Can Opti Optimize Stormwater Management?
OptiRTC is a technology company working to provide innovative solutions for stormwater management to mitigate the impact of increasing numbers of severe weather events.
Climate change has impacted weather patterns around the world and has been causing extreme weather events to become more common . Changing rainfall patterns and droughts affects much of the US, and 25-year level flooding events have occurred more frequently in the past decade than historically forecasted . OptiRTC is a technology company working to provide solutions for stormwater management. They are primarily a software-as-service company whose software platform is designed for remote monitoring and control of green infrastructure, integrating predictive data for the management of stormwater discharge, and rainwater retention and reuse . With shifting weather patterns (Exhibit 1) this model of managing stormwater infrastructure is an opportunity for OptiRTC to expand their business beyond the municipal government space and focus on the stormwater credit marketplace and industry concerned with runoff fines and reuse of water.
By adapting to the unpredictability of extreme weather events OptiRTC has built a niche market for selling municipal governments a monitoring system tied into a pump or a series of tanks that will allow them to better control stormwater outflows and address the issue of aging infrastructure that combines wastewater with stormwater and dumps both into open waterways during storms (Exhibit 2) . These Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) in older cities are not compliant with some of the legislation in the Clean Water Act and local governments are working to transition their infrastructure or to find solutions with companies such as OptiRTC to retain water and release it at non-peak hours .
With an increasing number of severe rainstorms overwhelming the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and legacy stormwater infrastructure, OptiRTC also works with companies and provides a means of gathering and retaining water from the roofs of buildings and around industrial complexes. The water is released after Opti’s sensors show a decrease in WWTP demand to reduce the amount going into CSO’s and being dumped into waterways that are also used for drinking water. This slow release of water is based on accurate weather forecasts and water level monitoring. This technology can also be used to reduce runoff from urban areas and industrial centers which can cause environmental damage and result in fines to the originating company. The runoff is held to allow for settling and natural pollution reduction then released at a rate to reduce the amount of runoff funneled through a CSO once demand is down, and comply with environmental regulations 
Many municipal governments have already worked with OptiRTC to find solutions and to become Clean Water Act compliant and avoid legal action, such as happened to Lima, OH which ended in a settlement requiring them to prioritize clean water initiatives and be fully compliant in 24 years . Cities such as Lenexa, KS , Beckley, WV  and Chicago, IL  have all begun projects to increase their resiliency during extreme rain events and are demonstrating the benefits of managing stormwater and having an increased ability to track data and control outflows. Municipalities can easily recognize the need for resiliency against events that could backup WWTPs and cause potential disease outbreaks from mishandling wastewater during storms. These and many other projects show the increasing demand for this type of service as stormwater systems are experiencing uncharacteristic demands and are struggling to keep up.
Going forward OptiRTC must focus on larger projects and include private businesses and industrial sites along with local governments. Such projects can realize even greater gains for the companies involved as well as bring OptiRTC up as a more significant player in the stormwater marketplace for the purchasing and selling of credits . More than just transforming the infrastructure and monitoring around them, they can enter a market of creating solutions which enable them to create stormwater credits in the marketplace for efficiencies gained through such projects and then independently sell the credits to companies with infrastructures that make it difficult for them to comply with Clean Water Act standards. The profits from creating and selling credits in this marketplace can be used to increase the research and development associated with expanding outward and taking on major state and city-wide infrastructure projects.
As of 2013 the wastewater, stormwater and rainwater harvesting industry was about $445M including filtration and disinfectant equipment, pumps and storage tanks . Within this rapidly growing industry OptiRTC has an opportunity to increase the resiliency of our cities against severe rain events by providing a technology architecture to monitor stormwater and wastewater levels as well as solutions to decrease the safety and environmental impact. Through this platform they can become major industry players at the same time and help bring our cities into the future.
Source: Rebecca Kessler, “Stormwater Strategies: Cities Prepare Aging Infrastructure for Climate Change,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 119 no. 12 (2011), p A518, ABI/INFORM via ProQuest, accessed October 2016.
Source: Rebecca Kessler, “Stormwater Strategies: Cities Prepare Aging Infrastructure for Climate Change,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 119 no. 12 (2011), p A517, ABI/INFORM via ProQuest, accessed October 2016.
1 John Carey, “Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather,” Scientific American, June 29, 2011, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/global-warming-and-the-science-of-extreme-weather/, accessed November 2016.
2 Rebecca Kessler, “Stormwater Strategies: Cities Prepare Aging Infrastructure for Climate Change,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 119 no. 12 (2011), ABI/INFORM via ProQuest, accessed October 2016.
3 S&P Capital IQ, “OptiRTC, Inc.” (PDF file), downloaded from Capital IQ website, www.capitaliq.com/, accessed October 28, 2016.
4 Rebecca Kessler, “Stormwater Strategies: Cities Prepare Aging Infrastructure for Climate Change,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 119 no. 12 (2011), ABI/INFORM via ProQuest, accessed October 2016.
5 Water Environmental Federation, “Year in Review; 2014 Under the Stormwater Lens,” http://stormwater.wef.org/2015/01/stormwater-year-review-2014/ , accessed October 28, 2016.
6 OptiRTC, “Use Opti to Control Stormwater,” https://optirtc.com/products/nimbus/ , accessed November 3, 2016.
7 Water Environmental Federation, “Year in Review; 2014 Under the Stormwater Lens,” http://stormwater.wef.org/2015/01/stormwater-year-review-2014/ , accessed October 28, 2016.
8 PR Newswire, “Opti and Johnson County Announce Partnership for Flood Mitigation and Water Quality in Lenexa, KS,” (PDF file), downloaded from ABI/ProQuest website: http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1799856110?accountid=11311 , accessed October 28, 2016.
9 PR Newswire, “Opti and Beckley Sanitary Board Announce Partnership for Watershed Management,” (PDF file), downloaded from ABI/ProQuest website: http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1807086382?accountid=11311 , accessed October 28, 2016.
10 PR Newswire, “Mayors Explore Data-Driven Sustainability Solutions with Opti, City Digital Partners,” (PDF file), downloaded from ABI/ProQuest website : http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1824693593?accountid=11311 , accessed October 28, 2016.
11 OptiRTC, “Stormwater Credit Markets,” https://optirtc.com/products/nimbus/#stormwater-credit-markets , accessed November 3, 2016.
Student comments on Can Opti Optimize Stormwater Management?
It seems like the foundation of OptiRTC’s business model is regulation. Government policy dictates runoff fines, stormwater management credit marketplaces, and Clean Water Act regulations on municipalities. What does that mean for the future of OptiRTC’s business? Is it relying on water regulations to get more strict and thus drive more companies and governments to turn to it for help? Or is the simple fact you mention of climate change creating more flooding events going to make regulations more difficult to abide by, thus creating a need for OptiRTC to step in?
Very interesting article. In terms of growth opportunities, you mentioned the need for OptiRTC to expand its service to include private business and industrial sites, in addition to local governments. I wonder if an expansion of product offerings would also make sense for the company. I understand that currently OptiRTC focuses on the retention and release of excess storm water. Is there an opportunity for OptiRTC to enter into the filtration / disinfectant spaces as well? I would be interested in understanding what potential synergies these services could offer with OptiRTC’s current business lines. What if there were potential to utilize OptiRTC to address the extreme weather events on the other side of the spectrum, including the severe droughts that have plagued certain parts of the country and world?