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Sunday, July 28, 2013
The Western Virginia Water Authority strives to protect our natural resources and enhance the quality of life in our regional community through the effective use of innovative water management practices. Backed by guaranteed savings in operational costs, the $32 million energy performance-based contract currently underway meets the organization’s goals by increasing meter accuracy, improving leak detection, reducing energy costs and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions — all without adverse impact to the operating budget.
Up until 2010, the authority funded $600,000 annually for meter replacement and implementation of a radio read meter system. However, as this process would not quickly provide the organization and our customers with the savings or data needed, the decision was made to enter into the performance-based contract. Over the past year, 58,000 commercial and residential water meters have been replaced with electronic wireless meters to take advantage of advancements in metering technology and to better identify water lost to leaks.
The new system includes a fixed-base Automated Meter Infrastructure system that reads meters remotely and frees up existing meter readers for more strategic purposes. A new integrated customer information system implemented in July improves current billing and customer service practices. This system offers our customers the option to receive paperless bills, review consumption graphs online and get account information 24 hours a day.
Not only will the new meters help customers detect leaks sooner (consumption data is gathered daily as opposed to every two months), the project includes installation of zone meters that compare meter readings to production statistics on a neighborhood scale.
This new knowledge enables the authority to accurately identify underground leaks that are contributing to water loss and direct capital improvement dollars to those areas that will provide the greatest return on our customers’ investment.
As the authority is fully funded by ratepayers, any savings generated by reducing water lost to leaks directly benefits our customers by allowing us to effectively spend dollars in infrastructure maintenance.
Reducing energy expenses and carbon emissions is another key component of the project. Improvements include installing new higher efficiency lighting and HVAC systems in our buildings. Because pumping water uses so much of the authority’s electrical budget, 17 pumps were selected for replacement. The new pumps all have high-efficiency motors that use considerably less energy.
The upgrades are expected to help the authority save more than $1 million in annual electricity and operational costs and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 8.8 million pounds per year — an amount equal to removing more than 780 cars from the road annually. Saving water and saving energy benefits all our customers by allowing the authority to wisely invest in our community’s drinking water system.
Weather JournalMidday update: More ice likely later