In 2002, three rural Tennessee water utility districts consolidated operations under one organization, creating the Water Authority of Dickson County (WADC). Combining these entities resulted in centralized water service for approximately 75 percent of the land mass and population of Dickson and surrounding counties. WADC, which now serves more than 20,700 water and 8,800 wastewater customers from four different towns, oversees water management for more than 400 square miles of land in north central Tennessee.
After consolidating, the authority standardized its metering operations under one solution and was initially pleased with the products and service. However, following the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2013, WADC decided to look beyond its current metering manufacturing company and evaluate other solutions in the market. Leaders from WADC began conversations with their counterparts across Tennessee to find new, longer-lasting and more accurate meters, as well as a solution that would help WADC more strategically detect leaks and efficiently manage its time. The conversations proved fruitful.
New Longer-Lasting Meters
To start, WADC addressed its meters. Michael Adams, executive director of WADC, wanted to concentrate on two main issues, “longevity and accuracy.” Working with his meter division manager, David Eaton, who has spent years researching and testing metering technologies available in the U.S., Adams selected Badger Meter’s Recordall® Model 25 Disc series meters. An ideal, long-lasting residential meter, Model 25 Recordall meters have a reduced disc nutation rate to decrease the wear on the water meter, and the meters deliver greater accuracy with extended flow ranges. So, in 2015, WADC converted its more than 20,000 meters to Badger Meter.
Improving Efficiency and Productivity
Next, Adams and the WADC team turned their focus to a more robust water meter reading solution. Traditionally, the water authority contracted its meter reading activities to outside suppliers, which required individuals to manually read all 20,000 meters – a time-consuming and highly intensive process. At times, the contracted employees even had to cross busy highways to read water meters.
“Manually reading the meters was taking too long. We needed to increase the productivity and efficiency of our water system,” said Adams.
Again, turning to its counterparts across the state, the WADC team found that numerous water utilities had had success with Badger Meter’s ORION® endpoints and BEACON® Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) solutions. “The WADC team was initially thinking about other solutions, but Badger Meter’s performance record with water utilities throughout Tennessee sold them on the solution,” said Duke Julian, Tennessee account manager for National Meter & Automation.
“We saw that Badger Meter’s technologies improved customer service, had a longer life-span and helped other utilities increase leak detection efforts. After these conversations, we knew this was the solution for us,” added Adams.
WADC selected Badger Meter’s automated meter reading (AMR) drive-by solution, with ORION Migratable (ME) endpoints and is now undergoing a systematic deployment across its service area. As of May 2018, the authority added ORION endpoints to one-fifth of its meters, beginning the conversion of its entire water system to the new drive-by solution. ORION ME endpoints are two-way endpoints for mobile applications with the capability of migrating to a fixed-network system to support future utility needs. In addition to providing daily water meter readings, the two-way functionality allows WADC to capture data profile information wirelessly during the normal reading process without having to directly access the endpoint. Because there is no longer a need to manually read the meters, WADC is planning to bring all meter reading activities in-house – saving time, resources and money.
“We are now able to profile a customer’s daily and hourly usage over a couple of months, whereas before, we only had each month’s total usage or simply total gallons used since the previous month’s reading,” said Adams. “This additional data is invaluable for our customer service efforts. We are more strategically detecting and addressing leaks; we are reducing water loss; and, we are improving our efficiency. And, we haven’t even fully deployed the new solution.”
Because of the initial success of Badger Meter’s AMR drive-by solution, WADC leaders are now looking at implementing Badger Meter’s BEACON AMA managed solution to provide even greater understanding of WADC water data. Badger Meter’s Recordall disc meters and the ORION product family will enable WADC to migrate to the BEACON AMA solution without the need for new infrastructure and extensive deployments. “We are very excited about this project and the new opportunities Badger Meter will offer for our system moving forward,” said Adams.
Since its original consolidation, WADC has been a model throughout Tennessee for other utility districts interested in combining to provide regional services. Today, water utilities across the state can look to WADC’s successful experience in deploying a thoughtful, productive and long-lasting water system.