A $500,000 grant application to the United States Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) could help the City of Carlsbad replace nearly 5,000 water meters with a radio read system.
Carlsbad City Council approved the application Sept. 28 through the BOR’s WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants program, read a memorandum from City of Carlsbad Utilities Director Ron Myers.
“The WaterSMART program is a competitive program where Bureau of Reclamation puts out a funding notice that we’re going to be funding a certain number of grants with a certain amount of criteria,” said Peter Soeth, BOR spokesperson.
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He said when applications arrive, BOR representatives rate the applications.
“Once they’re rated those that meet the criteria and meet a certain level are funded,” Soeth said.
The BOR program provides 50/50 cost share funding to irrigation and water districts, tribes, states and other entities with waterpower or water delivery authority, read the BOR’s website.
Myers said the resolution approved by the Council last month is a resolution in support of the City’s grant application with the BOR’s WaterSMART program.
Myers said the upgrade replaces water meters with an Automated Meter Reading System (AMR).
“An AMR meter reading system will allow for a reduction in resources expended to read meters each month and provide an increase in reading accuracy,” he said.
Myers said the City of Carlsbad’s Municipal Water System has approximately 13,000 metered connections.
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“Many of these connections have been upgraded to radio read meters,” he said.
Tim Korte, communications manager with New Mexico Gas Company, said his company supports AMR initiatives.
“We have found that the benefits of these systems are equally strong for our customers and the company,” he said.
“Several years ago, we initiated an AMR conversion program in Albuquerque-Rio Rancho as well as in Santa Fe, and since then we have continued to expand AMR capabilities into other towns across our service territory.”
Currently, Korte said New Mexico Gas Company converted about 500 meters in Carlsbad to AMR and plan to continue installations in other areas of the city next year.
Myers said an AMR meter reading system allowed for a reduction in resources expended to read meters each month and provide an increase in reading accuracy.
Korte said the advantage of AMR systems to customers is greater privacy and convenience since a meter reader is no longer required to visit a property to collect billing information.
“The device transmits a radio signal and collectors drive up and down streets to digitally gather the information,” he said.
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Korte said AMR readings were timely and accurate.
“These systems have been shown to improve efficiencies because they provide data in real time, which virtually eliminates the need for estimated billing,” he said.
Myers said the Water Department continued to change older manual read meters with the new AMR compatible meters.
“We estimate we could have the remainder of the meters changed or upgraded in one to two years with an adequate commitment of resources,” he said.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.