WEST TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas – The Lower Colorado River Authority has awarded a $17,087 grant to the Senna Hills Municipal Utility District to help upgrade more than 420 smart meters so customers can monitor their real-time water use through an online portal or an app.
The Firm Water Conservation Cost-Share Program grant also will help the district, which is contributing matching funds of $103,078, purchase new software and install two new master smart meters to help reduce water loss within the district’s distribution system.
The district’s upgrades are expected to save 14.7 acre-feet of water – about 4.8 million gallons – annually over the next 10 years. Senna Hills MUD serves about 420 customers in western Travis County.
Chet Palesko, president of the Senna Hills MUD board of directors, said the district began considering the project about two years ago. At that time, financial constraints led the district to purchase smart meters but pass on the software needed to fully implement them.
“This year, we wanted to fully implement the smart meter project, but we needed to replace an effluent pond liner, and that’s a million-dollar project,” Palesko said. “Once this cost-share grant came along, it allowed us to do both projects. We thought, ‘Let’s start saving water now.’”
With the district’s existing meters, the delay between when a leak starts and when the district becomes aware of it can be six to eight weeks.
“As part of this project, the expected time between the start of a leak and when the district detects it will drop to two weeks as a result of weekly smart-meter monitoring and analytics,” he said.
The addition of smart master meters to monitor the district’s larger-scale infrastructure is expected to reduce water loss by about 20%.
“We will know how much water is flowing into the district, and we’ll know how much water is flowing out of the residence meters,” Palesko said. “Then it’s a simple math problem. Any difference will be a leak.”
John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of Water, said LCRA is proud to support water conservation efforts.
“The upgraded smart water meters will help Senna Hills MUD and its customers cut down on water waste and save money,” Hofmann said. “It’s a win-win. We’re especially happy to see relatively small districts like the Senna Hills MUD take advantage of our cost-share grants. You don’t have to be a large utility to make an impact with water conservation programs.”
The grant is awarded through LCRA’s Firm Water Conservation Cost-Share Program, which provides funding for water efficiency projects and programs established by LCRA’s firm water customers, including cities, utilities, industries and irrigation and recreational water users. Eligible projects must help reduce or maximize the efficient use of surface water, including water loss reduction efforts, equipment efficiency upgrades and conversion of irrigated areas from raw or potable water use to recycled water.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit lcra.org.