FAQ's: 2018 Water Meter Replacement Project

Question: Why is the City of Dixon installing and upgrading new water meters? 
Answer: 
The City of Dixon will replace 5,900 water meters in town with Sensus iPERL water meters. These new iPERL meters will allow the City to install Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) that will provide better customer service and greater access to data.
 
These new meters will automatically transmit readings wirelessly, meaning the City can be more efficient and reduce water system costs by preventing manual device recording errors and eliminating time-consuming manual meter reading altogether. 
 
Question: How does Advance Meter Infrastructure (AMI) work?
Answer:
A small box called a Smartpoint, or transmitter, is installed on the interior of your house or business near the water meter. It is connected to the new water meter inside your home and transmits a radio signal to the data collector. The meter reading is then transmitted to City Hall. Each meter has a unique identification number that ensure only your reading is assigned to your account. This system reduces the need for manual meter reading, potentially catches leaks sooner and is more accurate than the current meter in your home.
 
Question: Are there benefits to Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI)?
Answer:
YES! The City and resident will receive the following benefits:
  • State of the art technology
  • New meters have no moving parts and therefore are not susceptible to mechanical failure
  • Improved customer service through near real-time system monitoring
  • Less intrusion onto private property
  • Remote leak detection from the customer service office, reducing water loss and high water bills
  • Reverse water flow warnings
  • Damaged meter alerts
  • High or unusual consumption alerts, prevention of water theft and identification of large and small leaks in the home
  • Meters meet new low-lead requirements
  • Reduced risk of injuries to City employees and contractors in performing meter reading/maintenance activities
  • Allows for water conservation monitoring
Question: Who will be replacing the water meters?
Answer:
The City has contracted with United Meters, Inc. of Morris Ill. to install most water meters in town. More information will be mailed to you directly via letter on how to schedule an appointment when the project moves into your area of the City. For more information on United Meters, Inc., please visit United Meters Inc.
 
Question: How much will the water meter replacement cost? Will it affect my rates?
Answer: 
The cost of city-wide water meter replacement will be about 3.1 million. Installation of the new meters will be conducted at no cost to the customers and will not result in a rate increase.
 
Question: When will the water meter replacement begin, and how long will it take? 
Answer: 
United Meters will begin installing new water meters in September 2018. The project is expected to last 9 to 12 months.
 
Question: Where is my water meter located? What if it isn’t accessible?
Answer: 
Water meters are typically located in basements, crawl spaces or utility closets that include your furnace or water heater. If the meter is inaccessible, the installer will leave you instructions on how to make modifications so the change-out can occur and provide information on how to reschedule your appointment.
 
Question: What if I live in an apartment/townhome/condo?
Answer:
If all units in your building are served by a single meter, the contractor will coordinate the meter change-out with either your association and/or your property manager. If your individual residence is served by a single meter, the contractor will be reaching out to you via letter to set up an appointment.
 
Question: Do I have to have my water meter replaced?
Answer: 
Yes. Meter replacement is mandatory for all City of Dixon water customers. Failure to accommodate meter replacement within a reasonable period of time may result in termination of service as well as administrative and service restoration fees.
 
Question: What is involved with a typical installation?
Answer: 
The City has contracted with United Meters, Inc. to install the new water meters. More information will be mailed to you directly via postcard on how to schedule an appointment when the project moves to your area of the City.
 
United Meters personnel will need access to meters in the basements, utility rooms, behind locked fences, garages, etc. An adult (minimum of 18 years old) must be present while they work inside the premises. Please make sure that there are no obstructions around the meter that may hamper access to the meter.
 
Under normal circumstances, the installation will take approximately 30 minutes. Momentary water service interruptions will occur to change out the meter. United Meter employees are required to provide proper identification when installing the meters. More information on the installation process is available at on our website.
 
Question: Is the Sensus iPEARL water meter safe?
Answer: 
Yes. The power and duration of the radio signal is too low to pose a health risk. The products that make up the system are evaluated for safety and are below levels specified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
 
Question: Will the transmitter radio signal interfere with other electronics?
Answer:
No. The radio transmission operates in compliance with FCC regulations to avoid interference with the electronic devices.
 
Question: Will my information be secure?
Answer: 
Yes. Only meter consumption data and meter numbers are transmitted. Personal customer information is not loaded into the transmitter and therefore will not be transmitted.
 
Question: Will the City be monitoring my water consumption?
Answer: 
No. The City does not actively monitor water consumption by individual users. The AMI system is designed to provide the City an alert if your meter registers above the consumption parameters set by the city, allowing us to notify the customer of possible meter or system problems.
 
Question: How is the data from the meter used?
Answer: 
The City uses the data from the meter to generate water and wastewater bills. The consumption data is also analyzed to help gauge where system improvements might be needed and for required Illinois EPA and Illinois Water Survey reporting.
 
Question: How will I know the meter is accurate?
Answer: 
All meters are tested and calibrated by Sensus at the factory before shipping. Meters are compliant with the American National Standards Institute and the American Water Works Association standards. All meters come with a 20-year material and accuracy warranty.
Each radio frequency device has a unique identification number, which is transmitted along with the meter reading. The unique number is compared to your account record to ensure a match. In addition, the meter reading system has a 35-day logging capability for accuracy reconciliation/troubleshooting.
 
Question: Will the new system impact when I receive my water bill?
Answer: 
The new Sensus water meter will provide a high level of accuracy and will provide meter readings to the office staff in a timely and consistent manner. This upgrade has allowed the City to provide monthly billing to our customers.
 
Question: When will my bill be switching from quarterly billing to monthly billing? 
Answer:
The City will move to monthly billing from quarterly billing with the installation of the new meters.   After the new meters are installed customers will be transitioned to monthly billing at the end of their quarterly cycle.
 
Question: How accurate is my new meter? 
Answer:
The iPERL meter will measure water flow with a high level of accuracy at all flow rates.  Because the iPERL provides metering with magnetic technology in a sealed system, there are no moving parts to fail.  The lack of moving parts contributes to the meter's long-term accuracy, especially when compared to the aging meters currently in use which become less accurate over time.  Because of this increased accuracy, homeowners should be more aware of their water use habits.  Customers with leaking faucets, pipes and toilets should have these issues repaired in a timely manner to avoid unnecessarily high bills.
 
Question: What if I have questions or concerns?
Answer: 
For additional information about the water meter project, call United Meters at (815) 941-1061 or the City of Dixon at (815) 288-1485.
 
More information about the 2018 Water Meter Replacement Project