A staff recommendation to not offer an automatic meter reader opt-out program for customers in Calabasas will be considered by the district's board of directors Tuesday.
Last October, the city of Calabasas sent the district a letter requesting that the district implement such a program.
But district staff formed an opinion based on several factors including expert testimony that the meters are safe and don't emit high radio frequency levels and that implementing and opt-out program would be costly for the district.
As of June 2011, the district has installed 4,700 underground automatic meter readers in public right of ways near homes throughout its boundaries with an overall goal of 21,000 by 2015.
The devices transmit a homeowner's water usage data every 20 minutes to the district, a money-saving alternative to sending out an employee in a truck to manually read meters, said Public Affairs and Communications Manager Jeff Reinhardt.
The data can be used to help residents improve water conservation and track an erratic usage, such as a broken hose, to pinpoint leaks, he said.
Since installations began in 2010, dozens of residents have vocally opposed the meter readers and even staged a protest in front of district headquarters last June.
Some initial concerns included radio frequency waves emitted from the devices and privacy concerns about the data to be transmitted. But now, those who are against the new meter readers believe the have the right of consumer choice and the ability to opt out of having the devices installed in their public right of ways.
Calabasas resident and Vice President of the local Consumers Power Alliance Liat Samouhi said she believes district customers have a right to request such an opt-out and stick with an analog meter.
"Affected residents and customers from cities throughout the district have petitioned the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District to halt their mandatory and forced installations of AMR/AMI meters, offer an analogue meter opt-out as part of the deployment plan, and ensure that the consumer rights, privacy rights, statutory due process and other legal rights of their rate paying customers and [the California Environmental Quality Act], are complied with as regards to their wireless mesh network proposal," she said.
But allowing residents to opt out and use analog meters could prove costly to the district in terms of man hours manually checking meters. and having to reconfigure a network of such devices due to a number of holes, Reinhardt said.
Carlos Reyes, director of resource conservation and public outreach for the water district, said the district would also have to reconfigure its network of such devices if there are gaps in between, another costly effort.
The water district's board of directors meets at 5 p.m. at 4232 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA.