Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is AMI?
Advanced (Water) Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems consist of a small, low-powered radio transmitter connected to an individual digital meter that sends readings to a network of receivers and repeaters throughout the system. These receivers provide all relevant billing information and eliminate the need for water meter readers to visit your property on a regular basis.
Water meters have a useful life of between 15-20 years. Most of the City’s meters are over 15 years old, with more than half being over 20 years. With this need for replacement, the benefits of an AMI system with digital meters and overall cost savings, outweigh purchasing traditional direct-read meters. Essentially the City is upgrading from an antiquated analog meter, to a new age digital meter that provides the city and customer with water usage information.
How does it work?
A small antenna is installed in the lid above the water meter. It is connected to the water meter and transmits a low-power radio signal once-per-day to a data collector or repeater which relays the information to the City’s Utilities and Finance Department customer service and billing staff.
What information is transmitted, and is my account information secure?
The AMI system only transmits the water meter readings, the meter identification number and diagnostic information to verify the equipment is operating correctly. Personal customer information is not transmitted. For additional security, the data is encrypted and transmitted over a privately licensed radio frequency channel.
What are the benefits of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) System?
The AMI system reduces operating costs for meter reading and billing and improves customer service. The direct benefits to the City and its customers include:
- Highly accurate data collection which decreases the possibility of incorrect meter readings.
- Timely information on water usage that allows City staff to provide better customer service.
- Timely identification of water leaks which reduces water waste and unnecessarily higher water bills due to these leaks.
- Multiple meter reads daily, instead of once every other month.
- Quicker and more efficient customer service, including initiating new accounts, closing existing accounts and addressing billing questions.
- Transmission of information from water meters using low-power radio signals without staff having to open meter boxes or step onto a customer's property.
- Online access to the Water Customer Portal so customers can monitor and manage their water usage.
How will I know if my water bill is accurate?
The AMI system ensures that customers are billed based on their actual water consumption. The City maintains a staff of quality assurance professionals to ensure the accuracy of your bill. Unusual billing spikes are flagged by our Billing Division and reviewed before posting to the account.
Will I see an increase in my water bill?
Although you were not charged for the new meter and your water rate did not change at the time of the upgrade, you may see an increase because the new meters record consumption more accurately than the old meters. As water meters age, they tend to run slower and may not measure all of the water going through them. Most of the old water meters in Newport Beach are more than 20 years old and at the end of their functional life. Therefore, depending on the age and accuracy of your current meter, you may see an increase in your bill based on more accurate readings.
Do I need to be home when my water meter is being replaced?
No, you do not need to be home during replacement.
What other cities are currently using AMI?
AMI is currently being used by various cities and districts throughout the country. Local entities include the cities of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Long Beach, and Laguna Beach County Water District.
How will I be able to access my water usage information and be sent alerts?
The City is currently developing a customer portal to access your water usage information and to send you alerts of high usage and potential leaks. This platform will be available in early 2021.
Where will the collectors and repeaters be located? (See map - "C" for Collector and "R" for Repeater?
Are there any safety concerns associated with the new technology?
No. The equipment operates at a low-power radio frequency, comparable to a cordless telephone. All equipment operates in compliance with state and federal communication standards. Water meters are typically installed away from the house so potential exposure is very limited; the communication device only turns on for a fraction of a second per day (totaling approximately 2 ½ minutes per year).
How does the radio frequency of the AMI communications device compare to other common household devices?
Information on radio emissions from AMI water meters as compared to other common household radio sources was excerpted from the Automated Water Meter Program Radio Frequency Assessment conducted by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Where can I get more information about AMI?
For questions not answered above, call the City’s AMI Hotline at: 949-644-3099 or email us at Utilitiesinfo@newportbeachca.gov.
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