Streamline - Winter 2017 - 28


Check the Meter!
OVER THE PAST few years, I have spent a lot of time traveling across Virginia to meet with different waterworks to talk about
how to increase their sustainability. I have met with many waterworks that are struggling to make ends meet. They have just
enough cash from customers to pay for operations and repair catastrophic leaks, but not enough to do preventative maintenance
and replace old infrastructure. Waterworks management and operators know that raising rates even a little would help ease the
pain, but often the politicians in control of that process are opposed to the idea. How can a cash strapped waterworks survive
in this situation? Many are left with no choice but to try. Some of the most hardworking and talented operators and managers
are keeping these waterworks afloat against all odds through their hard work and dedication. What I hope to do in this article,
and all my articles, is throw them a lifeline with ideas that can be helpful in their endeavor. The first thing a cash-strapped
waterworks should do is look for cash in the water meter for help. This help comes in many forms.

Test and replace meters

First, you should randomly bench
test some of your meters to get an idea
about whether or not they are accurate. If the meters are off by 20 percent then, since meters usually err on
the side of under reporting, you are
losing 20 percent of your revenue to
inaccurate meters. If they are older
than 10 years, some operators automatically assume that they are inaccurate and schedule to replace them
anyway, thus saving the cost of meter
testing and calibration. Chances are,
a waterworks struggling to make ends
meet will have also deferred the cost
to replace meters, and their financial
problems are compounded by this fact.
Many waterworks automatically decide
to purchase the new automatic radio
read meters so they can lower their
manpower expenses. If the waterworks
is very small, cheaper manual meters
may be a better bargain. There is also
some benefit to having a meter reader
walk the entire distribution system
once every month. This meter reader
can be one of your greatest assets by
locating leaks, broken infrastructure,
and other problems in the distribution
system and reporting that information
back to the public works department.
28 S T R E A M L I N E * W i n t e r 2 0 1 7

You should also check all of your production meters for accuracy and replace
them if you are not comfortable with
the amount of inaccuracy you find. If
production has decreased, it could tell
you that you need to troubleshoot or
maintain your source infrastructure.
For example, a well may have a hole in
the drop pipe between the well pump
and the ground surface, decreased pump
efficiency, reduced aquifer production,
or it may simply be just an old, inaccurate meter. A surface intake may be
partially clogged with debris, the surface
source may be low, or again, it may just
be an inaccurate meter.
Waterworks that already have customer meters should consider installing
zone meters on their major branch mains.
Consumption from customer meters can
be subtracted from the consumption for
the zone meter supplying that zone, indicating how much unaccounted for water
exists in the zone. Obviously zones with
the highest unaccounted for water need
to be checked for leakage.
Don't have meters?

If you don't already have meters, there
are some things to consider. If it is financially possible to add meters for all customers, production sources and transfer

pump stations, then you should do so.
If not, consider installing production
meters and zone meters on all of your
major branch mains in the distribution
system. This will provide some accounting of how much water is being produced
and where it is being used or leaking.
The accounting of total distribution
water subtracted from total production
is beneficial in locating potential leaky
sections of the distribution system even
in the absence of customer meters.
Meter all connections and use

Many waterworks have connections that are not metered. Examples
would include their Town Hall, the Fire
Department, and the Veterans of Foreign
Wars lodge. If the waterworks chooses
not to charge these connections, that
is a separate issue than accounting for
water used at them. All connections
should be metered to help determine
how much water is unaccounted for.
Similarly, fire flow, flushing, use by
construction contractors, road maintenance crews, etc. should all be metered
and recorded where possible. In those
instances that usage cannot be metered,
it should be estimated to the best of the
user's ability. I understand that estimating flow is rarely simple, but the user and


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Winter 2017

From the President: Ammonia-Nitrogen
From the Executive Director: Your Most Important Tool
VRWA’s 2017 Expo
How to Pass a Certification Test – The First Time
Slips, Trips and Falls – Winter Safety Tips
Looking Forward to Being of Service
Floodplain Management
No Wipes in the Pipes
Going Green?
Need Cash? Check the Meter!
The Rate Setting Results…Are In
Introducing JumpStart – A New App for Operators to Test Their Skills Before Testing!
Throwing My Loop: Christmas Lights on the Barn!
VRWA Member Corner
eLearning Benefits
Membership Application
Benefits for VRWA Members
Board of Directors
VRWA Committees
Index to Advertisers/
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Intro
Streamline - Winter 2017 - cover1
Streamline - Winter 2017 - cover2
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 3
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 4
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 5
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 6
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 7
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 8
Streamline - Winter 2017 - From the President: Ammonia-Nitrogen
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 10
Streamline - Winter 2017 - From the Executive Director: Your Most Important Tool
Streamline - Winter 2017 - VRWA’s 2017 Expo
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 13
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 14
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 15
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 16
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 17
Streamline - Winter 2017 - How to Pass a Certification Test – The First Time
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 19
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Slips, Trips and Falls – Winter Safety Tips
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Looking Forward to Being of Service
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 22
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Floodplain Management
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 24
Streamline - Winter 2017 - No Wipes in the Pipes
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 26
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Going Green?
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Need Cash? Check the Meter!
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 29
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 30
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 31
Streamline - Winter 2017 - The Rate Setting Results…Are In
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 33
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 34
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Introducing JumpStart – A New App for Operators to Test Their Skills Before Testing!
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 36
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Throwing My Loop: Christmas Lights on the Barn!
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 38
Streamline - Winter 2017 - VRWA Member Corner
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 40
Streamline - Winter 2017 - eLearning Benefits
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Membership Application
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Benefits for VRWA Members
Streamline - Winter 2017 - 44
Streamline - Winter 2017 - VRWA Committees
Streamline - Winter 2017 - Index to Advertisers/
Streamline - Winter 2017 - cover3
Streamline - Winter 2017 - cover4