Santa Rosa Water Combines AMI, WaterSmart Portal and Audits to Uncover Leaks

  • by City of Santa Rosa Water Department
  • Jun 15, 2022

The City of Santa Rosa’s Water Department (Santa Rosa Water) is employing and combining innovative customer service tools that assist on-site managers with understanding when and how water is being used at commercial facilities. Santa Rosa Water invested in and paired their Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) with companion data analytics tools to enhance the department’s customer service and demand management strategies. Every customer now has online access to hourly, daily, weekly and monthly water use data through the WaterSmart Portal.

In addition, Santa Rosa Water offers customized assistance and comprehensive water-use audits of commercial customer facilities. By combining these resources, Santa Rosa Water has helped multiple customers achieve water savings and reduce water loss due to breaks and leaks. Below are recent examples of how the city’s Water-Use Efficiency team has helped businesses save water.

Freeman Toyota: After the WaterSmart portal identified continuous use of approximately 140 gallons for 48 consecutive hours, business owner Ryan Freeman contacted the Water-Use Efficiency team and asked for assistance to locate a leak. An onsite water audit initially revealed several toilet leaks and after further investigation, the team was able to isolate a leak at the facility’s car wash. The recirculating water system was malfunctioning and continuously running. The toilets and car wash were repaired and Freeman Toyota’s water usage reduced by 50%. In addition, based on the audit recommendations, Freeman Toyota replaced all onsite urinals by utilizing the High Efficiency Urinal rebate.

Per Ryan Freeman, “I appreciated getting a courtesy call from Santa Rosa Water after their system flagged a spike in water use on one of our meters. The onsite audit was informative and helped us quickly identify and resolve the issue. It is also really helpful to see the water use data through the online portal. One of our manager’s now keeps a close eye on all of our water usage. This alerted us to the fact that our irrigation system was leaking water during the wintertime even though the system was turned off. We can now gauge our water use and identify issues as they arise and we’re working proactively to reduce our water use.”

Coddingtown Center: Coddingtown is a Santa Rosa shopping center that includes a mix of over 40 specialty shops, large department stores and restaurants. Coddingtown General Manager, Jimmy Scales contacted Santa Rosa Water after noticing that their water bill had more than doubled. Data confirmed that usage on one of the large commercial meters had recently spiked and was flowing continuously at over 1,000 gallons per hour. Santa Rosa Water’s Water-Use Efficiency team met with Coddingtown staff and performed an inspection of all areas off of the meter. No obvious leaks were found. A sub meter to one of the restaurants in the mall showed that water usage had been increasing. This pointed to a potential mainline leak somewhere inside of the restaurant.

A leak detection company was hired, and a large mainline break was found and repaired under the restaurant’s concrete slab. Data confirmed that the continuous usage had been significantly reduced but was not resolved. After additional investigation, another mainline break was found and repaired, and then a third leak was found and repaired. Each time Water Use Efficiency staff provided data and informed the General Manager that the usage was still continuous. Ultimately all mainline leaks were repaired, saving thousands of gallons of water from continuing to be wasted and thousands of dollars that would have been spent on water and wastewater fees.

“We would have never found these leaks without Santa Rosa Water’s help and the AMI report data. The hourly usage helped us narrow down our investigation and pinpoint the exact time the usage was occurring. Without it we may have thought the problem was solved after the first repair was done. Who knows how long it would have taken us to find all of the other mainline breaks?” Jimmy Scales, Coddingtown General Manager.

Santa Rosa Junior College: Founded in 1918, Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) is Sonoma County’s only junior college. Eighteen city meters provide potable water to the campus. Like many older institutions, the plumbing infrastructure is complex. Many of the meters are mixed use, providing domestic water, landscape irrigation, and fire suppression service. As an example, there are three large, 6” meters are looped together and run throughout the campus. These meters collectively supply potable water to 21 buildings, over 80 acres of landscape, 4 cooling towers, condensing/chilling/hot water lines, and process water for wet labs. The volume and variability of water flowing through these looped meters at any given time makes it extremely difficult to track and monitor usage and identify leaks. David Liebman is the Energy & Sustainability Manager at SRJC. An early adaptor of Santa Rosa’s WaterSmart Portal, David has worked closely with Santa Rosa Water staff to understand and resolve unexplained continuous water use issues.

To isolate unexplained sources of continuous use, David accesses the hourly data online through the WaterSmart Portal. He systematically shut down various water using systems and then analyzed the data for correlations in reduced usage patterns. He also compared time of usage data to irrigation schedules to identify unusual spikes in usage. To date, SRJC staff have found and repaired faulty float valves in the cooling towers, leaking in-line shut off valves, fire pump leaks, numerous broken mainlines, heating lines, and irrigation laterals. David continues to evaluate the water use on multiple meters on campus and is hopeful that SRJC facility staff will ultimately resolve all of the unexplained continuous use. This is something he feels is only now feasible due to the more granular hourly usage data.

Per David Liebman, “As an institution, we can’t manage what we can’t measure. Thanks to Santa Rosa Water’s new WaterSmart Portal, we are now able to implement strategic and smart water management techniques to help both SRJC and Santa Rosa Water achieve and meet our collective water sustainability goals.”