AMI and Water Loss Control
Using Sensus advanced metering infrastructure, the City of Fountain Valley
has reduced customer water loss from 35 leaks a week to fewer than 35 a month.
By Mark Sprague
DURING 2013-2014, the City of Fountain Valley replaced
its manual read meters with advanced metering infra-structure
(AMI) from Sensus that included iPERL® automat-ic
read residential meters and OMNI™ commercial meters
linked in the Sensus FlexNet® communication system. In
addition to increasing systemwide water conservation by as
much as 30 percent (exceeding the 20 percent mandated
by California Executive Order B-29-15), AMI has become a
valuable tool in water loss control.
Fountain Valley’s water department provides drinking
water to more than 56,000 residents and businesses in a
9.6-square-mile service area in northern Orange County.
Seventy-five percent of the water the city serves comes
from its own wells and 25 percent is imported.
In 2013, the city began evaluating options for replac-ing
its manual read meters, which had reached the end of
their 20-year lifecycle. Various automated metering options
were considered, and the decision to install automatic read
members in a two-way real time smart network was based
on the opportunity to increase water conservation while re-ducing
personnel costs. The city selected Sensus because
its iPERL meters can identify small-flow leaks down to
3/100 of a gallon, and the FlexNet communication network
point-to-multipoint connectivity expedites data transmission
and is scalable for future needs. Additionally, the develop-ment
of a web-based customer portal uses the system’s
real time reporting to make it possible for Fountain
Valley residents to monitor their own water use.
The city initially installed the Sensus meters
systemwide on 16,324 residential services and
750 commercial services and has since added
more, bringing the total to 17,400 services. The
capability of remotely monitoring meters in real
time from a central location has made it possible
to catch small leaks as they occur before they de-velop
into substantive water loss. During initial de-ployment,
the system was picking up 35 smaller
leaks and approximately 10 larger leaks per week.
Currently that total has dropped to approximately
35 leaks a month.
Water department technicians review the alarm
list generated by the system as part of daily system
36 SOURCE fall 2017
maintenance. Once a leak is detected, it’s noted and the
customer is sent a “leak letter” describing how to locate and
address common household and residential irrigation leaks.
On larger leaks, where there could be a possible slab leak
or a leak in the irrigation system, the customer is contacted
by phone or through an in-person visit. Since installation, the
Sensus system has made it possible for the city to locate and
help residents correct at least two slab leaks. The same pro-cedure
is followed when a commercial leak is detected.
The water department tracks the leak letters, and if sub-sequent
monitoring determines that the leak hasn’t been ad-dressed,
a follow-up phone call or visit is initiated. Most prob-lems
are taken care of within a week or two without the city
having to intervene, saving water as well as personnel costs.
In 2016, the city partnered with Sensus to develop a
customer portal with leak detection capability using Sensus’
Customer Portal web-based application. The cloud-based
portal allows customers to go online and view their daily us-age
data, which is fed directly into the portal from the Flex-
Net system. Residents and businesses can track hourly us-age
and usage trends and find and address their own leaks.
(For more on Fountain Valley’s leak control public outreach,
The cost of system development and installation was
paid for with water bond proceeds that were offset in part by
budget funds allocated for replacement of the city’s manual
read meters and savings that accrued from eliminating me-ter
reading personnel. S
A screenshot from Fountain Valley’s in-house designed
customer friendly water loss control outreach.