Advanced Water Meter Installation Program
Beginning in 2018 and extending into 2021, the City will be implementing a program to replace all manually read water meters with a wireless, automatic read system. This is following a three year program from 2014 to 2016 that converted the City’s gas utility automatic read system from the service provider Cellnet to Sensus.
Water department staff spends a considerable amount of time reading customer water meters every month and would spend more time as the population of the City grows. An automatic meter reading system will streamline the meter reading process and have added benefits including advanced leak detection, concurrent reading of all meters, enhanced reporting and customer use information, ability to read a meter from the office for account close out, and other advantages.
The 2018 program work will be conducted starting June 14 and extend into August, replacing approximately 1100 of the 5500 manual read meters in the water system.
1. Can you explain the installation process and who is doing the work?
a. A contractor working on behalf of the City (Concord Utility Services) will install the new meters, temporarily interrupting water service for up to 15 minutes in most cases. Contractor staff will carry identification and have successfully completed a comprehensive background check. Contractor vehicles will also be clearly marked.
b. To ensure that the installation is complete, workers will briefly test the new meter. Before temporarily interrupting individual water services, crews will make every effort to ensure that doing so will not impose an undue hardship on the customer. Such efforts will include observing the meter to see if water is being used and knocking on doors to contact those who may be inside. You do not need to be home for this routine water meter exchange. Before leaving the site, a door hanger will be left at the property informing the customer of the visit.
2. Do I need to do anything to prepare for the installation?
a. Always keep meter box lids unobstructed.
3. How does the system work?
a. 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 collectors on City property that transmit the meter reading data to the meter vendor, Sensus, who then returns the processed data onto the City for planning and billing purposes. Both the City’s water and gas meters use the Sensus system.
4. How much does this cost?
a. The total project is estimated to cost $2.25 to $2.5 million paid out of water utility fund reserves and annual rate revenue income. The purpose of the mult-year program is to spread out the cost of conversion now and in the future when the new meters have reached their useful life, estimated at 15 to 20 years. This also avoids the need to incur the additional financing and interest costs that would be associated with a loan.
b. About 63% of the existing water meters are over 15 years old and 52% are over 20 years old and overdue for replacement. This project accomplishes the replacement while also upgrading to new technology that requires no moving parts subject to wear.
5. What happens with the current meters and equipment?
a. The existing meters being replaced during the project will be recycled or offered for sale to other governments for reuse. As is currently the case, water meters and radio units will remain the property of the City who will continue to perform the required maintenance on the units.
6. Will wireless technology affect my health or privacy?
a. The new meters will not negatively affect health or privacy. In fact, overall health will be improved and privacy enhanced by replacing vehicles and manual visits to your home with environmentally clean radio communication. The wireless portions of the system will be operated according to Federal Communications Commission rules, and will not interfere with other radio frequencies in the area. The transmitters use one-quarter of the power of a cellphone. The amount of exposure to radio waves decreases with the square of the distance from the source. Exposure to radio waves from smart meters is absolutely tiny compared to cellphones. In addition, transmission time for the units we are installing totals 15 seconds per day.
7. What meters are being replaced in 2018
a. A schematic map of the meters to be replaced in 2018 is included below. The final replacements are subject to change, but the intent for 2018 is to deploy new meters in all higher pressure zones, non-residential meters 1” or less in size, meters along main roads, and meters in the farthest routes from the City center.
8. Where can I get more information?
a. Anyone with more questions is welcome to contact Dianna Billingsley with the City Public Works Department at 360-615-5724.