In 2018, Birch Bay Water & Sewer District (BBWSD) was approved by the Washington State Public Works Board for financing of a $2M capital project to replace water meters with Automated Meter Read (AMR) units. BBWSD customers benefit from attractive Public Works Board financing terms of 1.5% Annual Percentage Rate for 20 years, which controls the cost of interest paid over time. Work began in 2019 and continued through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The District’s goal was to install about 1,000 meters per year. The project was finished October 7, 2022 under-budget at approximately $1.8M, in the face of inflation, supply chain disruptions, staffing reductions and COVID-19 restrictions. In the course of the project, BBWSD contracted labor and equipment with I & I Pipe Services LLC to help with a shortage of labor and to increase social distancing to counter the spread of COVID-19, ensuring a continuity of operations. In the office, all utility accounts have been updated with the new meter information.
The benefits of an AMR radio-read network and its more accurate meters are increased flow rate data throughout the water distribution system. These meters can be read from District vehicle drive-by, quickly, and frequently. The meter readings allow for more timely detection of leaks, resulting in a reduction in water loss which protects the environment and saves ratepayers water and money.
5,409 meters that were fifteen years or older were replaced. Younger meters that did not require replacement were configured with endpoints for radio-reading, making them compatible with AMR. Water Department Charlie Hagin remarked, “The Water Department wants to thank all our customers that we impacted by the project whether from water service interruptions to digging in their yards or blocking driveways. The cooperation and understanding we experienced was so appreciated by all our staff.” In the future, AMR can be used to improve our hydraulic model in continued efforts to right-size our system, saving customers the capital and maintenance costs. The Washington State Public Works Board seeks to provide reliable and consistent funding to address both traditional and innovative infrastructure needs. This includes leaning into the opportunities surrounding equity, affordability, and promoting climate resiliency of the infrastructure systems the Public Works Board funds.