NZ utility software company closes major sale in Texas

Derceto, which was spun off Beca, signs up El Paso Water Utilities

New Zealand water utility software specialist company Derceto has made a major sale to El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU), which is responsible for water supply to El Paso City in Texas, and parts of the surrounding county, including the large Fort Bliss military base.

“It’s a landmark deal, particularly in the southwest of the US,” says Derceto CEO Wayne Spittal. “This gives us a very good foothold into Texas, New Mexico and the Arizona areas.”

Water is a major issue in the southwest. EPWU supplies more than 800,000 users in the desert climate of El Paso, which requires balancing ground water from 150 wells with seasonal surface water from the nearby Rio Grande. Water flows through four water treatment plants, three wastewater treatment plants and one water reclamation plant.

“We’ve selected Derceto’s Aquadapt EMS software, based on a pilot study which indicated significant reductions in our annual energy bill are achievable,” says EPWU vice president of operations and technical services John Balliew. “Depending on drought conditions and other water supply issues beyond our control, we anticipate a rapid payback on our investment, and multi-million-dollar savings over a 10-year period.”

He describes Aquadapt as a strategic investment as EPWU works to achieve the optimum balance between water cost, quality, security of supply, and long-term environmental sustainability.

Balliew was recently named engineer of the year by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.

Derceto was spun off from the Beca Group in 2005 on the back of some software development and third-party investment.

“We had a number of business ideas, such as optimising breweries, but Aquadapt was the best of them,” says Spittal. “El Paso is our 20th project worldwide.”

Derceto has business in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Korea, the UK and the US.

It has a range of channel partners, who specialist in high-quality engineering, through the El Paso deal was done directly.

“We had approached the US market back in 2002 with a structured approach,” Spittal says. “We narrowed down 50,000 water utilities to 250 of interest.

“We began talking to El Paso in 2006 and closed the contract last year.”

He describes it as a “seven figure deal”.

The software was developed on a Delphi platform but now offers some .NET plug-ins for some applications. “A lot of engineering expertise was required.”

The software integrates with existing management systems to help utilities make operating decisions that reduce energy consumption. Spittal says it typically delivers energy savings of 10-20% as well as significant gains in water use, operational efficiency and water quality.

The first (then Beca) project was done for the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

“No one had every done it before,” Spittal says. “We’re still the only real working solution in the market internationally. It’s a testimony to the quality of New Zealand engineers.”

He says El Paso is leading the industry in the use of technology to maximise both efficiency and sustainability of water consumption and distribution in the most challenging desert climate.

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