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Water Meter Replacement Project

Update July 2017
The City is in the second year of the Automated Water Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project. Approximately half of the City’s water service meters have been replaced with meters equipped with communication radios. January 2018 is the target date for completion of the meter replacement.

During the replacement process, customers will receive notification about installation in their area. During installation, contractors working on behalf of the City of Auburn will interrupt water service for approximately 15 minutes. Before leaving the site, crews will test the new meter by running about 10 gallons of water from an exterior hose or faucet. Door hangers will be left at the main entrance to the property informing the resident or business owner of the status of the visit.

Contractors will be supervised by Auburn staff, carry proper identification and have successfully completed a comprehensive background check; contractor vehicles will also be clearly marked.

Other benefits of the new metering system include:

  •  Quicker leak detection for customers
  •  More accurate billing
  •  Reduced meter reading costs
  •  Improved City’s sustainability (conservation, greenhouse gas reduction)
  •  More efficient customer service

Please contact the Community Development & Public Works - Engineering Division at 253-931-3010 for any questions about the metering project or the new water meters. All specific billing questions should be directed to Utility Billing at 253-931-3038.

Update November 18, 2015
Letters were mailed to all City of Auburn customers in early November. View the Customer Letter (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions from Customers Regarding the Water Meter Project.

1. Can you explain the installation process?

  • The project includes replacing about 14,500 residential and commercial water meters with new, technologically advanced meters and registers that can communicate usage data via wireless technology directly to the City of Auburn. 
  • All meters in Auburn's utility service area, including domestic water and irrigation water, will be read using the advanced metering system.
  • Installation of the new meter and communication module should take no more than 30 minutes in most cases, with your water service being unavailable for about 15 minutes of that time.
  • Auburn and our contractors and consultants are committed to minimizing impacts from this important project and will, therefore, prepare and work according to reliable, updated schedules and ensure that interruptions in water service are kept to no more than 15 minutes in most cases.
  • To ensure that the installation is complete, workers will briefly test the new meter.
  • While most work will occur within public rights-of-way and easements, the City will restore to original condition any private property impacted by the installation.
  • Before temporarily interrupting individual water services, crews will make every effort to ensure that doing so will not impose an undo hardship on the customer.  Such efforts will include observing the meter to see if water is being used and knocking on doors to contact those who may be inside.
  • Before leaving the site, door hangers will be left at the main entrance to the property informing the residents the installation was completed.

2. Do I need to do anything to prepare for the installation?

  •  To help keep everyone safe, dogs and any other domestic pets will need to be kept out of yards during installation.
  • Always keep meter box lids unobstructed.

3. How will I be informed when the installation is taking place at my     home or business?

  • Since it will take up to 26 months to complete the project, a letter or postcard will be sent to customers between one and two weeks prior to installation in their area.

4. Who is doing the work?

  • The project is being managed for the City by Ferguson Waterworks, which will ultimately be responsible for the day-to-day execution of the project, overseeing installation, and ensuring the highest level of customer satisfaction.
  • Contractors working on the project will carry proper identification and have successfully completed a background check.
  • Contractors will not need to enter residential property, nor will they be asking for any form of payment from customers. 

5. How does the system work?

  • The system works via wireless signals sent from a small radio unit inside the meter box that is connected to the water meter.  The meter radio unit sends readings to regional collector units that then transmit the meter reading data to receivers in Auburn Utility Billing.
  • Regional collectors will be located on existing water tanks located throughout Auburn.
  • Each radio unit will send a 111-millisecond usage report from the meter to Auburn Utility Billing six times a day.

6.  How does this system benefit customers?

  • Currently, every month, the city has to manually visit over 14,000 homes and businesses to read meters.  The advanced metering system will take vehicles off the road, significantly reducing the City's carbon footprint.
  • After the project is completed it will include the addition of a new web-based reporting system that will allow customers to track their daily water use and learn about strategies for saving water and reducing their utility bill.  This web-based system will be activated toward the end of the installation project, and citizens will receive detailed information on how to take advantage of its offerings.
  • Thanks to its advanced technology and backup systems in the field, the new system will provide accurate, timely water use data regardless of weather conditions or power outages.

7. How much does this cost?

  • The total budget for the project is 5.7 million, which is being funded through the Auburn water utility fund.
  • Through operational savings and increased revenue, the project is estimated to have a benefit of more than $5 million over the 20-year project life.
  • Once the project is fully implemented, the City will no longer require two staff to manually read meters. Every effort is being made to place the affected employees in vacant positions within the organization, so that overall budget savings are achieved without job losses.

8. What happens with the current meters and equipment?

  • The existing meters being replaced during the project will be recycled.    
  • As is currently the case, water meters, and radio units will remain the property of the City of Auburn and the City will continue to perform the required maintenance on these units.

9. Will wireless technology affect my health or privacy?

  • The new meters will not negatively affect health or privacy. In fact, overall health will be improved and privacy enhanced by replacing vehicles and manual visits to your home with environmentally clean radio communication. The wireless portions of the system will be operated according to Federal Communications Commission rules, and will not interfere with other radio frequencies in the area. The transmitters use one-quarter of the power of a cellphone.  The amount of exposure to radio waves decreases with the square of the distance from the source. Exposure to radio waves from smart meters is absolutely tiny compared to cellphones. In addition, transmission time for the units we are installing totals 15 seconds per day.    

10. When will my meter be replaced?

     Meter replacement is being done by Meter District. Please refer to Water Meter District map (PDF).

  • District 5 (dark blue on map) was completed in 2016.
  • District 3 (green on map) was completed in 2016.
  • District 1 (red on map) was completed in 2016.
  • District 2 (orange on map) will begin early in 2017.
  • District 4 (light blue on map) will begin mid year 2017.

     You will receive notification 1-2 weeks before the scheduled date.