BY MELANIE BUCK –
Observing daily usage and receiving usage notification alerts are two of the perks offered by updated meters for customers of Mena Water Utilities. Charles Pitman, manager of the utility has reported that replacements of meters will be complete by early March. The project has been underway for some time but the new system is designed to provide hourly readings to the company and will be ‘read’ through transmitters on the meters.
Pitman explained that the old meters were Sensus meters and were read by a Sensus touch-read system. A meter reader had to physically go to each meter and touch a wand to an electronic box on the lid of the meter to get the reading. “Newer meter reading technologies allow for reading the meters from a vehicle nearby or even from the water office,” said Pitman. Mena Water Utilities chose to purchase the radio transmitter meters from Mueller Systems in 2013 and began installation that December. Hersey brand meters and KP Electronic transmitters replaced the old Sensus meters. However, some of the transmitters that were sold to Mena Water Utilities turned out to be defective. KP Electronics has since updated their model and replacement of those units began.
The decision was made to replace each radio transmitter with an updated model. Around 4,000 transmitters have been replaced. “The KP Electronics reading system was chosen partly because it has the radio transmitters on the meters and have the ability to send a current, hourly reading to the office.” With hourly readings reaching the office, a website will be set up that will be updated as well. Customers will be able to log on and see their daily usage and will have the option to set usage notification alerts. This will allow customers to recognize a leak quicker and keep their monthly bills under control. “It will give consumers an extra level of comfort,” said Pitman.
He also explained that in some instances, hourly updates would not be available. “There are a couple of factors that can affect the readings, mostly obstructions such as topography or a vehicle parked between the meter and a collector or water over the top of the radio that will cause the readings to not come into the office regularly. For those, we will still have to read manually,” he said.
Pitman also said that customers will be notified on their bill and through local media when the website will be available for usage.