The Town of Wallace is replacing and modernizing its water meter system. The project has been in the planning process for some time and is now moving into the installation, testing and ultimately totally replacing exiting meters with an AMI Meter system. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) goes beyond the basics of measuring water consumption. These new systems can be read remotely, and also ready more frequently. By reading the meters multiple times daily, we are able to detect leaks , probably before the user does, and can alert customers quickly. The old meters being replaced are generally less accurate, and in the water meter industry that means that they are likely reading less water than actually passes through them. Being more efficient, saving water by minimizing water leak losses, and insuring we bill for all water used will help this investment to pay for itself.
What is AMI?
AMI is an abbreviation for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. It is the technology of automatically collecting consumption, diagnostic, and status data from devices with the ability to store and transfer data to a central database for billing purposes.
Why is the Town implementing an AMI Project?
The implementation of AMI is a result of many factors:
- The existing mechanical water meters have far exceeded their useful life with an average age of more than 20 years. As a result, approximately 20 percent of the Town’s water meters are recording inaccurately and must be manually reread or replaced.
- Current meters are no longer warrantied, and replacement meters are no longer readily available.
- Current meter reading techniques require significant staff resources from field to office staff. Advances in technology will allow readings constantly over a private area wide network, which allows the Town staff to be more efficient and focus on troubleshooting instead of data gathering.
- Water regulations require the Town to accurately track water use and water loss.
How is the AMI project being funded?
Funding for the AMI project is being generated from two sources:
- In September 2022 the Town secured a low interest loan for $1 million.
- The remainder of the project will be paid for out of reserves set aside from the Town’s Water and Sewer Fund.
When does the AMI project begin and when is it expected to be completed?
In September 2022, the Town will have a “kick off” meeting with MeterSys, the contractor overseeing the installation of the new meters. Timetables, and benchmarks will be set at that time. The project will consist of 3 phases:
- Phase 1 will consist of building out the “backbone” of the system. Collectors and repeaters will be placed on Town water towers to pull in data from the meters. This phase of the project is scheduled to begin in October 2022.
- Phase 2 will consist of replacing old meters with new AMI meters. This process is anticipated to start in November 2022 and take 3-4 months.
- Phase 3 will consist of a punch list of items that need to be corrected or completed to close out the project items not covered or completed in phase 1 and 2.
How does the installation work?
The Town has over 2500 meters installed. Sections of Town will be done over time. A week prior to installation, the Town will let citizens know which areas it will be working on thru it’s social media accounts and this website. Contractors will remove the existing meter and replace with new meter. Often this is completed without removing the meter box, but if damaged the meter box will also be replaced. The installation process is completed in approximately 30-40 minutes. Town contractors – MeterSys – will be clearly marked and have identification upon request. They will leave a door hanger letting you know your meter was replaced or if further work may be required.
Is there anything I need to do or prepare for?
Our contractors only need to work at the meter box. When they are working in your area, we ask you keep your meter box accessible, i.e. do not park cars over it and that pets are kept inside or in a fenced area away from the meter box. Other than that, our contractors will do everything else.
If I notice a problem after installation, whom should I contact?
You may find a small amount of sediment in your water after the meter is swapped out. Run your water for a few minutes for it to clear out. If your water does not clear out or if other problems continue, please call the 252-399-9125.
How does the AMI system work?
AMI meters communicate thru radio waves similar to you home WIFI. Collectors gather data and forward to Town Hall where information is loaded into the AMI software.
What information is transmitted, and is my account information secure?
The AMI system only transmits the water meter readings, the meter identification number and diagnostic information to verify the equipment is operating correctly. No Personal customer information is transmitted. For additional security, the data is encrypted and transmitted over a privately licensed radio frequency channel.
How will I know if my water bill is accurate?
The meters are tested by the manufacture and comply with the American Water Works Association standards. Meter software is programed to flag any unusually use data, often associated with a break, for customer notification.
Will I be able to read my own meter?
Yes! Customers will have access to an online portal where they can see their water consumption. They’ll also be able to get notices if the system detects a leak. Corrective steps can be taken immediately unlike our current system where leaks are only detected once a month when we read and send out bills.
Is the AMI technology safe?
AMI technology will not negatively affect your health. The wireless portion of the system is operated per Federal Communications Commission rules and will not interfere with other radio frequencies in the area. The transmitters use one-quarter the power of a cellphone transmission.
How long will this device work?
The life expectancy of the devices installed in the field is a minimum of 20 years. Periodic inspection and maintenance will be performed to ensure all devices are performing as expected.
If you have any questions regarding the installation process, please contact the Public Services Director, Brent Dean at 910-285-2812.