Local pioneers water management of the future
Local Hank McCarrick has developed wateruseonlin.com to assist customers in controlling water usage. All photos by Michael Crane/ Valley Roadrunner
September 02, 2013In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a water monster with more heads than you could count. Hercules had the job of killing the beast, but each time he chopped off one head, two more would grow back. As far as terrible monsters go, the Hydra was one you really didn't want to mess with.
However, one Valley Center corporation is taking a lesson from the infamous reptile and applying it to their water management system. SecoSys, the brainchild of Hank McCarrick, is revolutionizing the way people conserve water with an innovative new device, the HydraMeter. Like its namesake, the HydraMeter offers a thousand faces with its many possibilities for customization.
"It's designed for flexibility and scalability," said McCarrick, CEO. "We provide water management solutions for businesses who are involved in water management."
McCarrick proposes to combine his smart water meters with an online platform that lets customers monitor and control their water usage remotely. The HydraMeters send out a live broadcast to the website 24/7, where customers can go to review their water usage data, and even control how the meters are working.
"This gives you a really easy way to track your daily use," said Kellie Turner, chief operations officer. Their online platform, wateruseonline.com, will even be available to customers who don't purchase HydraMeters. For a monthly subscription fee, customers can enter their water meter information manually and the website will keep all the data in one place.
Smart meters are used along with the internet to provide real-time data under the new management system photo by Michael Crane.
No matter how people are trying to optimize their usage, whether it's staying under a water budget or just cutting electricity costs from a well, the SecoSys online platform can keep track of it all.
The benefit of the HydraMeter is that it transmits live data straight from the water meter. By combining this data with local weather conditions, the HydraMeter allows consumers to configure their irrigation systems to use only what is necessary for plant health and no more. It's irrigation for the 21st century.
"It will update in seconds," said McCarrick. You can even configure the system to send a text message to your cell phone if something goes wrong, McCarrick explained. If a water line breaks, the HydraMeter will detect the problem, cut off the flow of water, and send you a text alert, all in the course of seconds.
McCarrick and his wife Kris (administrative director at SecoSys) have lived in Valley Center for 12 years now. McCarrick's background is in semi-conductors, and the first company he started processed gas management systems. He first got the idea for SecoSys after reading a water bill that advised him to regularly check his water meter to conserve water. He immediately recognized the unnecessary hassle.
"Well gee-whiz, if they really want to do it, they need to get that information into the house, and every second," said McCarrick. "I decided that to manage water, I needed to provide a system like I provided the semi-conductor industry." McCarrick has designed everything from the ground up. Even the screws in the HydraMeter are custom-made.
The HydraMeter is still in the prototype stage, but SecoSys has already manufactured about 30 models, many of which are being tested by landscapers and residential communities in the Coachella Valley. They were accepted into the Coachella Valley iHub, a branch of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership that helps start-up companies.
In the San Marino residential community, where HydraMeters were installed in January, SecoSys has already helped save landscapers an estimated 45 percent in water costs over the previous year. The Coachella Water District also gave San Marino a $3,725 rebate for installing the system, meaning that the HydraMeters almost paid for themselves.
"Businesses become addicted to our platform quickly," said McCarrick. Although Coachella has been a great test site, he hopes to bring the business back home.
"Our intention is to do as much business in Valley Center as we can," he said. He also plans on applying his technology to agricultural irrigation soon. "We're looking at developing some relationships out here in the valley for the groves," he said.
Now that the prototypes have been tested, SecoSys is preparing to ramp things up and begin larger scale manufacturing.
"We're leaving the duct tape off the next round," said Kris McCarrick, laughing. Actually, SecoSys is well beyond the McGyver stage of engineering. They have been selected to give a 6-minute pitch to investors at the World's Best Technology Innovation Showcase in San Diego on October 23. Only 100 businesses from around the world are selected to present at the Showcase each year.
As soon as they have the investors, SecoSys will begin manufacturing their first 150 units. They hope to start manufacturing in Valley Center in the coming months. The HydraMeters will cost around $300 each, or $360 with a valve included.
"Water management is not going to become a frivolous thing," said Hank McCarrick. "It's going to be a requirement."
SecoSys are looking for investors in Valley Center. They need $210,000 for the first round of manufacturing.
"We're happy to demonstrate," said Kris McCarrick. "Come and see what we've got going on." For more information, visit www.secosys.us.