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From 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 was projected to take 14 months. After installation, the new meter system provides customers with more accurate water usage data that is updated multiple times throughout the day, water budget and water consumption threshold alerts, comparative data, leak alerts and notifications from the City. Consumption data is updated on an internet-based customer dashboard that can be accessed from a computer, tablet or smart phone.
City Manager Mike Land explained how the Advanced Water Meter System project is part of the City's larger efforts to utilize technology to become what is referred to in the marketplace as a "Smart City."
"We are actively looking for ways to use data and technology to enhance our customer experience, City's services, livability and sustainability," he said. "The Advanced Water Meter System project aligns perfectly with these goals."
With the Advanced Water Meter System, Coppell residents have access to data that gives them an increased understanding of their water consumption. In turn, City staff are better equipped to assist customers.
"With this technology, we're able to show customers what is happening with their consumption. They're able to graph it and see it. This allows us to provide a level of customer service that was unattainable before," said Kim Tiehen, Assistant Director of Finance for the City of Coppell.
Prior to citywide Advanced Meter installation, the City used three types of metering systems and multiple meter brands. This variability posed operational challenges for City staff. The Advanced Meter System project included 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. The information availabe through the customer service portal allows customers to more closely monitor their water consumption and adjust their usage accordingly. In turn, it provides the City more accurate utility analytics and customer consumption data, better meter data management, increased customer transparency, a reduction in water loss, a reduction in labor costs, a baseline for distribution leak detection and the ability to send alerts and messages to customers. In short, customers are given the tools and data they need to better plan and Get to Know Your H2O. The City utilized performance contracting to partner with Siemens, who studied the City's current system and developed a design build program to install the advanced meters. According to Tiehen, the Advanced Water Meter System project increased the accuracy of meter reads and actual water consumption, which provided the City with higher revenues without increasing water rates. The additional funding, along with the operational savings, will fund the project over the next 15 years. Additionally, the City have been able to reduce the costs associated with the previous meter-reading process.
Coppell City Council approved the $6.8 million Advanced Water Meter System project at the April 24, 2018 meeting, and the funding was secured as part of the July 24, 2018 Certificate of Obligation issuance.