Atlanta Completes Residential Water Meter Audit

Comprehensive audit of residential water meters finds 94% billing correctly. In the 6% with potential billing errors, most are under reporting water usage.

Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management completed a year-long systemwide audit of its small residential water meters.. The study, conducted by outside consultants Arcadis and JP2, cost Atlanta $2.4 million. The audit discovered that about 6%—about 10,000 units— of the city’s 158,000 water meters produced billing errors.  According to Atlanta’s COO, Duriya Farooqui, most of these billing errors favored the customer, undercharging for actual water usage.

The audit followed a 2011 study of 9,193 meters.. The 2011 audit found that the meters which were installed properly were functioning properly.

Atlanta launched an $35M overhaul of their metering system, transitioning to automated meter reading, with the goal of improving billing accuracy, finding leaks and acquiring meter data more efficiently.

Approximately one-third of the meters were found to be functioning perfectly. A range of service issues—from cracked lids to antenna adjustments—were discovered for the remaining two-thirds. However very few of these issues would cause billing errors.

Atlanta plans to contact its customers who meters may have had billing errors to reconcile any issues. Atlanta doesn’t plan on charing its customers who were undercharged.

“We want to give our customers confidence in their meter, that it does read accurately,” remarked Department of Watershed Management Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on the audit.

cc photo flickr user kla4067