Automated Water Metering System
The Public Utilities Department is committed to continuously evaluating public infrastructure, providing necessary resources for ongoing maintenance, and planning for future infrastructure needs to maintain service delivery. Evaluation of existing water meter infrastructure indicates a need to improve the accuracy and reliability of our water meter reading system through Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI). This project will also help solidify the succession planning of staff in these current roles and allow them to be re-allocated to the crew, increasing our ability to respond to all of our other infrastructure needs.
Start Date: The Commission discussed the project at a Work Session on May 31, 2023
Completion Date: Completion anticipated by the end of 2024
Cost: The cost to convert all meters to the automated system is $2,331,578.14, with an ongoing operation and maintenance expense of $41,698.08 annually
October 2022 - The Public Utilities Department began looking at an alternative means to read water meters in order to enhance accuracy, aid in succession planning, convert to a single billing cycle, and address an outdated system.
May 31, 2023 - The City Commission discussed the project at their Work Session.
July 2023 - The Public Utilities Department solicited proposals for the automated metering system. Vendors had until July 28 to submit a proposal for consideration.
September 2023 - The Public Utilities Department evaluated four proposals for the automated metering system, ranging from $2.56 million to $2.86 million. The City also is beginning plans to move to one billing cycle for utilities beginning Dec. 15, 2023.
Oct. 20, 2023 - The Public Utilities Department recommends implementing an automated system from Core and Main for a cost of approximately $2.48 million, as well as $42,000 a year in operational expenses.
Nov. 6, 2023 - The City Commission approved the bid from Core and Main for the installation of the system.
Nov. 13, 2023 - The City mailed a postcard notifying water customers of the change from two to one billing cycle beginning in December.
Nov. 20, 2023 - The City Commission authorized the sale of General Obligation Temporary Notes, Series 2023-1 to finance the automated meter infrastructure for the public water supply system for $2.4 million. Payments will be approximately $250,000 each year and will come from the water fund. Because this will likely require an increase in water rates, the City has contracted with Baker Tilly to provide a model detailing what rates should be to cover those costs, which is anticipated to be between 5 and 7 percent.
Dec. 15, 2023 - The first new water bill was mailed out, which is now due the 15th of the following month.
January 2024 – Accumulation of meters in anticipation of the change out. We intend to begin installing Ipearl meters for any new construction and a handful of other locations to begin beta testing of the system.
February 2024 – Community engagement of what to expect and how these new meters work via social media.
- Base station for the system shipped, with anticipated installation by Core and Main.
- The Utilities Department should begin to receive meters and radios for testing phase.
March/April 2024 – Installation of the base station on top of Sixth Avenue water tower. This is the collector site for all meters within the city and once this is on-line, any new meter installed will begin reading on the new system.
- Testing phase anticipated to begin.
April 2024 - Begin collection of data on a small scale to work out any kinks to ensure a smooth transition for our customers.
May 2024 – Additional customer outreach with target starting locations of installation
June/July 2024 – Begin mass installation of meters of ~100 per day, until completed.
Oct. 31, 2024 – Target date for installation completion for all customers.
Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI) is an integrated system of equipment that uses radio-based technology to read water meters, which eliminates the need for manual meter reads. Automation allows us to mitigate some of our common issues that we see today when reading meters.
The Utilities Department could continue to operate as it does today, which is less efficient than an updated system would allow. The City's billing process requires several billing cycles and manually reading meters creates its own difficulties and problems. Meters can be misread, some meter pits often fill with water or are very deep, making it difficult to get an accurate reading. Advanced metering works via wireless technology to send readings to regional collectors that transmit the usage data to the City. Regional collectors are located on existing water tanks and towers. The innovative system replaces monthly manual reads with the wireless system that collects multiple remote reads per day, allowing for better leak detection, increased billing accuracy and improved customer service.
An automated system removes many of these problems and allows for a single billing cycle. This will allow resources to be allocated to more pressing needs and will improve customer service.
Installation of the new meter and communication module should take no more than 30 minutes in most cases, with your water service being unavailable for about 15 minutes of that time. Before temporarily interrupting individual water services, crews will make every effort to ensure that doing so will not impose an undo hardship on the customer.
Before leaving the site, crews will test the new meter by running about 10 gallons of water from an exterior hose or faucet. They also will leave door hangers on the property informing residents of the status of the visit. While most work will occur within public rights-of-way and easements, the City will restore to original condition any private property impacted by the installation.
Since it will take several months to complete the project, residents will be notified prior to installation in their area. We also will post updates on the schedule here and on our social media. Installation is expected to begin around June/July 2024.
The automated meter reading system eliminates the need for manual meter reads, which offers several benefits, including:
- Reduces water loss
- Improves operational efficiency
- Improves customer service
- Allows for quick identification of leaks within the system
It also mitigates challenges, including:
- Difficulty locating meters
- Extreme weather delays
- Route capacity
- Two separate billing cycles
Do I need to do anything to prepare for the installation?
To help keep everyone safe, dogs and any other domestic pets will need to be kept out of yards during installation. Always keep meter box lids unobstructed.
How will I be informed when the installation is taking place at my home or business?
A letter will be sent to customers between one and two weeks prior to installation in their area, and door hangers will be placed no less than one and no more than two business days prior to installation.
How does the system work?
The system works via wireless signals sent from a small radio unit inside the meter box that is connected to the water meter. The meter radio unit sends readings to regional collector units that then transmit the meter reading data to receivers at the City.