A draft ordinance offering an opt-out option for automatic water meter readers will soon be in the works, but local water district customers could have to pay to be part of the program.
The Board of Directors told staff Tuesday to author an opt-out ordinance after a presentation on what language could be included in the document.
Automatic meter readers are installed underground in public right of ways and digitally transmit water usage data to the LVMWD every 20 minutes. Homes without the devices have meters that have to be visited and read manually by district employees.
Part of the staff’s research presentation stated that water customers, who chose to opt-out, pay fees and lose the ability to be reimbursed for leakage costs caused by faulty plumbing, which according to the district could be detected more easily by automatic water meters.
“I would vote for an opt-out program, but I don’t want to see people forfeit their leak adjustments,” said Joseph Bowman, board member.
Bowman said that customers who find their own leaks should not be penalized. LVMWD are eligible for one leak adjustment every 10 years and can be reimbursed up to $1,500 for water they paid for but lost due to faulty plumbing. Fee calculations were also presented to the board for those who wish to opt-out of the program.
The fee structure was based on the driving time and labor involved with checking the meters manually, said Carlos Reyes, director of resource conservation and public outreach. Some of the opt-out alternatives included an initial fee of $40 and a regular meter reading fee of $25.
It is important to note that all water meter readers slated for installation will be installed and the only thing customers would be opting out of is having the devices turned on, said LVMWD Public Affairs and Communications Manager Jeff Reinhardt.
The goal for the district is to install 21,000 automatic meters by 2015. Currently, the district has 9,000 underground automatic meter readers in public right of ways near homes throughout its boundaries.
Those meters consist of two types—the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and automatic meter reading (AMR). The difference between the two is that AMI readers enable two-way transmission, while AMR are checked via radio signal every two months by workers that drive by their locations.
Staff looked at 5,000 AMIs and 3,700 AMRs for their research into the benefits of the program. Of the customers looked at in the research, 623 received leakage notifications due to the program and 262 had water meter movement subside.
Why are there two types of meters necessary? Because AMIs work better in flatter more densely populated areas whereas AMRs does better in hillier terrain, Reinhardt said.
After the brief presentation, staff received direction to author a draft ordinance to include the proposed fee structure, Reinhardt said. The ordinance will be brought before the board at a later date for a final vote.