Advanced Metering Infrastructure
San Jose Water (SJW) has officially filed to install Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) throughout our service area. This technology offers the ability to access an online portal or smartphone app and see your water usage in real time. What does this mean for you? An easier and faster way to read your meter, detect leaks and monitor your water usage.
Remote, real time access to water usage at your convenience
Ability to monitor water usage and manage bill size before your bill arrives
Set alarms to indicate usage spikes and/or possible leaks
Early stage leak detection for quicker repairs
Learn more about AMI and its the many benefits, along with next steps in our implementation of this technology.
What is AMI?
Currently, SJW staff provides you with manual meter readings on a bimonthly basis as part of your bill. The downside of this is that water leaks may not be noticed until the next time the meter reader stops by. In contrast, Automatic Meter Readers (AMRs) provide water usage data automatically on an hourly basis.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure, sometimes referred to as “smart meters,” are an advanced type of AMR -- capable of sending water use data over a communications network. Water usage data is received by a Meter Data Management (MDM) system, hosted in a cloud-based system. The MDM stores and analyzes the data before providing it to both you and us in a useful form. With AMI, you can track your usage on an hourly, daily or monthly basis by using an online portal or smartphone app.
How do you know AMI works?
From 2015 through mid-2017, SJW piloted AMI technology in the Willow Glen area of San Jose to assess different metering technologies and transmission systems. The goal was to evaluate the water saving potential of these new meters. The program compared water usage pre- and post-AMI implementation for about 400 customers. Overall, the pilot AMI program demonstrated significant customer benefits, including 24-hour access to water usage data, early leak detection, and timely notifications about usage spikes. Many customers have been asking for this technology. And, we know it works!
Why do I need AMI?
Your water meter, like so many things in our busy lives, is something you might not think about much until there is a problem. According to a study by the Alliance for Water Efficiency, customers with water meters use 15% to 20% less water on average than their unmetered peers. It turns out that viewing water usage has a pretty significant effect on how people save!
AMI makes checking water usage even easier by allowing homeowners to quickly and easily see what's happening through a web or app dashboard. Readings are made hourly so you can get a better handle on the amount of water you’re using and make quick adjustments as needed.
AMI gives you the power to control your water usage. It helps you conserve water by improving water management, reducing leaks, and promoting equity and sustainability. These meters will also help you meet the new directives by the state regarding water conservation, which are discussed below.
How does it help me reduce leaks?
Currently, you might only know about a leak by reviewing the consumption information on your bill (available once every two months). With 24 readings a day, AMI systems help provide a reliable baseline for comparison. This real-time data shows when there is a sudden increase in water flow — which can indicate a leak. If this happens, the leak can be fixed before it escalates.
Does AMI help save water?
AMI technology provides information that helps both you and SJW use water efficiently. AMI meters make it easy to set personal budgets and conservation goals. You can even "experiment" and see the difference certain actions make in your water usage. Want to know exactly how much water your irrigation system uses? Simple! Go online and see your water usage before and after your sprinklers run in the middle of the night. AMI meters are especially helpful if your goal is to stay within a particular water rate tier. SJW quantity charges are divided into three categories (0-3 CCF first tier; 4-18 CCF second tier; and over 18 CCF third tier). Usage can affect overall consumption charges (Note that 1 CCF = 748 gallons of water).
In our pilot study, we found many examples of water conservation. On Day 1 of the pilot, a leak registering 72 gallons per hour was identified. Quick notification from SJW allowed the customer to repair the leak and reduce water loss. Without AMI, the customer wouldn't have known about the problem until their next bill - almost 2 months later! AMI helped to avoid a high bill and possible property damage.
What is this legislation that I keep hearing about?
Following California’s historic drought (2014-2017), Governor Jerry Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) put in place permanent water use restrictions and other policies to make conservation a way of life in the state. Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668, both signed into law by Governor Brown, define urban efficiency standards for both indoor and outdoor use and address the need to minimize water loss through leaks. Beginning in 2022, these laws will set initial indoor consumption at 55 gallons per capita per day, gradually dropping to 50 gallons per capita per day by 2030. Enforcement will begin in 2025. Additional guidance and policies are being developed by the SWRCB in advance of enforcement which will begin in 2025. We will provide more information as it becomes available.
Why do we need to keep conserving water when we aren’t in a drought?
While the amount of annual rain may vary from year to year, it’s important to keep in mind that the cumulative impacts of drought are often ongoing. Andrew Gere, SJW President and COO, has stated that:
“California is still feeling the impact of our most recent severe drought. And, the reality of future droughts has changed the way people think about water. Customers want to know how they can manage their water consumption. AMI is a critical investment in our infrastructure that aligns with our goals of environmental stewardship and innovation as a solution. This technology would allow customers to more effectively monitor and control their usage and preserve valuable water resources – while complying with new state conservation standards and minimizing our carbon footprint.”
With climate predictions anticipating longer periods of drought that can stress our water supplies, conservation has become a necessary part of living in California. The state legislature enacted enacted SB 606 and AB 1668 with conservation in mind.
How much will AMI cost?
For the typical residential customer with a 3/4-inch meter using 11 CCF (one CCF = 748 gallons) of water per month, the water bill will increase by less than one dollar per month over the next four years (as shown in the table below). The anticipated increases take into account the expected savings and other environmental benefits of AMI technology as compared to monthly billing and meter reading (e.g, no costs to send meter readers into the field, reduced greenhouse gas emissions from company vehicles, reduced water loss). In fact, this and other savings from implementing AMI may completely cover the costs of investing in this new technology.
Monthly Bill Proposed in SJW Application
These estimated bill amounts are based on current water rates and include a 1.23% charge to fund the CPUC. The rates in your water bill may vary slightly from the rates shown above due to temporary sur-credits or surcharges.
When will I actually get my new meter?
If our application is approved, we plan to install meters beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2024. We plan to have meters operational by early 2025, coinciding with the enforcement of the new urban water efficiency standards.
Can I choose not to install AMI and opt out?
Yes, we anticipate that an “opt out” option will be available as part of our program.
So What’s Next?
AMI deployment by SJW is subject to CPUC review and approval. While we won’t know the results of CPUC’s assessment of this business case for months, we are excited about the possibilities for our customers! To stay informed about AMI and for other water news and service information, follow SJW on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Feel free to contact us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 279-7900.