Walla Walla, Washington grows beyond metering with Xylem

Smart utility network advances city’s water loss goals.

The name Walla Walla means “many waters”. Unfortunately, the city was losing more than 30% of its water annually due to failing pipes and aging meters. That was when they began their journey towards long-term improvement by transitioning to a smart utility network from Sensus, a Xylem brand.

Adrian Sutor, water distribution supervisor at City of Walla Walla, said: “We’re one of the oldest cities in the state, so water loss and aging infrastructure are complex issues that are linked.”

The initial smart network deployment combined iPERL residential water meters and OMNI commercial meters with the two-way FlexNet communication network. The system allowed the city to transition from monthly to hourly usage data with remote meter monitoring capabilities that improved leak detection.

“The system has helped us quickly detect everything from large water main breaks right down to running toilets or leaky faucets and work proactively with customers to address them,” Sutor said. “The number of leak forgiveness applications we receive from customers has dropped by 75% as a result.”

As water loss improved and dipped below 30%, the utility team brainstormed the next phase of their smart water journey. City employees identified pressure monitoring as another effective avenue to reduce water loss and streamline customer service.

Walla Walla’s next move was to roll out Sensus ally water meters, coupled with the Sensus Smart Gateway Sensor Interface for advanced pressure monitoring and management. This combination allows remote oversight of pressure and temperature. The wider view paid off when technicians investigated customer calls regarding low pressure.

“We analysed the data and determined that pressure was underperforming in one region during a specific time period,” explained Sutor. “It turned out to be a demand issue caused by a large irrigation customer and we were able to adjust our pressure settings to get the issues quickly resolved.”

Comparing near real-time data with the utility’s hydraulic model allows the utility team to deliver a high level of customer service around pressure monitoring. It also provides more detailed views into background leakage that’s not visible and underground.

“Whether it’s a leaky pipe or a failing pressure reducing valve, the technology lets us know if something is off with our system,” he concluded. “These data insights allow us to take action before any issues become costly problems.”