Key Integration to Conserve Water and Money at St. Johns County, Florida

St. Johns County, Florida, emerged from the recession as one of the fastest-growing counties in Florida and the nation. The St. Johns County Utility Department (SJCUD) serves most unincorporated portions of the county, where the majority of this growth is occurring. SJCUD serves potable drinking water to about 35,000 connections from eight water treatment plants. In the next 20 years, traditional groundwater supplies will not be able meet the projected customer demands. In 2008, SJCUD made a strategic decision to implement a comprehensive asset management program that included selecting Jones Edmunds & Associates, Inc. to implement a phased rollout of Cityworks. The original goals of the Cityworks implementation are as follows:

  • Eliminate the hard-copy work order process
  • Streamline tracking and reporting O&M activities
  • Improve warehouse efficiency
  • Standardize accounting and time sheet activities
  • Empower staff to increase efficiency accountability at all levels

The first phase focused on lift stations and inventory. Phase two upgraded Cityworks Server AMS and implemented Cityworks for the lines distribution group. The third phase implemented Cityworks for water and wastewater plants.

As the implementation moved forward, regional water supply planning efforts encouraged utilities to find alternative water supplies and implement conservation measures. With an increased emphasis on tracking water use and savings activities, SJCUD partnered with the local water management district to incorporate water conservation tracking and reporting into the Cityworks implementation. System integration is critical to implementing water conservation tracking and reporting; system integration streamlines work and data flows among SJCUD’s various enterprise software solutions:

  • Customer Information System (CIS) by Cogsdale
  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) / Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) water use information by Sensus
  • Cityworks Server AMS by Azteca Systems–Cityworks
  • ArcGIS Suite from Esri
  • Integration

Cogsdale
SJCUD uses Cogsdale for its billing and customer service information, and the department needed to ensure the most accurate customer information was incorporated into the Cityworks customer information tables to reduce errors and data entry time. Cogsdale contains sensitive customer information, so Jones Edmunds developed a method to push data from Cogsdale to the appropriate Cityworks tables.

Sensus AMI/AMR
Before implementing a Sensus AMI/AMR metering system, SJCUD was notified of leaks and other water issues—such as off-schedule watering or high water use—within a 30-day window. The new AMI/AMR system stored water use reads every 15 minutes, but SJCUD could not access the information and the reads were purged after a few months. SJCUD wanted to access this information to quickly mitigate water use issues and build a long-term usage history for each client and meter.
Jones Edmunds developed procedures to pull the 15-minute reads from an external MySQL database to SJCUD’s SQL Server platform. These data were normalized and tied to the customer information pulled from Cogsdale, tying water usage information to customers every 15 minutes—including addresses, specific meters, and parcel data. This information allows analysts to see the current usage for any Sensus-enabled meter in 15-minute increments and its usage history. Because it is also tied to SJCUD’s GIS data, the information is viewable within ArcGIS.

Water Conservation
Once SJCUD’s account-level consumption was combined with property characteristics to establish user categories within the residential customer classification, Jones Edmunds developed workflows for linking water use and consumption to conservation activities with Cityworks. Jones Edmunds developed five conservation-related workflows within Cityworks, two of which trigger automatic service requests based on the water usage and the linked customer information:

  • Excessive Usage—automatic service request if usage passes a specific threshold
  • Irrigation Ordinance Compliance—automatic service request to send a letter to a customer watering on the wrong day
  • Three workflows were developed to track water conservation programs at individual customer accounts:
  • Landscape modification programs
  • Soil moisture sensor installation
  • Water use letters

By combining Cityworks with the other enterprise information, it is now possible to track SJCUD’s conservation efforts, along with the associated costs and water savings over time. The system integration and water conservation workflows are described in Figures 1 and 2.
By integrating and connecting multiple datasets, Jones Edmunds enabled SJCUD to realize their asset management and reporting capabilities. Data entry time and response time have been reduced, while data accuracy has increased. Based on data thresholds, as soon as a water use or runtime outlier is discovered, a service request is generated automatically using templates to assign them to the right personnel. SJCUD can then track the costs per water conservation measure and the water savings over time to show true costs and savings throughout the life of these measures.

By Bill Millinor, MS, GISP, GIS Department Manager, Mark Nelson, PE, GISP, Senior Engineer, and Brett Goodman, PE, Senior Project Engineer, Jones Edmunds & Associates, Inc.

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