BWS to change out automated meter reading transponder units

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A Board of Water Supply (BWS) contractor, Royal Contracting Company, will be conducting a change-out of its automated meter reading (AMR) meter transponder units (MXU) in its meter boxes over the next year, beginning this month.  The BWS will be replacing approximately 80,000 of these units in various locations throughout Oahu at a cost of about $5 million.

“The replacement work is necessary, as many transponders have exceeded their service life,” said BWS Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau. “The BWS has been gradually exchanging the aging transponders for newer ones, which has noticeably increased our AMR read rate for drive-by reads. This project will accelerate those efforts and make the automated meter reading process more efficient.”

In 2017, BWS workers started to replace transponders in one of its 20 meter-reading cycles. That cycle’s AMR read rate rose from 80% to 92%.  Now it has a steady read rate of greater than 95%.  Subsequent change-outs for other cycles have had similar results.  When the change-out project is completed, the BWS anticipates AMR read rates of 95% or higher.

In the meantime, whenever the BWS is unable to get an AMR read it can, and makes every effort to, go back and obtain a manual reading from the meter, which continues to register water usage. While this takes additional time and effort, currently the overall meter read rate is at 98%.

The BWS has contracted Royal Contracting Company to install the new transponders and EKNA Services, Inc., as the construction managers.  The project tasks include:

  • Notifying customers one to two weeks out about transponder replacement work in their area. Nearly all are in the public right-of-way.
  • For those few meter boxes on private property, arranging with the customer well in advance to gain access to the box.
  • At the meter box, changing out the old transponder for a new one, taking 15 – 20 minutes per meter.
  • Perform Quality Assurance/Quality Control work to ensure transponders are operating correctly.

Work will be conducted seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m, except on state highways where work is allowed only from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Turning water service off and on is not part of this work.

Additionally, the BWS would like customers to be aware of the following:

  • Customers will be notified in person or by door hanger of the upcoming activity about one to two weeks prior to the work commencing in their area.
  • Unless a customer is notified in advance, the contractor’s employees should not enter private property before, during, or after the change-out activity.
  • Employees from Royal Contracting Company and EKNA Services, Inc., will be wearing yellow vests with the company logo and will have identification badges indicating they are BWS contractors.
  • The BWS website will feature information about the project that customers can view to check on work in their area.
  • The BWS will issue regular social media updates about the project via Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor.
  • No customer should ever be approached for any type of payment by any BWS employee or contractor for this project.  This project is funded by BWS in its FY2020 Capital Improvement Project budget.  There will be no additional costs passed on to ratepayers.
  • If customers are concerned, or have questions about the project, they can contact the BWS via:
    • Phone at 748-6500, 7:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., daily, including weekends.
      • IMPORTANT – If calling before 7:45 a.m. or after 10:30 p.m., please leave your name and  phone number so that we may return your call.
    • Email at ContactUs@hbws.org ,7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mon. thru Fri.


“We also want to assure our customers that we are changing out the MXU and not the meter, itself, nor the size of a meter that services the property,” Lau added. 

For more information about the MXU Mass Replacement Program, view the BWS’s website at boardofwatersupply.com, call the project hotline at 748-6500, or email ContactUs@hbws.org.

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