For most of the existence of Syringa Heights Water District, each meter was visually read. During summer and fall, a board member like Mike Benjamin would drive around to each meter box, dig down, pull up the concrete cover, wipe away the cobwebs, clean off the glass of the meter and record in his notebook the meter reading for each home.
He would then have to go back to the district’s accounting office and someone would have to input those numbers, mechanically multiply the number of gallons by the current rate per thousand gallons and come up with a bill.
While clumsy, the method also produced big errors in accounting. Mike could not get to all meters when the snow fell. Hence, the board and accounting firm would have to make educated guesses as to how much water each user used during the winters months. That often led to under or over accounting .
Starting in 2009, the District purchased with a loan about 200 remote read water meters, the kind of meters (automated meter reading or AMR technology) being used around the country, including the North Side water district.
With the proper software and reader, now Mike and a trained reader or “certified operating engineer” (as required by the Department of Environmental Quality) drive the entire Syringa Water District route in a hour to two hours and pick up the readings through radio signaling. Winter or summer, it is then easy and very accurate to port the readings from the reader to the computer.
During the month of January water district clients use between 1000 and 12,000 gallons per month. Typically, in January water use averages about 2 to 4 thousand gallons a month. For example, two of our board members have two person families. One uses about 2200 gallons a month and the other uses about 4400. They can not account for the difference. The board member who uses the higher amount assumes it is because his family loves to wash clothes and take a lot of showers.
During the summer, usage climbs: The range is between 2000 and 45,000 gallons. Obviously, the more water a person uses the more money he or she pays.