Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Meter Reading at BWD


Last updated 5/14/2024 at 6:39pm

A month rarely goes by without the accusation that BWD is not reading our Customers water meters. Although the new Automated Metering Infrastructure planned for BWD will alleviate the need for manual reads, rest assured, in the past and up until the new meters are in place, BWD takes all reasonable steps to read each meter on a monthly basis. It is only on extremely rare occasions that a meter reading is estimated due to lack of access. The following occurrences are commonly dealt with and do not impact the ability to read the meter:

Sand in Meter Box: The #1 cause leading customers to think the meter is not being read is the sand in the box. A meter box is an attractive location for all burrowing animals and the sand from hole digging process is often deposited in the meter box (wind may contribute also). To read the meter, only the face of the dial needs to be accessed, so by swiping or slightly digging the sand away from the meter face, the reading can take place. The meter box does not need to be fully empty or even the meter body exposed.

Identical Consumption Patterns: The amount of the bill is another source of complaints, and in this case the customers who receive a bill for the same amount in multiple months feel the meter reads are being estimated since someone cannot use the same amount of water in different months. Due to the fact BWD bills in 100 cubic foot units increments (748 gallons), although the amount of the bill may be identical, the amount of water consumed is likely not. For example, if a customer uses 5 units in one month, the customer used between 3,740 and 4,487 gallons during that time period, and the monthly water bill would be the same amount (5 units).

Hand Held System Procedures/Safeguards: For a number of years including now, BWD staff has been carrying an electronic device with a Meter Reading system programmed into it. The meter reader does not have immediate access to the prior read, so estimating usage would be very difficult to get the readings to match. In addition, a date and time stamp is recorded on each meter reading, further complicating the process for a person to sit and insert meter reading estimates. When readings are input into the system that exceed pre set parameters (such as high usage), the hand held system instructs the reader to double check the read and in some cases take a photo of the meter face. Meter reading is typically done in two person crews (driver and reader). The net impact of all of the procedures outlined above dramatically increase the complexity and difficulty of estimating meter reads. Long story short, its easier to read the meter and input the info than estimate reads.

In the future the new AMI System will provide 1,440 meter reads per day and upload the info automatically to BWD computers.