Clean, fresh water is a luxury many Americans take for granted. This life essential resource is often consumed without regard for where it comes from or how much is needed tomorrow. Here in Arizona, we’re well aware that water drives our economy and everyday lives. Unfortunately, arid environments like ours rarely receive adequate rainfall to sustain the needs of our growing cities and regions.

In spite of successful public education campaigns encouraging users to reduce their water consumption, local municipalities are faced with the hard fact that current demand is outpacing supply. Each year, Arizona consumes more than 2 trillion gallons of water. While most of it, roughly 70%, goes to farmers and ranchers, Arizona residents use more than 130 gallons per day.1,2

Here are two key questions to ask: Are municipalities doing all they can to help us become better water consumers? Are they making good infrastructure investments to reduce water waste? Luckily, many municipalities throughout the nation have answered this question. They turned to automated meter reading (AMR) technologies to reduce waste by creating better monitoring systems that provide consumers and administrators with action-oriented alerts to leaks and use.

Cities and water agencies experience between 15-20% water loss as a result of system inefficiencies, leaks, etc. AMR systems can reduce that amount to around 5%, not only reducing waste but also reclaiming otherwise lost revenue.

AMR technology has been around since the 1970’s, but only in the past decade have advances in functionality and connectivity made it a worthwhile investment for municipalities to consider.

In a typical system, computerized water meters are installed on building main lines or at site-specific locations. Water use data at each unit is tracked by the hour, then sent to a nearby data storage center. Depending on how the system is set up, the data is transmitted to the municipality’s central database through an internet connection in real-time, or remotely collected by meter readers on a weekly basis.

Because of AMR technology, municipalities that make these projects a priority are better able to manage their systems and operations by:

  • Detecting infrastructure leaks
  • Identifying site-specific waste
  • Monitoring use and conservation compliance
  • Providing detailed billing and customer support
  • Efficiently planning for future resource and infrastructure needs

One of the best ways to implement an AMR system is by pairing it with a comprehensive set of infrastructure upgrades such as street light retrofits and citywide landscape automation. A comprehensive project, upgrading multiple facets of city infrastructure will help realize the greatest water and energy savings possible.

Many cities and water district leaders do not realize that while AMR systems and other projects can be a significant investment, opportunities for financing exist that allow local governments to pay for the project while guaranteeing energy and water savings through performance-based contracting. To learn more about performance-based contracting, click here:

Before embarking on a comprehensive retrofit project, an energy service company (ESCO) will perform an independent audit of infrastructure to determine the optimal projects for energy and water savings. As a part of that audit, an ESCO will review current meter technology and determine appropriate system upgrades.

Our State is faced with many challenges. Although water is one of them, technologies like automated water meters give local governments an opportunity to be better stewards of this precious resource. Local municipalities that make strategic investments in projects like these will bolster the State’s supply and ensure their customers water needs are met for decades to come.

“Securing Arizona’s Water Future.” Arizona Department of Water Resources, n.d.Web.
Artiola, Janick F., Ph.D., Kathryn L. Farrell-Poe, Ph.D., and Jacqueline C. Moxley, M.Sc. “Arizona: Know Your Water – A Consumer’s Guide to Water Sources, Quality, Regulations, and Home Water Treatment Options;.” University of Arizona, n.d. Web.