First Utility District recently began a two-year project to convert its water meters to electronically read meters. Soon, the meter reader stopping to look in each meter box will be a thing of the past. The meter reader will be replaced by a battery powered transmitter on the meter, and a receiver connected to a laptop computer in a utility vehicle. The meter readings will be collected automatically in the computer as an operator drives through the neighborhood.
Although the equipment is expensive, many utilities are converting to these automated systems. The most important reason is improved safety. It has become increasingly dangerous for meter readers to stop, exit the vehicle to read the meter, and then return to the vehicle.
Improved meter reading accuracy is also a benefit. The best meter readers are about 99% accurate. With our 30,000 customers, that 1% error rate means that 300 meters are read incorrectly each month. Even though the error is corrected the following month, it still is an inconvenience. Misreads are eliminated with the electronic system.
First Utility is cooperating with West Knox Utility District on the project. The two utilities teamed together on the equipment purchase and received favorable pricing with the large quantities ordered. Changing every meter in the system is a major project with many challenges. Old meter readings are collected, serial numbers on the new equipment are scanned, and GPS coordinates are recorded. All of this information is uploaded into the billing system. The utilities are assisting each other as issues arise in the installation, and there should be future benefits in operating identical systems.
Customers should limit their landscaping activities around their water meter box. The transmitter signal is not very strong. Placing dirt or mulch over the box can block the signal, and make the meter unreadable by the receiver. Heavy vegetation can also block the signal, and should not be planted around the meter box.
Water Treatment Plant Expansion
The expansion project is expected to be completed in the Summer of 2007.
Water filters in this building will increase the plant's treatment capacity from 21 million gallons per day to 34 million gallons per day.
The project includes a 2.25 million gallon
water storage tank.
Most of the treatment plant site is involved in the expansion project.