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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Get the facts on the new water meters

Get the facts on the new water meters

The city has heard from customers who are concerned about a new water meter being installed at their home and how it may impact their water usage and bill. We understand these concerns and know that it can be a challenge knowing how much water you use in a given hour, day, month or year.

Meters are in place to accurately measure water use so you can be fairly charged based on how much water is used. Also, the city does not have any evidence indicating that the new meters are inaccurate. 

If you ever have any questions about your bill or water use, please contact the Utility Billing team at ub@westminsterco.gov or 303-658-2405. They can help you review your current and past usage, provide tips, connect you with bill assistance and conservation programs, and answer other questions you may have.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the new meters.

How does the city know that the new meters are accurate?

Sensus iPERL meters meet the requirements of National Sanitation Foundation 61, Annex F/G and 372 for health and safety and exceeds the most recent revision of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Standard C-715 for accuracy. These meters are calibrated by the manufacturer and batch tested by an independent laboratory prior to shipment. The city has tested a number of these meters as they have been installed and all of them have proven to be accurate. The city tests meters using a MARS gravimetric automated water meter test bench using industry standards per the AWWA M6 manual. This test bench is calibrated and certified by the state annually.

In addition, staff have handled hundreds of customer inquiries and reviewed their accounts. There have been no irregularities found with meter readings. Most customers are using more water than last year, but have consistent water use with prior hot and dry years. Higher rates have understandably contributed to customer concerns about water use.

Do the new meters cause a spike in water usage?

The city has seen reports on social media that new water meters are causing higher water bills. This is a bit misleading. Meters underreport usage as they age, but only slightly. A new meter will more accurately account for water usage if a customer’s old meter was underreporting usage. Still, it is anticipated that this difference will be minimal (about three percent).

Can I check my water meter myself?

No. Accessing any meter pit is considering tampering under city code and is not permitted. If you would like to know your latest meter reading, please contact our Utility Billing team at ub@westminsterco.gov or 303-658-2405.

Why did the city decide to replace the old meters?

The residential water meters being replaced were installed from 2006 to 2007 and have exceeded their useful life. Industry standards are to replace small meters after 10 years of use or when the metering accuracy begins to decline. The new meters will reduce maintenance costs and improve customer service by giving customers hourly reads of their water usage.

How did the city select the Sensus iPerl meter?

The Public Works and Utilities Department began evaluating new meters in 2016 and piloted meters from five different manufacturers. Sensus was selected through this lengthy process because their model offered the best accuracy, ease of maintenance and cost effectiveness. Sensus also provided the best options for giving customers better access to their water usage data.

Is the city aware of past issues with the Sensus iPerl meter?

According to Sensus, they resolved an issue causing their meters to malfunction in 2016/2017 and their meter failure rate since 2017 is near zero. This statement is supported by our sample testing of the new meters being installed and those tests requested by our customers. All of the new meters have proven to be accurate. The meters also carry a 20-year warranty should any issues arise in the future.

What can I do if I think my meter is in accurate?

You can schedule an appointment to have your meter tested. There is currently a $25 fee for this service which will be refunded if your meter is found to be inaccurate. Please contact our Utility Billing team at ub@westminsterco.gov or 303-658-2405 to schedule an appointment to have your meter tested.

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