High cost of smart water meters keeps adoption rates low
- Cities have been slow to roll out smart water meters due to their high costs, as reported by BloombergBNA.
- An executive at DC Water told BloombergBNA that a regular analog meter costs $25 on average, while installing smart meters across Washington, D.C. could cost up to $180 per home. In February, DC Water announced a citywide program to upgrade approximately 85,000 of the city's water meters between now and mid-2018.
- Smart water meters can detect leaks, measure usage and better manage assets compared to analogy meters, which makes them crucial assets for many cities despite high costs.
A Bluefield Research report found that water utilities are expected to spend $20 billion on software, data, and analytics solutions over the next decade with more than $15 billion of that on smart meters. Therefore, water utilities have some catching up to do. According to a report by West Monroe Partners, about 35% of water utilities have adopted automated metering systems, yet of those utilities, only 45% state they've implemented some form of analytics.
The 2017 Infrastructure report card gives the U.S.’s treated water systems a D and notes that upgrading existing water systems will require at least $1 trillion. However, the cost of implementation may be necessary to prevent various water crises like what was experienced in Flint, MI. Additionally, over six billion gallons of water are lost every day to leaks nationwide — a waste that smart water meters could help detect and reduce.
During California’s years-long drought, cities like Los Angeles and Long Beach have turned to smart water meters to helped reach the governor’s 25% reduction mandate. However smart water meters haven’t been without problems. A Chicago suburb found some of their new meters were overcharging customers, and in Wichita, TX, customers were overcharged and experienced leaks with the installation of the new smart meters. While improvements to these systems may be imperative, increasing spending in the area of water monitoring will likely only be beneficial in the long-term.