Automated Meter Reading (AMR)

water utilities amr photos

(STILLWATER, OKLA - Updated Jan 24, 2013) - The City of Stillwater Department of Water Utilities has finished the replacement of the city's water meters using automated meter reading (AMR) technology. The citywide project includes all residential and commercial properties

Approved by the Stillwater Utilities Authority and City Council, the cost of the project is approximately $8.6 million; however, $1.42 million of it will be paid with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

There will be no charge to City of Stillwater customers for the water meter change out. Customers don't have to be home during the change out, but those who are can anticipate a brief interruption in water service during the change out.

City of Stillwater staff anticipates it will remove and install approximately 18,000 meters.

According to Water Utilities Director Anthony Daniel, "Water meters are a critical component of the utility infrastructure, and an overall meter upgrade is due. In fact, some of the existing meters have been in service for many years and may not be recording water usage accurately. This new system uses the latest technology and is designed to last many years."

He said many cities have already implemented AMR systems and the overwhelming consensus is there are many benefits to customers as well as to city operations.

Automated meter reading, or AMR, is a method of using communication technology to read meters without having to access the customer's property. The City of Stillwater's AMR system will use meters equipped with wireless transmitters. The system being installed uses a fixed-network system for the meters within the city limits and a drive-by system for the rural (less dense) areas. The fixed network system transmits readings periodically to city hall thus enabling city staff to receive readings as needed. Rural route readings will be gathered as the vehicle drives through neighborhoods.

"When a new meter is installed, the customer shouldn't notice any significant increase in his or her water bill," said Daniel. "However, if your current meter is old there is a possibility that mineral deposits on the moving parts have made it less than accurate, so it may be reporting lower water usage."

As part of this project, city crews will also be replacing the existing meter enclosure, if needed, and installing a customer shut-off valve, which will enable customers to turn off their water supply in case of an emergency or for plumbing repairs.

A week or so before the meter is replaced, a door hanger will be left to notify customers that the change out will happen soon.

Daniel said the benefits of an automatic meter reading system include convenience for both the city and the customer.

With AMR technology, the utility staff can collect meter readings much quicker. The new meters will assist customers in detecting large water leaks and utility staff in detecting malfunctioning or tampered meters. Additionally, timely information—coupled with analysis—can help both utility staff and customers better manage the city’s water usage and keep costs down.

As with any new technology there will be questions. "We know our customers will have questions, so we have developed a list of questions we think most people would like answers to," said Daniel.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is AMR? Automated meter reading, or AMR, is a method of using communication technology to read meters without having to access the customer’s property.
  • How does it work? The City of Stillwater's AMR system will use meters equipped with wireless transmitters. The system being installed uses a fixed-network system for the meters within the city limits and a drive-by system for the rural (less dense) areas. The fixed-network system transmits readings periodically to city hall thus enabling city staff to receive readings as needed. Rural route readings will be gathered as the vehicle drives through neighborhoods.
  • Where is my meter? All water meters are located below ground in concrete or plastic meter enclosures with lids. Meter boxes are typically located near the sidewalk, curb or just off the roadway in the yard or in front of the house.
  • Will there be a charge associated with this upgrade? No. There will be no charge to City of Stillwater customers for the water meter change out.
  • Will I need to be home when you install the AMR device?
    No. If we visit your home and have trouble gaining access to the meter, we'll leave a door hanger requesting that you contact us to set up an appointment.
  • What time of day will the AMR meter change out take place? Most of the meter change outs will take place between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • How will I know the person at my door is working on the AMR project? City of Stillwater employees drive vehicles and wear shirts that have the city logo on them, and they carry city identification cards.
  • Will my water be turned off? Yes. Water service will be briefly interrupted during the meter change out.
  • How soon will I have water after the meter is replaced? Immediately. All customers will be advised to turn on several faucets briefly to allow any trapped air to be released from the internal plumbing.
  • Will my yard be restored after the meter has been changed out? Yes, any area around the meter box that was disturbed will be cleaned up and restored. Bushes or landscaping around the meter box removed to facilitate the change out will not be replaced. If there are excessive sink holes or settlement around the meter box after the change out, contact us to have your concerns addressed.
  • Are there special instructions I need to know to care for the AMR meter?
    • You are advised not to remove the meter box lid or to tamper with the meter or any apparatus inside the box. You are responsible for any damage that may happen to the meter. Fines may be levied for any damage to city property.
    • You are advised not to park vehicles over the meter box.
    • As part of this project, city crews will also be replacing the existing meter enclosure, if need be, and installing a customer shut-off valve, which will enable customers to turn off their water supply in case of an emergency or for plumbing repairs.
  • Will my water bill go up after the new AMR meter is installed? When a new meter is installed the customer should not notice any significant increase in his or her water bill. However, if your current meter is old there is a possibility that mineral deposits on the moving parts in the meter has made it less than accurate, so it may be reporting lower water usage.
  • How will I know that you have my reading and not someone else’s? Each radio frequency device has a unique identification number, which is transmitted along with the meter reading. The unique number is compared to your account record to ensure a match.
  • Is my account information secure? Yes, only meter consumption readings, meter, and module numbers are transmitted. Personal customer information is not loaded into the transmitter and therefore, will not be transmitted.
  • Will the radio frequency interfere with my television, phones, hearing aid or pacemaker? No, the AMR frequency is very different and will not cause any interference.
  • Are there health concerns about this type of transmitter? No, the AMR transmitter falls into the low frequency, non-ionizing electromagnetic field range, which is equal to or less than today’s cell phones.
  • What if I experience problems with the water supply after the meter change out? Please contact us. A city crew will be sent to your address to resolve the problem.

For more information, visit stillwater.org or contact the City of Stillwater Department of Water Utilities at (405) 533-8048 or e-mail AMR@stillwater.org.

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