The Suffolk County Water Authority has completed—ahead of time and under budget— its ambitious project to transition its nearly 390,000 water meters to those using automated meter reading (AMR) technology, setting the utility on a path to a far more efficient and data-driven process of collecting water use information.
The decade-long project, which will virtually eliminate manual reads, began with a pilot project in August of 2008 followed by a full rollout the following July. Beginning on the East End, the project moved on to Fire Island and Huntington and the rest of the nearly 100-mile long SCWA service territory before reaching completion in recent weeks, months earlier than initial projections and nearly $5 million under budget.
SCWA was able to finish the project early and under budget by having field staff throughout the project install the new meters any time they were at a home or business for a service appointment. This practice accounted for approximately 25% of installations.
"The AMR project was one of the most complicated and ambitious initiatives ever undertaken by the Suffolk County Water Authority, so to complete the project early and under budget is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff, both those handling the installations and those planning how to proceed at maximum efficiency," said SCWA Chairman James F. Gaughran.
"Having virtually our entire service territory now covered by AMR technology has allowed us to collect reads with approximately one-fourth the meter-reading staff required to collect manual reads," said SCWA Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey W. Szabo, noting that meter reading staff has been decreased from 40 to 11 since the beginning of the project. "And the data provided by the technology has already allowed us to begin pinpointing the usage patterns of our largest water consumers. Having this information will help us to better conserve our vital drinking water supply."
The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York. Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.