Automatic Meter Reading Case Study: The City of Chicago Department of Water Management
IEPA ID#: 5161
Time: 1:00 - 1:45PM CST
Presenter: Andrea Putz & Matt Quinn, City of Chicago Department of Water Management
Moderator: Kevin Lookis
the 2003 Chicago Water Agenda a plan was established to protect,
conserve and manage the water resources of the area. Under this plan,
Chicago aimed to become the leader among the Great lakes cities in
managing the vast available water supply efficiently and productively.
Out of almost half a million accounts, only 174,580 accounts were
metered at the time. In order to properly manage our water resource, a
plan was devised that included not only changing non-metered accounts
into metered accounts but also managing meter reading in a more
effective and efficient way. The City of Chicago Department of Water
Management (DWM) investigated best practices for reading meters
effectively, uncovered potential issues and difficulties regarding water
losses, and educated the customers regarding water conservation.
the large number of accounts to be read, Automatic Meter Reading (AMR)
was chosen as the pre-requisite to any kind of universal metering plan.
There was a need to get more actual reads (as opposed to estimated
reads) on existing meters as well as read any newly-metered accounts. It
would not be efficient to hire additional meter reading staff to
manually read an additional 320,000 newly-metered accounts. Thus, a case
study of different Midwestern cities that recently installed AMR
systems was conducted. Information was gathered regarding cost,
specifications, public relations, strategies and implementation
A detailed case study was also conducted regarding
the type and age distribution of existing meters, the billing system,
back end software. A key conclusion was that an effective system for
data collection should include customer friendly notifications, such as
leak detection and storage of water usage data to help customers
understand the importance of water and reduce the wasted water. Another
conclusion was to change the billing units from cubic feet to gallons to
help customers more easily understand the amount of water they were
Thus a mobile Badger Orion AMR system was proposed which
would allow DWM rate takers to read the meter effectively without going
inside customers’ houses (by using Meter Interface Units which broadcast
data using radio frequency signals). With this system, it is possible
to accurately read almost 98% of the meters, detect tampering and flow
reversals, detect potential leaks and send an automatic letter to
customers letting them know about the potential leak, and show their
historic water usage data on graph.
A pilot of conducted using
400 meters in Fall 2007 which was helpful in identifying possible
large-scale challenges. Full implementation started February 2008 with
an average of 1,200 to 1,500 meters replaced or retrofitted per week.
The duration of this project was three years and is currently in the
clean up phase. As of November 2011, over 150,000 meters have been
replaced or retrofitted so far.