Moving towards sustainable and resilient smart water grids: networked sensing and control devices in the urban water system
Urban water systems face sustainability challenges ranging from water quality, leaks, over-use, energy consumption, and long-term supply concerns. Resiliency challenges include the capacity to respond to drought, managing pipe deterioration, responding to natural disasters, and preventing terrorism. One strategy to enhance sustainability and resiliency is the development and adoption of smart water grids. A smart water grid incorporates networked monitoring and control devices into its structure, which provides diverse, real-time information about the system, as well as enhanced control. Data provide input for modeling and analysis, which informs control decisions, allowing for improvement in sustainability and resiliency. While smart water grids hold much potential, there are also potential tradeoffs and adoption challenges. More publicly available cost-benefit analyses are needed, as well as system-level research and application, rather than the current focus on individual technologies. This thesis seeks to fill one of these gaps by analyzing the cost and environmental benefits of smart irrigation controllers. Smart irrigation controllers can save water by adapting watering schedules to climate and soil conditions. The potential benefit of smart irrigation controllers is particularly high in southwestern U.S. states, where the arid climate makes water scarcer and increases watering needs of landscapes. To inform the technology development process, a design for environment (DfE) method was developed, which overlays economic and environmental performance parameters under different operating conditions. This method is applied to characterize design goals for controller price and water savings that smart irrigation controllers must meet to yield life cycle carbon dioxide reductions and economic savings in southwestern U.S. states, accounting for regional variability in electricity and water prices and carbon overhead. Results from applying the model to smart irrigation controllers in the Southwest suggest that some areas are significantly easier to design for.