The Mesquite City Council was updated on proposed changes to water billing in its pre-meeting on Monday.
The project as a whole comprises of integrating automatic meter infrastructure, AMI, and replacement of meters. It includes data integration from the old data collection software, Neptune, to the Watersmart Customer portal and construction to replace the existing water meter vaults.
The project will cost around $34 million total with a $171,667 annual fee for hosting the Watersmart portal and a one-time fee of $97,535 for measurement and verification in year three.
“This is one of the few city projects where savings and revenue increase offset the cost of the project,” Deval Allums Senior Account Executive at Ameresco said.
The total projected savings in year one is around $2.6 million.
The project began in October 2020 when the city partnered with Ameresco, a provider of energy efficiency solutions. The main goals were to implement a more accurate system for water metering and billing that would build resident trust.
“We had specific objectives when we put this study together,” City Manager Cliff Keheley said. “First and foremost it should not impact the rates. There are other factors that will impact the water rates, but this project should not impact the rates.”
The new metering system is, however, projected to increase city revenue. The study showed that larger meters were losing city revenue due to low accuracy of reading low flow percentages.
“There was water flowing out that wasn’t being used,” Allums said.
The least accurate readings were from the two-inch meters generating a total revenue loss of around $1 million. According to the study by Ameresco, implementing more accurate metering and replacing the old meters would increase the city’s total revenue by $2.3 million.
The bulk of the increased revenue will come from replacing the two- and four-inch meters. This will lead to an increase in billing primarily for commercial consumers.
The meters are designed for extreme temperatures to notify city staff of irregularities in water use, so they can repair the meter as needed through the incoming Watersmart system.
Residents will also be able to see their hourly use of water with the Watersmart portal on any device.
“This has been utilized in a lot of communities, and it’s a great way to provide water transparency to your community,” Allums said.
Residents can also put thresholds on their water use and receive notifications if there are any irregularities that signal breakages.
Mayor Bruce Archer said he plans to move forward with implementing the new metering system.