Water Usage Estimations

Background:  In 2010, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District (TDPUD) began the process of installing water meters accompanied with an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system for each of the approximately 13,000 water service customers within the service area.  Each meter has been equipped with a Meter Transmitting Unit (MTU) designed to report the individual water meter readings to the TDPUD’s billing system.  This system was selected in an effort to reduce operating costs associated with manual meter reading processes, as well as accommodate monthly water utility billing during the heavy snow season. 

The MTUs are powered by an integrated lithium ion battery pack.  The TDPUD has recently experienced a rise in premature battery pack failures associated with MTUs installed during the initial phases of the project.  The premature battery pack failures are being replaced under the manufacturer’s 20 year conditional warranty.    The battery pack failures do not affect the performance or accuracy of the water meter itself, but render them incapable of remotely reporting metered water usage back to the customer billing system.  This results in an “estimated” metered water usage, which customers may have experienced in recent TDPUD monthly water utility bills.

In an effort to expedite the replacement of failed water meter MTUs and return water utility customers to continuous monthly metered billing, the TDPUD has recently awarded a construction services contract to Concord Utility Services.  Concord Utility Service will supplement the efforts already in place by in-house utility staff to replace more than 3,000 MTUs over the course of the next 6-8 weeks. 

  

Scope of Work: TDPUD water utility customers may see Concord Utility Services technicians throughout the community working to replace water meter MTUs during the months of September and October.  The technicians will always possess logos on their vehicles and clothing to help easily identify them as TDPUD contractors.  The technicians will be removing the existing water meter MTU from the inside cover of the water meter vault/box and replacing them with a new factory sealed unit. The Concord Utility Services technicians will require access to the meter vault/box located on your property (typically located near the front property line or easement between two adjoining parcels), but will not be conducting work that requires interruption of water service.  Under no conditions should this work require access to the inside of your home.  If you have any concerns or questions regarding the work being performed or a request made to you by the contractor, please feel free to contact our customer service office immediately.

Water Utility Billing Adjustments:  Following the replacement of a water meter MTU, it may require 2-3 days for the automated meter reading system to update current individual reads into the billing system.  Once this has been accomplished, each of the individual water utility service accounts will require adjustments to reconcile the previously estimated water usage with the current metered water usage total transmitted by the new MTU.

This will generate a bill that prorates the proportion of water usage not accounted for in our water usage estimates. This may result in either a higher or lower water bill during your next billing cycle depending on the accuracy of the estimated water usage applied to your previous water bill(s).  The magnitude of the water use adjustment can vary widely depending on the unique characteristics of the water usage associated with your account.  We have provided an example to help better illustrate the potential impact on your water bill:

Example: 

  • 12345 Northwoods Blvd. is a residential property, historically utilized as a seasonal vacation home and consists of only natural vegetation with no irrigated landscape.
  • In January of 2019, the water meter MTU associated with this property experienced a battery pack failure, causing it to no longer report hourly/daily metered water usage to the TDPUD billing system.  Due to the snow coverage late into the spring and the high volume of failed MTUs, the TDPUD water utility service technicians have been unable to replace the MTU until September 2019. 
  • The water bills associated with this account from January 2019 to September 2019 have been estimated based upon historical water usage (metered usage from corresponding months in previous years).
  • In June of 2019 the property owner moved into the home full-time and installed new landscape irrigation systems, creating far more water demand than had been metered at this particular property in previous summer months.
  • When the new water meter MTU is installed in September 2019 and reports an updated meter read, the actual total water used at this property since the MTU failure is much higher than the estimated water usage billed to the customer.  This under estimation will require a one-time adjustment in the next billing cycle and result in a higher than usual water bill.
The circumstances may be the complete opposite as well.  In some cases the property may have used far less water than previously estimated due to changes in occupancy, irrigation habits, 

etc.  In these circumstance the water utility billing adjustments would include a credit to the account holder.

NOTE:  It is important to understand that during any period of communication failure associated with a water meter MTU (including battery failures) or other components of the automated meter reading (AMR) system, the TDPUD automated metering system is unable to detect or report abnormal water usage such as high volume, continuous use, or potential leaks on your property.  While the continuous water use alert system is a great benefit to many of the TDPUD water utility customers, it is an accessory function of the AMR system that is not guaranteed, and should not be relied upon to monitor the condition of customer owned plumbing and facilities.   The TDPUD is not responsible for excessive water use or property damage due to leaks or equipment failures associated with plumbing or other facilities beyond the water service point of connection.       

Customer Service and Bill Reconciliation:  The TDPUD recognizes that the water meter MTU replacement project will have impacts that vary greatly, depending on the individual water use characteristics.  The TDPUD Customer Service and Utility Billing Team are always available to assist in answering any questions you might have regarding water utility billing adjustments or estimated bills.  The TDPUD strives to provide an elevated level of service and support to the community and our service area customers. Your questions and concerns are very important to us and we value your input.  Due to the number of water meter MTU replacements and associated billing adjustments, our team is expecting higher volumes of customer calls we do ask for your patience if you experience longer than normal response times.