24 Jan Inside Our Meter Testing Program
In 2019, WHUD launched a new meter testing program aimed at helping the District become more proactive in managing and maintaining the 34,000+ meters that measure water use across our service area. In the program’s first year, WHUD tested 1,283 meters – old and new – helping us find problematic meters before they caused issues for our customers.
“The first piece of this program is that we’re working to phase out our older, manual meters,” said Jared A., WHUD’s Meter Asset Management Supervisor. “Most of these are approaching the 20-year mark, which is the max life expectancy. Before this program, we typically only tested meters when a customer called with a concern or if one of our meter technicians noticed something strange with the reading. Now, our goal is to locate and replace these meters before they misread or stop.”
This process relies on the District’s geographic information systems (GIS) for route efficiency and record-keeping. Using GIS, Jared has access to a map of all manual meters in the District. He can quickly select a random sampling of meters that are in close geographic proximity. This creates a list of meters that he then pulls for testing.
Once pulled, the meters are attached to a special meter testing bench that simulates low flow, medium flow and high flow. Each meter is tested at each setting and a weighted average is recorded. Because the goal is to phase these older meters out of use, they are all either sold or disposed of and replaced by new digital meters. The accuracy test helps the District determine the best course of disposal.
In addition to testing the older, manual meters, Jared is also testing new digital meters before they’re installed. For every new batch of meters WHUD receives, Jared tests 10% for accuracy.
“Most often, if there is a problem with one meter in a batch, it’s a manufacturing issue and other meters in that batch will have the same issue,” said Jared. “By testing a selection of the new meters, we can prevent the possibility of installing a faulty batch of meters and ensure accuracy for our customers.”
The impetus behind this program boils down to good customer service and fiscal responsibility – on behalf of our customers and for the District as a whole. Regarding the first, we want to ensure that we charge customers for what they are using, nothing more and nothing less. As for the latter, the accuracy of the meters we put in the ground have a direct impact District operations. As much as we don’t want to overcharge customers, if we have meters that register low, or stop all-together, we have water being used that isn’t being accounted for financially, which we refer to as “water loss”. Managing water loss is key to managing operating costs, which helps the District keep rates affordable for customers.
WHUD’s meter testing program is still in its infancy and is expected to grow in the year ahead, starting with the installation of a state-of-the-art new testing bench that will more than double our capacity to test meters.
If you ever have a question about the accuracy of your meter, call our customer care team at 615-672-4110. They answer calls Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm, and will be more than happy to get you the information you need or, if needed, create a service request to have your meter tested.