The only guarantee for cheaper water bills is to use less water. The city of Arlington is helping citizens toward that goal with its Know Your H20 program.
“What we’re trying to do is educate so our customers can make wiser decisions with their water usage,” City of Arlington Director of Water Utilities Craig Cummings said.
For residents with remote read meters, the updated Arlington Water Utilities online account page now includes access to daily water usage totals.
“They also can compare their water use over time and have a better idea of what they will pay at the end of the month,” said Arlington Communication and Legislative Affairs Director Jay Warren.
Cummings said slightly more than half, almost 60,000 of the city’s water meters, are already part of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) network. Their water meters transmit usage readings remotely, in a safe and secure manner, to the city’s billing system.
“What we really like is the customer can set a bill limit and we’ll send an email that tells them if they’re getting close to that dollar amount or volume amount,” Cummings said about a new alert tool that will be available this spring “This is a lesson learned from last summer, when it got so hot and we had so many bills that were so high.”
Cummings also said the system is helpful in such instances as a leak, or if someone left a hose running. The customer will be alerted so they can inspect the situation.
An additional 9,000 remote read meters are scheduled to be installed annually until all of the meters in Arlington are remotely read.
“In Texas, we know that the next extremely dry summer isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Cummings said. “That’s why we continue to encourage residents to use water efficiently throughout the year. Being able to track their account daily gives residents control over their water use. It’s an effective way to prevent surprises in your monthly utility bill.”
And Cummings said every meter in the city will be replaced when the program is finished.
“From Cowboys Stadium to the little old lady,” he said with a chuckle.
Cummings also said there is a plan for customers to be able to monitor their usage on an hourly basis, something that can only be done currently by calling the water department.
Cummings assured citizens there is no cost to them for changing to the remote read meters. He said the batteries are guaranteed for many years, in some cases lasting as long as 15 years.
“We think it’s truly a game changer, allowing consumers to make decisions with real time data,” he said. “This is virtually mistake-free.”
Also on the updated website, residents can view monthly readings for up to two years, comparing them to usage connected with monthly temperatures.
And Cummings said no, the switch to remote read meters doesn’t mean the loss of jobs for meter readers.
“We’re migrating the folks who would be displaced reading meters to installing meters, or bidding on a number of other positions. We’re not laying anyone off,” he said. “This is not Big Brother heavy-handed. It’s just a way to help people manage another part of their life.”