Smart Meters Coming to Montecito
As we reported in August, “Smart Meters” are set to be installed in Montecito beginning next year; last week, Montecito Water District (MWD) approved a 10-year financing plan with Holman Capital Corporation for the project’s estimated cost of $3 million.
The main benefits of a Smart Metering Program are access to near “real-time” water use data, along with alerts for leaks and high-flow scenarios. This will help the District prevent unintended water use and benefit customers who seek easy access to usage information, and protection from the costs that can accompany undetected leaks, dripping faucets, or a forgotten hose. Additional advantages to the District include an improvement in long-term accuracy of the meters, lower operations and maintenance expenses, and a reduction in unaccounted for water loss.
The District is due for a meter replacement program, as nearly 75 percent of the District’s existing meters have exceeded or are about to exceed the average lifespan of a meter, which is estimated to be about 15 years. Technology has led to major advancements in the water meter industry in the past 10 to 15 years; the District will provide new ultrasonic meters, manufactured by Badger, accompanied by a fixed-base network of automated meter reading infrastructure, manufactured by Itron. Installation will begin in early 2019 and it will take approximately six months to replace all of the District’s meters; more than 4,600 in total.
According to MWD’s Laura Camp, tracking water use remains essential as the region moves into year eight of historic drought. When allocations and penalties were repealed in 2017, the District anticipated that customer usage might increase, though conservation has remained relatively consistent. The District’s water supply planning outlook (three years) projects water supply availability through mid-2020 under drought conditions with customer conservation continuing at around 30 percent as compared to 2013 usage. “The Smart Metering Program is one of many strategies being implemented to maximize the District’s water supply portfolio,” said Camp.