Smart Water Meters
VIDEOS: Learn about WaterSmart
Smart meter benefits
Smart water meters provide additional insight and control over customers' monthly water bills. They have also been identified as one of the State of Texas Best Management Practices for residential water conservation. Here are just a few of the perks:
Track your own use
Smart meters help you understand how much water you use and when you use it.
This helps eliminate surprises and even allows customers to estimate monthly bills.
Frequent meter readings allow for reliable monthly billing increments set for an average of every 30 days – a feature Allen residents specifically requested.
Stop wasting water
Use detailed, hourly data to identify unexpected water use, such as incorrectly programmed sprinkler systems or a running toilet.
Get leak alerts when you use a very large amount of water at once, or small amounts of water over a continuous period.
Use video tutorials to help fix common leaks and avoid unnecessary calls to a plumber.
Save now and later
Track data over time to understand how simple changes to your water use habits can have a big impact on your monthly bill.
Benefit from more efficient processes leading to reduced City service costs over time.
Help delay the need for costly water infrastructure projects by contributing to reduced citywide water use.
- How do smart meters work?
Smart water meters digitally measure and record the amount of water that passes from City of Allen water supply lines to individual customer water lines. Smart meters send a brief, encrypted, digital reading to a data collection unit three times each day. The data collection unit then sends an encrypted digital message to the City's secure data servers using the existing cellular network. Digital meter readings are then processed within the City's billing system and published on a secure customer dashboard so customers can view an hourly log of water use, along with historic water use data.
- Who can see the details of my water use?
Customers who enroll in the City of Allen water customer portal will be able to view details of their own water use. Customers can also add a secondary user (such as a spouse, roommate or business partner) or link multiple utility accounts once enrolled. As in the previous metering system, water use data is also accessible by a limited number of City of Allen employees who oversee customer billing and account details. State law restricts municipal utilities from providing any personal information or water usage information to third parties without the account holder’s agreement (HB 872 effective Sept 1, 2021).
- How does the meter sense for leaks?
Customers who enroll in automatic leak alert through the City of Allen customer portal will be notified when the meter senses continuous water use. For single-family residential homes, leaks are detected when at least 3 gallons of water are consumed every hour for a minimum of 24 hours. Other alerts can also be enabled by the customer, such as abnormally high or unplanned use notifications. Customers can choose to be notified by email and/or text message.
- Am I charged extra for the smart meter?
The upgrade to smart meters was funded through fees paid by developers of new commercial and residential properties. There is no charge related to the conversion.
- Can the City of Allen use water meter data to enforce watering restrictions or issue citations?
As in the previous metering system, water use data can be accessed by a limited number of City of Allen employees who oversee customer billing and account details. This allows customer service representatives (CSRs) to better assist customers who have questions about their water bills or water use patterns. Though CSRs may observe water use patterns which seem to indicate violations of current watering restrictions, current code compliance practices require clear evidence of a violation by a municipal court trained employee or a code compliance officer before a citation and/or enforcement action is made.
- Do smart meters measure both water and wastewater use?
Smart water meters record water consumption only. Residential customers are billed for wastewater only up to the first 10,000 gallons of water use. For use less than 10,000 gallons of water, the bill is computed using a charge per 1,000 gallons of water used. Commercial customers are billed for both water and wastewater for all water used inside the facility. This is because commercial customers are required to have separate water meters for their exterior landscaping. Commercial irrigation accounts do not pay a wastewater charge because the water does not enter the wastewater system.
- Do smart water meters emit radio frequencies? If so, what is the impact?
Smart water meters emit a brief radio frequency (RF) to transmit data from the meter to a data collection unit. The smart water meters selected by the City of Allen emit about 0.041 microwatts per square centimeter at a distance of 8 inches from the transmitter for a total daily transmission time of less than 1/3 of a second per day. This is far below the limit of 300 microwatts per square centimeter set by the Federal Communications Commission as a health standard. These low-level RF emissions do not interfere with any other electronic devices.
- With a smart meter, am I able to turn off my water at the main valve?
Yes, customers who have a water meter wrench and meter key may use those tools to remove the Smart Water Meter lid and access the water shutoff valve located near the curb. This method is sometimes used during water emergencies, such as major freeze events, to prevent damage from burst or broken pipes.
- Why did I receive a leak alert?
Customers will receive an automated leak alert if their smart water meter detects certain use patterns:
- "Continuous Leak Alerts" are sent automatically if at least 3 gallons of water are consumed every hour for a minimum of 24 hours. While this pattern may indicate a slow leak, these alerts can also be triggered during times of intentional continuous water use, such as slowly dripping faucets to prevent frozen pipes in cold weather, or when refilling a pool.
- "Burst Leak Alerts" are sent when a meter detects a large and sudden spike in water use. This spike could be caused by a burst pipe or water heater and should be investigated immediately to prevent damage to your home and property. If you need assistance shutting off water to your home due to a leak, please contact the City of Allen's 24/7 water emergency hotline at 214.509.4530.