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In the spring of 2016 the RWA will begin contacting customers to arrange appointments for workers to install the necessary meter modifications. In the interim, the RWA will build the network and software system needed to support the new metering system. The new electronic meter reading system is planned to be fully operational in 2019. Customers will be able to review their water use online through their home computers and be able to detect leaks in their water service lines and home plumbing systems quickly. They will also be able to see the savings from their conservation efforts.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) virtually eliminates estimated bills that are a source of frustration for customers. Information on water consumption will flow at regular intervals to the RWA, regardless of obstacles that have prevented meter reading in the past, such as dogs, fences that limit access to meters, or inclement weather. AMI will also streamline the final bill process when a property closing takes place, enabling the RWA to obtain an actual reading for the final bill. Larger customers implementing conservation programs will be able to track their programs to see if they are producing desired results.
“AMI directly aligns with the RWA’s strategic plan. Tapping the possibilities of this technology will enable the RWA to enhance the customer service experience, improve the efficiency of processes and strengthen the organization financially,” said Larry Bingaman, President and CE0 of the Regional Water Authority.
The RWA’s Representative Policy Board approved the RWA management’s application for the AMI project on Thursday, September 18. The Board’s approval was based on the benefits to RWA customers, the RWA, and the future savings the project is expected to provide to the organization and its customers.
The AMI project will translate into savings for the customer through longer-term efficiencies. The RWA currently has four separate meter reading systems; replacing them with one unified system will allow more efficient readings, take vehicles off the road and reduce overall operating expenses associated with the current meter reading process. AMI will allow early detection of theft, which will enable the RWA to promptly investigate instances of theft that may have gone undetected previously for months. Recapturing this lost revenue helps to mitigate future rate increases for customers. AMI will also provide data for the RWA to help determine the right size for future system improvements and reduce water loss through early detection of leaks in the distribution system.
The entire project is expected to cost $28 million and take five years to fully implement. The AMI project is part of the Regional Water Authority’s capital budget and will be funded along with the other capital budget projects through the sale of revenue bonds and through low-interest loans and grants from the Connecticut Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). The DWSRF is a program established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make funds available to states for drinking water system infrastructure improvements.
The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority supplies water and related services to about 430,000 consumers in 15 communities in the region. It owns and protects over 27,000 acres of watershed land and provides a wide array of educational and recreational opportunities to the community.