Austin to begin installing thousands of digital water meters

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With aging infrastructure and mounting water losses, Austin Water is set to install thousands of digital water meters starting in October.

The utility says the new meters will help track and prevent the water leaks we’ve told you are costing city ratepayers millions of dollars every year.

The plan is to install 5,000 battery-powered meters in the next year as part of a pilot program. The system testing pilot includes all or a portion of River Place/Glenlake and Long Canyon neighborhoods and Windsor Park/Mueller neighborhoods.

In the long-term, the city says it will install 250,000 new meters in the next five years.

In 2018, Austin lost more than six billion gallons of water in 2018, mostly because of pipe breaks and leaks.

For years, KXAN has been highlighting the city’s aging utility infrastructure, which also includes cast-iron pipes built in the 1930s.

In addition, many of its meters are 15 to 20 years old and toward the end of their life.

Earlier this year, the utility told the City Council’s Water Oversight Committee it plans to invest nearly $100 million in the new meter infrastructure system.

The cost breakdown includes the meters and installation, data network maintenance and a portal customers will be able to use to track their own water usage.

Right now, the city fixes 72% of its leaks within a day. Utility officials believe these digital meters will help bring that number up.

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