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Water Meter Upgrades

Automated Meters Coming to Baltimore County

Baltimore County will introduce new electronic water meters to residents beginning fall 2014. The project, known as BaltiMeter and run by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, will provide every County resident with a water meter upgrade at no additional cost.

The new electronic meters will use a wireless network to transmit water usage data directly to Baltimore City's billing system. The current metering system is outdated, as traditional meters still record and store data mechanically. Electronic meter technology is more efficient and improves reading and billing accuracy.

Installation for the County's 200,000 customers will take about three years and is expected to be complete by April 1, 2017.

Bowleys Quarters Pilot Program

Bowleys Quarters, the pilot site, will be the first Baltimore County community to have the meters. Installation begins in fall 2014. The neighborhood was chosen because its elevation and ground conditions should provide a good diagnostic tool for the system.

  • View the map (PDF) of installation areas in Bowleys Quarters.

About the Installation

Most water meters in Baltimore County are located between the curb and the property line, although some may be directly on the property line or even in the street. Your meter is set in the ground inside a secured concrete vault and protected by a circular cast-iron lid.

Your existing meter will either be upgraded, or removed from the meter vault and a new meter and transmitter put in its place. Most customers will receive a new water meter lid made of durable, composite material that conducts a radio signal. The new meters use this radio signal to wirelessly upload water usage information to the billing system.

Automated Meter Benefits

Electronic meter technology has been successfully implemented in other jurisdictions around the United States and has many proven benefits:

  • More accurate reading. The electronic system reduces the possibility of human error.
  • Elimination of estimated bills. Electronic meter data is read remotely, and is available even in inclement weather. 
  • Reduced water loss. Continuous monitoring means leaks and unexplained water usage are quickly detected and addressed.
  • Better customer service. The immediate availability of water usage information allows Baltimore City to resolve account questions more efficiently.

Installation Concerns

If there is a condition that prevents installation or upgrade, the City’s Department of Public Works will perform any necessary work to resolve the issue.

Will property be disturbed?

Workers will not dig up your street, and in most cases will not need to access your home in order to make the upgrade. If the meter is in a secured location of your home, workers will coordinate with you to schedule installation.

Is it safe?

The electronic system uses very low-frequency radio waves. Various studies have indicated the level of exposure to this technology presents no harmful effects.

Is it secure?

Security policies to protect your data are in place and periodically reviewed and updated.

Will bills change?

Water bills may increase after installation if you previously received estimated bills or if your original meter was inaccurate and undercounted water usage.

Can customers opt out?

The upgrade is comprehensive and all customers are included.

What if pipes break during installation?

If a pipe breaks due to contractor error, it will be the responsibility of the contractor to make the repair.

If a water or sewer pipe breaks on the private portion of a homeowner's line — the portion from the water meter to the house — for any reason other than contractor error, the homeowner is responsible for the cost of that repair. The homeowner has two options to pay for the repair of the damage. He or she may choose to pay for the repair immediately, but recognizing that could pose a hardship for many, the homeowner may choose to have Baltimore County pay for the repair in which case the cost of the repair will be amortized over 40 years at five percent interest and added to the annual property tax bill.

If the homeowner wants the County to pay for the repairs, he or she must first contact a licensed plumber and must have the estimate reviewed and approved by Baltimore County's Department of Public Works before commencing the work. This financing option is provided only for the "service" connection portion of private plumbing for residential homes — the portion of pipe from the water meter to the home.

How the New Meters Work

The new meters will be read in one of two ways. In some areas, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology will be used to wirelessly upload consumption data to the billing system. However, due to factors such as geography and population density, the majority of customer data in Baltimore County will be collected through Automated Meter Reading (AMR) technology. With AMR, Baltimore City employees are able to simply drive past meters while using a mobile collection device to upload data to the billing system.

Contact Baltimore City

Baltimore City is responsible for all maintenance, regulation and billing. For any questions about the new meters, contact Baltimore City Public Works at 410-396-5352 or publicworks@baltimorecity.gov.

Revised August 5, 2014

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