Tri County Regional Water Case Study
Tri County Regional Water upgrades to Badger Meter E-Series® Ultrasonic meters and ORION® Classic (CE) automatic meter reading (AMR) solution
Responsible for water delivery in sections of Pope and Yell counties in Arkansas, Tri County Regional Water serves a vast and diverse land mass. Mountainous terrain, dramatic changes in elevation and rural living are hallmarks of the area stretching many miles and situated in the Ozark Mountain range. To better serve its residential customers, the utility needed an accurate and reliable meter reading system it could depend on.
Faced with high levels of water loss, meter failure and an inadequate drive-by system, Tri County Regional Water turned to Badger Meter in the summer of 2012. Recommended by trusted Arkansas-based Henard Utility Products Inc., the Badger Meter solution includes 5/8x3/4 inch E-Series Ultrasonic meters and the ORION Classic (CE) automatic meter reading (AMR) system.
Seeking a new provider after previous system failures and inaccuracies
Serving 8,000 customers on a narrow budget, Tri County Regional Water chose to deploy its new meters and AMR system by county, starting with the areas of most critical need. Yell County, the smallest distribution system in the two counties, was experiencing an average water loss of 15-20% each month, despite the recent implementation of a new water-line system. It is also the furthest away from utility headquarters, making re-reads especially time consuming and costly.
“Our drive-by system was failing. Our radios and the actual dials themselves were not staying synced. For example, the meter would read 10,000 gallons, but my electronic read would only show 5,000 gallons. As a result, we had to do a lot of manual re-reads, which was very inefficient,” shares Tri County Regional Water Manager John Choate.
“If you’re paying for an automatic system, you want an automatic system,” says Mike Henard, owner of Henard Utility Products Inc. “John’s meters were failing and his radios wouldn’t read–they just quit. He had struggled through four generation changes of his previous system because of failures.”
Preparing for installation
Although the city’s current positive displacement nutating disc meters (Model 25 and LP residential meters) would easily transition to fixed network, their meter boxes dating back to the 1930’s would not. To accommodate the radio frequencies and facilitate the signal strengths necessary in a two-way, fixed network, HD Supply Waterworks upgraded all meter boxes to a composite material. This critical step ensured the most accurate and effective gateway reads upon installation.
E-Series Ultrasonic meters selected for size, durability and accuracy; proven to withstand the elements
After considering various meter products, Tri County Regional Water selected the E-Series Ultrasonic meter line for its reduced height, durability and accuracy.
“The size of these meters was a key factor. They can be mounted upside down, vertical or horizontal and still be read correctly,” says Choate. “I also really liked the stainless steel version and the simplicity of a one-piece electronic meter with no moving parts. Stainless steel gives me piece of mind knowing that these meters will have a long life. They also are in compliance with the latest BPA guidelines.”
In an area with a broad range of elevations, the ability to withstand pressure changes was another critical factor in the meter selection process.
“We are not losing nearly as much water. With 100-125 pounds per square inch (PSI) on the line, our previous meters would implode. Our new meters can withstand ‘max stated’ operating PSI of 175, but we found they will withstand 300 PSI, and more,” says Choate. He continues, “Similarly, our former meters only read 20 gallons per minute accurately, whereas the Badger Meter product will read 25 gallons per minute and more.”
Trusted and proven AMR technology improves efficiencies and measurement
The system not only improves customer service, but also makes conservation efforts visible.
“Previously, when customers came in to pay their monthly bill, the standard response to higher than expected amounts would be, ‘We didn’t use that water, there’s no way.’ Now, we can pull up the customer’s information and show them precisely how their water was used. It’s amazing–when they see it, they believe it. This system is making everyone more conscious about their water use, whether it’s turning off a garden hose or spending a little less time in the shower,” says Shelby.
Fast and accurate leak detection saves time and money
To support its electronic meter selection, Tri County Regional Water implemented the ORION Classic (CE) one-way drive-by system. Using trusted and proven AMR technology, the utility can now collect accurate readings and take full advantage of the benefits attributed to a mobile meter reading system.
“In the areas we implemented the ORION product, we are now registering the water going through more accurately. Additionally, the meter and the radio read always show the same thing. I have confidence in this system both for its efficiency and its accuracy,” says Choate.
Dramatic improvement in non-revenue water losses
Today, Tri County has converted all of the meters in Yell County to the E-Series Ultrasonic meters, and is consistently experiencing monthly water loss between 2.5-3%, a vast improvement over its previous 15-20% totals.
“In Yell County, we’ve had this system in place for two years and so far, I have been extremely happy with it. Our re-read time has completely gone away and the meters themselves are accurate, even at low flows, and wearing very well. The reading equipment never misses a read,” shares Choate.
As of spring 2014, the utility has also converted approximately 25% of its services in Pope County to the new meters and meter reading system, seeing similar positive results. Water loss has already dropped from the mid-30 percentile range, to 17%, then 12% and continues to improve each month as more E-Series meters are deployed.
“What we’re seeing here is a 180 degree turnaround,” says Henard. “We started the confidence-building process with John a few years ago after working on another largescale project. For this initiative, we performed several trials and relied on other customers as positive references to attest to the quality of these products. We were sold this system assured of Badger Meter’s superior reputation and outstanding service.”
Water loss reductions save money and precious resources
With the revenue Tri County Regional Water is saving as a result of new system deployments, Choate plans to complete E-Series Ultrasonic meter and ORION Classic (CE) installations in Pope County.
“Our top goal is to provide safe drinking water at a reasonable price to all of our customers. We want to be as efficient as we can and this system allows us to do that. Besides all of the money savings, we also want to reduce waste because water is such a precious resource,” concludes Choate.
Tri County Regional Water looks forward to the future as its water loss reductions continue to improve and the utility runs even more efficiently.
Tri County Solution
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