Advanced Metering Infrastructure coming to Hays water meters in 2025


Tiger Media Network

During Thursday’s commission meeting, City Commission approved a bid for new Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

Currently, four Water Resource staff members walk and touch-read every single meter with a handheld wand and computer to collect water usage data.

“Manually touch reading meters can take one or more business days depending on the weather conditions,” Director of Water Resources Jeff Crispin said. 

Snow storms and other weather events can delay readings and overall decrease efficiency.

AMI will allow two-way communication between the water meter and the utility. AMI does not require personnel to collect data; rather, it uploads usage data directly to the utility billing software via cellular data or radio frequency.

“This technology provides us continuous monitoring, allowing staff to improve our operational efficiencies and proactively detecting malfunctions or leaks and recognizing problems with meters and water usage,” Crispin said. 

In December 2023, City Staff, in coordination with HDR Engineering, crafted a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the AMI project. The City received 10 submittals and eventually narrowed that pool down to three companies using a scoring matrix tool.

Companies were evaluated on several criteria, including company history, references, meter and data transmitter technology, data security, training and support services and cost. City Staff chose Core & Main as the recommended bid to accept.

Core & Main is the authorized distributor for Sensus meters in Kansas. Sensus uses radio frequency and uploads data to two data centers. One data center would be located at the Sternberg Water Tower and the other at the Water Plant. 

“Those two collectors would cover all areas of the city and there’s plenty of room to expand as we continue to grow,” Crispin said. 

Sensus is equipped with water conservation tools such as leak detection, high usage alarms, pressure indicators and more. 

“We are the conservation leaders for the state and beyond,” Crispin said. “We need to continue to evolve and improve our efforts and this adds a significant tool to our toolbox.”

This software also benefits the consumer because residents will be able to monitor their usage in real-time. Customers can customize alerts on their account to be notified of leaks or high usage. 

Sensus AMI systems are used across the state. Garden City, Derby, Lawrence, Mulvane, Junction City and Abilene all use Sensus. In Hays, Midwest Energy uses Sensus for Electric and Gas metering.

According to Crispin, installation of the AMI system should be complete by mid-2025. 

Core & Main’s proposal for installing AMI would not exceed $4,448,672. 

“The bid being recommended is not the low bid, but Core and Main’s system is the most cost-effective over 20 years,” Crispin said. 

The proposal is still $551,000 under the 2024 Capital Improvement budget.  

Crispin also recommended hiring a project manager at Tyler Technologies, which is the city’s utility billing software. The cost of that project manager would not exceed $35,000.

“Their project manager does this type of work and they have worked with Sensus before as far as integrating the technology system,” Crispin said. 

Commissioner Sandy Jacobs confirmed that this upgrade would not result in higher bills. 

“It’s a pretty big spend, but I think we’re going to save people water and money,” Mayor Shaun Musil said. 

The Commission approved the recommendation 4-0.

Other items from the meeting included:

  • Approval of the property/liability coverage package
  • Adoption of a resolution evidencing intent to issue industrial revenue bonds for the Grove Community Center

The next City Commission meeting will be at 4:00 p.m. on July 11 at City Hall.