During the first week of October, North Riverside residents living east of First Avenue will receive water bills that look a little different than the ones they’re used to.
With their water meter changeover nearly complete, the village is beginning to use the new digital-read system. Instead of having water department personnel read individual meters at homes, water meter information will now be sent wirelessly to an antenna perched atop the water standpipe near the North Riverside Park Mall.
From there the information will be transmitted to village hall, where bills will be generated. The new system will also prevent manual billing errors, said Village Administrator Guy Belmonte. Previously, it was possible for meter readers to write down the wrong information or for someone at village hall to misread what had been written down by a meter reader.
“No longer will we have the human errors,” said Belmonte.
The village is also hoping to gain more revenue through the implementation of the new digital-read meters. The new meters are reportedly much more accurate than the mechanical meters they replaced.
During their discussions about replacing water meters throughout North Riverside, village officials estimated that the village was losing more than $100,000 annually because of low meter readings.
As a result, while the new meters will be more accurate, customers could see higher bills. Initially, the village considered phasing in the water meter replacement, starting with commercial properties to delay the potential blow to residential customers. In the end, the village decided to replace meters at one time.
As of last week, according to Belmonte, there were only about 100 meters left to install out of the roughly 2,400 water meters that needed replacement. The village paid for the meter replacement and the equipment related to the system by issuing debt certificates in late 2011. The project cost the village roughly $1 million.
There will be some changes in the way water is billed in North Riverside.
First, instead of receiving bills on a quarterly basis, customers will receive water bills every two months. The actual bills themselves will also look a little bit different, said Belmonte.
The bills being sent out in the first week of October to residents and businesses east of First Avenue will cover the period between the time the water meter was replaced and Oct. 1. As a result, the first bill won’t be from a strict two-month time period, since meters were replaced at different times.
“Some bills may be for more than two months, depending on when the meter was changed out,” said Belmonte.
Residents and businesses west of First Avenue will receive their first bills under the new system beginning the first week of November, said Belmonte.