Photo: A typical automated water meter.
You can do your banking, book a vacation and buy your groceries with your smartphone. So, the town of Belmont want to know, why not pay a monthly water bill while monitoring your water usage all via the same phone?
By 2020, Belmont residents will have that option as the Water Division of the town’s Department of Public Works replaces the old manual-recorded meters currently in use with “smart” meters over the next three years. The new meters will be installed at no cost to consumers.
The plan, announced by DPW chief Jay Marcotte at Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Monday, March 28, will piggyback existing technology created by Belmont Light in its metering system, reading data via radio frequencies.
The $2.75 million project – paid through the Water Division’s retained earnings – will take between 12 to 18 months to implement as contractors install between 20 to 30 new meters each business day, said Marcotte.
Other communities are moving towards wireless reading including Melrose, Lincoln, Wellesley and Woburn.
The advantage of using 21st-century technology in recording utility usage is “a no-brainer,” said Mike Bishop, Water Division manager. For his department, it will bring efficiencies such as reading meters from a central location rather than sending meter readers to each residence or business. It will also be used as an “early warning system” to identify possible leaking pipes when a spike in usage levels.
For customers, it will allow for monthly billing which will provide resident and commercial users more reliable data on water consumption.
“It will allow our customers to do things like creating ‘red flags’ in which the meter will inform you if you exceed a certain usage level for a specific month. You then will be able to monitor a history of what you are using on your smartphone which will improve conservation of water in town,” said Bishop.