2020 Water Meter Replacement Program
In March of 2020, the Village of Glencoe approved a contract for the Village-wide replacement of its water meter infrastructure. The water meter replacement project is a part of a larger plan to address aging water infrastructure across the Village and was anticipated in the Village 2020 Stub Year Budget. The Village has elected to install “smart” water meter technology that utilizes a remote wireless meter reading process and has selected the Sensus water meter product line, known for its reliability, accuracy, and longevity. This technology will provide better customer service, reduced operation costs and greater data accuracy.
Systemwide Water Infrastructure Investments
The replacement of the water meter infrastructure is an essential part of the Village’s ongoing extensive plan to address aging water infrastructure, including its water distribution mains and the water plant. As outlined in the 2015 Master Water Plan, the collective goals of the water infrastructure improvements are to maintain adequate water pressure and fire flow in the system and provide for redundancies which will improve operations in times of emergency. The planned water main replacement improvements will decrease the number of water main breaks. Staff is also exploring options and alternatives with respect to the long-term viability of the Village’s 92-year-old water plant, including an ongoing joint feasibility study with the Village of Winnetka. Ultimately these improvements, including the water meter infrastructure replacement, are critical to maintaining and improving upon the existing level of service to the community.
The installation of new “smart” water meters will improve the water customer experience and streamline water operations. Glencoe water utility customers can expect greater access to their water usage data throughout a billing period, allowing customers to monitor high use, identify potential water leaks, as well as enhancing water conservation efforts. New water meters will ensure fair and accurate water billing for customers as well as strengthen the financial health of the water utility. The Village will experience greater efficiency with fewer staff hours devoted to meter reading and failed meter changeouts. The Village will also be able reduce its carbon footprint by eliminating the need for the “drive-by” meter-reading process. Additionally, the Village will utilize the new water data to meet its regulatory obligations to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a direct diverter of Lake Michigan water by improving its efforts to locate and reduce water leaks in the distribution system which is a major contributor to the volume of non-revenue water.
Currently the water meters are read through Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) technology that requires a water utility employee driving through the Village every month with a special radio device that collects meter reads that are uploaded for billing. Additional time is needed when there is a water account close-out. Comparatively, the new meter reading system, Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI), will be an automatic process that collects readings multiple times a day as well as on-demand, as the figure below explains.
The installation of the new water meters and transceivers Village-wide is tentatively anticipated to start in late summer or early fall of 2020 and finish in the spring of 2021. The Village has contracted with Core & Main of Carol Stream, Illinois to coordinate this project and United Meters, Inc. of Morris, Illinois will be the subcontractor responsible for the physical meter changeout. Residents and businesses can expect a notification letter from the Village and its contractor requesting a meter change-out appointment be scheduled. Notifications are tentatively expected to be mailed out beginning in July 2020 and throughout the project as the meter installers complete different areas of the Village.
For Residents and Businesses
The Village and its project contractors will work to make the meter replacement process as convenient and safe as possible for residents and businesses, and is working to finalize the appropriate installation protocols that fully adhere to all CDC and Public Health (IDPH) recommendations. As a Glencoe water utility customer, it is important for you to understand that the installation of new water meters will require access inside your residence or business, as nearly all water meters are in the interior of buildings. As noted previously, prior to installation, water utility customers will receive a mailed notification on Village letterhead providing instructions on how to set up an appointment for your water meter to be replaced. The replacement and installation of the new water meters will be done at no cost to the customer and will not take more than a half hour to complete in most situations.
Due to concerns regarding the containment of COVID-19, the United Meters meter installers will be required to wear appropriate PPE (masks and gloves) and shoe covers when entering residences and businesses. Only one installer will enter your home or business and the appointment will be less than 30 minutes. An adult, 18 years or older, must be present for the appointment. Residents and business owners will also receive instructions on how to maintain a safe distance from the work when scheduling their meter change-out appointment. Furthermore, the meter installers have completed background checks with the Village of Glencoe, and all have significant experience working in communities across the Chicago-area. All meter installers will carry identification from the Village.
Urgency to Replace Water Meters
The Village has been preparing to replace its water meter infrastructure for several years and it is critical to the health of the water utility to complete this installation as soon as possible. Most of the current water meters are past their expected service life and have lost accuracy as the internal mechanical parts have degraded and slowed, leading to under registering water consumption. Most existing meters that staff have tested are outside of the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) acceptable range of +/- 1.5% error. As a result, the Village’s water plant is currently producing and delivering more water through the distribution system and to the customer than the volume that is being registered through the meter and billed. Every year that passes, the water utility loses more water through the meters and the subsequent revenue needed to operate and maintain the overall water system. The revenue deficit to the Water Fund as a result of the water loss attributed to the aging water meters is significant. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Village to meet the non-revenue water regulatory obligations as a direct Lake Michigan water diverter.
The Glencoe water utility appreciates your cooperation in making this project a success. For more detailed information, please visit the Village of Glencoe website. For any questions or concerns related to the water meter replacement program, please contact the Water Plant Superintendent, Alex Urbanczyk, at (847) 461-1651 or the Public Works Superintendent, Don Kirk, at the Glencoe Public Works Department at (847) 461-1154.
How can I schedule a meter change-out appointment?
You will receive a notification letter from the Village and its contractor (on Village letterhead) letting you know it’s time to schedule your meter changeout appointment. The first notifications are tentatively expected to be sent in July 2020. The meter installer’s call center will be open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Look for more information in the near future.
How long will the water meter change-out appointment last?
Most water meter change-out appointments will last less than 30 minutes. If there are complications with the installation, the appointment may take longer. More information to come!
Is there any cost to the customer for the water meter change out program?
No, there is no cost to the customer for the installation of the new water meter. If there is additional plumbing work required to customer’s plumbing system, the customer would be responsible for those costs. Additional plumbing work might be a broken or leaking water shutoff valve. Customers would have the option of hiring their own plumber to complete those repairs or may contract with United Meters directly.
Will the installer need to access my house to install the new water meter?
Yes, most of the current water meters are located inside of the house and the new meters will be installed in the same location. An adult, 18 years or older, needs to be present during the installation appointment.
How is the Village ensuring social distancing during the appointment?
Due to concerns regarding the containment of COVID-19, the United Meters meter installers will be required to wear appropriate PPE (masks and gloves) as well as shoe covers when entering homes and businesses. Based on the guidelines of the CDC, the meter installers will be required to report to the Village Public Works building for a temperature check at the beginning of each workday, following the same practice as the Village Public Works employees. Only one installer will enter the home and the appointment will be less than 30 minutes. Residents and business owners will receive additional instructions on how to maintain a safe distance from the work when scheduling their change-out appointment.
Should I be concerned about exposure to radio frequency?
While automated water meters will transmit water usage data wirelessly to the Village, they present no health or data security risks to the public. The water meter reading technology complies with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) guidelines for fixed transmitters. The exposure time and duration to radio frequency from transmitters is far less than the radio frequency exposure from a cell phone or cordless phone.
What happens if the period of time assigned for my water meter change-out appointment is not convenient for me?
As the water utility, the Village has the right and responsibility to maintain, repair, and upgrade every aspect of the water utility, including the water meter. That being said, the Village will work with any and all residents to find a convenient and acceptable time for water meter change-out appointments.