Santa Fe taps Datamatic to help America's oldest capital city conserve water

June 14, 2005
Officials from the city of Santa Fe, N.M., have awarded a contract to install an automated meter reading system equipped with Firefly Radio water meter interface units to Datamatic Ltd. The installation is designed to help the city manage conservation efforts...

PLANO, TX, June 13, 2005 -- Officials from the city of Santa Fe, N.M., have awarded a contract to install an automated meter reading system Firefly® Radio water Meter Interface Units to Datamatic Ltd. The installation is designed to help the city manage conservation efforts.

Datamatic has been a supplier of enterprise meter reading solutions for gas, water and electric utilities worldwide since 1980.

"Santa Fe is committed to water conservation as part of Gov. Richardson's Drought Mitigation initiative," said Ken Kercher, Datamatic president and CEO. "Because of frequent periods of drought, the city was seeking an AMR system that could help water conservation through leak detection and compliance to water schedules. Our flexible AMR collection system and profiling software generates timely reports that easily highlight usage data and leaks."

The oldest continuous capital in America, Santa Fe's unique cityscape couples 17th century family compounds with new, gated developments built up the mountainside. The utility serves over 27,000 residential customers and nearly 3,000 commercial customers including high water users such as hotels, restaurants, schools and government facilities.

"While having current data is critical, gaining access to meters in Santa Fe is a significant problem," said City of Santa Fe Finance Director, Kathryn Raveling. "Many structures are inaccessible because of the many narrow streets and alleys. We've even had difficulty accessing our newest structures because they're within a gated community or are owned by seasonal residents. Datamatic's remote meter reading has helped us take on this task while also addressing our water shortage."

With limited water sources and intense growth, the municipality faces restrictions on water use that can drive up the cost for each gallon. The city of Santa Fe has aggressively worked to meet the needs of its residents with innovative programs such as replacing toilets with low flow units and hitting excessive residential and commercial water users with surcharges. The AMR agreement was inked after the city successfully completed a comprehensive pilot program to test the value of Datamatic's system. During that initial program, a system including 1,000 Firefly units was deployed within the city.

All Firefly Meter Interface Units archive consumption data at user-definable intervals. For example, when set to record hourly readings, each Firefly-equipped meter can hold the previous 74.6 days of hour-by-hour consumption information. This data was previously unavailable without costly fixed networks or flow monitors.

Data is extracted from the unit using a handheld or field laptop computer. It is then be converted and presented in a graph, spreadsheet or another meaningful format using Datamatic's ProfilePLUS software. This system is invaluable for leak detection, load studies, dispute resolution, meter right-sizing, conservation monitoring and many other applications.

"Water shortages have forced us to be proactive about leak detection," said City of Santa Fe Utility Billing director Dave Schmiedicke. "During the pilot program, Datamatic's system enabled us to identify leaks before a great deal of water was lost. In addition, customers began to understand how they could change bad water usage habits. We even had customers thank us for being notified of a minor leak before it became an expensive problem. I look forward to implementing the program throughout Santa Fe, as it will help us conserve water and save our residents money."

The city of Santa Fe plans to complete a citywide installation within the next three years.

Datamatic (, of Plano, Texas, is a leader in utility meter reading automation. The company's innovative ideas created an industry when it installed the first electronic meter reading system in 1980. For nearly a quarter of a century, it has been at the forefront in the design, implementation and support of advanced utility meter reading and field data collection solutions for water, gas and electric utilities.


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