The move aims to address existing challenges, improve efficiency, and enhance customer service

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles City Council approved a decision regarding the future of water metering in the city. After evaluation, staff members made the recommendation to adopt the Badger Orion AMI system, provided by Badger Meter Company, as the sole source for AMI equipment and associated data management services. This move aims to address existing challenges, improve efficiency, and enhance customer service.

Accurate and timely water meter reading is essential for the city’s billing and revenue collection, which amounts to approximately $28 million annually. However, recent delays in meter readings caused by staffing issues with the current vendor have prompted the need for a more reliable solution. The Badger Orion AMI system offers numerous benefits that will change how water consumption is measured and managed in Paso Robles.

The primary advantages of the Badger Orion AMI system include improved timeliness and consistency in meter readings, giving customers access to real-time water usage data, and customized alerts for high consumption thresholds. Rapid leak detection and notification has the intention to reduce water losses and save customers money. The system will also provide tampering alerts, enhance distribution system operations, and improve demand projection. Additionally, it will identify backflow events.

One advantage of the Badger Orion AMI system is its compatibility with approximately 96.4 percent of the city’s existing water meters. This eliminates the need for replacements, as the system can be easily retrofitted onto the current meter bodies. Unlike other alternatives, the Badger Orion system utilizes a cellular network, eliminating the necessity to construct and maintain a fixed communication network throughout the city.

The Badger Meter Company, has already served the city for over a decade. The Water Department conducted a successful three-month pilot project using the Badger Orion AMI system and Badger’s “Beacon” data management system. During the pilot, the system promptly identified multiple water leaks, allowing immediate alerts and corrective actions. By contrast, monthly meter readings often fail to detect high usage until significant water loss and expenses have already occurred.

City staff received budgetary pricing for the implementation of the AMI retrofit project, covering hardware costs, data management software (Beacon), and integration with the city’s billing system. While there are no immediate fiscal impacts, the implementation of the AMI system will involve fees for setup, equipment purchase, ongoing service, and integration with the city’s utility billing system. These costs have been accounted for in the city’s approved budget, which includes provisions for the AMI project. Additionally, the city is exploring a grant opportunity through a State Water and Efficiency Grant Program, further alleviating the financial burden.

The next Paso Robles City Council meeting is scheduled for June 6 at 6:30 p.m.