How You Are Billed
WCSA employs a radio meter reading system that allows us to read your meter as we drive by your home. Many large utilities have transitioned to radio meter reading because it provides more cost-effective, accurate readings, and it makes monthly billing feasible – even for utilities with many customers.
WCSA is among the first water utilities in this region to upgrade to radio meter reading technology. Before the new system was installed in 1999, it took six meter readers approximately two months to read all 19,000 WCSA meters, meaning we could only bill our customers every other month. Today, one meter technician can read all of our meters in only six days each month, which allows us to send customers a monthly bill. In addition, whereas manual meter reading cost WCSA $1.09 per meter reading, radio meter reading costs us only $0.13 per meter reading.
How Does Radio Meter Reading Work?
Your water meter’s dial includes a register that records the number of gallons of water used. Attached to the register is a small transmitter device that sends radio signals to our meter readers’ computers. When a WCSA meter reader drives by, the computer in our vehicle sends a “wake-up” signal to the transmitter. The transmitter reads the number of gallons on the meter’s register and relays this data, along with your meter’s identification number, to our computer via a digital radio signal. The computer stores this information in its memory.
All of this activity takes place within milliseconds without requiring the meter reader to stop. At the end of the day, the meter readings are uploaded into our computerized billing system, and we send customers a bill for their previous month’s usage.
WCSA’s Auto Read program generates reports of several groups of customers. One report is comprised of customers whose water usage equaled or exceeded 20,000 gallons for a month. If possible, WCSA will notify these customers in the event of a possible leak. The program also generates a report that includes customers whose usage registers as zero gallons, as this can be indicative of a malfunctioning meter.