DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS: UPGRADE WATER METER-READING TECHNOLOGIES

13-B
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS:
UPGRADE WATER METER-READING TECHNOLOGIES
Problem Identification:
The City’s existing network of water meters is old and in need of replacement. Additionally, most City meters require labor-intensive manual readings to collect billing information.

Recommended Action:
Advance plans to implement upgraded water meter-reading technologies.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
Bureau of Water and Wastewater

Estimated Annual Impact:
While the immediate financial impact cannot be estimated, it has been projected that a similar initiative by the City of Philadelphia’s Water Department will result in a net present value savings of $25 million over 20 years. Implementation should lead to savings that result from reduced need for manual meter reading, associated equipment reductions (vehicles), and less theft of service.

Estimated Implementation Costs:
Not Determined

Barriers to Implementation:
The capital cost of replacing the City’s existing network of water meters will be high.

Projected Implementation:
3 – 5 years

Next Steps:
Embark on pilot testing of automatic meter-reading technologies and develop a financing and implementation strategy to upgrade the City’s meter-reading technologies.

Analysis:
The City has already engaged a professional consulting firm to assist in developing plans to replace its outdated network of water meters with automatic meter-reading technology that allows meter readings to be performed via radio transmittal’eliminating the need for manual meter readings and the requirement for the Department’s personnel to gain direct access to the meter.

Currently, the Bureau of Water and Wastewater has over 100 personnel in its utility billing section with a budget of approximately $7.5 million.

After upgrading its meter-reading technologies, Philadelphia became able to collect monthly billing information for its water system by using three vans equipped with automatic meter-reading (AMR) technologies. Ultimately, this enabled the reduction of approximately 60 meter-reading positions and associated overhead cost savings. It is important to note that no layoffs were required as personnel were redeployed to address other staffing needs.