News Feature | December 17, 2014

Tech Upgrade: Texas City Installing Smart Meters

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

dallas.reg

A Texas city near Dallas, is overhauling its metering equipment in a $9 million move aimed at improving water management.

"By spring, the southern suburb plans to replace 16,000 aging residential water meters with smart devices to give residents and officials precise data to better manage the resource," the Dallas Morning News reported.

Going forward, customers will have access to usage data on an hourly basis by way of a smart phone app. The meters will "transmit usage data directly to the city, so there will be no need for crews to drive and check the dials manually," CBS DFW reported.

The aim is to increase revenue and cut costs by managing water with greater efficiency. City leaders say the upgrade will cut down the amount of money lost to theft and underbilling, the News report said.

Melissa Stephens, Cedar Hill's assistant city manager, framed smart meters as a wise investment.

“The system will pay for itself,” she said, per the report. “We believe in the long run it will put us on a path to be more efficient and effective.”

Data on Cedar Hill's current system shows room for improvement.

“We realized that our water meter inventory had not been replaced as it should and our meters were under-registering significantly, so we were billing inaccurately,” Stephens said in the report. “If a resident used 7,000 gallons in a month, it may only have registered five [thousand], and only billed on five.”

Problems were exposed during a pre-installation review.

"Several meters were discovered that were not on city billing rolls. Other meters were not functioning properly and some accounts were not accurately billed," the city said in a statement.

According to the city, customers are eager to try the new tech.

"Residents have wanted more than one data point per month so they could better monitor their usage," said a statement from the city.

Image credit: "Dallas_Aerial_Dec_09," Neff Conner © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/