Cellular Network Delivers Confidence, Improves Customer Service in Ocala

Ocala water case study
The City of Ocala, Florida’s Water Resources Department is responsible for the pumping, treatment, storage and transfer of drinking water from a single water treatment plant to the over 60,000 citizens in the area. Photos courtesy of Badger Meter.

The City of Ocala is part of the St. Johns River Management District, an environmental regulatory agency whose work is focused on ensuring a long-term supply of drinking water in Northeast and East-Central Florida.

The Ocala Water Resources Department is responsible for the pumping, treatment, storage and transfer of drinking water from a single water treatment plant to the over 60,000 citizens in the area. Regular drinking water usage for the city is about 13 million gallons a day (MGD). However, in drier months, usage can reach upward of 21 MGD.

Accurate flow measurement is essential to managing the area’s water supply, so when the utility’s legacy RF meter system began to fail, the Water Resources Department began to look for replacement meters, upgrading to smart meters from Badger Meter in 2019.

meter box
E Series Ultrasonic meters from Badger Meter provide accurate flow measurement data to the water utility.

The move to a cellular network would deliver the powerful data operators wanted.

“We were not initially looking to go cellular, but when all the facts came in on cellular [networks] and how they work, and [adding in the fact that] we didn’t have to put any other new infrastructure in place, it was the best way to move forward,” said Stacey Ferrante, water resources infrastructure manager with the City of Ocala.

“We never had two-way communication with our water meters, and now that we do, it’s a game changer for our utility,” Ferrante added.

E-Series Ultrasonic meters feed accurate flow data through ORION Cellular endpoints directly to the utility. Some 3-in. and larger E-Series G2 meters also measure pressure and temperature data. For a complete view of utility assets, the information is viewable in BEACON Software as a Service (SaaS), which enables proactive network management for water operators.

“In the mornings when the crews are looking at [the network], if they see pressure fluctuations, they can pull up the location using integrated GPS data and go out to conduct an investigation,” Ferrante said.

The meter also features an integrated valve that can be actuated remotely to operate in open, partial and restricted positions — improving response times and limiting the need for a truck roll to respond to customer concerns or billing issues.

“I can look at the data at home on my cell phone and [manage assets in near real-time], so it makes my job a lot easier,” Ferrante said. “You don’t have to roll the truck out, you don’t have to pay on-call employees to go turn service off and on.”

With no moving parts, the meter accuracy is consistent and reliable enough that Ferrante feels confident fielding customer calls about billing.

meter box
With no moving parts, E Series Ultrasonic meter accuracy is consistent and reliable.

“Customers often say that they don’t trust the water meter. With the new system we have the ability for an impartial third-party to conduct a test within a few hours [of a complaint] and it always comes back at 98 to 100 percent accuracy,” Ferrante said.

EyeOnWater delivers the same real-time water usage data and leak notifications the utility sees directly to the customer. In the app, a customer can maintain and monitor their daily, weekly, monthly and yearly water usage, and be notified of potential leaks with custom alerts.

“The EyeOnWater app is a tremendous tool for conserving water,” said Rusella Bowes-Johnson, water resources assistant director with the City of Ocala. “In 2020, my family and I used 158,848 gallons of water per year. We made a concerted effort to conserve water by turning the water off when brushing our teeth, taking shorter showers, cutting down the irrigation zone times, and turning off our irrigation during the rainy season. By 2021 we went to 81,147 gallons per year and by 2022 our usage dropped to 53,103 gallons per year.”

Additionally, Bowes-Johnson shared that by signing up for the EyeOnWater app in late 2019, she reduced her consumption by almost two-thirds.


Brad Lowe is an account manager with Badger Meter, a manufacturer of products and other solutions for the municipal water market including meters, components and accessories, endpoints, analytics software and pressure and leak monitoring solutions. Lowe can be reached at blowe@badgermeter.com.  

Patrick Williamson is a solution architect with Badger Meter, a manufacturer of products and other solutions for the municipal water market including meters, components and accessories, endpoints, analytics software and pressure and leak monitoring solutions. Williamson can be reached at pwilliamson@badgermeter.com.

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