#1 Tip: How to Save Water (and Money!) the Easy Way 15/02/17

What do all of the three charts above have in common? They typify what we find for water use across just about any of our clients – before they engage us. An almost random scatter of unexplained, irregular exceedance events. Why? Because, in our experience, hardly anybody manages water properly. All the focus is on energy.

That’s fair enough – and we get that. What we do not understand is this: If you are, justifiably so, too busy to look after your water use and actively manage it, why not engage somebody to do that? Even if the pain of the lost water and cost is not severe enough, why not pay somebody to take that load off your shoulder?

 Even if you paid them $20,000 a month, and it saved you $35,000 (or $2,000 and it saved you $3,500) – wouldn’t you still be better off than the "do nothing" option where you literally chuck $35,000 down the drain every month?

Having a service like this in place allows you to:

  1. Sleep easy – as your risk is managed. No more unnoticed leaks that could cause all sorts of other damage.
  2. Ensure your water use is actively analysed and managed.
  3. Have somebody directly at your disposal who you can always call upon for water related information. No more excuses of “too busy”, “was sick”, or you yourself spending hours to investigate cost increase events, weeks and months after the horse bolted.

So here is our question to you fellow "actioners" out there: If there is such a compelling offering such as our AWARE - Active Water Analysis, Risk and Efficiency service available, why aren’t we rushing to grab it? Why isn’t anybody, especially those with smart metering data or those contemplating #IoT type smart metering solutions, bolting on this guarantee to ensure true, and frankly, the best and easiest ROI on any water management project? Why is that?

Are your leaks this obvious and easy to fix? 19/01/17

Well done Sydney Water for fixing this leak near my street so quickly. Every time I see one (check also this article), it makes me wonder how many more leaks there must be underground that are not visible?

Luckily, this one was an easy fix via a $50 collar! It’s actually surprising how often the fix is very simple and cheap – as long as you catch the leaks early.

A great waterloss and water efficiency management system with regular, ideally live, but at least monthly water balances based on an AWARE type Active Water Analysis, Risk and Efficiency service will help you achieve that.

In this case, a couple of hours later, it was all gone, the disruption barely noticeable.

  

Do you have a good leak story to share? The good, bad and ugly. We’d like to know.

Top 5 Christmas Wishes for Water Efficiency Professionals 16/12/16

#1. Make it a Priority.

How many times do we hear: “I have more important things to do. It’s not a pressing issue”. We disagree. Do make it a priority, but align your actions accordingly – see next point.

#2. Let Others Do it

We get it. You are busy. You can’t do it all. So, instead of literally chucking all this money down the drain or leaking it out of your network, engage somebody to stop the waste. As long as you pay them less than what it is costing you, you are onto a winner, right?

#3. Think Big

Stop thinking that you can fix a $350,000 problem with a $20,000 monitoring project. It’s not that easy. To fix a big problem, you need a sizeable program. Then deliver it with a wisely chosen partner. 

#4. Be Courageous

Santa has never penalised you for doing the right thing. Try something that your organisation or water authority has never done before. If the old approach has not delivered in spades, have the courage to do something different, like engage in a save and share program.

#5. Believe in it!

Water efficiency and risk management can and will work – and be cost effective! Choose the right partner and you can be guaranteed that by next Christmas your stockings will be filled with water savings. It will make you feel good for having done your bit to save previous resources, money and minimising risk of supply disruptions. But you must believe in it, and take action – otherwise Santa will never come.

Merry Christmas!

An Exciting Utility Week 01/12/16

WaterGroup had a very successful and exciting Utility Week, held in Sydney this week.

Thanks to everyone who visited our stand and witnessed the first Sigfox smart water meter on the Australian frequency in action. This was the first time utility meter readings have been sent via the Sigfox network in the Southern Hemisphere AND South East Asia!

We had weeks of hard work and excitement leading up to the event and are immensely proud of our team for making it happen on the day. Special thanks to our partners Thinxtra for their continued support in this endeavour.

