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Marengo updating its water meters

Citywide project will begin in Feb.

Published: Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 11:28 p.m. CDT

MARENGO – Residents throughout Marengo will soon be part of a citywide installation project to replace the transponders officials use to read water meters inside homes and businesses.

The City Council earlier this week unanimously approved two contracts, totaling $389,684, to have a Palatine-based company replace the city’s transponders with automated ones capable of transmitting water use information directly to City Hall.

The company will have to install the new transponders at 2,400 residences and 100 additional businesses, beginning in February. The process takes about 15 minutes at each property and will last nine months, said City Administrator Gary Boden.

The 20-year-old transponders are faulty and are no longer being made, Boden said. The city has relied on other cities to purchase replacements, but the supply has been exhausted.

“We have to do it,” Boden said. “The way to look at it is after 20 years, you have to re-shingle the roof on your house because they wear out. So, this time we are putting on a little higher quality shingle.”

HBK Water Meter Services will handle the installation for $111,894, but the total cost could change depending on the number of transponders used and the amount of labor hours involved.

The city bought the new equipment and other hardware from Midwest Meter Inc. for $277,790 total.

Under its current system, the city’s public works staff would drive around neighborhoods and transmit data from the transponders to handheld devices in their cars.

The new system eliminates the need for drive-by readings, since the transponders will send information directly to a database in City Hall.

But for that to happen, residents first need the transponders installed inside their homes.

Residents will be first asked to contact HBK Meters to arrange an installation appointment. The company will then make three attempts to contact any residents who have not arranged an appointment before asking the city for help.

If a resident doesn’t respond to the city’s outreach, their water will be shut off, city officials said. Marengo will outline the appointment process in a special newsletter in January.

“We need to make sure everyone is aware of this, so there are no surprises,” said Mayor Donald Lockhart.

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