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Water conservation heats up in the desert

Stephen Hill
Sr. Content Development Specialist

Dennis DeMera with Las Vegas Valley Water District speaks on the importance of water conservation at Customer Edge 2020.

It’s an obvious fact that the city of Las Vegas sits in a huge desert. Behind the glitz of the Strip, what’s not so obvious is the fact that Las Vegas Valley Water District works extremely hard to conserve the finite resource of water for the entertainment capital.

It’s a point Dennis DeMera, customer care and field services manager with LVVWD, makes quite clearly when he discusses not only his hometown, but his utility as well.

“There are people in the Las Vegas work force, voting people, who have lived in Las Vegas their entire life and known nothing but drought,” says DeMera. And he adds, reaching that population of two million Las Vegas citizens with the conservation message is a constantly creative process.

“We are hyper-focused on conserving our water resource. That is our precious lifeline in the desert,” says DeMera. “So, most of our goals and initiatives are trying to strategically reach out to our customer base that we need to keep our foot on the pedal and always be conserving our resources.”

And how does DeMera and LVVWD connect its strategic message with its customer base? With technology. The utility collects hourly data from its 400,000 meters in the service area to understand water usage.

“We looked at the data from every meter, and we developed a strategic initiative to target customers using water outside of the watering restrictions,” says DeMera. “We send notification to customers letting them know they’re watering on a day that they shouldn’t. We have algorithms that can spot these occurrences. It’s been wildly successful.”

And after reaching out to LVVWD customers, the utility learned a modern lesson in communicating with a divergent customer base. In other words, they had to figure out which medium customers prefer, and that’s a wide range of choices. And today’s customers demand new ways of communication.

“The old methods of communicating, sending a letter, those days are essentially over. We’re entering a new era of technology with the emergence of chat bots, artificial intelligence, and the collection of big data,” says DeMera. “It’s giving us the flexibility to reach out to our customer base in different ways.”

“Our demographic of millennials, and Gen Zs have grown up in Las Vegas only knowing drought,” says DeMera. “And, they want to interact with the utility differently. So our conservation messages use all the technology available to communicate with this emerging group of customers.”

While the 45 million yearly visitors to Las Vegas may not have LVVWD’s water conservation habits at the top of mind, there are utilities worldwide taking notice of the efforts accomplished in the U.S. gambling capital.

“I’d like to say that we’re leaders in this industry. We host utilities yearly, and we share different pieces of technology that we’ve incorporated into our business.”

Another area of leadership is leak control. Controlling water leaks in the desert becomes a serious concern, and technology is helping LVVWD alert customers about their leaky pipes. The Excessive Leak Program by LVVWD notifies customers of possible leaks on their property, and works with to determine a time frame for repairs.

“We stay in contact with these customers and work with them to make timely repairs,” says DeMera.

For the millions of tourists visiting the strip every year, buffets and blackjack might seem like the backbone of Las Vegas. But DeMera and the employees at LVVWD rightly know that conservation of their water resource drives the success of the city in the desert.

“Water is precious,” says DeMera. “We only have a limited amount, and for me, it’s important to be a part of a utility that really cares about the resource. The utility has ownership that we keep it going for future generations.”

Hear Dennis DeMera explain why conservation is so vital to Las Vegas Valley Water District in this short video (2.5 min.).

Read more Customer Edge 2020 articles:

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