Author Archive

Industry & customers win through open standards

June 3, 2012

Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) is asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for almost $20 million to fund a 4 year project (2013 – 2016) to allow companies like Aquacue that are in the resource management field to access and take advantage of usage data to build comprehensive customer dashboards.

The project will be implemented based on the standards set out by the Automated Data Exchange (OpenADE) Energy Service Provider Interface (ESPI) developed by the North American Energy Standards Board. For information on how this access will be provided see May 2011 Update.

We applaud this effort and look forward to the day when it’s fully implemented. For more details on the status of the project and the CPUC application see here.

Today’s water rates are anything but evil

May 28, 2012

“If you’re like me, you think of paying your water bill as a necessary evil. Most of us have no choice: Water is essential.” says San Jose Mercury News Reporter Scott Herhold in his column, Get ready for a showdown on your water bill (May 16, 2012).

Water bill a necessary evil? Sounds like Mr. Herhold implies water ought to be free. There are lots of things in life that are essential, e.g., food and emergency medical help. But no one expects either of these to be free. So, why should be water be viewed any differently?

But guess what? Water is virtually free. In general, most Americans don’t pay for water. We pay for water delivery and wastewater disposal. It takes a substantial amount of energy to deliver water to the tap. Indeed, moving, pumping and treating water accounts for the largest single use of energy in California–approximately 10% – 20% of all electricity used.

San Jose Water Co. charges $2.2082 for 748 gallons of water (1 CCF). That’s a third of a cent per gallon. One penny buys about 3.5 gallons of water and all we need to do is turn on the tap to get it. Try lifting a three-gallon jug of water. It’s heavy. A gallon of water weights over 8 lbs. So, one penny buys 3.5 gallons of water and the water company needs to move almost 30 pounds of water at the correct pressure to deliver it to the tap. And it’s doing this job for just one cent which doesn’t include the cost of treating the water. What a bargain!

San Jose Water is proposing the following rate increase over the next three years: 21.5% in year one, 4.8% in year two and 12.6% in year three. At the end of third year, the cost of 748 gallons will be $3.17, or half a cent per gallon. By contrast, one gallon of brewed coffee costs $18.

San Jose Water claims that because we are using less water (possibly due to conservation, or more likely due to the bad economy) it needs to increase rates. Top-tier investor-owned water utilities in California (such as San Jose Water) are governed by CPUC and protected by utility rate decoupling: customer rates are automatically adjusted to immunize utility earnings from sales fluctuations. Decoupling has been used as a tool by energy and water utilities to promote conservation amongst their customers without impacting their revenues. Decoupling was created and structured to promote conservation without losing revenue. (see the comments for more details).

San Jose Water needs to communicate more clearly the need for rate increases: improve the distribution pipeline, reduce leaks in the distribution system, and maintain and improve the vast infrastructure that delivers instant, clean drinking water to over 300K households and businesses in Santa Clara Valley.

Water is a finite resource and because of its regional scarcity, population growth, and infrastructure costs, we can all expect to pay more for it. The free ride has come to an end.

We all have to become better water managers and life-long conservationists, and expect to pay more for the water we use. And after all is said and done, water is still pretty darn cheap.

Velkommen Henrik!

May 20, 2012

We’re extending a belated welcome to Henrik Skov Laursen to the Aquacue board. Henrik is the head of Grundfos’ Water Technology Center in North America and he has  been an Aquacue board member since April 2011. We’ve benefitted from his vast experience in the water industry, his positive attitude and his enthusiastic support. Henrik, we are honored to have you as our advisor.

Aquacue Wave ports water data to Itron MV-RS

May 10, 2012

Are you tired of driving by and beaming meters for automatic meter reading data? Save time, gasoline, and labor and put a route of meters on Aquacue Barnacles. The real time data from Aquacue Wave can now be imported for meter reads to Itron’s  MV-RS –a PC-based software application for meter data collection and route management. The reads can be used within MV-RS or by any billing system. Just another example of how Aquacue makes it easy to manage water.

Here is how this process works:

  1. The water manager uses Itron MV-RS system to generate a “Download file” which essentially is a list of desired meters to read.
  2. The manager then uses Wave to upload this file and enters a desired billing date. Aquacue Wave will responds with the “Upload File” which contains much of the information from the “Download File” but also the actual reads and times. The “Upload File” would normally be produced by the handheld device the meter reader carries into the field.
That is all it takes, to read the meters in an integrated way with MV-RS and the utility’s billing software.

An Artist in Our Midst!

April 23, 2012

Great products are made with people who appreciate beauty, art and technology. To that end, we are honored to welcome Rick Wilmer to our Board of Advisors. Rick knows how to bring products to the market.

Rick is an accomplished technologist and CEO. Rick is also a self-taught artist – his medium of choice is sculpture.  You can view  a selection of Rick’s work in his studio. Welcome Rick!

The Data Don’t Lie

March 25, 2012

Midway during the Stanford Water Wars, Loro Hall started using abnormally high level of water. Some say the abnormal use was due to sabotage. We are happy to say that Loro’s water use has returned to pre-competition levels – a lean 20 gallons per person per day – 6 gallons less per person than was being used at the the height of the competition.

Follow the Florence Moore Hall’s water use here.

Aquacue in a video nutshell

March 6, 2012

Share this video when someone asks you “What does Aquacue do?”.

Compete. Alone or in a group. It’s all good.

February 7, 2012

“I can see how I would become really competitive with myself, trying to constantly beat my average and make new record low water consumption goals.”  This is a quote from a recent comment on our blog from an individual who was inquiring about our newly released software platform, Wave 1.0. The writer is referring to her desire to compete with herself to save more water. Meanwhile, here’s a quote from a blogger friend of ours, Tobias Hoellrich who recently wrote about his desire to compete with his neighbors to save water. “I would really like to compare my household use other households in the neighborhood to see how I’m doing compared to them.” Both of these folks have the same goal: save water. One is motivated by her own habits, the other by those of his community.  The result is the same:  becoming better water managers.

Bottom-line: Competition is a great motivator to help individuals and groups save water and become really effective water managers

UC Merced Water Battle

November 12, 2011

The UC Merced 2011 Water Battle is over. The 9 dorms reduced their water consumption by 14%. Some as few as 5% but a couple managed to reduce it by 35% and 42%. Total of 90,000 gallons was saved and many leaks were stopped in their track that could have caused over a million gallons of water in a year. Congratulations to all the dorms and to UC Merced for making this a great learning opportunity for all.

Stay tuned for the next upcoming battle to cooperatively increase efficiency and conserve water.

FAQ: Is the Aquacue Barnacle compatible with AMR and AMI water meters?

July 18, 2011

Our metering devices (Aquacue Barnacles) can work alongside other vendors’ AMR or AMI devices already installed on the meters without interfering with the operation of these devices. Barnacles use the cellular network to send data, not radio frequencies that are employed by AMR or AMI systems. Extensive testing and certification by third parties, as well as the results of our field deployments at a variety of utilities, have proven the Barnacle’s conflict-free operation alongside other vendors’ devices.


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