AT&T, IBM dive into water-saving game with connected tech


Houseboats cram together in a shrinking California lake. (AFP/Getty Images)

Water is in increasingly scarce supply across the American West, so technology that ensures none of the precious liquid goes to waste is surely set to boom.

AT&T (T)IBM (IBM) and Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products (MWA) announced Monday that the three companies have teamed up to provide an Internet of Things-anchored solution to leaky municipal pipes.

Mueller provides sensors that use sound to detect leaks. That data is relayed to IBM’s Water Management Center via AT&T’s LTE wireless network, providing live updates on the status of water flow. The tech was demoed in three cities — Atlanta, Los Angeles and Las Vegas — and the results were revealed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology expo in Washington, D.C.

“A typical water pipe leak wastes almost 400,000 gallons of water per year,” Mike Troiano, AT&T’s vice president of industrial IoT solutions, said in a statement. “We’re giving communities more visibility into their water supply, and helping them better manage the future operation of their water systems.”

Las Vegas Valley Water District engineer Charles Scott said the technology allowed his team to “monitor pipes for small subsurface leaks, which gives us a better opportunity to fix them before they develop into larger leaks.” The LVVWD has more than 4,000 miles of pipeline and a reservoir system that holds up to 900 million gallons of water to serve a million residents plus 40 million annual visitors to the gaming capital of the U.S.

Such IoT tech is just as useful to the farming community, which deals with countless miles of pipe to irrigate land. In California, one of the states hardest hit by the current western drought, some 80% of the state’s water supply is used by agriculture. California Gov. Jerry Brown recently enacted strict statewide measures to cut water usage statewide by 25% by the end of the year.

In midday trading, AT&T was slightly down at $34.32, IBM up a bit at $170.34 and Mueller was unchanged at $9.21.