“Water Wise with WaterSmart”

By Don Zdeba

There is a quote attributed to renowned management theorist Peter Drucker to the effect that “what gets measured gets managed.” That is the foundation of the automated metering infrastructure (AMI) project Indian Wells Valley Water District has recently completed and the companion WaterSmart® customer platform being rolled out this month. By now, customers of the District should have received either an email, if your email address is on record, or a letter with an invitation and information on how to set up an account.

We have seen the importance of our water resources evolve significantly over the past decade driven by the extended drought from 2011 to 2019. In response, California has enacted several regulatory initiatives, the most significant being the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), to better manage resources as well as to improve planning for the natural variability in California’s water years as well as anticipated consequences of climate change. It has become essential that water districts throughout the state have the necessary tools to manage their water supplies, promote conservation, reduce waste, increase efficiencies, and control costs. Similarly, it is important that customers are encouraged to engage in managing their own water consumption. The WaterSmart® customer platform offers this opportunity.

A consumer survey conducted by Accenture found the average customer spends just eight minutes a year thinking about their utility. An engagement platform like WaterSmart® provides actionable information directly to the customer in a timely manner while also providing an option for customers to selectively access additional data at their convenience. The ability to communicate important information with customers at relevant times results in fewer customer calls and improves the quality of utility-customer interactions.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage was the second most frequent home insurance claim from 2011-2015 and resulted in an average homeowner loss of $8,861. Water damage is probably a lot more common than most people think. (I can personally attest to that.) Approximately 14,000 people experience some type of water damage at home or at work each day. One feature of WaterSmart® is the ability to immediately notify customers of an event that could be related to a leak. While the threat of water damage is concerning for its potential impact, an unexpectedly high bill is a consequence that can damage the utility-customer relationship. Most likely we have all experienced “bill shock” at some point. Another survey indicates a high bill is something that 40% of customers reported experiencing during the past 12 months. An unexpected high bill can definitely cause anxiety. The ability to provide timely alerts can reduce both the physical damage as well as bill shock. Alerts are sent directly to customers via the method they select. These alerts can be sent through multiple channels – email, SMS text message, automated voice call, or print.

In addition to providing alerts to customers of potential high volume or continuous leaks, the customer platform can notify customers they have reached a self-selected consumption threshold, or inform customers before the end of the billing cycle that they are likely to have higher water usage than normal on their upcoming bill. Leak resolution and the Bill Explainer feature take these alerts a step farther, by providing self-help to customers to identify and resolve the source of the problem.

We believe, as a customer of IWVWD, you will find the WaterSmart® customer platform to be an invaluable tool in managing and controlling your water usage and meeting your personal conservation goals. If you haven’t already done so, we encourage you to get started by logging on to the WaterSmart Portal. https://iwvwd.watersmart.com/index.php/welcome