Hi-tech Water Meter Project Completed

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PUD is happy to announce that the water meter project is essentially complete as of January of this year.  This project was focused on changing our old technology water meters to a new sophisticated meter system called Automatic Meter Reading or AMR.

In this system, the meters are able to store hour-by-hour water usage electronically, and transfer this data by radio signal to a remote mobile laptop.   PUD is now able to save a huge amount of time and resources when the water meters are read each quarter.  With our old meters, our employees would need to walk up to each home in order to read the meter and record its usage for billing purposes.  With the new technology, our meter department staff is able to drive through each neighborhood, and while moving through, a laptop with AMR software receives the meter data as it is transferred by radio waves from each meter.   The meter reading activity which took approximately 2 to 3 weeks each quarter in the past now takes only one and one-half hours to complete with this new technology.   This is a significant time savings for our staff which allows PUD to concentrate on other activities, such as the ongoing maintenance and operation of our water system.

The new software also analyzes the data accumulated from each meter, and is able to identify problems such as water leaks at a customer’s residence.

By way of history regarding the AMR project, at a special District meeting held in September 2009, the water customers of the District voted unanimously to approve the AMR project.  The project budget was set at $396,780.  Fifty-five percent of the project was scheduled to come from an EPA grant.  The remaining forty-five percent was financed thru the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency in the form of a low interest loan which included the forgiveness of some of the principal.

The project was schedule to begin January 1, 2010 and conclude by December 31, 2012.  We are very happy to report that the project was actually completed and closed out in January 2012, almost a year ahead of schedule.  On February 6, 2012, the District completed its final request for funding under the EPA grant.

The following table shows how the District was able to come in significantly under budget predominantly by using its own internal staff to perform the work, saving almost $150,000 in total:

 

 

 

Category
Original Budget
Actual Cost
Difference
Labor – Operations, Administrative, Clerical
$  51,600
$   24,783
($26,817)
Benefits and labor indirects
$  15,480
$   11,015
($ 4,465)
Equipment (meters, collectors, server, software, etc.)
$  175,000
$  205,675
$30,675
Misc. Office Supplies
$    2,500
$     2,565
  $    65
Contract – Meter Installation
$  127,700
($127,700)
Legal/Project Management/Training
$   22,000
$     4,421
($17,579)
Other:  Customer education, misc
$     2,500
$     1,773
($   727)
Project Total
$  396,780
$250,232
($146,548)

 

We are also very happy to report that the share you our customers will pay for has been substantially reduced from the original amount.  Our customer share was originally estimated to be $178,551, but actual costs were only $112,604.

 

Federal share (EPA grant)   55%
$137,628
Pascoag share                     45%
$112,604
Total Project
$250,232

 

PUD staff would like to thank all of our customers who cooperated with us as we worked to change their water meters and complete this project in the least intrusive way possible.  The project was completed one year ahead of schedule and $146,548 under budget in total.  Thank you for allowing us to serve you.  You have put your faith in us, and in turn, our staff really stepped up to the challenge of bringing the most cost-efficient service that we could back to you.

 

Mike Kirkwood

General Manager

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