Part of our mission to plan and prepare for the future, includes upgrading or replacing outdated infrastructure. Advances in meter reading technology have allowed the process of tracking and logging water consumption to grow more efficient and safer for utility personnel. Upgrading every meter to the new technology is a long-term project that we began in 2005 and have around 60% complete. This project is being entirely self-performed by employees of South Blount County Utility District and is being performed in sections across our service area.
The meter upgrade project involves replacing all residential and commercial water meters in our service area with new technologically, advanced meters and registers that can communicate usage data via wireless technology. This replaces our current process, which requires District employees to physically visit each meter and obtain a visual reading of the water usage, then record the data and return it to our Main Office. This outdated process takes a lot of time, manpower, and depending on the location of the meter, can be quite risky for our employees. The new process for collecting usage readings is safer and far more efficient. In addition, meters installed after 2010 will also provide additional usage details in the form of a data usage log. The data usage log provides detailed information regarding the flow of water through the meter. This data can be helpful in determining when increased usage began. For customers trying to understand a higher bill, pinpointing when the higher usage began, can be helpful in identifying what may have caused the increase, such as additional landscape or yard watering due to drought, filling a pool, or even extra house guests.
The work on this project is performed after regular business hours, either during the week or Saturday mornings. For this reason, we reserve the majority of work for days when the weather is warmer, and we have longer daylight. If you would like to know more about this project or your water meter, please contact our Customer Service Center at (865) 982-3560.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will you be raising my rates to pay for this?
There will be no additional cost to the customer to install the upgraded meters. The project has been in the planning stage for a long time. Funds have been budgeted for this project using our existing rate and fee structure.
What brand of meters does the District use?
Click here for a detailed information paper from Mueller Systems, the manufacturer, on our meters.
How is the meter reading “captured”?
Our District trucks are equipped with software capable of receiving the reading via radio wave technology. When it is time for the meter reader to collect readings for a specific cycle, they upload a file containing the meter IDs in that cycle onto the software in their truck, as they drive through the cycle service area the readings are transmitted from the meters and captured by the software in the truck. The ID numbers that were uploaded are matched up to the information received from the meter, and the reading is recorded for that meter.
How will you know you have my reading and not my neighbors?
The data that each meter transmits includes an identification number unique to that meter. Before leaving the Main Office to collect readings, each District truck is loaded with meter IDs. As they drive by your location, the information uploaded to the truck software is matched to the ID number transmitting from your meter. If the information does not match, no reading is captured, and the District must investigate further the reason for the skipped reading.
Click here to view a diagram of this process.
Is my account information secure?
Yes, only meter consumption readings and meter ID numbers are transmitted. Personal customer information is not loaded into the transmitter.
Can the new software change my reading?
No, the device that transmits the reading operates as a one-way transmission only. It does not have the ability to affect the device inside the water meter that measures consumption.
Do I need to do anything to prepare for the installation?
No, the installation will be seamless. You may not even realize the work was done. However, to keep everyone safe, if you have a dog that is loose outside where we would be performing the work, we may ask you to keep the dog inside or leashed until we are finished.
Will the wireless technology affect my health or security?
The new meters will not negatively affect health. The wireless portions of the system will be operated according to Federal Communications Commission rules and will not interfere with other radio frequencies in the area. The transmitters use one-quarter of the power of a cell phone. The amount of exposure to radio waves is tiny compared to cell phones, wireless baby monitors, television broadcasts, garage door openers, microwave ovens, cordless home phones, and WiFi networks.
Does the transmitter run on my home's electricity?
No, the transmitters run on c cell batteries with a very long lifespan.