Managing a Meter Project with Digital Solutions
Randall Community Water District (RCWD) is in Lake Andes, South Dakota. Founded in 1976, RCWD is a small, rural water district with a mission to provide high-quality service at the lowest possible cost consistent with sound business practices. It serves Charles Mix, Douglas Bon Homme, Aurora, Brule, Hutchinson, and Davison Counties—approximately 2,800 rural customers and 15 bulk customers.
User - Randall Community Water District, a small rural water district in South Dakota
Challenge - Identify an affordable way to efficiently install automatic meter reading for 2,800 meters.
Solution - ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Collector
Results - The meter replacement project was quickly completed in-house and enabled the accurate reading of water consumption.
RCWD relied on the customer to read the meter and send in the information for billing. This was a process that needed to be updated. RCWD decided to install automatic meter reading (AMR) for all its 2,800 meters. Because it they did not want to spend a large amount of money, RCWD planned to self-perform the installation of these meters. The challenge was finding an affordable way to efficiently complete the work.
The first step was to locate all meters and collect information about each one. Esri technology became the driver in this effort. Using ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Collector, staff were able to collect the location of each meter through GPS, record the meter number, pit, and take photos.
During the installation of the AMR, staff used GIS to track their progress. Meter installations were shown on a map in different colors, representing staff who had done the work. This was a great tool to promote friendly competition and ensure that everyone was working efficiently. It also provided an easy way to see where work was being done and track progress.
The meter replacement project was completed quickly and allowed RCWD to get an accurate reading of how much water each customer used. ArcGIS enabled staff to efficiently manage the meter replacement project in-house.
An unexpected benefit of the project was the response to the bomb cyclone that damaged RCWD's infrastructure caused by excessive rain, high winds, and 18 inches of snow and ice. Declared a disaster by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), RCWD staff were required to inspect 805 meters that had been damaged by flooding. They used GIS to complete these inspections. FEMA also required that preflood conditions be provided. Because of the data and photos collected as part of the meter replacement project, RCWD was able to provide everything that was required very quickly. Over $2 million worth of damages were submitted! Without the use of Esri technology providing exact location and data, RCWD would still be working to provide the information to FEMA.
Small utilities often wonder if they can make GIS work for them, they can! Esri's system provides valuable data and support to rural water utilities.