The Issue Facing Southern Nevada Water Authority
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a wholesale water provider that manages Southern Nevada regional water treatment and transmission system across 300 square miles of the Las Vegas Valley. The Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) is Southern Nevada’s largest a retail water utility, operating 57 pumping stations throughout the community. SNWA and LVVWD identified a need to optimize the water distribution system and evaluate the performance and efficiency of its water pumps.
Many of the pumping stations were not equipped with individual pump flow metering when the facilities were constructed, nor did the design of the facilities allow the agencies to install flow meters at the pumps to assess them individually. This makes it difficult to understand the efficiency of various pumps and identify opportunities for upgrading and cost savings.
Riventa’s FREEFLOW technology appeared promising to meet an identified need for optimizing water distribution and identifying efficiency opportunities for the water agencies.
Result of Pilot
Riventa installed its FREEFLOW technology at SNWA’s Hacienda Water Pumping Station in Southern Nevada and delivered previously unattainable information on individual pump performance at the 37-year-old facility that delivers water to higher-elevation areas of the community. This leading-edge thermodynamic pump monitoring technology identified $77,000 in potential annual savings at the Hacienda station in the spring of 2018.
For a system with 300 square miles of delivery to maintain, that could represent significant long-term savings spread out over the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s 57 pumping stations. LVVWD will utilize FREEFLOW to test four of those stations this year. Parts of the LVVWD system are more than 50 years old, and LVVWD plans to spend approximately $400 million over the next 10 years to replace, repair and maintain current assets.
Riventa conducted the test in the fall of 2017. During the 1,031 hours of testing, an energy cost of $244,840 ($53.40/MWh) was incurred while pumping a total volume of 3,184 million gallons. That equates to an annualized cost of more than $2 million and 27,058 gallons pumped.
Within the first two weeks of the pilot, FREEFLOW identified that the least efficient pump (No. 5) at the Hacienda station was being used the most. Its 78.3 percent pump efficiency lagged far behind the most efficient pump (No. 7) at 82.5 percent. Pump No. 5 ran more than 49 percent of the time during the full test, outpacing Pump No. 6 (39.9) by a good amount. Riventa concluded this inefficient pump, which was running the most, should only be used when absolutely needed.
The FREEFLOW technology also identified pumps that needed maintenance, pumps that did not need maintenance and the ideal combination of pump usage and time of use that would maximize efficiency and save money. By identifying pump No.’s 3, 4, 5, and 6 as refurbishment targets, Riventa estimated a possible increase in average pump efficiency from just below 80 percent to greater than 89 percent. Even at a refurbishment cost that could be upwards of $60,000 per pump, payback could be realized in less than 18 months.
Refurbishment would include the removal and reinstallation of the entire pump, including laser alignment, priming, and commissioning. Each pump would be stripped down and all standard wear parts would be replaced, as well as new O-rings, gaskets and seals being installed.
“With technology like Riventa, efficiency of each individual pumps using thermodynamic metering,” said Greg Kodweis, SNWA director of water quality and treatment. “Compared to standard flow meters, the Riventa system provides an efficient way to optimize the best pumping combinations to reduce pumping costs and support our assets management initiatives.”
An added benefit of the Riventa technology is that it can be installed on pumping facilities where piping configurations or other constraints may limit the ability of flow meters or other metering technology to be installed. As a conservation benefit, with the data provided by Riventa, utilities can compare the flow data from their pumping facilities with downstream metered data to verify if there are unaccounted losses within the water system.
- $154,000 in annual savings identified from four pumps in need of refurbishment.
- $100,000 in annual savings identified from pump scheduling based on demand.
- Opportunity identified to increase average pump efficiency from just below 80 percent to greater than 89 percent, with payback of less than 18 months.
- Identified that the most inefficient pump was being used the most often. Recommendations made to use this pump only when needed.
Following its success at the Hacienda station, Riventa will be conducting permanent real-time monitoring and regular inspections of SNWA pumps to measure performance and efficiency. This will reduce the cost of routine pump inspections, improve pump efficiencies and reduce energy costs for pumping.
“The most compelling part is that they have been able to deliver on what their project ROI was,” Nate Allen, executive director of WaterStart, said. “For any small company with a newer technology, the first and most important hurdle is that the technology actually provides the value that they claim that it does. I think Riventa has done a great job proving that out.”
In fact, the economic potential could even be greater. Steve Barrett,co-founder of Riventa, describes SNWA’s savings as “quite typical” and said Riventa’s most successful project in the past three years identified savings of 47 percent at a large station in the UK: 19 percent from how the pumps drive; 21 percent from investments in refurbishment and asset replacement; and 9 percent from making that pump station work well as part of the system.
Riventa’s technology could help lower the cost of water delivery throughout the West for years to come.
Listen to an interview with Greg Kodweis of SNWA for an in-depth interview on the pilot:
About the Riventa FREEFLOW Technology
Riventa’s FREEFLOW system is a thermodynamic pump monitoring technology that provides hydraulic, electrical power and motor efficiency measurement, as well as asset performance information. FREEFLOW turns out data on pump efficiency, motor power, flow rate and pump head.
Barrett explained how Riventa’s pump testing and monitoring capability, as well as network
optimization technology, can help a utility save money, “The simple analogy we all can understand: imagine that your car doesn’t have a speedometer, doesn’t have a fuel gauge and you don’t know what gear it’s in,” Barrett said. “Imagine you had no info on the dash — how would you drive that car? That’s kind of where a lot of pumping station operators find themselves. They don’t have the information they need to drive their pumping system as efficiently as possible. It’s still difficult to operate that station at its best with the standard information that is generally provided. We provide additional information that helps operators do their jobs to the best of their ability.”
Nevada Economic Development Impact
Riventa will hire its first United States-based employee to work on business development from Las Vegas and plans to eventually to hire another two local employees within the next two years. The company currently employees 16 people in the UK and several more throughout the world.
“We’ve only just finished that first pilot and the water company is now placing more orders on us,” Barrett said. “We’ve had probably 10 visits, one a month, to California, Nevada, Arizona. We’ve presented and pitched our technology to probably 10 water utilities in the West Coast region. We’re talking about pilot projects with about 10 utilities.”
WaterStart provided $50,000 in innovation funds through its Commercialization Fund Program to facilitate Riventa’s first pilot project with SNWA, covering roughly half the total authorized cost. The immediate results delivered through Riventa’s technology show the potential for its impact in Nevada and beyond.