Category: Drinking Water & Wastewater (page 1 of 41)

Financial Resiliency and Future Plans

What could make the difference between a utility making it through an event like Hurricane Florence with relatively few impacts, and one that has major, lasting problems?

Imagine two utilities, just over the county line from one another, with the same assets that are exactly the same age, located at the same elevations. Will their ability to provide service after a storm be exactly the same? What type of things might they do before the storm hits to improve the outcome? Continue reading

The Internet of Things and the Water World

Post Authored by Elizabeth Kendrick

Our previous post brought you Dr. Christine Boyle, founder and CEO of Valor Water Analytics (Valor), which works with utilities worldwide to introduce technologies that drive efficiency and set a new bar for how utilities understand and utilize data. The analytics company has built a suite of software aiming to bring big data solutions to water utilities in order to improve their financial and water resource sustainability. Valor’s “Hidden Revenue Locator” product is widely recognized as a best-in-class technology for automated loss detection. Valor and its tools provide a fantastic example of how data can be transformed into useful information through the Internet of Things. Continue reading

Apparent Water Loss, Optimized Vision, and Entrepreneurship: Q&A with Valor Founder and CEO Dr. Christine Boyle

Earlier this year, Valor Water Analytics (Valor) was acquired by Xylem Inc., a $13B water technology company that services utility and commercial clients across 150 countries. While this is big news in its own right within the water industry, it’s especially exciting for the Environmental Finance Center: Valor Founder and CEO Dr. Christine Boyle previously worked as a research assistant at the EFC while pursuing her doctorate in water resource planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

While at the EFC, Dr. Boyle led a team on a multiyear study of water utility data analytics for the state’s Urban Water Consortium. Following her time at the EFC and postdoctoral work, Dr. Boyle moved to California where we she would found Valor and work with utilities worldwide to introduce technologies that drive efficiency and set a new bar for how utilities understand and utilize data.

We sat down with Dr. Boyle to talk about Valor, entrepreneurship, and—most importantly—the future of the industry. Read on for her answers and insight: Continue reading

Partnerships and Regionalization—A Real Life Situation

Did you know there are over 250 publicly owned small water systems serving less than 1,000 connections in North Carolina? In the case of water and wastewater utilities, bigger can often mean better.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was asked earlier this year to take the lead on a wastewater regionalization study for a small town of 700 people in Western North Carolina. The Town (which will remain anonymous as the study is still in progress) had been awarded a regionalization grant from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Infrastructure (DWI) to study alternatives to their existing wastewater business model. Continue reading

Water as a Service

Co-authored by Ashley Bleggi

At a recent conference, we asked utility managers and operators to tell us about their everyday communication challenges. Again and again, we heard that communicating with customers about the value of the service their utility provides was difficult, because too often, customers think about water as a good rather than a service. Customers see water all around them (even falling from the sky!), so it can be difficult for them to fully grasp the water cycle and all that goes into providing clean, safe, and reliable drinking water. To help overcome this challenge, we’ve put together some language to help utilities frame the value of the service that they provide in a simple (yet efficient) way.

Read on to see strategies and example language that your utility can use to communicate with the average customer who may not yet understand what they’re paying for through their water bill: Continue reading

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