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Wi-SUN FAN – Priming the Pump for Water Innovation

As we move further into the heat of summer, news – especially in the U.S. – focuses more heavily on record-breaking drought and extreme heat. And for good reason.

Water is a valuable commodity that we cannot afford to waste. Millions of residents in the Southwestern U.S. are at risk of an energy crisis as the water level of Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the country, drops to a level  to move into low critically water levels. Further, a new study published in Nature Climate Change has noted that the “megadrought” in the Southwest is the worst the area has experienced in 1,200 years. More than three-fifths of the U.S. is currently in a drought, yet research from the UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency notes that nearly 20% of water is lost to leakage before it ever reaches end users.

The time is now to take steps to protect the water we do have from preventable issues such as leakage or overuse. The U.S. Congress passed breakthrough legislation last year, giving $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, including broadband support. We must work together to ensure that funding and technology are working hand in hand to preserve every precious drop of water.

The results of Wi-SUN’s The Journey to IoT Maturity research shows us that, more than ever, utilities of all kinds – including water districts – are leaning on IoT technology to help them do their work. For instance, when advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) is used in the water industry, it can provide detail on water leakage and usage. Our research shows that AMI is growing (80% in 2022 vs 64% in 2017) and is now in the top three most likely use cases for IoT deployments. And 92% of utility firms say they must invest in IoT technology in the near term in order to remain competitive.

So, how do we support water districts that want to use IoT technologies to better serve their communities and preserve water? By using proven technology, based on open standards, such as Field Area Networks (FANs) taking advantage of self-forming and self-healing wireless mesh connectivity, water companies can deploy the lowest cost, most reliable, and highly secure solutions. Running on Wi-SUN FAN, water districts can deploy a wide range of devices to:

  • Monitor the flow and pressure of water to more clearly identify where a leak has taken place so they can assign support to fix it;
  • Take soil temperature readings that detail cooler soil around water pipes, indicating water has escaped;
  • Screen water purity levels to ensure management with gray water, helping to achieve environmental compliance and water optimization levels;
  • Smart metering – both for consumers and commercial users – that help with self-monitoring in order to use only what’s needed

Water districts that are serious about water preservation can benefit by installing a highly secure, interoperable, very large-scale outdoor wireless mesh network that uses open standards. This provides the underlying infrastructure for a wide variety of devices that can best support their needs. Wi-SUN’s FAN is well-suited for just this; it’s flexibility even allows the connection of water management and leak prevention devices into a Wi-SUN FAN smart city deployment already installed in their area.