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Water Authority takes digital step to save money

A set of handheld devices will help save some footwork – and money – for the North Elizabethton water system.
Currently, water district employees read meters by walking to each meter and documenting the readout on paper.
On Tuesday, the Watauga River Regional Water Authority approved the purchase of handheld units that will make the meter readings digital.
“This handheld device will pay for itself in three to four years,” said WRRWA Director Brian Trantham, adding the Elizabethton water department uses the same meters. “In wear and tear on the truck, re-reads and fuel, it will save us money.”
The handheld devices are GPS capable and have a feature to alert the employee reading the meter if the reported water usage varies from the normal for that customer. That will allow employees to conduct re-reads on the meter while still at the meter’s location.
Currently, the employees must return to the office and report the reading, Trantham said. If the reading reports water usage outside the normal range for the customer, the employee is then sent back to the location to conduct a re-read of the meter. This device will eliminate the trip back to the site by alerting the employee in real time of the variance in usage.
According to Trantham, the devices are compatible with any water meter on the market, which means the system won’t be locked into a single brand or manufacturer when buying new meters in the future. He also said the device is compatible with the software currently in use by the Water Authority.
The motion to approve the purchase of the devices was made by WRRWA board member Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey. The motion was seconded by board member Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander and passed unanimously on a vote.