The City kicked off a water meter replacement project utilizing automated meter reading (AMR) technology in late June 2010. Phase 1 of the project, which affected residential and small commercial customers mostly north of Interstate 85 is now complete (See the map of Phase 1 and Phase 2). Phase 2 of the project is substantially complete as well. The project will eventually replace every water meter in the city. Phase 3 and Phase 4 will begin in 2012.
AMR includes automatic collection of consumption, diagnostic, and status data from a water meter and transfers the data to a central database for billing, troubleshooting, and analyzing. Durham’s AMR system employs a mobile system for meter reading. Each electronic meter includes a small battery-powered radio unit; water meter readers have a receiver in their vehicles and as they drive by meter locations, the receiver collects meter readings transmitted by the individual meters. In Phase 1 and 2 of the project, 40,000 meters will have been relpalced by the end of 2011. As more automated meters are installed, the City anticipates moving to monthly meter reading and monthly billing.
The electronic water meters are Neptune E-coder meters and are being installed by Vanguard Utility Services, an industry leader in the installation of residential and commercial meters. For Durham, Vanguard is providing services which include removing and cataloging old meters and installing and calibrating the new meters. Durham crews are working ahead of the Vanguard employees to evaluate meter connections and raise services as necessary to ensure that the radio signal system will work.
The benefits of an automated meter reading system include convenience for both the City and the customer. With AMR, the meter readers can collect meter readings much quicker and more safely by simply driving by meter locations. The electronic meters will assist customers in detecting leaks and will assist utility staff in detecting malfunctioning or tampered meters. Additionally, this timely information, coupled with analysis, can help both utility staff and customers better manage the City’s potable water usage. As we transition to full implementation of AMR, no positions will be eliminated; staff will be reassigned to new responsibilities within the unit and department.