ST. GEORGE — Over the last six months, the city has begun to install a new water metering system officials say will promote water conservation by showing customers how much water they use while also detecting potential leaks.

Scott Taylor, the city of St. George’s water services director, speaks about the city’s change over to AMI water meters and how they can help people see how much water they use, St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2024 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The advancement metering infrastructure system, also called AMI, takes water-use readings every 15 minutes and stores that data to an online cloud for city access. Water users can also access that data online on a website and associated smartphone app called “Eye On Water.”

The app allows people to view yearly, monthly, weekly, or even hourly water use and compare it with previous use to see whether there has been an increase or decrease along the way, Scott Taylor, the city of St. George’s water services director, told St. George News.

“It can tell you exactly how many gallons you’re using,” he said, yet added, “The biggest benefit from it is leak detention.”

Taylor gave an example of a residential development where the new AMI system detected a previously unknown leak that was amounting to a loss of 800 gallons an hour and was over two months old.

The leak went undetected under the older metering system, called AMR for automatic meter reader, which the majority of the city still uses. Unlike the AMI system, data from AMR systems is collected once a month by city employees with scanners who go through neighborhoods once a month to collect data.

Not counting new construction that is mandated under city code to install AMI meters, 3,600 AMR meters have been replaced with the new system with another 34,000 to go.

“It’s going to take about three years to change it all,” Taylor said, adding it’s estimated that the changeover will cost around $8 million.

St. George received $4 million in grants to cover the cost of the new meter installation, the majority of which came from the Bureau of Reclamation, he said.

Stock photo | Photo by Sugarman Joe/Unsplash, St. George News

The new system will send water user data to an online cloud rather than require employees with scanners to go out for readings once a month, which will help the city save money on time and manpower in the long run, Taylor said.

As for saving water, conservation was a driving force behind upgrading the system, he said. While there is no major data from the last five to six months currently available for a detailed review, Taylor said it is estimated that the AMI system will help the city save 2,700 acre-feet of water, which is enough for 5,000 new homes.

Like other water managers, Taylor said he believes the awareness city residents will gain about their water consumption through the app will lead to more mindful and efficient water use.

It is a sentiment shared by Zach Renstrom, the general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

“I think it’s great,” he said of St. George’s gradual change to the AMI system. “The more people think about water the better they do. There’s some really interesting data that’s come out that (shows) if people learn how to use water, they use less water. So I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about water and learn how they can become more water efficient.”

As the changeover continues, the city will send notifications to residences and businesses concerning the upcoming meter replacement. This will include a link to the Eye On Water app — click here for Apple products, or click here for all others.

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