HOLT, Fla., Dec. 11, 2020—Christmas came early this year for Holt Water.
Holt Water Works Inc. was one of three small rural water utilities that received more than $45,000 worth of new radio-read metering equipment from Santa Rosa Beach’s Regional Utilities Wednesday.
“We went to a new water metering system,” said Melissa Pilcher, general manager for Florida Community Services Corporation of Walton County, also known as Regional Utilities.
The metering equipment donated to Holt Water was inventory from the old system Regional Utilities had on hand after the switch-out, according to Pilcher.
“We contacted the distributors, but they didn’t want to remarket it, so we contacted Rural Water to donate it,” she said.
Florida Rural Water Association is a nonprofit, nonregulatory professional organization designed to assist water and wastewater systems.
According to Patrick Broxson, Holt Water operations superintendent, Regional Utilities donated close to 200 residential radio-read meters, larger residential and commercial radio-read meters and the software and hardware needed to process the information.
“This will kill about two hours of the time it takes to read meters every month,” he said.
Each month Broxson drives around the Holt community reading water meters for billing purposes. That means stopping and parking the utility’s pickup truck, opening the meter box being careful of any black widow spiders or other creepy-crawlies housed inside, writing down the meter reading, then moving on to the next meter. Multiply that by the more than 900 meters Holt Water owns.
“Meter reading is just awful on a truck,” said Broxson. “All that stopping and shifting gears [from drive to park and back again] tears up the work truck’s transmission.”
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With new radio read-meters, all he will have to do is drive past the meter. A signal will transmit the meter reading into a handheld reader that inputs the information into a computer program.
Upgrading the water metering system is something Holt Water has wanted to do for quite some time, but has not been able to do on its small operating budget. This donation kickstarts the program.
“We can start radio reading meters for Holt Water that never would have happened otherwise,” Broxson said.
For the small rural water utility, buying new radio meters a few at a time to complete the project will be much easier than purchasing the startup equipment up front.
According to Rural Water, Wewahitchka and Bonifay also received donations from Regional Utilities.