Thoughts

A place for education, information, and insights about the water industry.

Topics: Did you know?

Cutting edge customer engagement through the mail?!

November 30, 2017
| By Seth Engel

Everything old is new again. Vinyl records are making a comeback, 80’s horror flick/pop culture tribute ‘Stranger Things’ is the number 1 show on Netflix, and snail mail is the hot new way for utilities to communicate with their customers.

Don’t believe it? Consider this: water utilities, on average, have email addresses for only one third of their customers (although as we demonstrated in a recent blog post, they probably have their mobile phone number).

But what about the two-thirds of customers that utilities can’t reach via email? Without being able to send timely emails, utilities have three options for communicating with their customers:

  1. Calling the customer directly, though this requires extensive resources and takes time away from other important customer service activities.
  2. Mailing information with the bill.
  3. Not communicating at all.

As much as we talk about digital communications, print remains a relevant, if not

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Topics: Research

Engaging Customers in Water Loss Management

December 15, 2015
| By Subodh Nayar

Operating a public drinking water system is capital intensive. This means delivering the first gallon of water is infinitely more expensive than the second. The first gallon requires all the infrastructure, while the second requires only the operating cost to acquire raw water, treat it, and move it from the point of treatment to the point of delivery. Some amount of water loss, called unavoidable annual real losses (UARL), is inevitable in all water systems; the treated water lost in the delivery process which is prohibitively expensive to prevent. UARL is a mathematical calculation that assumes the distribution infrastructure is in good condition and accounts for the total length of the distribution system, the total number of service connections, the total length of connections from the street to the each meter, as well as average system pressure. It is exceptionally rare to find a utility operating at or close to the UARL. More

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Topics: Editorial

What Water Utilities Can Learn From the Donald Trump Phenomenon

December 9, 2015
| By Dominique Gomez

No one can really say how long the Donald Trump presidential campaign will last. If you told most veteran journalists or political junkies a year ago that Trump would be a front-runner through the late summer and fall of 2015, few would believe you. But Donald Trump has certainly been successful (still polling #1 in most national polls as of the first week of December). Love him or hate him, his campaign illustrates many of our natural human biases and tendencies – either intentionally or unintentionally. Here are three prime examples that could be relevant to water utilities:

#1 - Shorter is better

Political campaigns, or at least the successful ones, are all about communication. Not all candidates communicate effectively or memorably, but Donald Trump is a clear outlier. His messages are big, simple, and memorable. While there may be other candidates who have more in-depth policy priorities or offer more detail, you can count on

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Topics: Editorial

San Juan Capistrano, Tiered Rates and Water Efficiency

July 23, 2015
| By Peter Yolles

The other day I was proud to be out the door by 6am and on the way to a pool workout when I saw and heard my sprinklers on. We enjoyed a rare June rain the day before, and I realized that I broke the law by irrigating my lawn within 48 hours of rainfall. In shorts and flip-flops, I trudged through the sprinklers, drenching my legs in the process, to reach my irrigation controller and dutifully turned it off.  My water district, Marin Municipal, would allow outdoor watering again on Friday. (Note to self: Calendar a reminder to turn irrigation controller back on.)

This watering restriction, handed down by the State, is one of many signals and prohibitions to warn California citizens of impending doom if we don’t get ahead of this four-year drought and start stretching our dwindling water supplies. There are a limited number of conservation tools; one of the most important is a price signal that indicates the value of water. One of the

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