The small seaside town of Seal Rock stretches along the Pacific coastline in Oregon. The town and surrounding areas both receive water services from the Seal Rock Water District. While the typical population hovers around 5,500, the number of people served by the Seal Rock Water District swells to 8,000 when visitors flock to the area over summer, occupying homes that sit vacant through winter.
Despite many houses sitting empty for months on end, the billing department at Seal Rock Water District kept receiving an alarming question from concerned homeowners: “Why is my water bill so high this month? I’m not even there!”
Seal Rock has made no secret of its commitment to reducing non-essential water usage. Its touch-read and radio-read meters were installed 10 years ago, and the utility has made a significant investment in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) technology that provides the district with real-time data throughout its entire system.
By installing an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system, the district could take its efforts to the next level, allowing its customers real-time alerts for leaks. By eliminating non-revenue water use, Seal Rock would realize long-term savings.
“[We] can track and monitor system leaks,” said Seal Rock Water District General Manager Adam Denlinger. “It’s once the water hits the meter that we needed additional technology. AMI allowed us to take the next step to show customers their water use and how it’s affecting their bill.
“Ensuring we are using water efficiently is the most critical of critical services. At the heart of daily life is water, and we want to protect it for our customers and future generations,” he added.
Seal Rock Water District chose an AMI system provided by Ferguson Waterworks, which proposed the Sensus Fixed Base FlexNet® AMI solution. Using FlexNet® technology, Seal Rock can collect and access real-time data from various smart sensors.
With its new technology, the district is already seeing improvements for both customers and the district itself. Customers are benefiting from improved customer service with early leak detection, saving them money they would lose from wasted water. Customers are also able to view real-time meter reading information.
The Seal Rock Water District has been able to save staff time and vehicle-related expenses by eliminating the need for manual meter reading. Meter reading is now automatic and requires only seconds, enabling Seal Rock Water District to re-allocate its meter reading employee to other service areas.
The District’s unaccounted-for water is steadily declining, increasing supply revenue and getting the utility closer to the 15 percent threshold required by the state of Oregon.
“While the system is still in its infancy, the Seal Rock Water District has already received an overwhelmingly positive response from customers who have received notification of high water use generated through the AMI program,” Denlinger said. “With the old system, high usage was detected only through monthly meter readings and generally left the customer with a high volume of water usage to pay for before fixes were made. Detecting water leaks early with AMI is already having a positive impact on the district, our customers, and ultimately, the environment.” WW
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