Nearly two decades ago, as Lethbridge grew in size and the scope of work required to complete the job of recording residents water usage increased, water meter reading shifted from City of Lethbridge operations and was awarded to a contractor. As water meter technology has advanced over the years, it's provided an opportunity to bring this work back under the City's Water Waste Water operations which has created three new full-time Customer Serviceman roles as of April this year.
Recognizing the external contract was coming up for renewal in 2021 allowed Travis Hillier, General Manager, Customer Service & 311 and Doug Kaupp, General Manager, Water & Wastewater and their teams used the opportunity to reevaluate the workload and configure a plan to do the water meter reading in-house.
Kaupp says with the change in efficiency of way the work is done, it came down to recognizing what was being done externally verses how it could be done internally.
"The cost of doing it externally was going up and the job was getting easier to deliver over time," says Kaupp, "so 20+ years later there's meter readers on our payroll again."
Grant McIntyre had been meter reading in Lethbridge with the previous contractor for over 14 years, and is now one of the newest full-time Customer Serviceman. McIntyre says that since how the job is done has modernized over that time, it allows him to utilize opportunities in his new role to further his expertise in the Meter Shop.
"The amount of work doesn't necessarily change, but how it's done has changed and it's just way more efficient," says McIntyre.
Radio meter readings were introduced in Lethbridge in 2004, prior to this, the work would include walking up to each individual household, and sometimes backyards, to get an individual reading for billing. With the installation and upgrading to more radio water meters over time, this work can be done by the serviceman walking or driving through a neighbourhood instead of to each household reader unit.
Commercial and residential water meters record the water supplied to the building and ensures only the water being used is what the consumer is paying for. Over 70 per cent of meters within Lethbridge are read by radio, while others still require walk-up, manual check service. Another benefit to doing this work in-house, allows the work to be better monitored based on service need areas rather than just receiving the analytical data from the contractor. Areas requiring upgrades can be completed more efficiently.
Through this transition, residents and customers will not see any changes in their water meter records.
Find more information about water consumption by visiting https://www.lethbridge.ca/living-here/water-wastewater