BaltiMeter Project Reaches The 100,000th Install
BALTIMORE, MD — Rudy S. Chow, P.E., Director of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW), announced today that installation of new water meters has reached the 100,000 mark. This means that about half of Baltimore City water customers now have the new, automated meters installed as part of the BaltiMeter upgrade.
The BaltiMeter project is expected to be completed in Baltimore City by April of next year, when a total of about 203,000 meters will be installed. Installations are now being done in East Baltimore and portions of Northeast Baltimore. About 204,000 BaltiMeters will be installed in Baltimore County, where Baltimore City provides water service, by April of 2017.
Automated meters eliminate the chance that meters cannot be read because of obstructions, weather, or other challenges. These new meters wirelessly transmit precise water usage information to devices that upload that data to a central billing office.
“Since the first new meters went in late last fall, they have been operating very well,” said Director Chow. “The BaltiMeter system is already taking data from the meters and sending it to computers that turn the information into water bills. Our research shows that BaltiMeter is proving to be efficient, reliable, and accurate.”
DPW is also putting in place a new Customer Information System. It will create a bill that is easier to understand and provide more information about a customer’s water usage. Once the system is complete, customers will be able to find out exactly how much water they are using throughout the day so they can discover water leaks and make better decisions about water usage.
Residents are reminded that during these installations, water should typically need to be turned off for less than an hour. Customers will be notified by letter about two weeks in advance of the installations. Door hang tags and street signs will be posted to notify customers that installations are pending. In addition, customers will be notified by a knock on the door just before the water is turned off. Meter installers will not need to enter customers’ homes.
Commercial customers receive a letter directing them to contact 311 to schedule an appointment for their meter upgrade. This is done to minimize the impact to their business caused by a water disruption.
At some locations connections cannot be completed because of corroded, usually galvanized, service lines. Indeed, at some of these sites there is virtually no water line in existence. DPW estimates that less than 2% of installations fall into this category.
Because of situations like this, along with the ramp up of rehabilitating more than 4,000 miles of city owned water distribution mains, and the normal aging of lines, Baltimore City partnered with HomeServe USA last year to enable homeowners to purchase low-cost service contracts on their water and sewer lines. HomeServe USA offers a combined water and sewer line service plan to Baltimore City residents at a special discounted rate of $5.99 a month, available during the first year of the program. This contract will protect homeowners from potentially paying thousands of dollars if they happen to have this corroded pipe problem, if their service line snaps during a major freeze, or other such problems. The website for this is BaltimoreServiceRepairs.com.(External Link)
One other issue which has come up is tampering with the meters’ transmitters. This has happened in a few scattered locations, and because the signal continues to be sent, DPW is able to quickly detect this. The meter still registers the usage, so tampering with the signal does not negate a water bill.