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Water and Sewer Division
Overview  |  printer-friendly 2014 CCR Report  |  printer-friendly FY2016 Budget Recommendations  |  printer-friendly Putting Rate Increases in Perspective 
Water Meter FAQs  |  Water - Driving Them To Drink  | 
Why Water Isn't Free   
Transition to Monthly Water & Sewer Billing

FAQ's About Your Water Meters

Why do we need a new meter?

There are several reasons; the existing meter system is no longer available and must be replaced. Implementing a standardized metering system in every home will lower maintenance costs and make for more efficient use of City personnel. This step will also aid in ensuring that there is no water loss occurring with the current system.

Is there any cost to me?

There is NO additional cost to the homeowner for the meter, radio transmitter device or installation. Under NO circumstance, should you pay anyone for the equipment or labor.

Are these new radio devices safe?

The answer is YES. The reading from your water meter takes less than one second and is only transmitted four times a day. The safety of radio waves is based on a calculation of time and distance. You would need to be within one inch of the transmitter while it sent the signal for more than six minutes. The new system operates on the VT-IF band and much like the radios used for police or fire, they are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. A copy of the license and can be viewed at City Hall.

When will the water meter and remote reading device be installed?

The meter replacement program will begin in September 2011 and will be completed within approximately one year. The focus will be on commercial meters replacements first, then the residential meters. Authorized personnel from the contractor, SEC Meter Service, Inc. will go door to door to install the meter or you may call 1-800-335-1448 to schedule the installation at your convenience between 8:00am to 4:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

How will I know that the installers are legitimate?

A private contractor (S.L.C. Meter Service, Inc.) has been contracted to assist the Municipality in installing the new meters and reading system. Each installer will be uniformed, will carry identification and the vehicle will have a decal affixed showing the Company name and phone number. You may also call S.E.C. Meter Service, at: 800-335-1448, the water department office at 313 563-9774 or the police department at 313 563-9869 to confirm the identity of the installer. You should not let anyone into your home without proper identification.

How long will it take to install the new equipment?

Normal installation time is less than one (1) hour. The new radio transmitters will be installed inside. The old visual remote will be left outside on the house. Please clear the area 2’ on all sides of your meter.

Who will maintain the new equipment?

The Municipality will assume full responsibility for maintaining the water meter and remote reading device. It is the homeowners’ responsibility to maintain the plumbing surrounding the meter. However, if damage to the meter is determined due to the cause of neglect by the property owner, it will then be the property owners’ responsibility. This includes freezing.

Is there a U/L Listing for water meters?

Residential meters carry warranties from the manufacturers and meet the standards of the American Water Works Association for quality and accuracy. Not one manufacturer has a U/L listing for water meters used in residential applications, only two have it for commercial meters used in fire line applications.

Is there anything I can do to make the installation smoother?

Keep the installation appointment as scheduled, and clear the area around your water meter. If you have any additional questions concerning the project or installation, please contact S.L.C. Meter Service, Inc., at 1-800-335-1448. Office hours are 8:00am. to 4:30pm. Installation hours are 8:00am to 4:00pm, Tuesday-Saturday. There is also a 24 hour answering service available after office hours.

Why Is My Water Bill So High?

There are 3 main factors that contribute to a larger than normal water bill;

  • Rate increases
  • New meter accuracy
  •  Differentials between the outside reads and the inside meter reading from the old meter system which has resulted in the discovery of previously used but unbilled water and sewer service

Rate Increases

The City has had large increases to the water and sewer charges over the last several years. This is in response to the system being in poor financial condition.

New Meter Accuracy

The old meters were a mechanical “positive displacement” type which were accurate down to ¼ of a gallon per minute. Over time they would begin to wear, recording less and less usage, especially at the low flow where leaks occur. The new water meters are solid state design and have no moving parts. These meters are highly accurate, even down to 1/12th of a gallon per minute of flow. This means that small leaks and drips will be recorded.

Inside/Outside Readings

The old water meters were a mechanical pulse design. As water passed through the meter, the inside register would generate a small electrical pulse to advance the outside odometer. In some cases, this pulse would not always advance the outside dial.  Disconnected/ broken wires, corrosion, bugs or freezing in the outside mechanism would all contribute to having a difference from the inside (actual) reading to the outside (remote) reading. When the old meter is removed, we send a final bill based on the inside reading. A copy of the final reading of the old meter inside and outside odometers can be found on the work order when the meter was replaced. The contractor leaves a pink copy with the residents, keeps one copy for their file and the City retains the original for our records. This appears as a final calculation on the first water bill sent after the new meter is installed.

How Do I Know My New Meter Is Accurate?

The new water meters are the SM-700 model manufactured by Elster Amco Water. The operating principle is called “fluidic oscillation” and has been validated by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) which sets the standards for water meters. The standard for the SM-700 is the AWWA C-713. Each meter is tested by the manufacturer before it leaves the factory and a certificate of accuracy is attached prior to shipping.  When the new meters were installed, the certificates were removed and placed on file at City hall. Additionally, the City sent out a random batch of meters to a neighboring community to validate the factory test results from an unbiased, third party perspective.

All meters were within the allowable tolerances and found to be satisfactory.

How Do I Read My New Water Meter?

The new water meters read in cubic feet. The odometer reading has a visual resolution going down to 1/100th of a cubic foot which shows as 000000.0 00

Billing units are 100 cubic feet. The first four digits from left to right are the billing units.  When the tenth and one hundredth position of the odometer (the last two from right to left) are both zero, they will not light up. This is why you will sometimes see three numbers after the decimal point and other times just one. The only purpose of the decimal points is for accuracy testing.

The City of Inkster bills for water and sewer in 100 cubic feet increments, this is known as a billing unit. When readings are transferred from the meter reading computer to the billing computer, only the billing units (the four zeroes from left to right that are wrapped with a white line) go to the billing computer.

To get a reading in one hundred cubic foot, you would read the first four digits from left to right. Billing units have a white line going around them.

Is My New Water Meter A SmartMeter?

The new water meters are Elster model SM-700s. They are not the “SmartMeters” being used for electricity. While they are a highly advanced water measurement technology, they cannot shut your water off or slow your water down. They are not part of the DTE “Smart Grid”. They simply record the usage and send that the reading to City hall on a daily basis. The transmitter will also report if the water meter has been removed from the water line, or if water is flowing backwards. There is also a feature for “continuous flow” which means that if you have water running for over four hours, it will send a message to City hall of a “potential leak”. All transmissions are one way. City hall cannot “talk” back to the meter or monitor consumption minute by minute.

What You Should Know About Your Water Meter

The new Elster SM-700 water meters have been in use worldwide since 1995 and comply with all of the standards set forth by the American Water Works Association for their classification of C-713. Each meter is tested at the factory and the accuracy certification is on file at City hall.


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City of Inkster, Michigan
26215 Trowbridge
Inkster, Michigan 48141
(313) 563-4232
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