El Dorado, AR has an extensive water meter system that is facing obsolescence, reports the El Dorado News. When it was first envisioned in 2014, the Badger Meter system was considered state-of-the-art, using electronic readings and relays that would eliminate the need for manual meter readers. However, El Dorado just discovered that the bandwidth that accommodates the meters will no longer be available after 2021 and the wireless transmitters that service the units are being decommissioned.
“These things are no good,” Robert Edmonds told city council members while holding up one of the transmitters. Edmonds is the Director of Public Works in El Dorado. “They’re charging us $1 per day for [each of] the transmitters until the vendor comes and picks them up and sends them off to be decommissioned. Oh,” he added, “They said the warranty is still good but the transmitters are out of service.”
There are 10,000 meters currently in service. When the system was launched, it included a 15-year warranty, but without working transmitters, the warranty is essentially useless. El Dorado Water Utilities is now under the gun to replace the transmitters before 2022, when they will become non-functional.
Edmonds said the cost of new transmitters alone could top $1 million, plus the additional costs of the concrete and plastic meter housings. El Dorado council members have been meeting to determine how to address the problem, and to decide whether legal action is appropriate, according to the El Dorado News. The council also noted that additional manpower will be needed to address each unit and its replacement.
“The question is how long have they known this? We can get the answer from the FCC about when they told them that that bandwidth will no longer work,” stated Edmonds. “It wasn’t two weeks ago. I’ll bet they knew when they sold them to us.”