How a meter program reduced water use, saved money

Buffalo increases meter installations 1200%, achieves big results.

One way to save money on water infrastructure is to collect better data.

It may not be as exciting as saving energy or installing new technology, but the savings are just as real. Buffalo, N.Y. is a case in point. By focusing on a metering program, Buffalo saved ratepayer money.

Buffalo's savings only came after years of testing. The city initially implemented water meter technology during the 1990s, but the project lost steam by 2004 due to slow implementation and the lack of tangible savings from better water measurement.

In 2010, the Buffalo Water Board approached the idea again, this time partnering with Veolia Water to assist its staff. Veolia worked closely with local employees to understand the system, and launched a training program focused on residential and commercial meter installations.

Employees for the Buffalo Water Authority implemented the program, increasing residential meter installations from 30 meters to 400 per month. The Buffalo Water Authority team also began installing commercial meter installations at a rate of 16 meters per month.
Buffalo meter installation
As the team installed more meters, the available dataset increased. This provided a benefit to Buffalo residents and business since effective metering systems enable comparison of the volume of treated water against actual consumption patterns of residents and businesses. By increasing the data collection, Buffalo improved its ability to prioritize repairs and maintenance, as well as cash collection above projected amounts. Further, many residents saw a decrease in their water bills since they no longer pay a "flat" fee that averaged user consumption.

Using GIS technology and mapping devices, the team developed meter reading schedules that reflected realistic timeframes for collecting data from customer's meters. When paired with a new rolling billing cycle, it allowed repairs to be scheduled and completed in advance of the next meter reading.

"We've been proud to partner with the hard-working employees at the Buffalo Water Authority," said Tim Cupo, Veolia's project manager in Buffalo. "Their work in installing these meters has significantly reduced water loss while extending the life of ratepayer assets. This means real savings for Buffalo residents. This important work continues, which increases the ultimate benefits."

For questions regarding meter programs, please e-mail us or call 312-552-2800


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