It has been just over one year since water meters in Wichita Falls were replaced with advanced watering infrastructure (AMI smart meters), and the city reports that they are very happy with the results. Jim Dockery, Deputy City Manager, said that the new system is performing exactly as they had hoped.
“We continue to work on fine tuning the system to make it even more efficient, but overall it has done what it was intended to do,” he said.
The annual cost of the new system was offset by the elimination of five meter-reader positions in the utility billing department. This helped the city replace more than 34,000 water meters over the course of a few months.
The new features included in the system are things like highly detailed information that is available to customers and utility-billing staff. The information shows water usage down to hourly increments.
“It takes out the guessing game of saying to them, ‘The water went through the meter sometime during that month, but we don’t know when or why,'” Dockery said.
The new system helps customers and the city be more proactive in catching things like damage, leaks, or running water in a home. Roughly 10% of homes have leaks that can waste up to 90 gallons of water or more per day. Catching these issues early can save residents a lot of money.
According to the city, they expect to save $400,000 from water collection, $115,640 from sewer collection, $133,261 from low-flow water capture, $220,524 from operations, and $175,000 from maintenance.
Because it is so early in the process, the city can only generally predict an increase in things like revenue.
“It is a little difficult to prove that these new meters are generating the revenue that was estimated when the system was installed because that additional revenue was only expected to be an increase by a fraction systemwide,” Dockery said.