Learn 5 Smart Water Meter Advantages and Installation Programs

Water Main Service
April 30, 2024

by David Balkan

electronic water meter

A “smart meter” is a type of digital water meter which are being installed in more and more jurisdictions as part of a residential smart water meter initiative, and New York City is among them. These modern water meters incorporate advanced technology to measure your water usage, and they also transmit detailed data about water consumption in real time or at frequent intervals.

These so-called “smart meters” are also referred to as AMR meters, which refers to their automated and remote meter reading capabilities. These meters enable property owners to track water usage and leaks like never before.

These AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) meters typically use wireless communication technologies such as cellular networks or radio frequency, to send usage data to a central database. A smart water meter system offers 5 distinct advantages over traditional mechanical water meters.

The 5 Advantages of a Smart Water Meter

  1. Real-Time Monitoring: Smart water meters provide real-time data on water usage, allowing consumers and utility companies to promptly monitor consumption patterns and detect leaks or abnormal usage. Among the advantages of real-time monitoring is being aware of running water when no water is used inside the building. The feature of real time water use monitoring allows you to be made aware of leaks or plumbing issues much earlier than previously possible.
  2. Remote Meter Reading: The main difference and advantage of smart meters is that they can be “read” remotely, so meter reading personnel don’t need to come onto your property. But even though their appearance is different, digital meters can be read in the same way as analog meters.
  3. Water Usage Data Analytics: Smart water meters often come with software that analyzes usage data to identify trends, optimize water distribution, and improve efficiency in water management.
  4. Detecting Water Leaks Sooner: Because the meter is continuously monitoring water flow, smart meters can detect leaks in your water supply plumbing system within individual properties. Being able to pinpoint when water is being used, and how much water is being used, helps to reduce water loss, prevent property damage, and save money on your water bill. These advantages should all be of great interest to any property owner.
  5. Water Billing Accuracy: Smart meters provide more accurate measurements of water usage, reducing the potential for billing errors, and disputes between consumers and the water utility, which in NYC is regulated by the Water Board.

Are Smart Water Meters Required in NYC?

As for whether smart water meters are required in New York City, the answer varies depending on specific regulations and current policies in place by the NYC Water Board, which oversees the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Around January 2022, New York City began to gradually roll out smart meter installations as part of its Automated Meter Reading (AMR) program. The end-goal of NYC’s program is to replace older mechanical meters with advanced metering technology.

While participation in the AMR program may be mandatory for certain customers or areas, it does not involve being charged for the meter itself. Typically you will receive a notification from the NYC DEP that your or your property is getting a water meter upgrade, and a pre-inspection will be required before the meter installation itself takes place.

When Does a Free Smart Water Meter Come With a Cost?

Even though the upgraded water meter you’re receiving itself will not be charged to you, various existing conditions inside your property may result in required plumbing work and costs to you.

  • If your existing water service line is lead you will need to replace it with a copper water service line.
  • Galvanized water service lines are also not permitted to be used to connect new or replacement water meters. If your water service line is galvanized you will need a water main replacement.
  • A faulty or leaking main control valve must be replaced with a new full port opening ball valve or brass gate valve. In some cases, a gate valve repair can be done.

Learn the Plumbing Code Requirements for Installing a Water Meter in NYC

In NYC and all other jurisdictions there are very specific requirements of how a water meter can be installed and be in code compliance. For instance, an egregious plumbing code violation is having a plumbing outlet or branch line present before the meter (on the street side of the meter). Having an outlet for potable water would allow for the theft of water and would probably result in a hefty fine from the local water authority.

An Additional NYC Meter Code Requirement

Another code requirement for domestic water meters (which apply to all meter types including smart water meters) is that in addition to the main control valve on the water service line, there is a meter inlet valve and a meter outlet valve. Between the meter itself and the meter outlet valve is a test tee is required for testing the accuracy of how the meter is reading. The test tee is not permitted to have threads on it for attaching a hose or any plumbing.

Why Call A Licensed Plumber for Water Meter Work or Plumbing Repairs

When work involves a water meter it is closely monitored by the DEP. Any infraction or unlicensed work without a proper permit will result in an inspector’s warning or a fine. It is therefore in your best interest to make sure you hire a licensed plumber who will secure permits and follow local plumbing codes to do meter work or work associated with a smart meter water installation.

Hiring a licensed plumber who files the required permit; which ensures that the work is inspected and the meter gets sealed by the DEP inspector. A water meter that is not sealed allows for theft of water, and will certainly result in hefty fines and penalties.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

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