If you're interested in learning more about WaterGroup's IoT offerings, let us know.

When to Own up to the Truth Despite Fear of Reprisal 16/11/16

Could this be us in Australia too?

Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency in the US says in this article that water utilities resist looking for non-revenue water because of a tradition of ignoring water loss in North America. The assumption is that modern utilities are “system tight” without need for further detailed analysis.

Yet she asserts that “most utilities have largely fabricated numbers in the past on their unaccounted for water percentages.” Distribution system managers “are now embarrassed to admit that their prior numbers were actually wrong,” fearing reprisals from water utility boards.

From what I have seen, this applies just as much to many of us. If the benefits of analyzing apparent and real losses in a utility system are “so clear as to be irrefutable”, what stops us from doing it? In fact, this morning I spoke with companies like e.g. Verdia, who can provide 10 year funding through Westpac at very competitive interest rates for such projects.

As we have said for a long time, it's time to take the plunge. You cannot address a $200,000 problem with a $20,000 spend here or there on a bit of flow metering or monitoring. Time for a packaged, holistic, outcome driven, fully funded approach.

As our great friend Paul McCarthy says: You can have results or excuses. Do you want results?

Too Busy to Stop Leaks and Other Wasted Water? 26/10/16

We hear it all the time. We are all busy. Luckily some have made it their business to unlock water savings that would otherwise go uncaptured.

If you are "too busy" you are actually in the same situation as over 60% of our clients: Too busy to stop the waste while the loss is not painful or visible enough on the accounts to cause a major stir.

If the loss does warrant action, these people have 2 choices:

1. Carry on with ‘Business as usual’ knowing that it will be at least another 2 or 3 or more months before they can address it. This means wilfully throwing $20k, $40k, $50k literally down the drain over that period, whatever the cost of inaction is.

2. Pay a water savings company $10k, $15k, $20k to stop the loss and reap the benefit NOW.

It’s the people in the 2nd category that we love working with. Once they take that first action, they are usually be surprised how little of their input is required to achieve some early wins well in excess of the fee – which can be linked to the actual savings achieved.

Do you have 5 min?

Secrets to Green Buildings 06/06/16

In his latest book on the Rating Systems for Green Buildings Jerry Yudelson lists the following key criteria. Systems must be:

  • Owner-friendly
  • Cost-effective
  • Built for rapid uptake
  • User-friendly in its delivery

I am sure this is yet another one of Jerry's excellent books well worth a read. We wholeheartedly subscribe to that approach.

What we are finding is that we must cut through the b/s, avoid the shiny object syndrome, apply KISS, recognise what a site will be able to look after/operate and maintain, and then engage a trusted, honest, efficient and diligent party on a strict performance bond to keep an eye on things with a brief to follow up worthwhile actions until they are addressed.

Unless this is done, and a reasonable operating budget commensurate to the expected or even guaranteed savings is set up, all this green stuff is doomed for failure. Sorry to be so blunt. But we see it time and time again.

In our model, we are saving a large supermarket operator $2 for every $1 they spend with us, and that is just on water! 

In the other model, we have yet another underperforming example with Council House 2 in Melbourne. Conceived in 2006 with great fanfare as the most sustainable council building at its time, its complexities and extra demands exceeded the capacities of the facility managers/operators to go and think beyond the business as usual approach. As a result the actual performance of CH2 fell well short of what it was capable of.

We are fixing up the water part right now. The one thing we see over and over again is that nothing is simpler than operating an old fashioned wasteful building with a once through water flow, and heating and cooling as required.

Operating a modern super-efficient green building is far more complex. It takes a whole lot more understanding from all sides at many levels. To me the secret to success is to find that sweet spot between what technology could do and what can be achieved under real life conditions throughout the life of the building.

But what am I rambling on, when Jerry can talk about it so much more eloquently and in far greater, better, and more insightful detail in many of his wonderful books.

