What is Project H2O?
Madison Water Utility is upgrading to an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), a two-way communication system between the utility and the meter. A small transmitter is attached to each water meter to read the meter and wirelessly transmit water use data to MWU. This upgrade will help us serve you better and operate the system more efficiently. The installation of the new city-wide system is called “Project H2O.”
How will this project benefit customers?
This project will provide both immediate and long-term benefits, including:
- Water data will be wirelessly transmitted to MWU via a secure connection, which will help reduce operating costs by eliminating the need for a water meter reader to visit your premises.
- Improved leak detection.
- Eventual online access to up-to-date consumption information allowing you better control over your water use and your bill.
- More accurate and timely consumption data will help MWU provide better customer service and help with water supply planning and overall system operation.
For additional information about the benefits to Madison Water Utility from an AMI system, please review our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for Madison Water Utility (MWU) Business Case.
Why is MWU going to this now?
Currently, meters are manually read every six months using an outside read system that is no longer supported by the manufacturer. In addition, providing billing information to customers more frequently than twice a year is becoming the norm in the industry, and our customers expect that information. Monthly billing assists customers in household budgeting, identifying water leaks or other plumbing issues quicker, and reducing confusion by having billing practices similar to that of other local utility companies.
Will I be charged for the installation?
There is no charge to you for the installation of the new equipment. Water meters and transmitters are the property of the Madison Water Utility and this upgrade is part of our ongoing system improvement.
How does it work?
A small radio transmitter is attached to each water meter (usually located in the basement) that will automatically send readings to electronic data receivers throughout the city. The information is then recorded and electronically sent to a main database that keeps a record of each account's water usage. When the installations are completed, customers will eventually be able to go online and log-in to view their own usage.
When will I be switched to monthly billing?
Customers will be converted to monthly billing by project area, beginning with Area 1 in May or June 2013. Customers will receive a letter prior to the conversion to monthly billing for their accounts.
Is it safe?
Wireless meters use very low power radio frequencies (RF) that result in much smaller levels of exposure than many existing common household electronic devices, including cell phones, laptop computers, and microwave ovens. The meters use about 1/4 the power of a cell phone, about one watt, and do not run continuously. Public Health Madison and Dane County has completed a report on this type of system which comes to the following conclusion:
A thorough review of the relevant literature suggests that there is little evidence to support an association with any potential health effects that may result from the installation and/or normal operation of the smart meter. This conclusion was based upon the reported infrequent and low level of RF emissions from the device and the lack of data supporting an association between RF exposures at this level to the development of non-thermal effects in exposed individuals. Therefore, PHMDC supports the deployment of AMI network technology proposed by the City of Madison Water Utility and do not foresee any potential individual and/or community health danger due to the installation and operation of this technology.
Please click here for additional information about RF.
Can I opt out of the new technology?
Despite the many advantages of the system, MWU recognizes that some customers may want to opt-out of having the standard smart meter technology installed inside their property. MWU's opt-out policy offers two options: have the transmitter installed on the outside of the building, or not have it installed on the property at all. Additional information about the Opt-Out Policy.
Who will be able to see my water use data?
Water use data will be used strictly for water utility business purposes only, as has always been the case. Security policies for use of customer data are in place and continue to be periodically reviewed and updated.
What other changes can I expect?
In addition to a change to monthly rather than six-month billing, we will change to metering in gallons instead of cubic feet to make the water use data easier for customers to understand.
Is your contractor, Corix Utilities, insured?
Yes, Corix Utililities is insured.
Can I recycle the old Read-o-Matic meter readout unit on the outside of my home?
Once your Project H2O system has been installed, the old Read-o-Matic unit on the outside of your home will no longer be connected and can be removed. The unit cannot be placed into your recycling bin, but you can bring it to the nearest City of Madison electronics recycling drop off site.