Automated Meter Reading, or AMR, is the technology of collecting data via direct transmission from water meter or energy metering devices (gas, electric) and transferring that data to a central database for billing and analyzing.
The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District has nearly completed installation of this relatively new technology. As a result, this is the first year in its 32-year history that the district has been able to bill residential customers for actual water use during the winter. Over 5,100 radio transmitters, called “FireFlys,” have been installed on PAWSD customer commercial and residential meters, and the transmitted data was used in December to bill for actual November use.
In previous years the district has had to use a residential average usage of 4,000 gallons per month through March, due to constraints of snow on manual meter reading.
Approximately 95 percent of customer accounts were billed in December for actual use. The remaining 5 percent either do not have a FireFly installed yet — there are about 50 more meters to go — or the signals need fine-tuning. Weather permitting, all remaining installation and signal adjustment work is expected to be completed by early this spring.
The AMR program has already proven its worth. In November, PAWSD staff were able to detect and resolve three large leaks due to AMR data that seemed discrepant with use typical of those three accounts. This early detection most likely saved thousands of gallons of water, and illustrates one of the many benefits of this technology. This leak detection ability is an internal tool and the district is not prepared or staffed to oversee all accounts. However, if a problem is suspected, the customer is encouraged to contact PAWSD.
The district reminds customers to keep their meter lids, and other utility and fire appurtenances, clear of snow this winter in case of an emergency.
Additional information about the AMR project can be found at www.pawsd.org.