Water meters go digital | Observer of the City of Plants
Commissioners have agreed to start the process of updating water meters across the city, which will allow staff and customers to monitor water readings immediately online or on their phones.
A change is coming to the homes and businesses of Plant City that rely on the city’s water.
The commissioners agreed to begin the process of transitioning the city’s automatic meter reading devices to automatic meter interface devices through a contract with Badger Meters, Inc.
This will be a process that will take several years, but the first steps are now underway. When completed, it will completely evolve the process of monitoring water use in the city for city staff and for customers themselves.
“It’s something they’ve been looking for for quite some time now and they ran a pilot program in 2019 with 43 residential and 32 commercial to test it,” City Manager Bill McDaniel said. “Sometimes things look good, but you start to test it and realize it’s not a good fit or what you thought it would be. But it really was everything we hoped it would be.
AMI devices communicate between the meter and software via cell towers, which will completely eliminate the need to go through customers’ homes and businesses to get readings.
Denise McDaniel, utility billing manager, said this would mean city staff will no longer need to drive all day to check readings, as they can access the information from the office. This will free up employees to perform other duties in the department, such as talking to customers about water issues.
The city manager added that the element designed in the meters that is accessible to the public is one of the things he is most excited about this process. The meters also have an “Eye On Water” service which essentially allows customers to immediately connect to the meter and monitor water consumption data.
There are many examples of why this instant access that customers can get on their phone is revolutionary. The example Denise McDaniel pointed out in her presentation of the project to Commissioners was that residents would no longer go on vacation or leave town and then return home to a flooded house and sky-high water bill.
Customers can instead receive leak alerts by text or email, then call the city to shut off the water until they can come back and fix the problem.
While this isn’t a problem that occurs often, it can be devastating, a fact Mayor Rick Lott pointed out last week when asking anyone in the audience who had dealt with a leak while they were out. of the city to raise their hand. A significant percentage of those present raised their hands, including several sitting Commissioners.
Denise McDaniel said the hope is that customers will also begin or continue with more depth to analyze their water consumption.
When they can gain immediate insight into water use for their home or business, they can begin to identify trends and make more informed decisions about their water use habits and choices. .
The plan calls for all new customers to pay for the installation of an AMI meter, which currently costs $ 274.42 for a 5/8 inch meter, which is $ 39.49 more than an AMR meter. Then, as the batteries of the AMR devices die, they will be replaced by AMI meters at the expense of the City. This process will take five to ten years depending on the funding provided to this capital project.
Staff said the plan included new developments like new housing estates and industrial / commercial buildings to get AMI meters first.
If you already have a meter you will not pay for the new one, you just have to wait for the current device to be replaced by the city.
The current fiscal year has $ 200,000 for AMR meters that require battery replacement and the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 will include $ 230,000, which will cover 1,150 meters.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to support the project in a 5-0 vote last Monday.