Public Works and Development Services » Water & Sewer » Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

River Forest has over 3,167 residential and commercial water accounts throughout the Village. Each of these accounts is associated with a residence or business which has a water meter. This meter measures the amount of water consumed at the property and transmits the information to Village Staff during monthly “drive-by” meter reads.

Beginning in November 2021, the Village will be working with Siemens, Inc. to install additional infrastructure that will automate the water meter reading process while providing additional benefits to all water customers. New infrastructure to be installed as part of this project can generally be categorized as follows:

  1. Antenna Installation – An antenna will be installed on the Village Water Tower which will be capable of communicating with all water meters in the Village to pull read information over-the-air. The antenna then sends the information to Water Billing so that consumption can be tracked and billed accordingly.
  2. Water Meter Replacements – Thanks to the Village’s ongoing efforts to keep water meter infrastructure up-to-date, only 314 water accounts will require meter replacement. Notices will be sent to all properties requiring meter replacement. This will enable property owners to schedule a time for the meter replacement that is convenient.
  3. MXU Replacement – The MXU is a device that is mounted to the exterior of the building and is connected to the water meter via wiring. The water meter sends the collected information to the MXU which will then transmit the data to the newly installed antenna. All 3,167 MXUs will be replaced as part of this project. They will not require an appointment, however, property owners will be given the opportunity to schedule this work if they prefer.

Please note – there is no cost to customers for installations taking place as part of this project.

Below is a video that further explains what can be expected as we progress through the project:

Project Benefits

There are various benefits to this improvement project, as summarized below:

  1. The automation of the meter reading process will no longer require Public Works Staff to drive around the entire Village to collect the necessary data. This will reduce the Department’s carbon emissions as well as to free up a staff member for a full day of work as drive-by reads will no longer be required.
  2. Water meter reads are currently conducted on a monthly basis. While this provides adequate data to allow for water billing, it makes the early identification of potential leaks nearly impossible. Once all AMI infrastructure is installed, meter reads can be conducted on a much more frequent basis (e.g. daily). This will allow for a much more robust collection of data over time and will help establish seasonal trends, potential leaks and a more detailed dataset for each account overall.
  3. Currently, there is no way for a customer to review historic meter reads or to establish trends that might be helpful in identifying changes in consumption. As part of the AMI project, a product called WaterSmart will also be implemented. This web-based software will allow each account holder to see current and past meter reads, setup proactive notifications based on desired thresholds and will provide assistance in troubleshooting any leaks or levels of consumption that are higher than desired. This product will be free to access for all customers.
  4. This technology will also significantly reduce water loss throughout the Village at a time when Lake Michigan water supply allocations are being closely scrutinized, and it helps promote overall water conservation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does AMI stand for?

Automated Metering Infrastructure. With AMI the Village is able to collect interval reads on every water meter via a radio frequency channel instead of collecting one read per billing period by driving around town.

Will you need to change my water meter?

The vast majority of the water meters will not be changed out for the project. Only about 314 meters will need to be replaced. If you require a meter change out, you can expect to receive post cards in the mail asking you to schedule an appointment.

If I don't need a new meter, what work will be needed at my property?

Most customers will not need a new meter - only an upgrade to the reading/transmitting device on the exterior of the building. This portion of work will not require interior access and will not require that anyone be home for the work to be completed. However, if you wish to schedule an appointment for this work so that you can be home when it is completed, you will be given the opportunity to do so. A letter will be sent out with additional information about scheduling this appointment for those that are interested.

Am I required to participate?

Yes, participation in this program is required.  Installation of a meter and/or the transmitting device is needed to ensure all accounts will be compatible with the new system. Your cooperation in scheduling an appointment after you receive a notification letter is appreciated.

How do I schedule a water meter replacement appointment if I will be out of town during the project?

All questions regarding meter replacement appointments should be directed to Siemens’ toll-free number – 866-965-0665.

How does the meter replacement process work?

The Village has partnered with Siemens Industry, Inc. and Professional Meters Inc. (PMI) to install the new meters. Siemens will schedule an appointment with residents via a designated website and/or call  center. Meter installers will need access to water meters, typically located in basements, utility rooms, etc. An adult (18 years of age or older) must be present while the work is completed. Residents are asked to make sure the meter is accessible prior to their appointment. The meter replacement, under normal circumstances, should be complete in approximately 30 minutes. Installers will provide proper identification upon arrival.

How long will the meter change-out appointment last?

Most water meter replacement appointments will last less than 30 minutes. Your water service will be shut-off during the appointment. If there are complications with the installation due to plumbing issues, such as a broken shut-off valve, the appointment may take longer.

Will I be charged for the installation?

Water customers will not be charged for any installations taking place as part of the Village’s AMI project.

How will social distancing related to COVID-19 be addressed during the appointment?

The installer will practice social distancing and direct contact between the homeowner and the installer will not be required at any time. 

If my water meter was recently replaced, do I still need to schedule a water meter replacement.

If you have received a postcard from the Village requesting that an appointment be made for a water meter replacement, please follow the instructions to do so. The Village and Siemens have made every effort to only notify those property owners of meter replacements if it is absolutely necessary to ensure that the account can be read on the new AMI system.

How will I know if my account has been migrated to AMI?

Once all work is completed at a property, Siemens will leave a door tag on the building to notify you that you have been successfully migrated to the new meter reading system.

Is my meter data secure?

Yes, only meter consumption readings and meter identification numbers are transmitted. Personal customer information is not transmitted.

Is this new system safe?

Yes, the power and duration of the radio signal transmission is too low to pose a health risk. The products that make up the system are evaluated for safety and are below levels specified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Does the AMI transmitter run on my home’s electricity?

No, AMI transmitters run on batteries with a 20- year lifespan.