Located in central Florida, the City of Auburndale is a thriving and steadily growing community that boasts great spaces to live, work and play. With more than a dozen lakes and ponds within its borders, a crucial component of the city’s appeal can be found in its abundance of water. Auburndale’s Public Utilities Department, which serves approximately 11,700 residential and 1,100 commercial water customers, is continually working to provide the best water to residents and their families.
Addressing an Aging System
In 2016, the Public Utilities Department saw a need to upgrade aging infrastructure across its water system. The city’s water meters and endpoints had provided many years of reliable service, and it was an opportune time to investigate how more advanced technology could benefit the utility and its customers.
To start the process, utility department leaders initially met with the manufacturer of their current water meters, Badger Meter, to discuss options. Badger Meter and the City of Auburndale had worked together since 2005, and the water utility team was currently using the company’s ORION® Classic (CE) endpoints and Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system.
“After speaking with Badger Meter’s team, we knew that our next system needed to be an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system,” said Ryan Williamson, deputy finance director for the City of Auburndale. “AMI technology offered us a chance to reduce time in the field spent reading meters manually, and the automation would allow us to efficiently monitor the system so we could devote more time to other utility and customer service projects.”
Identifying a Solution
To explore new technology options, Williamson and other Public Utilities Department leaders spoke with numerous metering manufacturers over the course of four to five months. They ultimately chose a managed solution from Badger Meter, combining the BEACON® Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) software suite with proven ORION® Cellular communication to deliver a simple, yet powerful, end-to-end solution.
“Compared to its competitors, Badger Meter offered the most cost-effective solution, which was a main selling point. Plus, Badger Meter’s technologies do not require infrastructure and continued maintenance. Everything is self-contained within the meter pit and the endpoints use existing cellular networks,” added Williamson.
With the decision made, the City of Auburndale’s Public Utilities Department turned its attention to financing. Williamson and the other department leaders initially thought the project would take three to four years to complete. However, the utility was able to refinance previously purchased bonds to free-up the money needed for a rapid installation of its water meter upgrades.
A Rapid, Successful Deployment
With funding in place, the Public Utilities Department began its installation of BEACON AMA, ORION Cellular endpoints and new Recordall® Model 25 Disc Series meters. Several new E-Series® Ultrasonic meters in 1.5- and 2-inch sizes also were implemented for small and mid-sized businesses.
The E-Series Ultrasonic meters are compact, totally encapsulated and weatherproof with UV-resistant housing and no moving parts to deliver improved reliability and greater extended low flow accuracy. Additionally, the E-Series Ultrasonic meters help Auburndale improve the reliability of and access to detailed high-resolution data for its small and mid-sized businesses.
“Without the need for utility-owned, fixed-network infrastructure, BEACON AMA and ORION Cellular help cities like Auburndale proactively track water consumption data as well as quickly address leaks, improve efficiencies and enhance customer service. From BEACON AMA and the ORION Cellular endpoints to the newly deployed Recordall Model 25, the system works together to save cities time and money,” said Shauna Griffin, regional manager with Badger Meter.
A dependable, long-lasting residential meter, the Recordall Model 25 combines the accuracy of positive displacement meters with the reliability and economy of nutating disc technology.
To support installation of the new technologies, the Public Utilities Department hired a third-party installer, which managed the hands-on deployment. The full water utility distribution team also helped to manage the process, making for an easy transition.
“In total, we were able to accomplish a nearly complete installation of new technologies throughout our water system in nine months,” said Williamson. “It was an incredible accomplishment made possible because of the dedication of our utility distribution team, the Badger Meter team and the hard work of the third-party installer, which provided real-time invoicing, deployment and delivery information. We had a full team effort.”
Enhancing Customer Support
With its new technologies in the ground, the City of Auburndale is just beginning to see how BEACON AMA and ORION Cellular endpoints, along with the Recordall Model 25 meters, are helping to catch leaks more quickly and provide up-to-date data, which is especially helpful when managing customer service issues. As part of the BEACON AMA solution, the City of Auburndale also has access to the EyeOnWater® consumer engagement portal, enabling customers to take a hands-on approach to monitoring their water usage. When using the mobile application or any Internet-enabled device to log in, customers have the ability to see and understand their water use—which helps to identify leaks more quickly and supports conservation efforts.
“Although we are just beginning the roll-out of EyeOnWater to our customers, we already are receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback. We have even heard from a couple of our commercial customers that they are hooked on the application,” said Williamson. “That incredible feedback means that we are doing our jobs by providing exceptional service to our customers. It feels great.”
Leading the Way to Smart Water
The City of Auburndale completed its implementation of Badger Meter’s proven AMI technologies in winter 2018, except for a handful of commercial meters. Already, the city staff is thrilled with the outcome.
“I heartily believe that every city should do this. The data available, and how we can help our customers is great,” concluded Williamson. “The final outcome has been unbelievable, and I am proud to know that the City of Auburndale is leading the way to smart water for our region.”