Water District Identifies Leaks with Advanced Metering Analytics

A rural Arkansas water district turned to advanced metering, cloud-based analytics and cellular technology to identify and locate leaks across its vast service area.

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Highway 71 Water District No. 1, a rural water district located between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains in Alma, Ark., services approximately 2,500 water customers scattered across 175 miles of distribution lines throughout the countryside. The utility prides itself on providing safe, high-quality water to its community while maintaining a standard of excellence in customer service and environmental conservation.

However, the water district was facing challenges. The large service area and distance between meters made it difficult to detect leaks, resulting in high water loss percentages. Highway 71 managers knew something had to be done.

Finding a Leak Detection Solution

Working with its local metering distributor, Henard Utility Products, the water district identified potential solutions. “The team at Highway 71 had tried several leak detection solutions in the past. When we introduced Badger Meter’s BEACON® Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) managed solution, they found the system that met their needs,” said Mike Henard, owner of Henard Utility Products. “Highway 71 was already familiar with Badger Meter, having used the company’s drive-by automatic meter reading technology, ORION® Classic (CE), for nearly 10 years. So, the utility knew Badger Meter would offer reliable and accurate water meters and meter reading systems.”

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BEACON AMA is a cloud-based software analytics platform that provides utilities with real-time, actionable data to monitor and manage their water systems.

BEACON AMA is a cloud-based software analytics platform that provides utilities with real-time, actionable data to monitor and manage their water systems. Its cellular network technology, ORION Cellular, was ideally suited for most of the Highway 71 installations. Because BEACON AMA is also compatible with fixed network and drive-by meter reading systems, it provided flexibility in deployment for those areas of the district that did not receive strong cellular signals. By implementing the BEACON AMA solution, Highway 71 employees were able to monitor meters from the office to identify areas with leaks, saving considerable time and money in obtaining meter readings across the large rural countryside.

Along with the decision to implement BEACON AMA to help identify leaks in its system, water district leaders also needed an effective way to further isolate the location of the leaks so they could be fixed quickly to reduce water loss.

Zoning for a Solution

Because Highway 71’s system encompasses a large area of land, the district decided to implement a zoning, or district metering, solution. “By breaking down the system into ten zones, we were able to isolate exactly where leaks were occurring,” said Jesse McChristian, Jr., manager of Highway 71. “When we combined the data-monitoring capabilities of BEACON AMA with our zoning strategy, we located leaks in just a few hours compared to the two or three days it had taken us in the past.”

To target leaks within the water system, McChristian and his team created a zoned district metering solution. In addition to the meters already on site at each customer’s property, Highway 71 added ten zone or “master district” meters from Badger Meter’s ModMAG® M-Series® battery-powered mag meters. Like a tree trunk, the zone meters serve as the intermediary to the residential “branches” or meters. With the implementation of the district metering solution and BEACON AMA, Highway 71 was able to identify numerous leaks throughout its system, equaling approximately 125 gallons of water per minute. With the new solution in place, Highway 71 easily located the leaks and repaired the damage, saving the utility $260,000 annually in non-revenue water purchased from its supplier.

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To target leaks within the water system, the Highway 71 team created a zoned district metering solution. In addition to the meters already on site at each customer’s property, Highway 71 added ten zone or “master district” meters to monitor its system.

Although the water district is still phasing in BEACON AMA, with 227 units deployed on zone and residential meters, it’s already seeing results. “We’ve cut down on time spent reading meters and have cut our water loss in half,” McChristian added. “In fact, the BEACON AMA solution has already paid for itself. We could not be happier.”

Highway 71 customers have also started to use the EyeOnWater® mobile and tablet application that is part of BEACON AMA. When using the app, utility customers can see and understand their water use in real time, allowing them to take a hands-on approach to monitoring their water usage. The utility is saving time in responding to customer questions, and its customers now have greater control of their water consumption.

The BEACON AMA and district metering solutions have saved Highway 71 money, time and water. With increased revenue coming into the utility, Highway 71 was even able to hire a new full-time employee and is upgrading its meters.

New Meters

Using the money it saved identifying and repairing costly leaks in its system, the water district will be deploying Badger Meter’s E-Series® Ultrasonic meters and High-Resolution Encoders (HR-E®). The stainless steel E-Series Ultrasonic meters use solid-state technology in a compact, totally encapsulated, weatherproof, and UV-resistant housing and monitor consumption, rate of flow, reverse-flow indications, and alarms. “Our team liked that the E-Series meter has no moving parts and will be more accurate over time compared to mechanical meters,” said McChristian. “I trust that these meters will be reliable, accurate and will last.”

With these solutions in place, Highway 71 Water District No. 1 is well-equipped to offer its rural Arkansas customers safe, high-quality water and exceptional customer service for years to come.


Badger Meter is a leading manufacturer of products using flow measurement and control technologies. To learn more, visit www.badgermeter.com.

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