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The Issue Facing Bellagio Hotel

The Bellagio Hotel on the Las Vegas strip has been interested in getting a clearer understanding of the hotel’s water use in different applications and learn where there might be opportunities to eliminate water waste throughout their operations.

Facility managers, water experts, and sustainability professionals alike will tell you that it is nearly impossible for large organizations to have a good understanding of where they are wasting water without the right technology. “It’s invisible”, says Nate Allen, executive director of WaterStart. “It’s hard to tell but I think facility operators and facility managers have a sense. There is a feeling or sense of  ‘Oh my gosh, we should’ve known that.'”

The Bellagio has partnered with a water tech company, APANA, to address this issue. APANA is applying its water management system technology at the Bellagio, working with the property owner and operator, MGM Resorts International, to examine patterns of water use and identify any hidden water waste in a pilot project involving the site and its prominent fountains. Allen credited MGM’s corporate office for the work they have done so far to ensure water conservation at their Southern Nevada properties. He said that type of foresight allowed the corporation to see how significant this project with APANA could be.

MGM joined WaterStart because they have done a lot of the low-hanging fruit in water conservation. They’ve reduced their turf in all of their facilities. “They’ve done a lot of work,” he said. “The resorts want to go even further because they understand how important water is to their business.”

Result of Pilot

The pilot project, a partnership between Apana, MGM, the SNWA, and WaterStart, is using Apana’s scanning and analysis technology to locate any points of water waste or concerning patterns of water usage at selected points within the Bellagio’s massive infrastructure. Such scans will allow Bellagio to tweak its water use and note which, if any, points within its system are prone to water waste.

“This project represents a significant partnership on the frontier of technology incubation and development,” said Kent Sovocool, Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) senior conservation resource analyst. “High-end resorts like MGM’s Bellagio hotel are great candidates for testing new technologies. They have very large and complex systems that can otherwise be challenging to monitor.”

President of APANA, Tom Doll, added that almost every project the company has been involved in has “uncovered some very interesting results.” For instance, after connecting for a very short time with one client, Apana located a malfunction that caused a 1,200 gallon per day loss in a hot water line.

Results have shown:

  • Identified operational process improvements & real-time notifications
  • Reduced pool water consumption by ~37%
  • Resulted in annual savings of 900 MMBtu from reduced heating requirements
  • Resulted in annual savings of over 35,000 kWh

Importance for Bellagio, Southern Nevada and Beyond

“With smart water management, and the MGM Resorts/Bellagio project specifically, Apana expects to see real reductions in water waste and gains in water conservation, due to the awareness enabled by real-time measurement,” said Doll. “We anticipate all commercial and industrial buildings will be utilizing the new tools smart water management provides in the next 5 to 10 years and applaud WaterStart and the Southern Nevada Water Authority for taking a leadership role in this nascent industry.”

Insight into local companies’ water behavior and usage will allow the water authority to better tailor incentives to businesses. The partnership with the Bellagio will be the first time the SNWA will have access to such detailed information about a resort’s water utilization. Such knowledge is expected to help the organization answer questions about the most efficient and cost-effective relevant water conservation techniques for big local businesses.

“The first question is ‘Where would we get the most return??’ It was hard to really answer that question without any data,” Nate Allen said. “Most of the resorts in Las Vegas have one or two meters, and they’re the meters from the water district to calculate billing.”

The SNWA is particularly interested in assessing the inefficiency of water cooling towers, and they will have the chance to observe Bellagio’s data to measure the effectiveness of those devices through this pilot. “We’ll get great insight into how water is used in resort operations from hot water systems and restaurants to cooling towers, pools, and water features. The information we get from the pilot program and high-resolution monitoring could help inform future conservation program offerings or uncover opportunities to improve efficiencies and response times to leaks,” said Sovocool.

Although the Las Vegas Strip uses just about 1 percent of the water Nevada receives from the Colorado River, maximizing the efficiency of that 1 percent helps to sustain the region and could provide insight into other water use. The pilot project is the first attempt by the SNWA to build a set of trace use analytics for this customer class. “The technology could be widely utilized,” Allen said. “It’s a really cool partnership that has the potential to have a great impact.”

About the APANA Technology

Apana is often looking for what can’t be seen. Tucked behind walls or under roads, water infrastructure is often hidden, meaning everything from small flaws to larger malfunctions can go unseen without frequent monitoring.

Using smart Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, APANA technology captures high-resolution data from across an organization’s water infrastructure which is then sent to APANA’s secure, cloud-hosted analytics engine. Incoming data is constantly read by advanced proprietary analytics. The system looks for patterns and discrepancies across 1000’s of potential failure points to pinpoint waste events. Waste is identified in hidden equipment malfunctions, or in plain sight, like hoses left running or excess shift use. When waste events are identified, staff and managers are sent instant, actionable alerts.

Apana President Tom Doll, who jokingly describes the company as a 20-something-year-old startup, said that the business initially began its work as a wastewater treatment company. However, founder Frank Burns believed there was inherent waste in the built wastewater environment that, if remedied, could contribute to resource conservation. “There are things we can be doing today that will build capacity for tomorrow,” Doll said. “It’s one of the reasons that we are passionate about the things that we do.”


Apana and MGM won WaterStart’s 2019 Channels for Innovation Best Pilot Pitch Award!

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