Town of Dexter

Upgrades to static water meters

Solving non-revenue water challenges and customer questions with Kamstrup water meters.

The Town of Dexter, N.M. is located in the southeast part of the state and is a suburb of Roswell. With 650 metering points, the town was billing customers based on consumption numbers from mechanical meter that were 20 to 30 years old. Because mechanical meters have moving parts, those internal parts wear and the meters become less accurate over time.
“The meters not registering the water usage was really hitting [the town] in the pocket book,” says Aaron Burke, co-owner of Resource-Wise, a N.M.-based water leak detection company and water meter distributor for Dexter’s replacement project. Water that is pumped into the distribution network but not invoiced for can cost a water system significantly,
since the utility still incurs the costs of cleaning, pumping and distributing, but does not receive full payment for these services. In addition to the inaccuracies that were contributing to non-revenue water, the meter readers were manually reading meters, which took three workers two days to read four meter books.
“The city was looking for new meters and meter reading system. The engineering company was first spec’ing another metering system, but once we showed them the Kamstrup flowIQ® water meters and automated meter reading system, they chose this system instead,” explains Burke of the selection process.
Improved efficiency for town personnel

“We notice a big difference in our efficiency,” says Fito Torres, Lead Operator for Town of Dexter, since installing the new water meters and meter reading system. “There is no comparison to the efficiency [of the new drive-by system] to manual readings.” With this new meter reading system, the meter locations are plotted on Google Maps and the meter reader drives-by to read meters. “We now read meters in two to three hours,” says Torres. “With the extra time, we can break [our personnel] loose from reading meters and they can catch-up on jobs they’re assigned to, which is great.”

Dexter has seen an increase in the amount of water registered by the ultrasonic water meters. When comparing November 2015 consumption to November 2016, the new water meters registered 1.3 million gallons more.

Using data to explain customer bills

A concern expressed by water professionals considering the upgrade to new static meters is the feedback or questions from their customers about higher bills. Since the new meters measure significantly lower flows than mechanical water meters, it is inevitable that the utility is billing for every drop of water and therefore customer bills will increase. Torres comments, “Some of our customers have called and asked why their bill is higher. It’s going to take some getting used to
[for our residents] because the meter is reading everything. If they had a leaking faucet, for example, the old meter wasn’t catching it and now the new one is, so it brings up questions.” An advantage of the new meter reading system is the ability to go back and review the water use, which is stored in a data logger inside the meter. Dexter utility personnel use this historical data to explain to customers why their bill is higher. Customers who have access to the data behind
their water use have a better understanding and more trust in the reasons behind their water bill increasing—as the bill is now a true reflection of their actual water use. In the same vein, the new water meters also have alarms to notify customers of leaks on their property. Once the new meters were installed in Dexter, 40 to 50% of the meters had leak alarms. Now, the utility personnel are notifying their customers of leaks, which helps the community save water and customers to save money.

“We are excited about our new meter reading system because of the long-term benefits it will provide to our water department and our community,” says Yolanda Alvarez, Utility Clerk for Town of Dexter. “We will have a system that is easy-to-use for us and at the same time will provide a lot of valuable information to our customers to help them save water and money.”

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