Greater Cincinnati Water Works – Implementing a Successful AMR Project

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Conference: Metering, Billing/CIS America
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Presenter: David Bennett
Abstract: Presented by David Bennett at Metering, Billing/CIS America

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) embarked on a complete meter change out program in 2003 to replace or retrofit 240,000 water meters in its service area with drive by radio read technology.  The H2O Radio project (as we named it) began in June of 2003 and was completed in October, 2007.   During its implementation, it was the largest AMR water installation in North America.

The project’s goals were to improve efficiencies in the meter reading program, reduce costs and enhance customer service.  Since 60% of system meters were inside customer homes, it was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain actual meter readings and thus provide a timely, accurate bill. Additionally, this was an inconvenience for customers who would have to make arrangements for us to get into their home to obtain a reading, provide us a key to their home, leave their home unlocked, or stay home and wait for us to arrive.  If the meter reader was not able to gain entry to read the meter, the customer would receive a quarterly estimated bill, and often billing adjustments would need to be made. The process was also fraught with safety and security concerns for both our meter readers and for customers.

By all measure, this project has been a tremendous success.  All project benchmarks were achieved or exceeded, and the project was successfully completed on-time and within budget.  Additionally, the utility delivered on two key commitments, one to our customers and one to our employees:

  • The project would pay for itself through reduced costs derived by AMR technology
  • Even though the workforce, including all meter reading positions was reduced by 54 positions, no employee was laid off or demoted.

This presentation will document the phases of Cincinnati’s H2O Radio project, beginning with the pre-planning and development of the business case for AMR, the project management teams that were employed for successful project implementation and the key indicators of success. 

The H2O Radio project was one of the largest water AMR installation projects of its kind in North America and has received wide acclaim, including being awarded the 2006 Best AMR project by a North American Water Utility by the Automatic Meter Reading Association.