Drive-by meter readers helping PCWA control costs, accurately bill

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New technology is allowing the Placer County Water Agency to read more water meters, keep costs down, and provide more timely, accurate and reliable billing information to customers, it was reported at Thursday’s meeting of the PCWA Board of Directors. Director of Customer Services John Kingsbury, who has overseen development of the program over the past eight years, provided an overview of the water agency’s Meter Automation Program. Until 2002, Kingsbury said, PCWA meter readers were scrambling up banks and digging through overgrowth to find and read meters. Meter readers would each read about 600 meters per day and manually record their numbers in notepads. Through meter replacements and retrofitting in recent years, the agency has added electronic transmitters to meters and is now able to collect data on a drive-by basis, using vehicle-mounted or hand-held readers. Data from the readers is then electronically transferred into the agency’s billing system. "It’s much more accurate and consistent,” Kingsbury said. “Customers can be assured that their billings reflect the actual amount of water they have used.” Today, Kingsbury said, PCWA is using electronic meter reading on 33,411 accounts, while still manually reading a select group of commercial, fire service and irrigation water metered accounts. – Journal staff report