Naperville has recently awarded a company for a project on switching the water meter system from an outdated manual reading to automated water reading for its 43,500 water users. 

On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved awarding the contract to Core & Main to switch the residential water reading manner from the old manual water reading system to automated water reading for $7.2 million. The company is expected to complete the automatic water reading system's implementation to Naperville's 43,5000 meters by November 2021.

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Switching to Automatic Water Meters 

The city is currently under contract with Alexander for a manual water meter reading. The contract will end by 2021, and the city no longer wants the outdated manual reading system. 

According to Darrell Blenniss, director of Naperville's Water Utility, the switch to an automated water reading system will dramatically "improve the service levels, sustainability, accuracy, and efficiency in the collection of data.

The current water meters require monthly reading for the billing, and it brings with it some sets of problems. Among those problems are high employee turnover, poor weather conditions, animals, and locked fences that affect the manual reading process's reliability. 

Should Naperville opt not to implement the automated meter reading technology, the city will have to hire eight new city staff members to read meters, posing an increase in their bills manually. 

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In contrast, an automated water meter system provides data in real-time, reduce the need to estimate bills, increase sustainability, and can actively identify water leaks. 

Switching to the automated water system will require installing a small device on each home's side, and the residents can then monitor their water usage in nearly real-time and compare trends over time. 

According to Councilman John Krummen, this is some of the "best project management I have seen." He added that staff members associated with the project should be proud of this feat.

With this new development, the city expects every household to switch to the automated meter reading system by November 2021. 

However, residents can also opt-out of the automatic reader technology. Residents most often opt out due to their privacy concerns

The Cost of Automated Water Reading

City documents reveal that residential taxpayers are expected to increase $0.75 and $0.90 on their water bills for 20 years, the duration of the loan repayment period.

Blenniss said that the cost of the $7.2 million project covers the new device, installation, and all related services. Such cost is substantially lower than the $7.8 million to $9.8 million range that the city estimated the project would cost.

Naperville will issue a 20-year general obligation bond to pay for the project.

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