Advanced Water Meter Program
Coastside County Water District is investing in new water meter infrastructure. The improvements include replacing water meters and installing a secure radio read network that is known as advanced metering infrastructure or AMI.
What is advanced metering infrastructure?
The District is installing the Aclara Fixed Network AMI STAR® System. The component attached to the water meter is called the meter transmission unit (MTU) and this radio unit transmits hourly meter readings every six hours to a data collection unit (DCU). From the DCU, the meter readings are transmitted to a database from which the District can access the meter readings and import them into our utility billing database.
Why is the District changing meters and installing AMI?
The AMI system will provide the District with automated meter reads for our customers throughout the service area. It will also provide the District with hourly meter readings which will assist the District in contacting more customers with high water usage.
- As the cost of drinking water increases, due to water quality regulations and capital improvements, advanced meter infrastructure will provide additional tools to assist customers to understand and reduce their water usage.
- New and developing water use efficiency (conservation) regulations imposed on the District will require more data to determine how to meet mandated water use targets and goals.
With the District’s excellent water quality, the average life of a residential meter is approximately 15 to 20 years. The average age of our residential meters is over 20 years and require replacement. Larger meters serving commercial facilities will often have a significantly shorter useful life. The new meter transmission units will have a 20 year life, similar or longer to the water meters.
When will the work occur?
The installations are planned to begin in November of 2017 and should be completed by March of 2018. The installations will take place Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Commercial installations may need to take place after or before normal work hours.
Who will be installing water meters?
The District has contracted with Professional Meters Inc. (PMI) to install most of the new meters and meter transmission units in our service area. A small portion of the meters and meter transmission units have already been installed and District staff will perform the more challenging installations. If you have any problems with your new meter installation please contact PMI directly at (866) 270-9629, toll free.
Water meters are located within a public utility easement in the District’s service area. The installation will take about 30 minutes to complete and your water will be turned off during the installation. When the work is complete, the installer will leave a door hanger explaining the procedures that took place and communicate any further action needed. You may notice a new meter lid and for quality control purposes the installer will take before and after photographs. There will be planned and random quality assurance checks by both the installer and by District staff after installations.
How you can help
Clearing all obstructions, including bushes and fencing near your meter
Unlocking any gates that would prevent installers from accessing meters
Moving vehicles, so they do not block access to meters
Securing pets away from meters and installers
Recommendations for customers
During installation: Leave all plumbing fixtures and appliances that use water in the OFF mode.
After installation: Do not use hot water. Test for restored water pressure by slowly opening a faucet (hose bib/garden hose) in the front yard close to where the water enters your home or business.
- If you don’t have water, call PMI or the District.
- If you have water, flush the water through until it runs clear of sediment and the air has been flushed. This should take approximately 1 minute. If after 1 minute, you still have sediment in your water, turn off the water and wait 15 minutes and then repeat flushing. If it does not clear on the second attempt, contact the Coastside County Water District.
- Next, go to an inside faucet or tub spout and turn on the cold water and let the water run until the air has been flushed. Remember to only use COLD water.
- You are done. You may proceed to use your appliances and hot water.
The District is also implementing a new software service that will allow the District to create an online portal for customers to view their hourly reads and to get additional water usage information. This new customer portal should be made available to all our customers by January 2019. The District needs to complete the installation of the AMI system before deploying the online portal for customers.
Meter readings are encrypted and sent to a data collector unit using a private licensed radio frequency channel. From the data collector unit, a cellular data network is used to send the readings to a central server. The meter readings are then pulled from the server into the District’s utility billing database over a secure network. The advanced metering system only transmits meter reads, meter identification numbers, and diagnostic information about the meter and the meter transmission unit. The advanced metering system does not transmit any personal customer information.
The radio signal (RF) used to transmit data from the meter to the data collector unit is much weaker than those used by many household devices. The meter transmission units deployed by the District use a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed 450 to 470 MHz radio frequency. Laptops, cell phones and wireless routers all emit more energy than the meter transmission unit. Additional factors that limit exposure are that the meter transmission unit sends one signal every four hours and each transmission lasts less than one second. The meters are also located near the street and away from dwellings. Please visit the Federal Communications Commission’s website for addition information and resources on exposure to radio frequency.