AMI Smart Water Meters
News & Updates
Smart water meters are coming to the City of Savannah
The City of Savannah has initiated a comprehensive project to replace and modernize our older water meters with new, proven technology that has been successfully installed by other public water systems. Using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the City has committed an initial $5.3 million to begin the process of replacing approximately 50,000 older, existing water meters throughout the City of Savannah Water System over the next several years.
The primary goal of this project is to provide the most accurate and reliable water usage data for our customers by installing advanced metering technology, commonly known as “smart meters” using Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The AMI technology collects water consumption data accurately and securely. The City knows that our customers expect that we achieve the highest level of water usage accuracy possible such that the City and our customers have confidence in the accuracy of their utility bills.
Benefits of AMI Smart Water Meters:
- Enhanced accuracy of customer water usage & billing data
- Reduced City staff involvement in meter reading in the field
- Improved data collection to direct water conservation efforts
- Increased confidence in utility billing processes
- Online customer portal & smartphone app to monitor usage and set leak alerts (future roll-out)
- What is Advanced Metering Infrastructure or AMI?
AMI stands for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. With AMI, every City of Savannah Water System customer (both inside and outside the City limits) will be able to accurately measure water usage in their home or business. This will be accomplished by the AMI unit automatically sending a secure, digital message to a data collection Cell Tower using a cellular signal—much like a cell phone does now. The Cell Tower then transmits all meter reads to the City of Savannah through a specialized software, where the information is processed within the City’s utility billing system.
- Why is the City adopting AMI?
Installing AMI smart meters will enhance our customer service capabilities by maximizing the potential for consistent, accurate meter reads, thereby enabling our customers to have a high degree of confidence in the utility bills they receive. We are excited to implement AMI because it will enable us to improve customer service through the delivery of more accurate bills to all our customers. It will also reduce the need for City staff to come onto your property for manual meter readings.
- How does AMI affect me?
AMI technology ensures that customers receive a more accurate bill for their water usage – no more and no less. It is important to understand that some older water meters run slower and under-register water use as they age. When we change out your older water meter with a new AMI smart meter, the bills generated by the new meter may be higher simply because the new meter is recording usage more accurately than the older model we replaced.
- What can a customer do to offset the potential for increased usage through more accurate AMI meter readings?
The City of Savannah has always strongly advocated for water conservation by its customers as we seek to protect our water resources in the area. Visit www.savannahga.gov/water for more information and resources to help you conserve water.
- How much will this upgrade cost me?
There is no cost to customers for the AMI upgrade.
- How will AMI benefit me?
AMI improves accuracy by eliminating the potential for human error in manual meter reading. It will also help by immediately identifying any irregularities in water usage, such as leaks.
In the future, customers will have access to the AMI web portal which allows easy access to information about your water consumption. This will include the ability to compare current usage to previous periods and set email and text alerts to achieve conservation goals. The schedule for the Smart Meter Customer Portal rollout is still being developed and the City will notify customers once it’s available for use.
- How do you know the meter reading is accurate?
Water utilities all over the world are utilizing AMI technology, primarily because it provides accurate water usage information. The reading at the meter is converted into a digital format using technology that has proven to be highly reliable and secure. AMI improves accuracy mostly because it eliminates the potential for human error in manual meter reading and data processing. Similar systems are already in use in nearby communities including Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority in South Carolina.
- How will I know that you have my meter reading and not someone else’s?
The water meter unit at your location (i.e. the endpoint) that sends your meter reading has a unique identifier that is transmitted along with the meter read and usage data. This unique identifier is compared electronically to your account record to ensure that the meter reading matches the meter assigned to your account.
- Is my account information secure?
Your account information is secure. Data transmitted through the system is protected and proprietary communication protocols are used.
- Are there any potential health concerns with radio frequency signal?
No. The data transfer is through a standard cellular signal, so the power of the radio frequency does not pose any health risk different than a cell phone. The technology selected by the City of Savannah sends a signal that can be compared to a cellular text message. The products that make up the AMI system are stringently evaluated for safety and meet all standards established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
- Will the radiofrequency signal interfere with my television, computer, cordless phone, garage door, pacemaker or other electronic devices?
No. The technology operates as a very low-powered cellular type signal that is regulated by the (FCC) against interference. As such, it is unlikely that it will interfere with the operation of other electronic devices.
- Will there be any difference in the delivery or quality of water after my meter upgrade?
No. You will continue to enjoy the same high-quality water you have come to expect from the City of Savannah Water System.
- What if I have questions about the last meter read before my upgrade?
Digital photographs will be taken of the last meter reading on each existing meter that we replace, should any questions arise. The installer (Utility Partners of America or UPA) will provide these photographs to the City of Savannah so that our utility billing staff will have this information available to answer any questions that might arise.
- How is the installation done?
The City of Savannah staff and the meter installer (UPA) will locate the meter box containing your water meter and mark it with blue paint and a pin flag. For residential customers, replacing the water meter will require installers to briefly turn off the water service to your residence. This allows installers to remove the old meter and install a new one. Water service may be interrupted for commercial customers as well. When the new meter is installed, the installer will test the new AMI water meter to ensure that it is operating properly.
The installer will attempt to try and turn on an outdoor water spigot at each location following AMI meter installation to flush the system and re-establish pressure. For any customer that has experienced a water service interruption in the past, they know that these type issues can occur on water service reconnection, but they should resolve quickly by flushing the system outside or inside for a short period of time.
- When will my installation occur?
Installations will be completed systematically via a city-wide plan being developed by the installation team. The City will notify customers prior to the field work associated with their meter replacement.
- How will I be notified of the installation?
For customers with a standard water meter, a post card will be mailed approximately two weeks before the planned installation at your location and the installer (UPA) will place a door hanger at your location after the installation is complete. The UPA doorhanger will include information for the customer that they can utilize in the event of any questions or concerns following the installation exercise.
- How long will meter replacement take for most customer locations?
In most instances, installation should take less than thirty (30) minutes. Some installations may take longer but we do not expect any major water service interruptions in connection with this project.
- What if I need to schedule my meter replacement because of an issue on the day the installer plans to be at my location?
The installer (UPA) will be able to schedule a specific time with any customer if the situation necessitates such an approach. The customer service number for UPA is 800-417-5605 if you need to contact them about scheduling your installation.
- What if I have general questions about the AMI meter installation project?
- What if I have questions about my bi-monthly City of Savannah utility bill?
Customers can contact the City Utility Billing Customer Service staff by visiting www.savannahga.gov/customercontact or by calling 912-651-6460.