Unlike electricity, gas or water, wastewater service is already established when a person moves into a new home. The wastewater utility uses the ï¿½honor systemï¿½ for residents, relying on them to call and set up their bill. This system is not reliable for having a complete customer billing database. The City of Noblesville Utilityï¿½s challenge was to find the addresses of occupied homes that were not receiving a Wastewater bill.
To locate these properties, the Utility started with a list of customers from the billing department. Their addresses were geocoded and compared with those in the 911 database. Matches were found for 99% of the properties, but there were almost 6,000 that were not in the customer billing database at all. After reviewing aerial photography, the Utility was able to shrink this number by removing points that were vacant lots, apartments and businesses with one owner but multiple addresses. Identification was made easier when only properties within 250 feet of a sewer main were included, which eliminated homes using septic systems. What remained were 874 potential non-paying customers. The Utility then decided to select all addresses that fell within 250 feet of a sewer main. The city was divided into five sections and each home was field verified to confirm it was occupied.
The Utility found 152 residential and nine commercial customers that were not being billed. This translated to an extra $63,000 a year. An additional unexpected benefit of the project was discovering that many of the billing addresses werenï¿½t included in the 911 database. The project not only increased revenue, the Utility was also able to update the 911 system.