When Elmore took over as Thunderbolt’s public works director, he was concerned about the finanical health of the water system. He was concerned that the meter reads weren’t accurate, especially on commercial accounts, and suspected the old mechanical meters were under reading.
In a test, Thunderbolt installed a Master Meter Octave Ultrasonic meter in the service line for a local nursing home. Measured consumption skyrocketed, with an average consumption of 35 GPM for the first 24 hours. Predictably, the customer’s reflex was that somethign must be wrong — the meter read had to be wrong, feeling there was no way they were using this much water. Elmore and his crew worked patiently with the building’s facility manager to investigate. Within the building, they shut off everything that could consume water, and saw that the meter was still registering a steady flow. That water was going somewhere. They then throughly investigated all fixtures that could be potentially using the water, and identified several leaks, which the building repaired. In the end, the facility buttoned up wasted water on their side of the meter, and Thunderbolt’s revenue improved because the new solid state Octave unit was accurately measuring consuption.
Based on the success of the initial Octave meter, the city began installing solid state meters on all their large commercial accounts. The results were transformational. Finally the town was getting fair compensation for water. This took their operations from the red to the black.
In doing so, it had opened the ability to address non-revenue water issues associated with distribution. “When I started the program, the water and sewer department was in the hole. I said something’s got to be done about this. We are sitting on good revenue now. We’re now able to start other improvements, water line replacements, water valve replacements, because our account is healthy,” comments Elmore. Elmore has also begun a leak location program to leaks in distribution, something made possible by improved revenues through accurate metering.