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In 2018-2019, City of Coppell water utility customers saw their water meters replaced as part of the City's Advanced Water Meter System project, a service enhancement initiative to install advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) throughout the community. The city-wide installation of 13,375 new meters impacted every home and business in the community.
Why did my water bill increase?During the project planning, a random test of sixty-three residential meters, conducted by a third party, revealed that the old meters were registering, on average, about 90% of the water actually used. The test also found that of the sixty-three meters, five meters, or 8% of the meters tested, were registering
no usage. Since that testing, the City found that on average, at any given time, there were approximately 700 meters, or 5% of the old system's meters, that were not registering usage.
With the more accurate meters, it is very possible that members of the community will receive bills that are higher than statements for a corresponding month in a previous year. It is highly likely that comparing consumption history of the old meter to the new meter will be significantly different for many customers because their old meter was not registering all of their water usage. For some, it is possible their old meter had not been registering
any usage. In both instances, customers can expect to receive a larger bill than they did previously.
It is also possible that customers could receive bills lower than previous if they utilize the customer portal to monitor how much water they are using and adjust their usage. For example, many of us do not realize how much our irrigation system uses or how much water is used when we shower. Reducing the time our irrigation systems run or reducing the length of our showers could have an impact on consumption, resulting in a lower water bill.
How does the new meter benefit me?The MyH2O Customer Portal provides residents and businesses with access to usage data from their new meters. Residents and businesses are able to more closely monitor their water consumption and adjust their usage accordingly. In addition, a leak alert can be set that notifies the account holder if the system is detecting a leak at their home or business. The customer can also setup usage alerts which will generate an email when the account registers the usage established by the account holder. In short, customers have the tools and data they need to better plan and "Get to Know Your H2O."
This project was the result of listening to our customers. Specifically, the purpose of this project was to provide customers with a water meter system that accurately registers usage, utilizes technology to proactively provide effective and efficient customer service, and provide our customers with easy access to water usage information.
The new system addresses the accuracy concern. During the development and investigation phase of the water meter project, a random test of old meters found meters to be registering approximately 90% of actual water consumption. As a result, some customers were not being charged for their full water usage. The new meters register with an accuracy of at least 98.5% of actual consumption. With improved accuracy of the new meter, customers’ bills more precisely reflect charges for actual water usage.
The new meter system enhances the customer experience by allowing staff to provide proactive rather than reactive customer service. Previously, staff only saw how much water a customer used once a month when the meter was read for billing purposes. The new system allows staff to monitor the system for potential leaks and unusual consumption throughout the month. Staff is able to research situations and contact a customer sooner than they could under the old system. In addition, staff had no way to answer consumption questions from customers who had the older analog meters. Customers with the radio meters required staff to go to the meter to download consumption information.
The new system provides staff with the ability to access information for all customers who call with questions. The new meter system also helps customers gain deeper insight and understanding on how and when they use water. The new system provides customers with access to a Customer Portal where they can:
Why did the City replace my water meter (or why did the City replace all the water meters)?Previously, the City used three types of metering systems and multiple meter brands that ranged in age from three years to over 10 years. This variability posed operational challenges for City staff. The Advanced Meter System project has one type of system and one brand for all meters, which better equips City staff to maintain operations, manage inventory, and provide all customers with the same level of customer service.
Can I still open the meter box with a standard meter key in order to turn the water off in an emergency?
Yes, a standard meter key (pictured below) will open the lid and can be purchased at Ace Hardware, Home Depot or Lowe's. Customers are also welcome to stop by Town Center, 255 Parkway Blvd., during normal business hours to view a display water meter, box, and lid, and request a demonstration of how to use the key. Please note: the meter box lid has a wire that connects the transformer mounted in the lid to the meter. It is important to be careful when removing the lid so the wire does not get disconnected.
Do you have any info on if/when smart gas meters are coming? Currently, it is unknown.
If my bill goes up how do I know it is correct? The advance water meter system brings improved accuracy as compared to the old water meters. During the development and investigation phase of the project, old meters that were tested were found to only be registering approximately 90% of actual water used and some were registering no usage. The new automated readers register at least 98% of actual water usage.
To verify meter accuracy, every meter shipped by Sensus is tested for accuracy according to American Waterworks Standards before leaving the factory. All test results are attached to the meter to ensure accuracy and quality. The City has also contracted with Siemens to randomly select and test water meters each year to determine if the meters are accurately reading usage. The meters are sent by Siemens to a third party for testing and the results are shared with the City Council.
Unlike old analog water meters, the new Sensus meters do not have a “STAR” in the center to indicate a leak. As reflected in the picture, the new meters have two digits to the right of the decimal. The furthermost digit indicates 100ths of gallons and is considered to be the leak indicator.
If the last digit is moving, then water is flowing. Low flow would be indicated by this digit moving slowly when all valves are closed in the irrigation system and the residence.
Customers can also see how much water is used each hour, each day or each month on the customer portal. Usage alerts can also be set by customers who access the customer portal.
In addition to the uncertainty regarding the impact of more accurate meters on customer consumption on revenue, staff evaluates the impact of rate increases from Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) and Trinity River Authority (TRA) on the cost of operations. Historically, the City absorbed rate increases from both entities due to Coppell’s growth and expanding customer base. Coppell has moved from the growth to maintenance stage and can no longer absorb increases from those entities, which resulted in the rate increases implemented each of the past three years and the anticipated increase for this year. However, staff cited the following reasons to support why a rate increase would not be necessary to cover costs related to DWU and TRA.
Staff concluded that the current rates, based on a similar consumption by our customers, should generate the necessary revenue to cover the operating costs of the Water and Sewer Fund as well as provide funding for the infrastructure needs of the water and sewer system. The primary funding source for the water and sewer system is water and sewer rates. The water and sewer fund does not receive any funding from property or sales tax revenue. Therefore, rates are set at a level that provide the necessary revenue to cover the cost of operations and maintenance of the water and sewer infrastructure.
If you have questions or concerns, please call 972-304-3695.
If you are experiencing water meter issuesand need assistance, please call 877-853-2923 (toll-free).