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New Meters Help Conserve Water

Carlsbad CA— The Carlsbad Municipal Water District has replaced all of its customers’ water meters with new, automated meters that enable the district to read them remotely in a fraction of the time it took to read the old ones, saving water and money.

Rather than going door-to-door, staff now read meters by driving around the city and collecting data from each meter using wireless technology. This has reduced the time it takes to read all of the district’s 29,144 meters to 55 staff hours, from 329. The system can pick up signals from a half-mile away, so readers can cover large parts of the city with a simple driving route.water meter

“When we started this project in 2008, it was expected to take 15 years and cost $15 million to replace every meter,” said Mario Remillard, the project manager. “In 2012, new technology became available that allowed us to cut nine years from the project and reduce the cost by $9.6 million, so we’ve finished the project much more quickly and saved money doing it.”

The final project cost was $6 million. Besides cutting meter reading time, the new automated meters provide useful information for customers who want to track their water use. The meters record results at regular intervals throughout the day, which allows staff to tell customers when a spike in usage may have begun and what times of day usage increases

“One advantage of this new system is if a customer calls with questions about increased water usage, we can call up the data and help solve the problem right then and there,” Remillard said. “We can tell them how much water they’re using day to day, and sometimes hour to hour. And we can visit them at their house and show them their usage history over a laptop.”

The system also gives the district a better picture of citywide consumption, allowing officials to compare purchases from the region’s wholesaler — the San Diego County Water Authority — with total consumption by customers. This ability to compare purchase data with overall usage data enables district engineers to spot discrepancies that may be caused by leaks in the delivery system, allowing the district to track down and repair them.

The Carlsbad Municipal Water District serves 85 percent of the city. The southeastern portion of the city gets water service from the Olivenhain Municipal Water District and the Vallecitos Water District.