovery beyond one-time audits, real-time data is necessary, as is tailor-made data analysis tools. But how do you pay for it? Deploying a system-wide, automatic metering system can cost millions of dollars, not including the cost of developing accurate data analysis in-house, both in terms of time and money.
Instead of raising rates to pay for the new system, what if you could use the revenue you’re uncovering through ongoing, real-time analysis of your system to finance the deployment of automatic meters in the first place?
The FATHOM Smart Grid for Water offers this and more. A means of understanding, in real time, the performance of individual meters within a distribution system; a means to recover lost revenue; and a means to have costs significantly offset, or even fully financed by the realized savings.
Stay tuned for more about the Smart Grid for Water in upcoming blogs.