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Heat and drought tend to lead to increased water usage for customers. Whether it's watering the yard, filling a swimming pool, preventing a shift in the foundation, or watering the lawn, all can play a role in customers experiencing higher water bills in the summer. Higher water bills usually increase customers' concern over their usage and bill accuracy. To find a solution to these concerns, City Council directed Robinson staff to embark on a thorough vetting process to find the ideal technology that would empower customers to learn more about their water use while ensuring the accuracy of customers' water usage and bill.
The digital water meters from Sensus were identified as the most cost-effective and reliable technology for this endeavor. These digital water meters are designed to help customers understand and gain insight into how and when they use water. They also provide the opportunity to determine and locate water leaks quicker, aiding in preserving this natural resource.
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The City’s new digital water meters will be installed to replace the City’s current meters. Also known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure, the digital water meters provide the City and its customers with accurate near real-time data on their individual water usage along with alerts to notify us of potential issues such as a leak. This technology will help customers gain a deeper insight and understanding on how and when they use water.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a system of transmitters and receivers that allow customers water usage data to be sent directly to our offices using a radio frequency signal. This will allow for two-way electronic communication between the customer's meter and utility personnel.
Digital water meter readings are encrypted and sent through an automated network, using a private radio frequency (RF) channel, from the digital water meter to the utility. The meter data display looks similar to the numbers on a car odometer and has nine digits. The digits on the meter represent the number of gallons consumed down to the 1/100th of a gallon. The last two digits can be used as leak indicators to detect water flow through the meter.
The AMI system will provide a new customer web portal where customers can monitor their water usage more closely, allowing customers to manage their own water usage and reduce costs associated with their water bills. Some of the many benefits customers gain from the new technology include:
The project was financed through the City’s Capital Improvement Project funds. Customers will not incur any additional cost for the digital water meters. However, these water meters are much more accurate than the previous water meters used so customers could see an increase in monthly water usage due to this efficiency.
Possibly. There are two primary reasons you might see an increase in your water bill. Traditional meters and AMI meters measure water traveling through to the home in the same way, but the improved performance of a new meter can result in a more accurate measurement of the water used due to an inaccurate older water meter or potential leaks that have gone unnoticed. Due to this, customers may notice an increase in their bill based on actual consumption. However, if your old meter was operating properly, you may not see any changes in your monthly bill. It's important to remember that higher than normal water bills can also indicate a household leak and should be investigated. The City of Robinson has some troubleshooting tips on our website: https://www.robinsontexas.org/DocumentCenter/View/1956/Check-for-Leaks-PDF
Customers will be setup with access to a customer web portal which they can access from a laptop, tablet or mobile device. To obtain access to the portal, customers will need to create a unique username and password.
Customers will still have access to up to 3 years of previous water usage history through their previous customer portal. However, the new AMI customer portal will keep up to 3 years of previous usage once the new system begins.
Customers will have the ability to set up an alert to determine if there is any water loss or waste on their property. Customers will also be able to establish Billing Cycle Thresholds for additional alerts such as:
Data from the meters is encrypted and sent through a safe and secure network to the utility databases. The meter system transmits only the water meter readings, the meter identification number, and diagnostic information to verify that the automated meter equipment is operating correctly. No personally identifiable information is stored at the meter. Only key authorized utility personnel, such as customer service representatives, can access your account if needed.
Our current residential meters do not have the ability to be read remotely. In order to make the conversion to Automated Metering, all meters that are not currently a Sensus meter need to be replaced so they can communicate with the new system.
The City of Robinson will work with Aqua-Metric to plan meter change outs. Once a deployment plan has been established and mapped out, then Aqua-Metric will begin advancing through the city's service area to replace existing water meters. The meter exchange will take place between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
In most cases no. The meter is accessible from the outside of the home so the customer will not be required to be present during the exchange. The contractor will attempt to notify any occupants of the momentary water outage prior to temporarily disconnecting the water. Customers will be required to ensure the meter is free and clear of any debris or obstructions that may prevent the contractor from replacing the meter. If the meter is located within a fenced area that contains animals, we ask that all animals be secured for the safety of the animal and technician.
Yes, but only briefly – typically 5 to 15 minutes while the meter is being replaced. The installation technician will attempt to notify customers in advance of the brief water outage during the meter exchange.
Yes. Digital water meters operate at much lower levels of radio frequencies than cell phones, microwaves, wireless routers, and even baby monitors. Any concerns over the safety of wireless data transmission should be directed to the FCC, as it is the regulatory agency responsible for permitting the safe use of radios.
No. The radio transmission operates in compliance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations to avoid interference with other electronic devices.
Consumption and alarm data is stored within the meter and transmitter device. In the event the connection is disrupted or severed between the meter and transmitter, an alert will be sent to notify utility personnel of potential tampering. In addition, tampering can result in a $150 charge on a utilities account. Note: No personally identifiable information is stored within the meter or transmitter.
The current city policy in place does not allow citizens to use the cut-off on the City side of the meter. Each property owner needs to have a cut-off on the customers side of the meter that they can use when repairs are needed.
Once water service is restored, customers may experience a brief period of air, debris, or discolored water. In most cases, running cold water in the bathtub will clear the lines of air, debris, or discoloration. In the event of prolonged air or discoloration, please contact the Utility Department immediately to correct the issue by calling (254) 662-1415 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact the City’s Utility Department at (254) 662-1415 or by emailing email@example.com. For after-hours, holiday or weekend emergencies, please call (254) 662-0525.
There will not be any jobs lost over this new technology. Any staff members will be shifted to other areas within the city.
The City of Robinson has been hard at work with over $6.48 million dedicated to city street construction since 2017 up to now. Visit www.UpgradingRobinson.com for more information on the city's investment in streets.