City To Discuss Contract For New Smart Water Meters

City To Discuss Contract For New Smart Water Meters

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) New smart water meters could soon be on the way in Wichita Falls. Tuesday, Wichita Falls City Councilors will consider a nearly $16 million project, to be paid out over 20 years. It would replace the nearly 35,000 current water meters with new digital readers, and infrastructure.

“The new systems will be an automated meter where they'll put new meters in the ground and they will have radio sensing devices on them,” said Jim Dockery, Deputy City Manager in Wichita Falls.

The smart meters will use an Advanced Metering Infrastructure to collect data using two-way radio communications. Right now, water meters are gauged, logged and submitted to the city of Wichita Falls utility department. A lengthy, daily  process that could soon be eliminated.

Currently, the city employs several water meter readers, but if the contract is approved those jobs will slowly be eliminated. However, Dockery said the city will work with those employees to help find them other positions with the city.

 The new reader would send the usage data straight to the city and to the residents, without a need for a meter reader. The new system will also generate a more accurate reading, and save the city more than $1 million dollars annually.

“Basically the city is going to be paying for that without any type of sewer or water rate increase,” said Dockery.

While water rates will not go up, the new meters will provide increased accuracy, which is something that could be reflected on your bill.

Those savings are generated by an increase of $514,602 from meter accuracy corrections, and an additional $133,261 per year from additional low flow registration. Cutting down on operational and maintenance will save $220,524 a year, and will reduce meter replacement and repair costs by $175,000 per year.

“If you had a meter that was reading accurately you're probably not going to see any change in your monthly bill,” said Dockery.

However, Dockery said many of the Wichita Falls water meters are somewhere around 98 percent accurate. Depending on the age, it could be even less.

At the same time, the hourly updates and alerts resident would have access to would help locate a water leak you may have before a monthly statement arrives in the mail.

“So if you were a customer that was experiencing a leak you wouldn't know it under today's system until you got your bill,” said Dockery.

Usage updates will be provided to residents to notify them before monthly statements are sent out.

Councilors will review the contract Tuesday, February 2.  If it is approved, the installation process could 12 to 18 months.

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