By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The EBCI Water & Sewer Department is about to start replacing over 2,000 water meters to improve services to its customers. The water meter exchange program will involve replacing outdated Badger positive displacement meters with Kamstrup ultrasonic water meters.
“The main reason for the meter change-out is to help identify water loss and to greatly improve the efficiency of our water distribution system as well as staying in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” said Ethan Arch, EBCI Water & Sewer field technician supervisor. “Water loss from a water distribution system is a significant factor affecting water delivery to customers. Water loss can be either (a) the apparent losses due to meter inaccuracies or unauthorized consumption, or (b) real losses due to leakage at water service lines, breaks or leakage on mains and hydrants/laterals or at storage facilities.”
He said a recent EPA survey found a 48 percent water loss within the Cherokee system. “A typical water meter loses 10 percent or more of its accuracy in the first 10 years,” Arch noted. “As time goes by, the inaccuracies worsen by 40 percent or more. In many cases, the old meter, which on the Boundary may be up to 25-years-old, doesn’t register at all, and an estimated reading is generated. This is not fair to the customer nor to the utility.”
Arch says the meter change-out program will not cost customers anything. “If a customer has an increase on their water and sewer bill, it just means the old water meter we replaced had decreased in accuracy.”
The Cherokee Water System includes four distribution systems including Rough Branch, 3200 Acre Tract, Snowbird, and Cherokee with a total of around 2,300 services. Arch related, “We have a goal to have the entire system changed out by the end of May 2017.”
When asked how long customers can expect water outages due to these change-outs, Arch replied that it depends on if the meter setter also needs an upgrade. “If the meter setter needs an upgrade, then it may take up to one-and-half hour, but I estimate that at least 80 percent of the meter setters in our system are the S frame type meter setter which allows the pressure reducing valve to have maintenance performed on the meter without having to excavate the meter. Otherwise, the interruptions will only take about five to 10 minutes.”
There is a marked difference in the positive displacement meters currently in use and the ultrasonic meters being installed.
“A positive displacement meter is a type of flow meter that requires fluid to mechanically displace components in the meter in order for flow measurement,” said Arch. “Positive displacement flow meters measure the volumetric flow rate of a moving fluid or gas by dividing the media into fixed, metered volumes. A basic analogy would be holding a bucket below a tap, filling it to a set level, then quickly replacing it with another bucket and timing the rate at which the buckets are filled or the total number of buckets for the totalized flow. With appropriate pressure and temperature compensation, the mass flow rate can be determined.”
Arch said Kamstrup is a world leader in the water meter industry. “An ultrasonic flow meter is a type of flow meter that measures the velocity of a fluid with ultrasound to calculate volume flow. Using ultrasonic transducers, the flow meter can measure the average velocity along the path of an emitted beam of ultrasound, by averaging the difference in measured transit time between the pulses of ultrasound propagating into and against the direction of the flow or by measuring the frequency shift from the Doppler effect.”
He added, “The ultrasonic meter has no moving parts and, therefore, is not affected by wear and tear. This means that it maintains its accuracy throughout its entire lifetime, thereby enabling correct billing and better data quality. Intelligent alerts in the ultrasonic meter enable efficient leak detection and lower the amount of non-revenue water because the faster a leak is detected and stopped, the less water is lost as a result of it.”
If you have questions, contact the EBCI Water & Sewer Department 359-6100.