MAKING WAY FOR SMARTER METERS, UTILITY
LMUD is in the process of undergoing a transformation to become a “smart(er)” utility, implementing the latest technology in water metering. With water’s increasing recognition as a precious resource that must be conserved, effective monitoring and metering play a critical role in water management. Advancements in technology help utilities streamline their operations and deliver water more efficiently to their customers. By catching even the smallest of leaks, utilities and customers alike save money and help prevent a precious resource from being wasted.
Water meters are one way water utilities help plan for future water demands to sustain their community.
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meters are equipped with a cellular transmitter which securely sends water use information from each meter to a receiver, located at a high point in the utility’s service area and strengthened by repeaters. This data is encrypted and sent automatically to the utility; no personnel required. Rather than data being accessible only during readings that revolve around billing cycles, we are able to provide our customers with near real-time water usage data. Once AMI meters are fully implemented across our service area, we will offer an app so customers can access their own hourly usage information and receive alerts on potential leaks.
As our utility makes this slow transition to AMI meters, we’re excited to see what long-term benefits it will offer us, our customers, and our community. With our source water (Lake Travis) levels continuing to decline, there’s never been a better time to avoid wasteful water use.
Meter Switch Out Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is AMI?
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and their metering equipment. AMI Meters transmits readings over a private, secure wireless network.
Is Advanced Metering new technology?
No. Approximately 50% of all meters in America are Advanced “Smart” meters. They have been around for more than 30 years.
How does Advanced Metering benefit me?
The new metering will allow LMUD to reduce the labor cost associated with reading the meters. The additional meter data will enable Lakeway MUD to better communicate with the customer regarding their water consumption patterns, detect abnormal consumption due to leaks, faucets running, etc. and LMUD will be able to help the customer use water more efficiently.
Do AMI meters use radio frequency communications? Is it safe?
Yes. They do use a radio frequency to send data from the meter to the utility billing department. All communication equipment used for the AMI system complies with federal licensing requirements and is considered safe. According to the California Council on Science and Technology, when installed properly and maintained, they result in much smaller levels of radio frequency exposure than many existing common household electronic devices, like cell phones and baby monitors. Radio Frequency (RF) fields from AMI meters have been studied and found to emit very low fields and then only intermittently. Any exposure to humans would be extremely small. There are no known adverse biological effects from these small fields. To provide some perspective, under typical operating conditions, an individual meter would transmit for approximately 45 minutes over a 20-year operating life. This should provide significantly less RF exposure than a single cellular phone call of the same length.
Why is LMUD installing new water meters?
The water meters used in the LMUD system need to be replaced. A decision to install AMI technology instead of Drive-By technology is consistent with what most utilities across the U.S. are doing. AMI network/meters represent a significant improvement over previous metering technology. These AMI meters will allow LMUD to have better billing and consumption data.
When will the project begin and end?
The project is estimated to begin in December 2021 and will be completed by January 2022. As new meters are changed out, the system will begin reading them using the two-way system.
Who will be doing the work associated with the meter change?
LMUD has contracted with HydroPro Solutions for materials and project management. Installation will be performed M&E Construction who specializes in projects like this where there is a complete meter change out. All contracted employees will be in uniform and have marked vehicles.
Will you need to enter my property?
Yes, but not your house. The water meter for your home or business will need to be replaced. These are most often found in the meter box located in the utility easement on your property.
Will I be notified prior to any meter installations at my home or business?
Yes. The installation company M&E or LMUD, will contact you prior to meter change out.
How long should the meter replacement take to complete at my home?
The installation of a residential water meter typically takes 15-30 minutes. Larger commercial meters can take longer.
Will my service be interrupted during installations?
Yes, M&E and LMUD will make every effort to notify anyone at home during the installation that service will be briefly interrupted.
Will my water quality be affected by this meter replacement?
It is possible for changes in water pressure during the installation process to result in discolored water, air in the water lines, or small partials of sediment. To fix any of these issues, you can flush your lines by turning on the bathtub cold-water faucet or an outside faucet for about one minute.
Are you going to invoice me for the new meters?
No. The cost to replace meters is paid by LMUD.
How secure will the new meters be?
The meter display is visible for customers to be able to check their consumption, just like the old ones. All other information and data stored in the meter is secure and the meter is sealed. Data stored inside the meter is usage and location data only. There is no personal information (i.e., customer information) stored inside of a meter.
Will a meter reader still need to visit to read the water meter?
The LMUD staff will not be on site to read meters monthly, however will continue to need access to the water meter for periodic safety and quality assurance testing as well as inspections and maintenance.
Will this affect meter reader jobs?
No, not for existing personnel. Our meter readers are being retrained to be meter technicians and will continue to be a vital part of our Customer Service & Billing Department. The AMI project has allowed LMUD to maintain existing staff levels even with the growth in meters over the last five years and will continue to help defer or delay the need to add staff.
Will I continue to be billed the same way?
The monthly utility bill will look the same. The consumption period will reflect the actual calendar month of the utility bill.
If I have other questions about this project, who should I contact?
You can stop by the LMUD district office located at 1097 Lohmans Crossing Road, give us a call at (512) 261-6222 ext. 110 or email us at email@example.com.