Dec 28, 2000

New Water Utility Technology Improves Billing Accuracy and Eliminates Estimated Meter Reading

AquaSource Inc., a Houston-based private water utility, is beginning the first phase of installing automated meter reading technology for its customers throughout Texas, announced Don Clayton, president of AquaSource. The new technology, a joint venture with Itron Inc., will greatly improve billing accuracy and eliminate the company from making monthly estimations of customer meters.

Automatic meters eliminate the need for AquaSource employees to go house-to-house in order to get accurate monthly water reads. Instead, the new technology allows meter readers to drive down the street and have the monthly water usage downloaded straight to a service trucks' on-board computer.

"In a time of rising costs in the utility market, water consumers are seeking better service from their utility," said Clayton. "Meter automation technology will be a key asset in meeting customer needs."

"AquaSource's first phase of meter automation system development will take place in Texas, where approximately 35,000 water meters will be distributed throughout the state," said Allen Sayles, president of the joint venture company. "Phase one began in March and is expected to take approximately nine months to complete."

Automated meter readers will enable AquaSource to better control operating costs, improve meter data collection processes and position the company for continued growth, says Clayton. He adds that AquaSource is committed to achieving numerous improvements in the systems it has acquired by investing in technology and other capital improvements.

According to Sayles, the value of the phase one contract to all vendors will be about $7 million. Subsequent phases may include expansion of the automated meter system to all of AquaSource's customers over several years.

Currently, the company services more than 400,000 water meters in 19 states.

In addition to managing the installation process, Itron will provide the AMR technology. Other key suppliers and service providers include Badger Meter Inc., Milwaukee; aluminum alloy casting makers Carson Industries Inc., Freeport, Pa.; waterworks supplier A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing Co., Dubuque, Ind.; Act Pipe & Supply Inc., Houston; and software distributor Honeywell DMC Service Inc., Saugus, Mass.