Smart Water Network Launch FAQ

● What is a Smart Water Network?
A smart water network is a system that allows the City to remotely read your water meter every hour and transmit the consumption information to our offices for analysis and bill creation.

● Why is the City investing in this technology?
The City of Valdosta has been researching replacing the current aging utility meter system for the last two and a half years. When researching, city staff members wanted to replace the current meters with a smart meter that has double the lifespan of its current meters. This new smart meter technology will provide a number of benefits to customers and the water utility itself. Customers will have access to detailed water consumption data and a new Customer Portal where you can configure email or text notifications for unusual water usage patterns. This helps protect your property from costly water damage and allows you to better manage your water bill. The city can reduce the costs of reading meters manually, identify system leaks, and help serve customers better.

● How will this be funded?
The city will use SPLOST funds to pay for the first portion of this project. A GEFA loan will be used to finance the rest. The city has applied for a $1 million loan forgiveness program through GEFA bringing our cost down to $8 million.

● Is this technology dangerous for my health?
Not at all. The smart water network we have selected uses the existing cellular network from AT&T. We will affix a small cellular radio to each of our new water meters which transmits consumption data to the ‘cloud’ where we can access it from our office. Considering most people carry a cell phone with them everywhere they go, having one more attached to your water meter in a pit near your house has no impact on the health of your family.

● What benefits will I receive from this new system?
The main benefit you receive is the ability to receive leak alerts to protect your property from costly water damage. You can also set alerts for cold temperatures or if you plan to be on vacation and want to be notified of unauthorized water usage. The customer Water Portal will also provide you with water and money saving tips to better manage your monthly water spend.

● I’m concerned about my privacy. How can the city ensure my data is protected?
All of your water consumption data is encrypted and stored securely in a cloud data center. Your information is as secure as your personal financial information is when using an online banking service. For more information you can review our data privacy policy at http://www.smartearthtechnologies.com/privacy-policy-customer-portal/.

● What will this new system mean for my water bill?
Part of the reason we are installing new water meters is to increase the accuracy of reading actual water consumption. In some cases, this may mean an increase in your bill from more reliable and accurate readings. This means that you were being undercharged for your water in the past. To help you offset any possible cost increases, the new water Customer Portal provides you with a variety of money and water savings recommendations. Having more timely and accurate water information will help you better manage your water spend. Studies have shown that some bills have gone up, down or stayed the same. The increase or decrease will be around 4% to 5%.

● Can I opt-out of a smart water meter?
The City does not offer an opt-out option at this time. Part of the benefit of the smart water network is to reduce the cost of meter reading. This allows us to reallocate our limited resources to proactive maintenance and infrastructure improvement.

● This sounds expensive. Why doesn’t the city use the money to reduce our water costs?
We have performed a detailed business case justification study and have found that we will actually SAVE money over the lifetime of the system. This will allow the utility to continue to make ongoing investments in new water infrastructure to ensure reliable water services and support ongoing population and economic growth in our community.

● When will my new smart meter be installed?
The installation schedule is still being determined and will be occurring over the next 6 months. Once we have finalized the schedule you will receive a notification on when to expect our field service team to visit your property to install and test the new meter. If you have questions in the meantime, you can always call the utility customer service line at 229-259-3592.

● How do I get access to the new water Customer Portal?
As soon as the Customer Portal is launched you will receive either a letter or an email with detailed instructions on how to register for a new account and set-up your water alerts.