Brookfield trustees voted unanimously on Oct. 11 to award a $2.1 million contract to a downstate firm to install new water meter data transmission units on all residential and commercial water meters in the village.

Beginning in January or February of 2022, employees of Edinburg-based Midwest Meter Inc. will begin replacing the meter transmission units, also known as MTUs, on more than 6,700 water meters located in homes and businesses throughout the village.

The units will replace ones installed in local homes and businesses in 2006 and 2007 when Brookfield swapped out old-fashioned manual-read water meters for a fixed-point digital meter reading system, where data was transmitted digitally from water meters to an antenna to village hall computers.

The village also chose Midwest Meter for the 2006-07 change out, which cost Brookfield about $1.5 million. While the water meters themselves continue to function well and will remain in place, the MTUs, which sit on top of the water meters and transmit the data, have a life span of about 15 years and are beginning to wear out, according to Public Works Director Carl Muell.

Another change is that the new MTUs will operate using cellphone technology, which allows the entire water meter system, including residential meters and larger commercial meters, to be read by one network.

Water customers will also be able to use an app they can download onto their smartphones to track water usage and spot unusual spikes, perhaps indicating a leak.

Prior to the start of MTU installation, water customers will receive notification instructing them how to set up appointments to have the MTUs installed on top of the meters in their homes and businesses.

The cost for the water meters was figured into an increase in Brookfield water rates approved by the village board in July. Beginning in September, water customers would have started seeing an 18.5 percent increase in the water rate, from $11.68 to $13.84 per 1,000 gallons of water.

Trustees raised rates not only to pay for the replacement of water meter MTUs but also to begin systematically replacing the village’s oldest water mains over the next 50 years. More than half of the village’s water mains are at least 100 years old, according to Village Engineer Derek Treichel.