Community decreases water usage, saves garrison nearly $1 million last year
January 13, 2012
HEIDELBERG, Germany - Conscientious monitoring of energy and water usage in Heidelberg on Patrick Henry Village, the Shopping Center and the Directorate of Public Works compound saved about $940,000 in fiscal year 2011.
Thanks to the use of the Computerized Utilities Monitoring and Control System, water consumption was also reduced by 25 percent compared to fiscal year 2010, said Petra Sauer, Operations and Maintenance's energy manager for facilities.
Sauer's job includes evaluating data, invoices and contracts obtained from CUMACS and energy suppliers.
She also prepares contracts that are cost-effective for the garrison.
CUMACS monitors and controls a plethora of utilities systems and records energy and water consumption data, Sauer said.
Between summer 2008 and early 2010, O and M employees started to notice a trend of higher-than-usual water bills for PHV and the Community Support Center from supplier Stadtwerke Heidelberg.
The members of the O and M team consistently review water data to evaluate the daily minimum and maximum cubic meter per hour flow.
When they compared the water flowing through the pipes in an hour and matched it with what it should average in an hour, the team discovered a previously undetected leak was the culprit. CUMACS, located in Bldg. 4 on Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg, performed a review of the data, Sauer said. "This analysis led to the conclusion that nightly water flow did not decrease as normal.
This increased our suspicion that there were indeed leaks at PHV and CSC. Comprehensive searches by O and M personnel were initiated and a contractor was eventually hired to locate and repair the leaks," Sauer explained.
This is one example of how surveillance through technology and human analysis can lead to major cost avoidance, Sauer said.
The usage data from Stadtwerke Heidelberg provides a monthly usage graph akin to the ones many off-post consumers receive for their personal home use.
"The supplier can just tell the consumption during that month, but not the total number. We can't understand very much, unless it's much higher than previous months, but we don't know why or where," Sauer said.
CUMACS measures consumption per hour during late night hours -- typically 2 to 3 a.m. -- when water usage levels tend to be low or even zero, which is the case for most offices.
"In quarters on PHV, this can be as much as eight or 10 cubic meters per hour or more, depending on the size of the living quarters, which is measured by this one water meter.
If the water meter is only for a few houses, maybe five, then it can be very low. But the bigger the housing area is, the bigger the water flow during the late night time.
If it happens that we have a big consumption during that time on that one day, we check to see what it is the next day. If this [continues] for more than a few days and never stops, then we have to check, especially if there are former months where there is zero consumption during that time.
Then we know there must be something wrong," Sauer said.
Something as innocuous as a hot summer night and residents who decide to cool down with a shower can be the reason for an increase. But if CUMACS notices higher consumption than during the previous few days and it remains at the higher level, it is a good indication of a water leak.
The cost to the garrison for a contractor to repair and pinpoint the exact location of the leak amounted to $40,000.
The water bill for a single year would have been 23 times that if a leak had been left unchecked. The most recent leak was repaired in August.
"This is just another energy conservation step we're taking. Even though Heidelberg is a closing community, DPW is alive and well and we have dedicated, hard working personnel who are constantly looking for more ways to save taxpayer money," said Marty Hanson, DPW's assistant energy program manager.