Located about a hundred miles east of Shreveport, the city of Monroe, Louisiana, is home to nearly 50,000 people. Owing to its humid, subtropical climate, Monroe experiences its share of extreme weather; heavy rainfall, hail and even tornados are not uncommon. But freezing temperatures are one weather phenomenon that can wreak unusual havoc in this southern community.
“We’re not used to cold weather here at all,” said Sean Benton, director of Monroe Water System. So when his community was hit with back-to-back winter storms in February 2021, the city came to a standstill. For Benton and his team, however, it was one of the busiest weeks on record.
In the days following the storms, Benton saw his plant demand skyrocket from the normal 16 million gallons per day (MGD) to 28 million. With a plant capacity of 20 MGD, “it was more water than we could produce,” he said.
It was critical that Benton and his team find the cause of the heightened demand before the system lost pressure, or worse, ran out of water entirely.
There was a time, not very long ago, when diagnosing such a sudden spike in usage would have been very difficult for the Monroe Water System. This time, it was different because less than a year earlier, the Monroe Water System had upgraded its metering system software to one capable of the kind of advanced analysis Benton needed. With the data available through BEACON, Benton and his team were able to proactively notify customers whose meters indicated continuous usage.
BEACON Software as a Service (SaaS) supports operational efficiency and transparency by collecting and providing access to interval data. With an easy-to-use dashboard, extensive reporting capabilities and alert functionality, this SaaS arms water utility personnel with the ammunition they need to make informed decisions and resolve operational and customer service issues.
In February, rather than dispatching crews out into freezing temperatures in search of a suspected broken main, Benton sat down at his computer and started digging. “I logged into the BEACON platform and it showed we had over 3,600 locations continuously running,” he recalled. “When I checked again a little later, the number had jumped to 4,800.”
Much to Benton’s surprise, he discovered that the major culprit wasn’t a broken distribution line; most of the demand was coming from customers. With the data available through BEACON, Benton and his team were able to proactively notify customers whose meters indicated continuous usage.
Since the water utility was able to quickly identify and address the source of increased demand, it was able to continue operating throughout the duration of the storms without disruption.
– Sean Benton, Director, Monroe Water System
We were one of only a few that never went on a boil water advisory because we were able to know what we were producing, what we were delivering and streamline it to keep us in the range where we didn’t run out of water or have to drop the pressure.