The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Water News: Signing up for the AMI Water Usage Portal

March 21, 2019 SFID Cost of Service Study Workshop: Board consensus was to continue to engage Carollo Engineers to re-evaluate the water rate structure not passed at the December 2018 COSS Public Hearing. Board concerns were expressed about allocation of peaking costs, general administrative costs, infrastructure costs and depreciation, pension costs and the issue of how local Lake Hodges water is allocated amongst customers, chiefly because staff and Carollo stated 2018 water bills demonstrated that 33% of SFID customers never consumed more than 37 hcf/billing period. That means that 33% of customers pay a considerably smaller percentage of SFID overhead than customers who use more than 37 hcf/billing cycle. The December 2018 water rate proposal had tier 1 price of 1-37 hcf @ $3.00, and tier 2 price of 37+ hcf @ $5.85. There were comments indicating some Board members wanted to consider increasing the number of tiers.

Stay tuned to see how the Board grapples with water rates. If you are interested, click onto the SFID website, go to Board Meeting Agendas, and read through the PowerPoint slides presented by Carollo at the 3/21/19 meeting. Cost allocations were explained with new, easier to understand visuals, and there were a number of current water price bar graphs comparing current and proposed SFID water rates with a number of local water districts. The bar graphs were for varying size meters and usage volumes.

AMI Meter Change-out Program and Signing up for the AMI Water Usage Portal: The District is currently in phase four of AMI meter installations. A large number of customers in the Covenant are scheduled to have their manual read meters changed to AMI meters this spring.

AS SOON AS YOU HAVE AN AMI METER, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND SIGN UP FOR THE AMI PORTAL by clicking on “New - View My Water Use”. The portal allows you to send your own usage threshold alerts to two different email addresses of your choosing. There is no fee. I have effectively used the portal to track a leak, to understand an SDGE power outage caused my irrigation controller to dump memory and revert to ten minutes/cycle, resulting in over-watering my flower beds and under- watering my grass. I also used the AMI portal to understand my 32-year-old Irritrol controller had developed a memory problem that I was able to rather quickly assess and re-program. My outdoor irrigation has been turned off since the first week of December, and as soon as I start it up again I will log into the AMI portal the day after starting up my irrigation to see if four months of cold weather and non-use has caused any problems with the valves operating properly.

All this can be done from any computer or smart phone, aided by some easily gained data on how many gallons your properly running outdoor irrigation programs use. If the numbers are higher than pre-determined baseline, look for valves that don’t shut off completely, or leaks in pipes under pressure. If the numbers are lower than pre-determined baseline, check irrigation controller programming or stuck valves or slow-to-open valves. Again, all it takes is following the AMI portal instructions, and taking some time to play around with the portal. FYI, usage data for the first 22 hours of each day is uploaded at midnight; at 2am the previous two hours of data is available. My experience is that usage alerts are sent around 8am. Alerts can be daily or weekly, with an additional feature to temporarily override your normal daily alert setting during vacations.

Mars Rover “Opportunity” Epilogue: NASA declared 2/12/19 that the Mars rover Opportunity’s mission was complete. Due to the Planet Encircling Dust Event last summer/fall, Oppy’s last signal was received 6/10/18. NASA’s little geologist rover designed to last 90 Martian days actively served fifteen years on Mars. Designed to travel less than a mile, total odometry was 28.06 miles. Oppy tenaciously obeyed NASA’s commands to look for signs of past liquid water on the red planet’s surface.

NASA scientists at JPL sent their last signal to Oppy on 2/12/19 with the sounds of Billie Holiday singing “I’ll Be Seeing You…” My soundtrack was Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”. Oppy knew “…what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars”.