City moves toward automated meter reading

August 17, 2016

The city of Klamath Falls Water Division is working toward an automated meter reading system, which could eventually make it possible for individuals to monitor their water usage on a smartphone or personal computer.

Council members on Monday voted to authorize the city’s Water Division to buy 3,428 Sensus RadioRead water meter transceiver units from Ferguson Waterworks at a price tag of $529,635. The transceivers are warrantied to last for 20 years, according to Water Division Manager Randy Travis.

The purchase will mean 100 percent of all water meters within the water system will be radio read meters. Currently, more than 12,200 of the more than 16,000 water meters within city limits have radio read transceivers installed, according to a memo from Travis.

“When we began this process back in 2010, it was ultimately the goal to have a completed advanced metering infrastructure, which would be the ability to read these meters through communication centers,” Travis said.

Increased efficiencies

“It’s going to give us the ability to read all the meters, all at once; give us the ability to monitor consumption at the meters on an hourly basis if we want to. It gives the Utility Billing a great tool to respond to customer questions ... We’ll be able to identify leaks that happen at 2 o’clock in the morning this way. It’s just phenomenal possibilities. It will actually open up the possibility someday for our customers to monitor their own water usage through smartphones and home computers.”

Travis expressed confidence in the reliability of radio read meter transceivers already in use by the city.

The Water Division has experienced less meter reading errors, and a reduction in needed “manpower” and vehicle usage required to manually read water meters, he said.

Travis also said he believes customer service in areas such as reduced response time to possible leak identification and notification have improved. More efficiencies are expected.

“The plan is to shift some work tasks that are being performed at the Water Division over to the Utility Billing department; work tasks such as meter repair and maintenance,” Travis said. “That will free the Water Division staff up to do some maintenance activities that are kind of getting ignored or more on a reactionary basis as opposed to proactive.”

Budgeted funds

Funds for the purchased were already allocated in the Water Division of the 2016-17 budget, and will continue to be “sourced” from water service revenue, according to the city memo.

In other council business, City Engineer Scott Souders shared that Sugarmans’ Corner project came up approximately $10,500 under budget at $143,436. The final number includes a change-order for roughly $5,000 to add five security cameras to the site.

Original estimates from a previous low-bidder offered to construct the project for $273,684. City staff requested city departments, including Street, Parks, Maintenance, and Wastewater Divisions take on a portion of the project, in addition to local sub-contractors, for not more than $153,976. The city celebrated a ribbon-cutting on June 30 and the park is now open for use.

“We were very successful in pulling all of our crews together,” Souders said, of the project. “I was extremely impressed and proud with how well they focused on this project and how hard they worked to make this come together collaboratively between our divisions.”

The city will continue to work with the Klamath Falls Downtown Association and others in the community on providing additional artwork for the park through private funding sources.

Councilman Bill Adams complimented Souders on the project, but questioned whether the park should include playground equipment.

“I’m not sure how our shrubbery is going to hold up down there,” Adams said. “But it does look nice right now.”