The Region of Waterloo will use technology developed by local Waterloo firm, eleven-x Inc., to keep tabs on groundwater levels by the hour, instead of four times a year.
The region takes an average of 250,000 cubic metres of water out of the ground every day for tap water and has decided to monitor the aquifers at a more regular interval. Waterloo operates more than 1,000 wells. There are two types: monitoring wells that are used to track the rise and fall of groundwater levels; and the 120 pumping wells that provide tap water for households.
Currently, eleven-x technology will be deployed only on the monitoring wells.
In the past, consultants went to monitoring wells to download information from devices known as dataloggers, located deep inside the wells or just below the water line. The consultants returned to their office, prepared the data, and sent it to the region. As a result, engineers overseeing the municipal water supply were typically more than three months behind on important data. The data informs decisions about which wells to use during extended droughts or when demand peaks during hot summer weather.
The region will install 25 small boxes containing eleven-x’s technology on the sides of monitoring wells. A wire from the box will run down into the well and connect to the datalogger. The information collected by the datalogger will be sent every hour to the box and via a wireless signal into the cloud.
The company’s technology reduces the cost of monitoring by 20 percent and provides real-time data on groundwater levels. It is preprogrammed to send alerts when the water drops below certain levels and regional engineers can remotely change the frequency of updates from the monitoring wells if needed.
The region will evaluate whether the technology is also useful for pumping wells, which are much larger in diameter, with 50 litres of water moving through the pipes every second.
The region’s deployment of the technology follows a pilot program, one of 20 eleven-x ran in cities across Canada in the last 18 months. A number of the pilots are now converting to wider adoption, and the company is pursuing about 50 new opportunities for more pilot programs.
eleven-x launched in 2016 as the country’s only provider of low-power, wide area networks that collect data from sensors to helps cities remotely manage parking spaces, water meters, aquifers, buildings, vehicles and lighting, among other applications. The technology can also be used to track vehicles, street signs, hydro poles, and expensive tools.
After installing hardware on the roofs of tall buildings in 33 cities, eleven-x now has a network that runs across the country from Vancouver to Fredericton.
Eleven-x currently employs 30 people in offices on Phillip Street. It expects to hire 10 to 15 more in the coming year.