Essex County's smart water meters (continued)

Homeowners have been finding them placed over the former touch pads from where readings used to be taken.

The touch pad has been read by a person who walked house-to-house using a “gun” to get the readings.

In Amherstburg and municipalities like Kingsville, Essex and Tecumseh that will become a thing of the past.

With smart meters being introduced over the next couple of years for electricity use municipalities have had to come up with a similar way to read water, Dwayne Grondin, Amherstburg’s water and waste water superintendent said.

Just as smart meters will transmit electricity consumption wirelessly to the utility, water departments wanted to find similar technology to gauge water use for billing purposes.

“We had to find an alternative for reading the water meters,” he said.

There are different meter manufacturers. In Amherstburg it’s the Sensus meter.

Grondin said that once the system is up and running - 2000 meters are being installed this fall and 2000 next spring – there no longer will be a person walking door to door reading meters.

Instead that person will drive by in a truck. A laptop in the truck will read, by radio waves, each property’s water consumption and feed data into the system.

“At least two weeks a month I have a guy walking or driving or reading,” he said. “Now, basically, we’ll just be able to do a drive-by and within probably three hours we’ll have all the meters read.”

Each meter costs less than $120 which is “fairly inexpensive,” he said. “They’ve got a battery life of 20 years.”

Besides the saving in staff hours Grondin said the beautiful thing about the system is that it puts at the utility’s fingertips exactly how much water is being consumed per household at any one time.

He said this could help solve, for example, water leaks. “We could start collecting data on that meter every four hours.”

Sylvia de Vries, spokeswoman for the Windsor Utilities Commission, said the commission hasn’t decided yet on new technology for reading water meters.

“We are contemplating moving to such a system in the future, however.”

She said the commission might look to “synergies” with the roll out of the new smart meters for power use.


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