AMI Frequently Asked Questions
ADVANCED METERING INFRASTRUCTURE (AMI)
Getting Smarter and Working Together
AMI smart water meters helps conserve and ensure a better water future. Working with our customers is the best way to reduce water use, improve the reliability and sustainability of our water system and minimize cost. Smart meters provide an outstanding foundation for strong collaboration with our customers. Smart meter customers now have the tools and information to help save water and save money.
What Is AMI?
AMI stands for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. It is a method of using communication technology to read meters remotely without having to access the meter located in meter boxes in the ground.
How Does It Work?
The City of Wichita Falls has chosen a fixed based network that provides two-way communication from the meter box to strategically located Base Stations. The City is replacing water meters throughout Wichita Falls with new meters equipped with a meter transceiver. The meter transceiver is used to collect and transmit meter reading data, unique identification numbers, operating status, and various alarms at regular intervals to the Base Stations.
Why Is The City Undertaking This Effort?
Advanced meter systems are quickly becoming the standard for utilities around the country. These new devices allow for more accurate and faster collection of water usage readings than the current manual method and improve safety conditions for City staff. Currently, the meter readers must open every meter box to obtain a reading from the meter. Introducing automatic meter reading as the standard for Wichita Falls is one of the ways we can better serve our customers and improve the overall efficiency of the utility department.
How Many Meters Will Be Changed?
All of the City’s 34,000 retail meters will be replaced with new smart meters over a 9 to 12 month period.
Will the City be raising water rates to pay for this new AMI system?
No. The AMI system is a budget neutral project.
Will The Electronic Device On The Meter Interfere With Other Electronic Equipment?
No. The radio transmission operates in compliance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations to avoid interference with other electronic devices.
Is The Electronic Device and Data Encrypted?
Yes. Data transmitted from the meter through the system is encrypted through the entire process.
Is This Part Of A Fixed (Closed) Network?
Yes. The fixed network will collect readings at fixed data collection points and transmit them electronically for billing purposes without staff needing to go to the location of the meters.
Can I Access Daily Readings Online?
Yes, when the system is fully implemented in the spring of 2017, water customers will have the ability to access their daily water consumption online in one hour increments. The City intends to do a public awareness notice and publish instructions for online account access nearer to the completion date of the meter installation process.
Do I Have To Be Home For The Meter Replacement Work?
No. Since the water meters are located outside of the home in the City right-of-way, you will not need to be home for the replacement work; however, if your water meter happens to be accessed from your back yard, we can make arrangements to schedule this work if needed. We have a toll-free number to call for those arrangements (1-877-853-2923).
What Happens If I Have A Problem After The Installation?
If you have a leak, low pressure or some other problem after the installation, or at any other time, you will be provided contact numbers that you can call to report your concern. Because your water will be turned off temporarily during the meter change process, you may experience a brief period of air or discolored water. In most cases briefly running your cold water will clear up this situation.
Why Is The Water Meter Being Replaced?
To upgrade the meter to one capable of communicating with the AMI equipment, and as an extension of an existing program to replace aging meters after they have reached the end of their life cycle. With the introduction of newer technology, the existing meters are not able to communicate using the AMI technology. The newer meters will save labor time, prevent recording errors, minimize wear and tear on vehicles, minimize the need for City employees to access the meter pit, and decrease the need to estimate accounts due to severe weather conditions.
Does My Meter Have To Be Replaced?
Yes. All meters will be changed to be read by the automated metering infrastructure technology. Customers cannot choose to remain on the older manual reading system.
Has This New AMI Equipment Been Tested For Accuracy And Reliability?
Yes. Meters come pretested along with results directly from the manufacturer. The radio device will be tested for accuracy during the meter collection process regularly.
How Does AMI Benefit Customers?
- Improved customer service by increasing accuracy and frequency of meter readings.
- Minimized need to access meters at the property.
- Reduction in estimated bills.
- Ability for customers to set usages alerts on their account before high bills are received.
Will My Water Bill Go Up?
Possibly. The City has an aggressive meter replacement program, so it is unlikely that your mechanical meter was reading slowly; however, older mechanical meters tend to lose accuracy as they age and, therefore, may not accurately measure all the water being used. The new water meter will accurately measure the water that you use. All new meters are tested prior to delivery by the manufacturer to ensure that they register properly. If you see a higher bill immediately upon the new meter installation and you have not changed your water use pattern, it is likely the old meter was running slow, or you have a minor leak in the system that wasn’t registering correctly through the old meter.
Can I Cover Up The Meter After The Installation?
No. Access needs to be available at all times. There will still be instances when meter technicians will visit the meter on site to perform routine maintenance or verify high readings. Obstructions to the meter box are subject to removal by City personnel.
What If There Is Something Blocking Or In Front Of The Meter?
Please, keep access to the water meter available at all times to ensure it is accessible for any potential emergency that would require the meter to be turned off. Be careful during the fall foliage season not to cover your water meter with piles of leaves.
How Will I Know That You Have My Reading & Not Someone Else’s?
Each radio frequency device has a unique identification number, which is transmitted along with the meter reading. The unique number is compared to your account record electronically to ensure a match.
Does This Mean No More Meter Readers?
Yes. The number of meter readers will be reduced. City staff will continue to visit your property for routine service, maintenance, or repair. We will continue to respond to water emergencies.