Recently, I received a call from the town manager of one of our customers who is also a subscriber to the Utility Information Pipeline. The town had experienced a number of customers with higher than usual usage in their most recent meter reading cycle and were trying to determine the cause.

Meters are like people

They had taken all the steps you would expect and still hadn’t found a reason why so many readings were out of range. They:

  • reread the meters and verified the meter readings were indeed correct,
  • checked with the customers in question and none of them had experienced any abnormal usage or leaks,
  • consulted with the meter manufacturer and their local Rural Water Association.

In the process, they were told “meters are like people – they slow down, not speed up, as they get older”. That’s one I’ve not heard before, but it’s a great way to explain how meters operate in a way customers can understand!

Following best practices

As we discussed the town’s predicament, the manager casually mentioned the one thing all of these accounts have in common – the meter reader who usually reads this route was out sick when the meters were read.

Unfortunately, this town manager subscribed to the Utility Information Pipeline just a few weeks after this article dealing with meter reading best practices was published, and the town wasn’t following the very first recommendation.

In the end, the only reasonable explanation for why so many meters experienced exceptionally high usage was that they couldn’t have been being read accurately in the past. Whether this was due to dishonesty, laziness, or just plain stupidity on the part of the meter reader may never be known.

What I do know is this town now rotates meter reading routes between meter readers!

Are you following best practices?

Are you following all the best practices you could be? If you’re not sure, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at to learn how a business review could benefit your utility.

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© 2014 Gary Sanders