Automated Meters are coming to Columbia!

Columbia Water is actively responding to our customers’ demand for more accurate bills. Our plan is to provide the most reliable possible measurement of our customers’ water use by installing advanced metering technology. With this Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), our customers’ water consumption will be transmitted remotely, securely, and directly to Columbia Water on a daily basis.

Is your home scheduled yet?

Use the link below to see if your house or business is on the upcoming schedule. If it hasn’t been scheduled yet, please check back at a later time.

Address Look-Up

Approximately two weeks prior to your scheduled date, you will receive a letter with information about the installation.

AMI will give more assurance and control to customers
  • Eliminates estimated and inaccurate meter reads for more accurate bills
  • Provides electronic notification to customers if they have a spike in use and/or a possible leak
  • Enables customers to track their daily and hourly usage to help better manage consumption and troubleshoot plumbing problems
AMI will serve all customers equally
  • Reach: Columbia Water service territory throughout Richland & Lexington Co.
  • Estimated Start Date: Summer 2019
  • Approximate Cost: $41 million at no additional cost to customers
  • Timeline: Phased implementation over three years
AMI FAQs

What is AMI?

AMI stands for Advanced Metering Infrastructure, called AMI for short. With AMI, every customer meter within Columbia will be able to reliably measure the use of water in your home or business and automatically send a brief, private, digital message to a data collection tower using a cellular signal—much like a cell phone does now.  The Cell Tower then transmits all meter reads to the City of Columbia, where the information is processed within its billing system.

Why is the City adopting AMI?

Installing automated meters will enhance our customer service by minimizing the potential for missed or inaccurate reads, allowing our customers to once again have absolute trust in the bills they receive. We are excited to take on AMI because it will enable us to provide faster service, better information, and reliable bills for all our customers.  It will even eliminate the need for someone to come onto your property for manual meter readings, increasing the privacy of your home.

How does AMI affect me?

AMI technology ensures that customers pay only for the water they use – no more and no less.  It is important to understand that as some water meters age, they can run slower and under-register water use.  When we change out your current meter with a new smart meter, the first bill may be higher simply because the new meter is running accurately.

How much will this upgrade cost me?

There is no cost to customers for the AMI upgrade.

How will AMI benefit me?

By ensuring that your bill is based on actual usage, AMI technology eliminates billing based on estimated reads. In addition, AMI improves accuracy, eliminating the potential for human error in manual meter reading and can help to identify any irregularities in water usage such as leaks.

Customers will have access to the AMI web portal which allows easy access to information about your water consumption, compare current usage to previous periods, and set email and text alerts to achieve conservation goals.

How do you know that the meter reading is accurate?

Water utilities all over the world are adopting AMI technology, first and foremost because it provides accurate information.  The reading at the meter is regularly converted into a digital format using technology that has proven to be highly reliable and secure. It improves accuracy mostly because it eliminates the potential for human error in manual meter reading. Similar systems are already in use in nearby communities including Mount Pleasant (SC), Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority (SC) and many others.

How will I know that you have my meter reading and not someone else’s?

The endpoint that sends your meter reading has a unique identifier that is transmitted along with the read data. This identifier is compared electronically to your account record to ensure that the meter reading matches the meter assigned to your account.

Is my account information secure?

Your account information is secure. Data transmitted through the system is protected and proprietary communication protocols are used.

Are there any potential health concerns with radio frequency signal?

No. The power of the radio frequency signal used is too low to pose a health risk. The products that make up the AMI system are stringently evaluated for safety and meet all standards established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Institute of Electrical (IEEE) and Electronics Engineers. The technology selected by the City of Columbia sends a signal that can be compared to a cellular text message.

Will the radiofrequency signal interfere with my television, computer, cordless phone, garage door, pacemaker or other electronic devices?

No. The technology operates as a very low-powered signal that is regulated by the (FCC) against interference. It is unlikely that it will interfere with the operation of other electronic devices.

Will there be any difference in the delivery or quality of water after my meter upgrade?

No. You will continue to enjoy the same high-quality water you have come to expect from the City of Columbia.

What if I have questions about the last meter read before my upgrade?

Digital photographs will be taken of the last meter reading, should any questions arise. The installer will provide these photographs to the City of Columbia and our utility billing staff will have this information available to answer your questions.

How is the installation done?

The installer will locate your meter box containing your water meter. For residential customers, replacing the water meter will require installers to turn off the water briefly. This allows installers to remove the old meter and install a new one. Water service may be interrupted for commercial customers as well. When the new meter is installed, the installer will test the meter to ensure that it is operational.

When will my installation occur?

Installations will be completed gradually based on meter reading routes throughout 2019, 2020 and 2021.

How will I be notified of the installation?

For customers with an outdoor meter box, a mailed letter will be sent approximately two weeks before the planned installation, followed by a door hanger after the installation is complete.

How long will it take?

In most instances, installation should take less than thirty minutes. Some installations may take longer.