High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy 19/05/16

Seen this one? Interesting new report by the World Bank.

Yet another warning that water scarcity could curtail economic growth, spark conflict or precipitate mass migrations, all exacerbated by climate change, population growth and urbanisation. I guess we see a fair bit of that already.

However, it need not be that way. Most countries possess the ability to neutralise the adverse effects of water scarcity by:

  • Better planning for water resource allocation
  • Adoption of incentives to increase water efficiency, and
  • Investments in infrastructure for more secure water supplies and availability.

Here is some of the bad news:

  • Climate change and water scarcity may reduce GDP, in some regions, by up to 6%. This could act as a catalyst for conflict and epic migration.
  • Water supply will become both erratic and uncertain as the combined effects of population growth, rising incomes and expanding cities place an ever-increasing demand on water.
  • It is predicted that water-rich areas like Central Africa and East Asia could experience a reversal of their rainfall patterns. Moreover, the situation in dry regions – such as the Middle East and Africa’s Sahel – will worsen. By 2050 it is predicted that agriculture, health and incomes in these regions could be impacted by a general decline of up to 6% of their respective GDP levels.
  • There will be a direct correlation between water insecurity and the risk of conflict. Long-simmering conflicts could erupt as a result of spikes in the price of basic foodstuffs, resulting in large-scale migrations.
  • Such negative impacts could be neutralized by seeking and adopting better policies. By adopting better water resource management policies, some regions stand to improve their growth rates by up to 6%.
  • A correctly-implemented policy of water stewardship can yield high economic dividends. Loss management, coupled with well-reasoned allocation (more efficient agricultural practices, for example) can contribute substantially to a reduction in overall losses.
  • As climate stresses increase, drier regions around the world will need to adopt more far-reaching policies.

So what does it mean for us in Australia, especially along the eastern seaboard with – lately – plenty of rain and (unused) desalination plants? That we should never drop our guard, uphold water efficiency, fight waterloss, and especially for larger globally operating firms, remember how quickly this can become a very politically hot potato if you are seen not to be doing what you could be reasonably expected to do in terms of water loss and water efficiency.

Where is the Change? 05/05/16

With the FY rapidly coming to a close, a new government, elections ahead, and climate change becoming more and more evident every day, what real progress have we made? More of the same? Closer to the abyss? Or where have we taken a real radical turn to try and get a dramatically better outcome?

It appears to me that one of the areas where we desperately need innovation is in the way we deliver outcomes, our project administration, guidelines, red tape. Sadly, I see little change and innovation there.

Why do we think adding yet another little gadget, procuring a few extra efficiency plans or bits will save us water or energy, when we know how hard, slow and ineffective this has been in the past? Why grind when it could be so much easier.

Imagine charging a company with achieving the outcome we want, put a simple yet robust project management, monitoring and verification system in place - commensurate with the size of the job - and get on with creating an impact, saving water and cost. Best of all, under this arrangement, even funding can be provided.

Sounds like win win for all to me. So why don't we do more of it?

Why Don't We Do More to Reduce WaterLoss? 07/04/16

Read a really great article summing it up well why we don't do more on reducing waterloss and non-revenue water. 

The Climate IS Changing 07/04/16

Scary, scary, scary. When, oh when do we wake up and take serious action?

Can't help comparing us to a smoker who's been told he has lung cancer, yet refuses surgery and continues to smoke, pretending that somehow miraculously all will be fine in the end.

But: It won't! We better plan for the serious consequences that we and especially our children WILL see, and get some excuse ready why we did not do much much more.

Record patch of warm waters point to more global heat records being smashed. From hot oceans to shrinking Arctic ice and glaciers, the evidence of a warming planet has gone into overdrive in the first three months of 2016. 

April Fools' Day 01/04/16

WaterGroup offered beer for leaks! For one day only - April Fools' Day! We would like to thank everyone who played along our light hearted joke. Click here to see the hilarious responses we got. 

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