Buda begins ‘smart’ water meter installations


BUDA, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Buda started installing its new ‘smart’ water meter system Friday.

City Council approved the new system last fall. The new meters will provide readings remotely without having to access the meter in the ground. 

City crews will start by replacing nearly 30 meters in the Summer Pointe subdivision but plan to replace all of the city’s meters — a total of 3,806 meters.

The city said the current metering system was installed more than 10 years ago and while it does automatically read the meter and send the information back to the city’s utility billing department, it’s no longer supported. 

One of the biggest differences with these meters is the option for customers to check their consumption daily online. Giving customers the knowledge to keep track of their usage as well as fix problems such as leaks. 

“You’ll be able to see your demand over the course of the day,” Blake Neffendorf, the city’s water resource coordinator said. “I didn’t realize my irrigation system uses 4,000 gallons of water every time I irrigate and I have it set up to run four times a week so it really adds up.”

He said by being able to check your consumption it will also have a positive impact on the city’s water conservation efforts. 

Customers will also be able to set up usage alerts so high bills can be avoided. 

“I think it’ll be just more information that we can use and better ammunition to have my son take shorter showers,” Lois Stilwell, a Summer Pointe homeowner said laughing.

It’ll take public work crews about 30 minutes to change a meter and the water will be turned off temporarily during the meter change process. 

To make sure the meters are meeting the standards they should, the city said several dozen meters will be randomly selected each year to be tested.

There is no additional cost to the customer for the new system and the city said most customers won’t notice a difference in their consumption and bill. 

While they are slowly starting to install new meters Friday, the online system for customers won’t be available until this summer. 

To ensure customers are paying for their bills, the city said through the radio frequency device each one of the ‘smart’ water meters will have a unique identification number, which will be transmitted along with the meter reading. The identification number will be compared to a customer’s account record electronically to ensure a match. 

The new system will cost $2.5 million and is being paid with funds from the water and wastewater department.

Those who have questions can call the city or click HERE

Austin’s ‘Smart’ Water Meters

Austin Water is currently in the process of getting a contract approved for its own ‘smart’ water meter system. They estimate this to happen by next spring. No word on how many meters will be replaced.

However, this isn’t the first time they’ve worked with the smart device. In 2016, they started installing the tech-savvy meters in the far northwest Austin neighborhood of River Place through a pilot program.

This came after the Austin Water was hit with a raft of complaints from customers concerned over high water bills. Many of those complaints from people living in Lost Creek and River Place neighborhoods.

Following the installation, KXAN spoke with residents in River Place who said the new ‘smart’ meters were working. 

Currently, 300 Austin Water customers are participating in the pilot program.

If a contract is approved they hope to start with a citywide installation by 2024.

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