Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
Aging infrastructure
Leak detection

Revolutionizing Rural Water Management

How Iredell Water Corporation tackled infrastructure challenges and future-proofed its water treatment system

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Navigating water management challenges for a rugged topography

Water districts that cover vast rural areas face distinct challenges when it comes to monitoring and managing infrastructure. Detecting and maintaining leaks becomes complex, with meters scattered over miles of isolated backroads and varied terrain. Iredell Water Corporation, a nonprofit organization that caters to the rural foothills of North Carolina's Piedmont region, is no stranger to these obstacles.

Formed in 1966 as a membership-owned cooperative, Iredell Water provides essential services to over 10,000 customers, 94% residential. But after decades of reliable operation, their aging AMR system was beginning to falter. Leaks went unnoticed as meter readings grew erratic. Crews wasted precious hours crisscrossing rural roads chasing false alarms. It became clear that a new solution was needed to restore reliability across Iredell's sweeping service area.

With pressure mounting, Iredell’s General Manager and CEO, Danny Sloan wanted to find a solution that was not only durable but also capable of mastering challenging rural topography. Their infrastructure was scattered, but a robust metering network could unify it into a singular nervous system.

To transform their system, some key questions had to be addressed: How could they get real-time insights into water usage? How could they quickly detect leaks and effectively handle water-related maintenance issues? Would it be possible to manage and monitor the far-reaching distances between water meters more efficiently?

Answering these questions and putting the right solutions into action will not only turn things around for Iredell Water but could also pave the way for other rural water districts wrestling with similar dilemmas. 

“Rural areas are challenging. They require more infrastructure between water meters, and it’s more challenging for utilities to detect leaks. Kamstrup’s solution solves that.”

– Josh Allison, National Meter Sales Director, Fortiline Waterworks

Iredell Challenges

Unlocking Efficiency:

AMI Solution Across Vast and Rugged Landscapes

Iredell Water discovered Kamstrup at a rural water conference in North Carolina. Kamstrup's robust AMI system was ideal for handling Iredell's vast 450-mile service area, skillfully navigating across valleys, forests, and farmlands.

In the early stages, surprised by the range and capability of the system, Danny pushed the limits by reading a meter from 12 to 14 miles away, right at his kitchen table. The system's resilience was further tested when an F1 tornado passed about 100 feet from a collector tower. Yet, the system continued to function smoothly, showcasing the durability and quality of the product and as well as installations.

The newly implemented AMI system allowed Iredell to read water meters every three hours, significantly reducing the time, effort, cost, and energy previously spent on manual meter readings. Coincidentally, the project was completed five months ahead of schedule and 5% under budget, with only 12 collectors installed instead of the initially planned 18.

Iredell Water recognized the numerous benefits of AMI meters and decided to expand their use beyond the original project scope. The collaboration between Iredell Water and Kamstrup was successful, demonstrating a great combination of durability, technical expertise, effective time management, and overall effectiveness in providing water management services in rural areas.

“I asked a lot of technical questions upfront, and Kamstrup delivered. The project went smoothly with no major surprises.”

– Danny Sloan, General Manager & CEO, Iredell Water Corp.

The transformative results of migrating from an AMR to an AMI solution

Iredell Water experienced dramatic improvements in productivity across operations after implementing Kamstrup’s advanced metering infrastructure. By transitioning to automated electronic processes, they reduced billing cycle times to just 3–5 days, allowing them to invoice customers faster and decrease the risk of non-payment from clients moving.

The new system also delivered a 99.2% daily meter read rate, providing comprehensive data coverage across Iredell’s sweeping service area. The wealth of information enabled proactive leak repair and notifications during severe freezes, minimizing customer damage and reducing strain on the water system. This level of responsiveness was a monumental benefit.

Kamstrup’s precision technology yielded significant bottom-line impacts as well. Despite only 3% customer growth in 2022, Iredell’s water sales rose 10% over the previous year. On a per-user basis, consumption increased by 6.5%—likely attributable to the enhanced accuracy of Kamstrup’s meters versus the previous manually read system. Early data indicates Iredell is capturing over 1 million more gallons per month than before, reducing lost water.

The partnership between Iredell Water, Fortiline and Kamstrup has been invaluable, with both parties deeply grateful for the opportunity to collaborate on this transformative project. By combining Kamstrup’s innovative technology with Iredell’s distribution expertise, they have taken great strides toward securing a sustainable water future for the rural communities of North Carolina.

“One of the biggest ROIs of any project is relationships. And at Kamstrup, we are so thankful we've had the chance to partner with Iredell and Fortiline.”

– Amy Newman, Project Manager, Kamstrup.

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