For the past 14 years, Randy, a water department technician in the city of Evans, Colorado, has spent several days a month driving the streets to collect data from each of the city’s 6,500 aging water meters.
“We couldn’t provide customers with the best possible service because our technicians were tied up for days each month manually reading meters,” said Joni Crist, city of Evans utility billing specialist.
Aging meters often lead to inaccurate results, which for many years forced the utility to estimate the monthly water use for nearly one quarter of its residents.
“After we finally collected data from our meters, we had to rush to get the bills out the door,” said Crist. “We had very little time to examine the invoices for potential leaks and other problems that were affecting our customers.”
The city of Evans is located about an hour north of Denver. With about 20,000 residents and counting, the city is growing so fast that its newly-built Prairie Heights Middle School is already at capacity. Challenges with meter reads and billing only get bigger as the population grows. “We knew we needed to make a change,” said Crist.
To update its infrastructure and improve customer service, the utility turned to Sensus for a smart water network, including the FlexNet communication network and iPERL and OMNI water meters.
With the new meters and FlexNet system, the utility now receives accurate usage data—without the need for technicians like Randy to drive the city’s streets. The technology also reduced estimated reads by an incredible 94 percent, empowering crews to focus on stopping leaks or address other customer concerns.
“Our technicians have noticed a difference in customer satisfaction,” said Crist. "Armed with data collected from new meters, they’re able to quickly identify solutions to their problems before they are reflected on our customers’ bills.”
The FlexNet system is a long-range radio network that provides the utility with a scalable and reliable communications infrastructure. No matter how many more people move to the area, Evans is poised to handle utility billing for its new residents with greater efficiency and accuracy.
“We’re so glad we upgraded our technology when we did,” said Crist. “We’ve set ourselves up for sustainable growth for years to come.”