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Solving the Puzzle: Understanding Customers through their Water Use History

March 27, 2015

Earlier, I posted a graph of my household water use for the past few years and challenged our readers to identify as many interesting characteristics about my household as they can. Often, the only data a water utility has on their customers are what they have in their billing records. Other household characteristics, such as size of household, income, age, house and lot size and features, water use behavior and preferences, etc., are very difficult to obtain for each customer. However, as demonstrated by my own personal example, mining the billing data alone can reveal much about each household. Here is what my water use history reveals about my household, and the application of this exercise in water resources and utility finance management.

What Can You Tell About My Household Based on Our Water Use History?

March 24, 2015

Are you up for a challenge? I have disclosed in the graph below my own household’s water use between June 2006 and December 2014, as reported on my water bills. Without any more information about my household’s characteristics (except that it is residential, on a single 5/8″ meter, and using drinking water and wastewater service from one utility), this is the extent of knowledge that my utility has about my household. Yet, my water use data – which are present in the utility’s billing records – reveal much about my household. My challenge to you is to look at this graph and identify as many interesting characteristics about my household as you can. Think about it, too, from the perspective of how the utility should interact with my household. I will reveal answers later this week (stay tuned!).

$napshot: The Big Flush

June 13, 2014

In honor of the World Cup that began last night, we are re-posting a wonderful image that made quite a splash online a few years ago. EPCOR Utilities, Inc., the water utility that serves the City of Edmonton in Canada, … Continued

Effective Utility Management

May 7, 2013

Guest author Catherine Noyes is an Associate Consultant at Raftelis Financial Consultants. Through the 1960s, the utility business was all about protecting public health – making sure that technology was in place to ensure safe and reliable water and wastewater … Continued

Financial Health: Running Treatment at Capacity

April 10, 2013

Dayne Batten is a Research Assistant for the EFC and second year MPA student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government. Traditional engineering plans suggest that, when customer demand approaches the maximum daily capacity of a utility’s treatment plant, the utility … Continued

“One Oar in the Water”

July 3, 2012

Daniel Kolomeets-Darovsky is an Environmental Finance Analyst with the Environmental Finance Center. stephen schiller / Free Photos   Defining a resilient business model for water utilities is no easy task in a time of unprecedented economic conditions, scare capital, and … Continued

Declining Residential Water Use, Part One: North Carolina

May 24, 2012

Shadi Eskaf is a Senior Project Director for the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina. Imagine yourself to be the C.E.O. of a company that produces a high quality product. That product doesn’t really face competition from … Continued