With an aging meter system, the city saw the need to upgrade not only the meters, but better the efficiency in checking them.
"The new meters will be able to be checked through a remote sensor," Brazil Assistant Supervisor of Water Distribution Stoney Lalen said about the Mobile Automatic Meter Reading system. "Right now, it takes two readers four days to read all the meters and an extra day of editing the numbers to ensure accuracy. Once all the new meters are in place, they can all be checked by one person in about eight hours."
Lalen added readers will be able to drive down a road and receive readings from meters up to a two-block radius.
While the new meters will increase reading efficiency times, the other added benefits will allow the city to keep the second reader employed as well.
"The meters will allow better service to the customer service base," Lalen said. "They will have an hourly read which will create a more in-depth profile that can be pulled."
Among the features, the meters will be able to better detect leaks and high consumption times, which will allow the Brazil Water Department to have an extra tool to react quicker to leaks and combat potential issues before they get out of hand.
"When we read the meters, we will have the ability to immediately detect leaks or other issues, and if we have a portable printer, we can print out the report and take it directly to the customer," Lalen told The Brazil Times. "By being able to catch these problems quicker, we can help residents stop them without waiting until they get a higher bill before noticing something is wrong."
He added the meters will be also tracked with a GPS system on a laptop and the transmitters will flag an issue when it occurs to allow for easier detection of problems even during times when they are not being read.
However, installing the meters will be a slow process for the time being.
"With the start-up package, we will be getting 70 meters," Lalen told The Brazil Times. "There are about 4,600 meters just in the city alone, so there is a long way to go."
When planning for the water system improvements was going on, an annual amount of $25,000 was set into the budget for the purchase of new meters, which Lalen said can purchase 147 per year.
"Having $25,000 per year is just a drop in the bucket," he said. "But we are also looking into finding grant funding to compensate and possibly replace all the meters quicker."
Until then, Lalen said they will be able to intertwine the reading systems until the entire system can be caught up.
"We should get the first meters in about the end of November or first part of December," he said. "They will be placed sporadically around the town to replace meters in areas we tend to have problems and the oldest meters currently in use."
While aware it may take a while to replace all the meters in Brazil, Lalen said he is happy to have a system which will better serve the residents.
"There are issues with the current water system," he said. "But this, along with the other improvements to be made -- like the new water tower -- should make things a lot more efficient and better for all the city's water customers."