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The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board announced that it has begun negotiations with a company that will install "smart meters" for customers.
The Sewerage and Water Board calls this a major step towards more accurate water bills for customers.
This comes after customers have complained for years about high water bills.
The Sewerage and Water Board said the company, Aqua-Metric, has already completed over 180 smart metering projects.
According to a news release issued by the utility, smart metering is a reliable technology that has been used worldwide for several decades.
The new system would collect customers’ water use information in real-time and send it directly to Sewerage and Water Board's billing system through secure radio signals, according to the Sewerage and Water Board.
The Sewerage and Water Board said by ending the need to manually read approximately 140,000 water meters every month, the new system will eliminate the most common source of billing errors and routine bill estimation.
The utility said the frequent readings will also provide customers with tools like early leak detection, high-use alerts, and personalized recommendations.
“We know our current system of reading meters – and sometimes estimating water use – has been frustrating for many customers,” Ghassan Korban, Sewerage and Water Board executive director, said in a statement. “Smart meter installation is the best solution, and we are looking forward to negotiating a great partnership with Aqua-Metric. We must ensure this multi-year program runs smoothly from the very outset to deliver technology that will empower our customers to make informed choices about their water use and better manage their bills.”
The smart meter installation will roll out in phases over the next three years, according to the Sewerage and Water Board.
The first installations are expected by the end of 2022, with all existing meters replaced by 2025. Customers will be notified well in advance of meter replacement and infrastructure installation. “Aqua-Metric is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Sewerage and Water Board. We look forward to supporting the utility’s modernization as it expands into smart metering,” said Aqua-Metric Territory Manager Gary Ragusa in an issued statement.
The smart metering initiative covers many focus areas of the utility's newly released five-year strategic plan.
“SWBNO has been planning for this transformational project for years,” said Grey Lewis, the utility’s chief financial officer in an issued statement. “Initial funding will come from savings we captured by refinancing existing bonds, allowing us to speed up delivery and save our ratepayers money.”
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