Situated along the Arkansas River and Lake Dardanelle in the heart of the Arkansas River Valley, Russellville, Arkansas is known for having plentiful amounts of high quality, fresh water. Nearby springs from the surrounding Ozark and Ouachita Mountains are a valuable resource providing an abundance of fresh water to the town’s residents. As the water and waste water utility for Russellville, City Corporation provides services for nearly 11,000 water customers and 10,000 waste water customers, and the utility strives to ensure its customers have the best water in the state year after year.
When Too Much Water Means Loss of Revenue
Prior to working with Badger Meter, City Corporation’s largest challenge was managing non-revenue water loss, or unaccounted-for water. Hovering around 18 to 19 percent, the non-revenue water loss was considerably higher than the goal of 10 percent or less.
“We want to provide safe water that is high quality and tastes good. But we also want to be able to provide as much water as folks need at a fair price,” said Steve Mallett, general manager at City Corporation. “When you’re losing water at such high rates, providing service at a fair price becomes much more challenging.”
Recognizing the need for a new approach, City Corporation leaders contacted Badger Meter to discuss possible solutions.
Managed Solution Increases Efficiency and Lowers Costs
After learning about Badger Meter’s capabilities, City Corporation selected the company’s BEACON AMA® Managed Solution with cellular endpoints, along with E-Series® Ultrasonic meters.
“The ORION® Cellular endpoints as part of BEACON AMA are a perfect match for our objectives,” added Mallett. “Because the endpoints use cellular networks, we didn’t need to install gateways or other fixed-network infrastructure. We have the ability to deploy the system when and where we want to and can also install it alongside our existing system.”
Using the BEACON AMA solution, City Corporation tracks unaccounted-for water on a daily basis, with accurate, real-time consumption data.
“We’ve actually monitored usage versus plant production on a daily basis for our larger customers,” said Jeremy Myers, customer service manager at City Corporation. “With BEACON AMA, we receive an accurate monthly total for water usage and non-revenue water, and we don’t have to worry about lag times from monthly manual meter readings.”
Notifying customers of a potential leak within 24 to 48 hours after receiving the data, rather than within a 30-day billing cycle, has also helped to decrease unaccounted-for water percentages. By receiving data in real time, City Corporation is able to identify potentially harmful leaks, notify customers and resolve the issue faster than ever before.
“Rather than going out into the field to read the meters, we can now see the data on our laptop and determine if there have been significant changes overnight,” said Ricky Biffle, service technician at City Corporation. “We are saving gas, money and time. This allows us to take care of other projects that previously had been on hold.”
Removing Lead in the System
Prior to working with Badger Meter, City Corporation used water meters containing lead. Because of the age of the system, the lead levels exceeded the minimum requirements allowed by U.S. low-lead standards. Moving to Badger Meter’s stainless-steel E-Series Ultrasonic meters enabled the utility to reduce the lead in its water system. The E-Series meters monitor consumption, rate of flow, reverse-flow indications and alarms and because they have no moving parts, they provide greater reliability over a longer life expectancy.
Caring for the Customer
With the BEACON AMA managed solution, City Corporation’s customers also have access to the EyeOnWater® mobile application, which allows customers to take a hands-on approach to monitoring their water usage. When using the app, customers have the ability to see and understand their water use.
“Through the web portal and the app, customers can see their own consumption patterns. They can set alerts for high consumption or for when their usage has reached a certain level,” said Myers. “EyeOnWater gives the consumer a lot of visibility and access to how they’re individually using water, which in turn helps us respond to their questions and concerns more efficiently.”
Managing Water in a City with the “Best Tasting Water in North America”
“We’re really proud of our water system. It’s consistently ranked best in the state. Last year, it ranked best in three states, and now this year, it was voted the people’s choice winner for ‘best tasting water’ in North America at the 2016 AWWA conference,” said Russellville Mayor Randy Horton. “We want our water system to last for years to come, and with Badger Meter technology, I know it will.”
“Not only do we provide great water, we provide great customer service on top of that. Our staff is happy with the new system and our customers are happy too,” added Mallett. “I think it’s obviously a success on our part.”
With more accurate measures of unaccounted-for water, real-time data to monitor for leaks, reduced lead in the system and more accessible information for customers, City Corporation is on its way to ensuring that Russellville remains a “Best Place” for drinking water.