True Water Management for EJ Water

Early in 2014, Badger Meter offered a solution that would provide EJ Water with the water management system and the leading edge technology they were looking for.

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With a 2,400-square-mile service area and approximately 40,000 customers to serve in southeastern Illinois, EJ Water Cooperative was having difficulties scheduling the nearly 4,000-mile monthly drive to complete a meter reading cycle. The rising cost of its aging system and the need to reduce operating costs prompted the utility to search for a new meter-reading system.

A New Technology Offers Great Solutions

Bill Teichmiller, CEO of EJ Water Cooperative, was looking for a true water management system that would give the utility real-time usage information. Unlike electric companies, Teichmiller explained, “we didn’t know exactly how much water we were selling at any given time.”

Also, with such a large and dispersed service area, EJ Water had tried satellite-based meter reading and other approaches. “We knew that a cellular solution for our large geographic service area would be the way to go,” he noted.

Early in 2014, Badger Meter offered a solution that would provide EJ Water with the water management system and the leading edge technology they were looking for. Enabled by ORION Cellular endpoints, BEACON Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) provides near real-time water usage information to the utility and the end water customer through the EyeOnWater® smartphone/tablet app.

Bill Teichmiller, CEO of EJ Water Cooperative, using BEACON AMA.

Board Members See the Value

EJ Water purchased two starter kits, and Teichmiller decided to pilot BEACON AMA with the utility’s board of directors.

“We installed the system at the board members’ homes to prove the impact this solution could make,” Teichmiller said. “Within hours of having the system fully functional, we established that the president of the board had a constant leak of about five or six gallons an hour.”

Subsequently, using the BEACON AMA software suite, they could immediately see when the problem had been fixed without having to send out a crew to investigate. The board of directors was sold.

The next phase of the installation began with a few residential customers and the largest wholesale customer in the service area. The move was a strategic one that illustrated the operational cost on a large-volume customer. The total cost was $0.03 a day, while yielding $661 per day in revenue. The installation moved forward to residential customers.

Badger Meter Recordall® disc series meter installation.

To date, 1,900 ORION Cellular endpoints have been installed, and BEACON AMA is deployed over 15 percent of the service area. Since the start of the installation, EJ Water has reduced man-hours and now has the operational data to resolve customer issues more quickly.

Before the system installation, 35 percent of work orders were customer disputes about usage, and the average cost per work order was $34. With the new system in place, EJ Water Cooperative is able to determine whether there is a leak without having to send a technician to the location, thereby reducing the cost per work order. Overall, this has led to a 47 percent drop in work orders in 2016 and $93,000 a year in savings.

“We’ve trained many of our customers to use the mobile app and website so they can check their usage at their leisure,” Teichmiller said. With customer access to near real-time water usage information through the EyeOnWater app, there has been a 20 percent drop in inbound customer center phone calls. WW

Badger Meter is exhibiting at ACE19, booth 2608. Learn more at www.badgermeter.com.

Circle No. 285 on Reader Service Card

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