How Mali's thirsty cities are recovering "lost" water

Fri, 2016-06-17 06:00 -- SCC Staff

If you live where clean water is plentiful, it may be hard to imagine life for the roughly 1.2 billion people in the world with severe water shortages. And the UN says an additional 500 million people will face similar shortages within a few short years.

The West African country of Mali is one of the trouble spots. That's why the Malian Drinking Water Supply Management Company (SOMAGEP-SA) teamed with Council Lead Partner Itron to take on the problem of lost water. The utility manages drinking water supplies in urban areas throughout the country. It wanted to ensure more water could be delivered to their growing cities.

Here’s one thing I really want you to notice: the solution isn't simply meters and other equipment. Nor is it a complex system the utility has to install and manage itself. It is based around pay-as-you go software-as-a-service. Itron manages all the complexity up in the cloud. All the utility needs is a web browser to access all that power. – Jesse Berst

Itron Selected to Help Decrease Non-Revenue Water and Improve Water Access in Mali

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. — June 8, 2016 — Itron, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI), a world-leading technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water, announced today that it has signed a contract with the Malian Drinking Water Supply Management Company (SOMAGEP-SA), water provider to 160,000 customers in Mali in Western Africa, to help the utility to improve its water supply, save water and, ultimately, improve water access to more people in the country. SOMAGEP-SA will use Itron’s residential and commercial & industrial (C&I) water metering automation and monitoring solutions, including software-as-a-service (SaaS) for analytics and meter data management, to decrease its non-revenue water levels.

Water scarcity is a major issue in Mali. SOMAGEP-SA chose to collaborate with Itron to start tackling water losses on its water supply network and develop a program to decrease non-revenue water. The first implementation of Itron technology and services, a pilot project targeting a dedicated district metered area (DMA) in Bamako, La Cité du Niger, featured encouraging results in a short period of time. SOMAGEP-SA was able to improve its network efficiency in the DMA by 14 percent, decreasing the amount of water lost every month by half. This positive implementation initiated a new contract to deploy Itron solutions in another larger DMA, where nearly 60,000 metering points are managed.

With Itron’s water metering automation solution, SOMAGEP-SA can better account for water usage and limit waste using detailed meter data to detect leaks, monitor system performance and improve water efficiency. Also, with more accurate meters, the utility can better track water usage to ensure resources are being used efficiently. By decreasing wasted water, SOMAGEP-SA has the potential to increase water access to more people.

SOMAGEP-SA will use mobile data collection for residential customers to streamline meter reading and improve operational efficiency. For its commercial customers, SOMAGEP-SA will use Itron’s WaterMind® C&I water monitoring solution, to remotely monitor the daily consumption patterns of these customers and immediately detect events such as leaks, meter blockages, backflow, excessive consumption or significant pressure drop.

SOMAGEP-SA will also take advantage of Itron’s SaaS offering, which combines data into a single high-performance, secure repository that can be accessed anywhere using a web browser. The utility will see a simple, consistent interface with modules for customer support, billing, network management and analytics, workforce management and customer portal.

“Mali is facing a fast growing urbanization and with it, a growing challenge to effectively distribute water in the capital city of Bamako. This is why SOMAGEP-SA turned to Itron to help us better manage the delivery and use of water resources,” said Boubacar Kane, CEO of SOMAGEP-SA. “Ensuring that our water resources are used in the most efficient manner is critical to us and our customers. We know that Itron has the depth of experience and knowledge to help us meet our goal of saving water and improving water access.”

“At the core of Itron’s mission is the desire to help utilities increase access to clean drinking water around the world, which is why we are proud to work with SOMAGEP-SA to improve water access in Mali.  Itron’s water automation and monitoring solutions turn meter data into intelligence that will help SOMAGEP-SA eliminate waste due to leaks and protect precious water resources,” said Mathias Martin, Itron vice president of Non-Revenue Water solutions. “Working with customers like SOMAGEP-SA brings us one step closer to creating a more resourceful world.”

From the Smart Cities Readiness Guide...
To learn more about how smart water technologies can make your city's water system economical and sustainable, click on the link to the Readiness Guide chapter Water and Wastewater. You'll also learn about the benefits intelligent water systems provide for smart cities.