Official Blog of Sierra--Let's Talk Flow!

3 Tips for Avoiding Costly Mistakes in Water Measurement


Mar 11, 2019

Whether you are running a large municipal water facility or one of the over 37,000 rural water utilities in the United States, water usage rates and costs drive your decisions. For any water system, it’s critical to answer key questions like:


  • What’s your water usage and/or production?

  • How much water are you distributing or allocating?

  • How can you identify & fix leaks in the system


3 Tips to Avoid Costly Mistakes



  1. Identify Leaks in the System with Accurate Water Flow Meters

    In many older water systems, eroding pipes and mismanagement of water measurement data lead to suspicion of water leaks which signifies money dripping out of your water system. The only way to identify leaks in your system is to compare the total production of water flow to the total water flow of your allocated and distributed water. To get water flow data, it’s critical that you choose the most accurate and flexible water flow meter. Paddle meters, for example, are notorious for getting clogged thus skewing your water flow data. This inaccurate measurement could give you a false positive-showing you may have a leak but you are reacting to false water flow data.

  2. Reduce Maintenance Costs With Proper Equipment

    Maintaining a large or small water system constitutes a continual maintenance cycle of the complete water system including the water flow meters and fixing the leaky pipes. One way to reduce maintenance costs is to lower the total cost-of-ownership of your water flow meters by lowering the installation costs, downtime, and cost to stock spare meters. A local water company in Florida learned this the hard way. They were measuring their water flow with traditional magnetic water flow meters which is a solid technology but not very economical to purchase or maintain. They also stocked 10 plus “mag” meters as spare parts which became very costly, especially as the pipes got larger. When a mag meter needed to be replaced, facilities managers had to build a new spool piece and shut down the system for installation. These maintenance efforts cost this water company up to $10,000 for each water flow meter replacement.

  3. Select Clamp-On Ultrasonic Water Flow Meters to Reduce Costs

    This water company made the switch to clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters which lowered their initial investment, cost-of-ownership and provided flexible and accurate water flow measurement. The beauty of clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters is that there is no pipe cutting, no system shutdown, and flexible measurement options. Use one clamp-on ultrasonic flow meter at various locations to get your total allocation rate which helps to track down leaks and inefficiencies. Clamp-on flow meters also are easy to install and can fully integrate with water management systems through BACnet and other digital protocols.


Case Study: Ultrasonic Flow Meters Offer Big Savings in Carmel, California


Carmel Riviera Mutual Water Company is a rural water company serving 600 homes along California’s beautiful and rugged Big Sur coast. Historically, their estimated annual water loss through leaks, waste, evaporation and other losses was around 30%. The company budgeted almost $60,000 per year in initiatives to reduce these leaks, including labor and materials for surveys and expensive repairs.

Sierra’s Solution


In their efforts to expand operational efficiency, Carmel Rivera investigated using Sierra’s InnovaSonic® 207i Clamp-on Ultrasonic Flow Meter. It promised to help determine waterloss percentage, improve production efficiency, improve water quality (reducing back flush) and more accurately identify over-users. The versatility of the clamp-on flow meter made it a perfect tool for the small, often cash-strapped, water company. Simply clamp the sensors onto the outside of the water pipe and extremely accurate measurement was now possible–no need for costly system shut downs, pipe cutting and plumbing.

After six months of using the InnovaSonic 207i, Carmel Riviera found their actual loss rate to be only 12% of their production – uncovering an 18% discrepancy in original water loss estimates. The improved production and usage figures derived from the InnovaSonic enabled the company to significantly reduce their $60,000 annual maintenance and operations budget to target more funding on improving conservation and efficiency.

Here’s What Makes Sierra’s InnovaSonic 207i an Ideal Choice:



  • Highly accurate (+/- 0.5% of reading)

  • Reduces maintenance costs by providing accurate usage rates

  • One meter for pipes 2” to 200”

  • Clamp-on sensors are very easy to install with no pipe intrusions

  • Includes complete data logging and analysis tools


Download Tech Note

Scott Rouse, Product Line Director
Written By:
Scott Rouse, Product Line Director
Sierra Instruments

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