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Homewood schools supporters meeting Jan. 27 to begin plans for referendum informational campaign

A relative small number of new water meters in Homewood will be replaced soon. Public Works officials recently discovered the meters were not reading water flow properly in some situations.

Public Works Director John Schaefer reported at the Village Board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 26, that the problem affects a small fraction of the meters installed during the comprehensive meter replacement project in 2014. The village replaced aging mechanical meters with electronic meters that use a magnetic field to more accurately measure water flow, he said. The new meters are expected to last longer than the previous generation because they have no moving parts. 

Forty-seven of the 7,600 new meters are slightly underreporting water usage, he said. The problem was discovered during routine testing Schaefer ordered last year to verify the new meters were living up to their expected performance.

“The water meter manufacturer, Sensus, is working with village staff to address this issue,” he said. “The meters in question will be replaced by our public works department with new meters provided by the manufacturer at no cost” to the village.

Schaefer said no meters have been found to be overreporting usage. 

The new meters are under warranty for 20 years, he said, so these and any future replacements during that time will be made at no cost to the village. He said random testing of about 50 meters per year for the next three years by an independent company will continue in order to monitor accuracy and performance.

That testing is in addition to monthly water flow monitoring conducted by Sensus, he said.

Village President Richard Hofeld complimented Schaefer for discovering the problem and reporting it to the board and the community. 

Customers’ bills will not be affected by the discovery of the incorrect performance of the meters. 

“There is no need to adjust the water bill for customers with these meters because they are not being overbilled,” Finance Director Dennis Bubenik said. “If anything, they are being slightly under billed.”

Bubenik noted that the issue only occurs when water is passing through the meter at a very slow rate. At typical flow rates, the meters work according to specifications.

While a few meters were found to be out of compliance with specifications, Schaefer noted that it is the capabilities of the new meters that allowed the problem to be detected.

“The old meters did not have the technology to be able to detect the inaccuracies of flows,” he said.

Schaefer said Public Works staff would begin contacting residents in about a week to inform them about the replacement process.

 

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